The Bride & The Bridegroom

[A version of this article originally appeared on Pastor Aaron Hill’s website “A Ransomed Mind.”]

On June 26th, 2015 the United State Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. It removed the debate from the democratic process and granted all same-sex couples the right to marry. Recent polls show that 60% of the U.S. population now supports same-sex marriage and that now 27% of white evangelical Protestants support it.

How should Christians respond? How can we, at Oak Hill, respond to our friends, family, and co-workers when this subject comes up? How can we tell them what the Bible teaches and offer solid biblical reasons for opposing same-sex marriage?

Marriage is God’s Idea

One of the most compelling reasons why Christians should care about traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage has to do with God’s ultimate purpose for marriage.

“The Bible begins with a wedding (of Adam and Eve) and ends in the book of Revelation with a wedding (of Christ and the church). Marriage is God’s idea.

This is the secret [of marriage] – that the gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another. That when God invented marriage, he already had the saving work of Jesus in mind.” – Timothy & Kathy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Christians ought to care deeply about the definition of marriage because the Bible equates marriage with the Gospel and teaches that God designed marriage to be a picture of His redeeming love and relationship with us – the Church. The Bible teaches us that God designed marriage to reflect His saving love for us in Christ. He created men and women as two halves of a whole, two complementary sides of humanity and He created the covenantal institution of marriage to reflect His marriage with us.

This argument goes beyond simple prohibitions (which are important and are found throughout the Bible) and speaks to the big picture of God’s redemptive plan for the world. It ought to speak to our hearts in a deep and profound way. But, maybe this is your first time hearing this argument, so let’s consider it more in-depth.

The First Marriage

After making everything in Creation “good” and declaring it so, God said one thing was “not good.”

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” – (Genesis 2:18 ESV)

So God took the man and formed a woman from one of his sides. He made the woman and brought her to the man – as a father gives his daughter away in marriage. The groom exclaimed,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.” – (Genesis 2:23 ESV)

God’s purpose in creating man and woman as two parts of a whole was so that they could come together and become one flesh – something entirely new. He started this with Adam and Eve, but He didn’t stop there.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” – (Genesis 2:24 ESV)

God’s Marriage Covenant with Israel

God demonstrated clearly that marriage was a picture of His redeeming love by redeeming for Himself a wife – called Israel.

He purchased a unspectacular tribe of people, Israel, as a bride (Ezekiel 16:2) from among the nations. He bought her from the trading blocks of slavery in Egypt. He spread “the corner of [His] garment over [Israel] and covered [her] nakedness. God made a vow to His new Bride and entered into a covenant with her . . . and she “became mine,” He declared (Ezekiel 16:8).

God exchanged vows with Israel and became her husband (Jeremiah 31:32). He cared for, protected, and purchased her a beautiful home (the Promised Land).

“For your Maker is your husband,
    the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
    the God of the whole earth he is called.” – (Isaiah 54:5 ESV)

Israel, His beloved wife, though, began to sleep around with idols and foreign gods. She committed adultery over and over again. Therefore, God confessed to Israel, “you trusted in your beauty and played the prostitute because of your renown and lavished your prostitution on any passerby; your beauty became his.” (Ezekiel 16:15)

Her adultery and unfaithfulness finally became utterly abhorrent so God, wanting to communicate the seriousness of his wife’s sins, commanded the prophet Hosea to live his life as an allegory of her adultery.

“Go, take to yourself a wife of prostitution and have children of prostitution, for the land commits great adultery by forsaking the Lord.” – (Hosea 1:2)

God’s New Covenant and New Bride

390e87cc3c8a1301d19ac63befb5a7a5God sent Israel into exile to punish Israel for constantly sleeping around and betraying Him, but God vowed to not give up on His wayward adulterous Bride. He vowed to redeem her for Himself again and to wed her to Himself for all time. This new True Israel would be betrothed to Him in faithfulness for all time.

 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ . . . And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” – (Hosea 2:16, 19-20 ESV)

In several places throughout the Old Testament God makes a promise to end all wars and suffering and in a moment of great rejoicing, after a great wedding feast, to wed His this new Bride forever.

“You shall no more be termed ‘Forsaken,’  but you shall be called ‘My Delight Is in Her,’… ;’ for the Lord delights in you…. For as … as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” – (Isaiah 62:4-5 ESV)

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. … He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces … It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” – (Isaiah 25:6, 8-9 ESV)

The True Bride

As you keep reading the Bible we discover that God’s new bride is the Church, the True Israel, and our Bridegroom is Jesus. Throughout the Gospels Jesus is presented as the Bridegroom (John 3:29, Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19-20, Matthew 25:1-13). These are not passing references. We see that this is a central theme of the Gospels and the New Testament.

