A lot of Christian women like to use this phrase.
I understand why.
Ultimately, marriage represents Christ and His bride the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). He is the heavenly Bridegroom for believers – the body of Christ. Together, Christians comprise “the bride of Christ” – according to God’s Word. We have the promise that we will share the Marriage supper of the Lamb together with Him in heaven and live “happily ever after” with Him.
But… is it possible to take this Jesus-as-Husband concept too far?
Yep. Probably so.
Here is a comment from a single Christian man on www.peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com this week about this subject:
It should be noted that one of the constant problems I notice in reading the words of women is that they put Jesus in the place of their husband (or boyfriend, this works for both). Unfortunately, very few to no people deal with this at all. A rebuke in this manner sounds like suggesting that she put the husband as an idol in the simple-minded, but it really is not. It’s putting Jesus and the husband in their proper places and roles.
As David Murrow writes:
Christian self-help books are prodding women to become lusty — toward Jesus. Many famous authors vigorously encourage women to imagine Jesus as their personal lover. One tells her readers to “develop an affair with the one and only Lover who will truly satisfy your innermost desires: Jesus Christ”. A well-known Christian author says to his female readers, “at times, Jesus will be more of a husband to you than the man of flesh that you married. And while your husband may wonderfully meet many of your needs, only the Bridegroom can and will meet all your needs.” Another offers this breathless description of God’s love: “This Someone entered your world and revealed to you that He is your true Husband. Then He dressed you in a wedding gown whiter than the whitest linen. You felt virginal again. And alive! He kissed you with grace and vowed never to leave you or forsake you. And you longed to go and be with Him.”
In a woman taking Jesus as her husband, she puts herself and her husband in a unhealthy place. In doing this, she puts her husband and Jesus in competition, one which her husband can never win in the heart of his wife. In doing this, she heaps great amount of disrespect on her husband.
A better way to say it is to make sure her husband and Jesus is in the proper places in the hearts of a woman. A husband has his proper place. And Jesus has his proper place. As you rightly point out, it’s not good to replace Jesus in his proper place with the husband. But this is a very small problem, and pales in comparison to the problem of women replacing their husbands in their proper places with Jesus. As the quote above intimates, this is done much more frequently by Christian women to almost be common, and is done with the support and instruction of other Christian women and church authorities.
And to put what I wrote in a simpler way: As described, the wife is committing adultery against her husband….with Jesus.
I don’t believe it is healthy or right for us to literally picture Jesus as being our personal flesh and blood husband or that He takes the place of a flesh and blood husband.
He is GOD.
There ought to be a great deal of reverence and awe and trembling in our souls before God – a holy fear.
We are not going to be physically intimate with Jesus. Romantic, sexual, erotic love is created by God to be enjoyed between human husbands and wives here on earth.
We are to be one in Spirit with Christ. We worship Him. He is the focus of our lives. We desire Him above everything else in a holy way. We find our purpose, contentment, joy, peace, satisfaction, fulfillment and identity primarily in Him. We seek to please Him and serve Him with all our our hearts, souls, minds and strength. He is our LORD. But He is deity – not only human. We are not in a sensual relationship with Him. Check out my Catholic friend Thomas’ comment on this post about the Eucharist.
Jesus has His proper place and my husband has his proper place in my heart. They are two different places – I agree with the author above.
- We are one SPIRIT with Christ – part of His Spirit enters my spirit and my body. My body becomes His temple, the place where He meets with me and empowers me.
- We are one FLESH with our husbands – part of his body enters my body – it is a picture or living metaphor of the one Spirit relationship we can have with Christ.
If I put Jesus where my husband should be – I have a mess.
If I put my husband where Jesus should be, I also have a mess.
