(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Rethinking the Phrase “Bride of Christ”
By Jehn Kubiak
Confession: I’m 23, going on 24, and have never dated. No crushes (although I’ve found some guys attractive), no dates, no first kisses…nothing. A lot of my female friends would call me crazy, but honestly, I’m very much okay with it. At least a third, if not half, of my friends and fellow college alums are either engaged or married. That’s not even including those who are dating. Do I feel pressured sometimes to be in a relationship? Of course. Being the odd one out can feel uncomfortable at times, but then I ask myself, what do I really want? The answer? I’m contently flying solo through life.
As someone who grew up in the Church, I’ve seen firsthand how so many pastors and even parishioners believe that marriage is one of the keys to the Christian life? Why? It’s because of the bride and the church metaphor. That metaphor is designed to show Christ’s immense love for us because marriage is a contract which a couple is not supposed to break. Therefore, it is considered one of the highest acts of love someone can make in their life––aside from self-sacrifice, such as Christ’s death on the cross.
However, that has often been misconstrued to mean that you can’t successfully engage in ministry without getting married. Some may say that you may not be able to understand how Christ is the bride of the Church because marriage is something that people cannot (usually) understand until they have been through it. On another note, even non-Christians have felt that they must get married so they don’t feel lonely or empty.
Now, I am in no way trying to say that you shouldn’t get married. Rather, What I’m trying to say is that a person can still understand what it’s like to be the bride of Christ in an alternative way. Paul is one of my favorite people in the Bible because he demonstrated a strong walk with Christ as a celibate man––and he was content with it. Right now, I’m not sure if marriage is in the cards or not; only time will tell, but if I had to be single for the rest of my life, I would be okay with it.
Anyways, Paul has taught me something very valuable. Although he is technically an apostle since he was a teacher of Christ, one could argue that he was also a disciple since the term means “Christ-follower.” With that in mind, we are also Christ’s disciples, and that reminded me of a specific passage in John 15. Herein lies the answer of how a single person can understand what it means to be the bride of Christ:
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
A dear friend is the answer. Intimacy can still happen in friendships, but it seems like that term scares people nowadays since most associate it with romantic connotations. However, intimacy just signifies a deep relationship, and that’s how I believe single persons can relate to Christ; as a friend they know very well, someone who they’re so close to that they share everything with. A friend who knows them inside-and-out, which Christ certainly does.
So, if you’re still single like me and don’t have any future prospects, just remember that marriage isn’t a condition required for a person to understand how this kingdom relationship with Christ works; we just have a different perspective, and that’s nothing we should feel ashamed about. After all, every person who accepts Christ is part of his kingdom, and I hope this inspires my single readers to look forward to that beautiful reality described in Revelation:
“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’”
– Revelation 21: 2-3