This truth is so important that during His earthly ministry Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a Father who throws a wedding banquet for His Son (Matthews 22:2). He says repeatedly through the New Testament that we are His Bride, betrothed to Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:2). Christ’s passionate desire is to present in “splendor without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” – (2 Corinthians 11:2 ESV)

His deepest desire is that His Bride “might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27) clothed in fine white clothing (Revelation 19:8), a wedding gown composed of His righteous deeds. At the end of time there will be a wedding to end all weddings in heaven as the Church is presented to Jesus at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9).

The Spirit and the Bride Say “Come!”

ot28-03For this reason Christians believe and have taught for centuries that – at the core of humanity, at the root of our gender differences, at the foundation of marriage, from time immemorial – God has created marriage to be a mirror, a splendid picture and profound glimpse, of the relationship He desires to experience with us.

We were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus (Colossians 1:16). We were created to be His Bride, as Eve was created for Adam. Jesus is waiting for our wedding day and has vowed to not drink wine again until our marriage supper (Mark 14:25).

Marriage = Gospel

For these reasons Christians ought to view and proclaim marriage between one man and one woman as a timeless God-ordained picture of the Gospel.

Marriage is the Gospel because Jesus Christ desires to be united in perfect covenantal love with us forever. In order to redeem us from sin He came to this earth, lived, died, and rose again to secure our redemption and to clothe us with righteousness. We are His and He is ours. His banner over us is True Love (Song of Solomon 2:4 ESV).

As followers of Christ we believe that the Holy Spirit is even now convicting hearts to draw men and woman to their Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit says, “come” every time the Gospel is proclaimed, and so to does His Bride say, “Come!” (Revelation 22:16-17)

God desires for the institution of marriage to draw men and woman to Him. He designed it for that evangelistic purpose. It is a timeless picture crafted and structured so that men and woman discover the True Bride and experience true intimacy with the True Bridegroom.

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” – (Revelation 19:7-9 ESV)

The Stakes Are Eternal

e1381d6f4e1caef4ba23dae2506d1b02If you call yourself a Christian, a follower of Jesus, do you understand this profound mystery? Have you read your Bible and grasped this deep and amazing truth? It is all throughout Scripture and ought to impact how we view marriage as a very deep foundational level.

Do you understand what True Love is or have you adopted the world’s idea of love? The world wants to say that #LoveWins when it comes to same-sex marriage, but as Christians we ought to know what real love is and what it truly means to say that love wins.

The Bible teaches us that love is not merely the affection that two human beings feel for one another. That kind of love comes and goes. The Bible teaches us that our love, pales in comparison to True Love, because God Himself is Love (1 John 4:8). We only know what love is because God sent His Son to die for us, while we were still sinners (1 John 4:10). If we want to be true followers of Christ who love then we must prove our love for the Bridegroom by obeying His commands (1 John 5:3).

If you consider yourself a follower of Christ there is no room for personal opinion on this subject.

Our feelings really don’t matter, because what is at stake is whether marriage will be a picture of the Gospel. What is at stake is the Gospel itself and whether we will remain obedient followers of Christ.

If we go along with the crowd and redefine marriage because it’s popular or because we have friends that are gay – what does that say about our love and fidelity toward our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ? Do we only believe God’s Word when it is convenient? When we agree with it? Or do we submit ourselves to God’s picture of the world, no matter our personal opinions?

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” – (Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV)

If you are a follower of Christ, then you are part of the Bride. You are betrothed to Jesus. God Himself has declared that marriage between one man and one woman is glorious picture of the Ultimate Marriage – our marriage to Jesus. Why would you abandon that?

If you don’t know Jesus. If you haven’t chosen to marry the Bridegroom then this will probably sound like lunacy to you. That’s okay. At least now you know better the sincerity our beliefs.

Do Not Take His Love Lightly

The Bridegroom is waiting for His Bride. Those who are betrothed to Him have no clue what amazing wonders He has planned for us. One day we will see Him face to face and fall into His arms. He will scoop us off our feet at the altar of time and escort us into eternity, into the new home that He has prepared for us.

Church, do not take the love of Jesus, your Bridegroom, lightly. Do not confuse earthly affection for True Love. Do not assume that Jesus would change the timeless definition marriage without studying what Jesus has to say about His Bride. Do not reject His picture of marriage and in doing so reject your True Husband.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am The Root and The Descendant of David, The Bright Morning Star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” – (Revelation 22:16-17 ESV)


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