I recently came across the following line from a book that jarred me a bit:
“The highly intense forms of human relationships, which we designate as friendship or love, include an intensity of emotional encounter, openness and care which cannot be continually multiplied, but which is singular and unique. Thus it is understandable and suitable if sexual love in its intensity, intimacy, and all-encompassing nature is understood as the earthly analogy to the love of God.” (Wilfried Harle, Living Out of Justification, in Justification is for Preaching, ed. Virgil Thompson, p. 97)
In some ways, this statement resonates with me. For it right to insist that all of us together – men included – are the Bride of Christ, and this implies, a la Song of Solomon, the kind of intimacy that a husband and wife share. I think we justly flee from “Jesus is my boyfriend” music, but perhaps we need some better “Jesus is our husband” music. I recently wrote the following:
“Can this final “consummation” become the most important thing that a Christian – particularly a Christian man – looks forward to?… In truth, what greater thing could we work towards? What greater thing could we long for? What greater thing could we pursue?…
But even here – God’s Kingdom comes without our prayer… It is He who pursues us! He is the One who really longs for us, His bride! He is the One who works – who is working all things for the good, leading up to the end. It is not we who pursue or try to effect the end – to bring about consummation – but He who does this. It is He who works all in all, and we can only reject His subtle and not-so-subtle advances…
God is like the strong hero, protector, provider and lover – the One ladies everywhere find themselves falling for. This God, however, does not limit Himself to the beautiful ones only, but to the lowly and unattractive. More – He veils His own attractiveness and desirability, so that it is hidden. More – He ravishes and takes all of us for His own Name’s sake, which means nothing more than He is the only One that exists who not only unfailingly desires each and every person, but truly loves them, enjoys them, and remains faithful to them. He will not be tamed as He does all that is necessary to protect, treasure, win, ravish and woo us. This includes crushing those other “lovers” who would lovelessly use us for their own empty purposes, that we may be His forever.
And we are moved to sing of this great love – from this great Lover. That He might have us forever… for we are His.”
Still – even though I wrote that, I am uneasy talking about how “sexual love… is understood as the earthly analogy to the love of God” (italics mine). It seems to me that even as we are the Bride, we are also brethren of Jesus and Sons of the Father. *The* earthly analogy? Might there be a bit of a danger in saying this?
We need to keep both of these analogies in the forefront. Just because one may have been given short shrift up until this point does not mean that it now should take over the show.