Recently, in a Sunday School class, I was reminded of people’s low perception of attorneys. I’m not that sensitive to this view since I’m not an attorney. But since I’m in law school, I do notice.
The Sunday School teacher explained that if everyone in the world were honest, we wouldn’t need attorneys (disagreement here). His next comment was something like, if everyone was honest, we wouldn’t need contracts. That’s when I objected and explained that contracts are simply agreements between parties to improve their position. People benefit from contracts. Then, I acknowledged the point I thought he was trying to make which has to do with the Statute of Frauds, which requires certain kinds of agreements be in writing.
Contracts are something to love and admire, for what they accomplish in the end, and for what they can help avoid. Most people can easily see what a contract’s end result is. A and B agree to some kind of exchange, because both parties are interested in the exchange. Perhaps A can provide 100 widgets to B and B can profit by re-selling those widgets. Both parties win. In the end, A is paid for the widgets he produced, and B gets widgets he can re-sell for profit.
Contracts can protect the parties in a transaction. A good contract will provide conditions that protects A from not getting paid for the widgets by requiring some money up front, or an escrow account showing funds to ensure payment. In our CAR residential real estate purchase contract, we use “contingencies” that allow the buyer to withdraw during the inspection period if the buyer is not satisfied with the results of the inspection, or if he cannot re-negotiate the contract based on findings that would make the contract less valuable.
Contracts simply allow the parties to agree on the exchange, the performance required and any other term (almost) that puts the parties in a position they prefer. In a few words, contracts set the course for performance. Or a path. Then, the parties are able follow the path toward the result they seek.
One fascinating subject to me is how the elements of contracts appear in the Bible and in particular, in the study of the doctrine my church teaches. An in depth look at God’s “promises” to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and to mankind shows solutions to the big philosophical problems (related to death) that worry mankind the most, and that He intends to fully perform. And, our use of the word covenant in this context is relevant because the covenants we make through ordinances such as baptism, are simply a part of a larger contract. And a breach of the covenant, is a breach of the contract. But there is a provision to remedy a breach (repentance).
In the short term and in the end, contracts are required to put us in a better position. Whether we’re discussing contracts in marriage, our spiritual contracts, or business contracts, – all the parties are required to perform, and all the parties will benefit. So you can appreciate them whether you’re religious or not!