Although my love and response toward Jesus and my husband share similarities – my relationship with each of them is NOT the same. They do not compete in my heart for a place.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
If a Christian wife begins to think of Christ as being her literal flesh and blood husband, and she talks about that to her husband – quite honestly, that will creep out a lot of Christian men. It makes it seem like there is no room left in her heart for himself, possibly. And, I think it conjures up images of a woman having some kind of sensual feelings for Christ. If we are imagining Christ being our physical lover – that seems to me to be a gross and unholy distortion of what our relationship with Him is meant to be. We are not ever called upon to lust after Jesus physically or to desire Him sexually or romantically. Imagine the repulsiveness of this thought to a man who wants to love Christ.
Sometimes we can also expect our husbands to literally BE Christ to us – to never sin, to love us with what we define as “the way Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her,” to be totally responsible for our happiness, to do anything we want just because we want them to do something. This is not a good idea! In fact, we can easily make idols of our husbands.
I think we need to be careful with the concept of the church being the bride of Christ, that we don’t distort it:
- Yes, in marriage, the picture is that of Christ and the church with the husband representing Christ and the wife representing the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). But it is an imperfect picture that is demonstrated in the flesh – portraying a picture of what happens spiritually between Christ and the church. God describes His people committing “adultery” against Him when they worshipped idols in the Old Testament. Worship is the “intimate” experience God desires us to share with Him alone and to reserve for Him alone. The church or individual believers will not be having sex with Christ in heaven. According to Jesus, people will not marry in heaven, “but will be like the angels.” There will be a continual state of God’s people worshipping Him and being one with Him spiritually. Sex in marriage points to the spiritual intimacy, oneness and worship of God that we will experience with Christ in heaven. There is a tendency today in Christianity in our culture to glorify and even idolize romance and also to romanticize our relationship as believers with Jesus. There is a very interesting article about that issue and the dangers that approach to Christ may encourage that I will be sharing tomorrow.
- Marriage is between two sinful humans. Hopefully, we only married men who are committed to Christ, but even then, our men are sinful – just like we are. There is no sinless human husband on the planet. And there is no sinless human wife on the planet, either. We will be called upon to extend overwhelming grace, mercy, unconditional love, unconditional respect and forgiveness in marriage – often. We don’t have to do that with Christ. Sometimes because the husband/man is to represent Jesus, we expect him to be as perfect as Jesus. That is not possible – not outside of heaven.
- “The way Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her” – this does not equate to “a flesh and blood man has to love me exactly the way I WANT to be loved” or “I need to FEEL loved every moment for him to be properly portraying the love of Christ.” How are we defining “the way Christ loves the church?” That’s an important question! Jesus loved the church and gave Himself up for her because He loved God the Father primarily and because He submitted to His will. He also gave Himself up for her because she couldn’t save herself and He was the only one who could save her. He did what was ultimately best for her in the big picture. That doesn’t mean that He does everything we want Him to do. Sometimes what we want is not what is best for us. THANK GOD that He says “no” and “wait” to us sometimes. Thank God that He chastises us, prunes us, refines us and sanctifies us (uses suffering to make us more and more like Jesus and more holy). Sometimes when a man loves his wife with the love of Christ, she may not FEEL loved at the moment, but sometimes he will have to make tough choices to do what He believes is right before God even though his wife does not agree with him. That is his duty and responsibility before God – to please God above pleasing his wife!
- We are responsible for our own obedience to Christ, our own sin, our own happiness. It is not right to expect that another person be responsible for the things that ultimately we are responsible for before God. When I make my husband responsible for my happiness – which I did for a long time – I also become a powerless victim, waiting on him to make me happy. If I wasn’t happy, I blamed him. Then I tried to force him to do what I wanted so I could be happy. This is NOT a godly path to take! God gives us a Spirit of power, love and a sound mind. I am not a victim when I belong to Christ. I have the resources and riches of heaven at my fingertips to flood through me like Niagra Falls to meet my spiritual needs and to bless others with along my path as well. I am able to live in contentment no matter if my needs in my marriage are being met or not – because I depend on Christ primarily for my spiritual needs to be met. I don’t lay the burden of my spiritual needs at the feet of another human. Only Jesus can meet my deepest spiritual needs perfectly. My husband has the ability to meet some of my needs. It’s wonderful when he does. But I can be ok no matter what happens because I have Christ in His proper place in my heart.