I consider myself a happily married guy. Not to mention I consider myself incredibly lucky how everything turned out. Jenny and I have only been married for 5 years, so by no means am I an expert on it...or anything else for that matter.
But one thing that I seem to be gaining a better understanding of is how a marriage between two people reflects the type of relationship that God wants to have with us.
Throughout the Bible we're bombarded with wedding metaphors and sexual imagery...even if you count Song of Solomon as being purely about a relationship between two humans (which I do) and not about God and the church (which I don't). It's pervasive throughout the Hebrew covenants, revisited in New Testament letters & prophesy and is in the forefront in the words of Jesus written the gospels.
Many books have been written about sexuality as it relates to God and the mirroring of salvation as a divine marriage with him. I highly recommend "Sex, Lies, and Religion" by Randy Elrod and "Sex God" by Rob Bell for some great insights into these connections.
For one thing, having a better understanding of Jewish wedding ceremonies and rituals shines a whole new light onto Jesus' words of going to his father's house to build a room for us...
Anyway, one of the areas that I think could use a bit more marriage symbolism would be on a particular theology that seems incredibly divisive...at least in the American church:
Once Saved, Always Saved
'Once Saved Always Saved' is a doctrine that basically means once you put your faith in Christ and are saved, that you can never lose it. That once you become a "true" Christian, there will be nothing you can do to lose your faith and you are secure for all eternity. Obviously this is an incredibly simplified explanation.
This viewpoint is backed by a large amount of scripture references...and of course is argued against by people backed up by a large amount of other scripture references.
My point is, instead of arguing about or worrying if we can ever lose our salvation, or if we were ever truly saved, or if we can ever do something to mess up our salvation; I suggest we look at it from a marriage perspective. Instead of once saved, always saved; how about:
Once Married, Always Married
I do believe that God will never leave us, abandon us, give up on us or anything like that. God is the 'perfect spouse,' always waiting with infinite patience and forgiveness for us to come to him when (not if) we screw something up.
But a marriage is a two-way relationship. If the only person whose opinion mattered was God's, we'd never break the relationship...and for that matter, I believe everyone in the world would be saved as well...that's a logical correlation to stew on some other time.
God allows our opinions to matter. He allows us to have free will. He allows us to accept his eternal marriage proposal or not. And not only that, but we are told to continue to work out our own salvation (Phil 2:12), which parallels (to me) the idea of 'working on' a marriage.
What if I were to say to Jenny, "Hey, we're married, and we'll always be married, so I don't think I'm going to do any work on this marriage. I'm just going to do what I want, I'm not going to compromise with you, consult you, care about you, or even share my life with you; because we're married and there's nothing that will change that. We're married, but we're basically going to be strangers with a marriage in name only."
Even if she didn't divorce me (which again, God won't) what kind of a marriage would we be left with? What kind of a broken, failed relationship would that look like? Sure, I'd be married...but so what? I sure wouldn't have any companionship. It would just be a sham.
I think that looking at our salvation as a marriage relationship between us and God has the potential to really change some perspective. The same ideas of "once saved always saved" or not no longer seem to apply...at least they don't to me.
It's so much--I don't know--richer than that.
What do you think?