I ended yesterday’s post by pushing for the use of the Father-Children relationship to understand how God relates to humanity rather than the boyfriend/girlfriend metaphor that is more prevalent in the church today. One may push back on me by pointing to the idea that we are the bride of Christ (Paul uses this image; we see this also in Hosea; it may be the most pronounced in the Songs of Solomon). They may say that we need not reject this idea of the lover and the beloved. But, I do have some responses for these objections. First, this metaphor is used primarily in a communal sense. The church is the bride of Christ, not you and me individually. And not just my church or the church down the street, but the church universal. Second, it’s easy to impose our modern notion of marriage on the biblical text. We must remember that marriages were arranged in biblical times. We may claim that real love can’t take place in this context. But the opposite can be true. More on this later. Third, marriage in the Bible is a covenant between people, one that cannot be broken. Our high divorce rates have numbed us in many ways to the sharp statements in the Bible about divorce. Thus, while still remaining a secondary or peripheral metaphor for understanding our relationship to God, it does not surpass the Father/Children metaphor.
There may still be objections raised because we are forced into this relationship. My response: What’s so bad about being forced into a good thing? Being in the tender care of a God who sent his son to die for us. It’s not like we are forced into enslavement of some sort. We are adopted as children – this should be joyous, not depressing because we lost our liberty. We are forced to do many things in our life which we may dislike at the time but we appreciate much more later in life – going to school, doctor appointments and checkups, parents with restrictions and rules to abide by, etc. I bet we can think of many others. I just do see why we would object to being chosen (or even forced for that matter) into something that is for our benefit.