Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Information

12 Regent U. L. Rev. 9 (1999-2000)


In this article we ask, "What distinguishes a covenant from a mere contract, and what role does this distinction play for natural law?" Both of us have thought substantially about covenant over the past several years. The concept of covenant comes to us originally from religious sources, so we have paid explicit attention to what the Bible and organized religion have to say about covenant. We have also drawn from our own disciplines of law, economics, and sociology as they explain or draw from the initial concepts.

Covenant is a concept that takes us beyond contract. Indeed, the idea that marriages (or society, for that matter) could be organized around contracts solely is flawed. In every contract there are actually two contracts: the first is the contract we make with another person, the second is the hidden contract we all make among ourselves to obey the rules of the first contract. Behind the idea of contracts, in other words, is the more fundamental idea of trust that contracts will be honored. While contracts presume rational self-interest and seek to promote and protect those, trust is inherently non-rational. Covenant is more like trust than contract. Alternatively, covenant is faith that is not based on rationality.


Reprinted with permission of Regent University Law Review.

Included in

Contracts Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.