Relationships and the Church

I believe most people have a need to find another person to share their life with in a deeply intimate way. God gave us this craving for many reasons, but the most intriguing reason is that it symbolizes God’s relationship with the church. (Eph. 5:22-27)

We should also remember there are ways in which this relationship can be corrupted. Fornication, strictly defined as sexual relationships without marriage are outside of God’s will. Adultery, sexual relationships of a married person with someone other than their spouse is also inappropriate. Homosexuality, sexual relationships with a person of the same gender also are also wrong. (1 Cor. 6:9) These general statements, once considered obvious, are far from obvious to today’s culture.

For today’s theology Thursday post, let me elaborate a little bit on the picture of marriage being like the relationship between Christ and the church.

Marriage starts with a commitment made before God and man between the man and woman getting married. Salvation is the point of commitment where a person enters the church, that is, becomes a part of the bride of Christ. This commitment is meant to be a lifelong promise not a temporary arrangement.

The relationship is exclusive, a person who seeks to hold this relationship with God cannot spend their life dabbling in other religions, any more than a married person should spend their life seeking other sexual partners.

These relationships are given definition in Scripture. Marriage is defined as a lifetime relationship between a man and a woman. Changing this definition to include homosexuality, multiple partners, or anything else which seems right to men, is to abandon God’s right to define the shape of human life and behavior. This is akin to those who seek to find God, but reject His plan of salvation in order to come up with their own.


About Brides

Brides are deeply loved. Grooms sacrifice for their brides and will continue to do whatever is reasonably within their power to ensure their safety and happiness.

You cannot be a friend of the groom while despising his bride. He will not tolerate your opinion of her.

Brides are never perfect and no one actually expects them to be, but woe unto any man who makes a point of those imperfections within the hearing of the groom.

The church is referred to as the bride of Christ. We have every reason to believe that His actions toward the bride will be similar to any other groom.

There is frequently a trend to berate the traditional church. People, who call themselves Christians, make it a habit to speak negatively about the church. They belittle church membership and commitment to a specific local church. They prefer the universal church and believe thereby they have taken the moral high ground.

Even if these people are right about weaknesses in the individual churches. Even though they are right to say the universal church is the bride of Christ. They need to remember that individual congregations are what the universal church is made of.

Beware the groom when picking apart the bride.

The Church

Ecclesiology is a word for what we believe about the church. I believe the church is a powerful and important part of Christianity.

When I refer to the church, I am referring to the local church. I am aware that at times Scripture uses the word church to describe the total of all believers of all ages. This use is sometimes called the universal church. But my admiration, and this post are aimed at the local church.

I sense Satan is attacking the local church by making believers prefer to focus on the universal church instead of buying into the power of a committed congregation. One front in these attacks is to undermine the commitment of church membership. Some will claim they are a part of the universal church and act as if joining a local congregation would compromise their service or demean their commitment.

I define the local church as a group of people who have thrown in their lives together for the sake of serving God. I believe these congregations are God’s plan for reaching this world. Their unity and teamwork are planned by God and are used by God as His army on earth. A person who believes they serve God better by disrespecting the local church is mistaken. It’s a little bit like trying to be in the army without being assigned to a specific unit, the war is fought by working with units, not individuals.

Notice when I speak of the unity of believers I emphasize the unity of the local church first, and the unity of the church universal second. If we believe there is disunity in the kingdom of God, because of the different denominations. And if we believe this disunity keeps God from fulfilling His work on earth, I think we have believed the devil’s false accusation upon the church. Our unity should be with our local fighting group, not the entire fighting force. God manages at that level and He probably doesn’t appreciate our jumping in to help.

Note, I am working with the assumption God directs a multitude of different churches and denominations. Within these groups there should be a very high level of doctrinal agreement. This agreement allows them to work together.

As long as a group or church keep to the essential doctrinal issues, we have no reason to challenge them. These issues would include the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, The death burial and resurrection of Christ, and similar items. Unfortunately there are groups which claim these words but have abandoned the historic definition. Any movement to unify with these false doctrines is a part of the problem I am defining.

Syncretism is the idea all doctrines should be combined into one unified group, allowing all people on earth to have a single doctrinal stand. This plan does not accommodate the natural diversity in God’s creation. This plan fails to recognize infighting is created by the attempt, rather than squelched by it. And finally this plan doesn’t allow individuals to have a deeper commitment to a single fighting unit within the kingdom of God.

If we want to be a part of God’s work on earth the surest route is to seek which church God is calling us to be a part of and to make a commitment to it.