You are not the Bride of Christ

At least, not you on your own.

I was talking to a pretty amazing friend, who was coming to me for some dating advice (like squeezing water from a rock, but anyway). I told her to avoid calling Jesus her boyfriend, and she responded "Well, I'm married to Him, but I won't call Him that." I was quite amused, and I told her I could never ever, at any point in the future, date her, because to do so would be to home-wreck God. Then she threatened to punch me.

Now, this was all in good fun, but it brings up something I am not sure we all realize.

See, the church is often called "the Bride of Christ" based on Ephesians 5:32. This is beautiful, the idea that Christ loved the church enough to lay His life down for her, and expects those of us who become husbands to do the same.

However, the trouble comes when people start taking that which refers to "the church" to be relevant to their lives in an individual context. The verse says this:
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Notice that Paul is not saying that this refers to Christ and each person. In fact, he speaks often of the "church" as a separate entity, the "body of believers" rather than the individual. This is important when we realize that God's most important call to us is to be relational, to love Him with everything AND to love others (Matthew 22:37-40). He does not want us to be isolated with Him, to be exclusively relational with Him... He calls us to a relationship with Him and with the people around us. We are not, individually, His bride. Rather, we are His very hands and feet, His ambassadors on this earth, and merely a part of that which is called His "bride".

What I will end this with, is a call to all of you, but especially the females; please do not call Jesus your boyfriend, your husband, or anything else with an exclusive romantic connotation. First, it is a misinterpretation of scripture, and second...

It's just creepy.

(I suppose I should add a third, that being the awkwardness in being a male and expected to act individually as the "bride" of Christ. I'm sorry, but Christ was a guy, and I don't wanna marry a guy. I will, however, love his bride and protect her, which I think is the right/less creepy approach to Ephesians 5)


Matt @ The Church of No People said...

You're absolutely right, and I can't believe I didn't think of that! We tend as Americans to 'individualize' everything that Paul meant to be corporate, including this.

katdish said...

Boy, am I glad I'm married!

katdish said...

(sorry, I posted too soon)
When did the "Jesus is my boyfriend" concept start? It seems like a somewhat recent phenomenon, but maybe I just haven't been paying attention. I agree. Not only is it sort of creepy, but for me, it makes it seem that Jesus, and by extension God, is relegated to some sweet, romantic character. God is Love. But He is also Righteousness and Wrath. (sorry, mini soapbox) Hi Matt!
Very good post!

Shark Bait said...

Not that recent a phenomenon I am sorry to say. I've been hearing it for years.


Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

Hi Richard! Your comment on katdish's blog was too strange to pass up. Glad I stopped by. Loved the post. Great points, all. I think if I asked my husband, he'd say that in his single days, girls who said that creeped him out too.

It's nice to see the whole fam damily here. Hey Matt! Hey katdish! Shark Bait, you rock. (Even if you've never visited MY blog.)

Robert Tewart said...

I agree completely Richard. Take it a step past that and examine some of the music sung in the church today. "Amatory phrasing" is the romanticizing of it all.

I have always had some kind of creepy feeling with some of the songs and now I know why. It wasn't God's intention for Jesus to be my boyfriend.

Take the Quiz - Here are six phrases from six contemporary songs. Can you pick which phrases belong to secular songs and which to the sacred?

1. All I need to do is just be me, being in love with you.
2. My world stops spinning round, without you.
3. I never want to leave; I want to stay in your warm embrace.
4. I’m lost in love.
5. Now and forever, together and all that I feel, here’s my love for you.
6. You say you love me just as I am.

The first three are from a popular Christian band called Big Daddy Weave, the second half are from Air Supply.

Richard said...

Robert, you make me think that maybe my church hasn't been singing enough Air Supply :-P.

Paul did use secular poetry to make his point, though... just, good secular poetry, not regurgitated 10 year old watered down K-Love pop.

CarlosVargas13 said...

Hey Richard, I'm glad to see you did a blog up on this subject. I have some friends who do often misinterpret this verse. Good job in coming to a well thought out conclusion. Miss you man.