In a video message posted online, Pastor Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill Church Seattle) defends himself against his critics who find some of his remarks in the pulpit inappropriate. In defending himself, among other things, Driscoll talks about something he finds inappropriate—namely, associating the word “bride” to himself personally in relation to Jesus.
You can watch his full defense here.
The comments I’m referring to start about 2:45 minutes into the recording and relate to a sermon he preached on the Song of Songs.
“. . . we do love Jesus, but we don’t love Jesus as if we were his bride. . . . the bride imagery of the church doesn’t work real well for an individual application, especially for a man. . . . But taking that metaphor, for example, and applying it to an individual would mean that I am Jesus’ bride. That I am Jesus’ wife. To say the least, that conjures up very bizarre imagery that creates a very strange relationship with Jesus who is God become a man, but is now a man nonetheless, the God-man to be sure, but a man. . . . It’s false, it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t work. . . . because that’s not the kind of relationship that a heterosexual man should have with Jesus.
I would agree that the bride metaphor is corporate and also that there’s always a danger of taking a metaphor too far. At the same time, aren’t we skating on thin ice theologically and hermeneutically, not to mention falling into the “picking and choosing” habit, when we stiff-arm a biblical metaphor at the personal level just because it makes us uncomfortable? Isn’t Scripture supposed to make us uncomfortable?
More to the point, does Driscoll’s resistance expose a flawed view of male/female relationships, if it is off-putting at best and demeaning at worst for a man to think of himself as a bride or a wife, even though Scripture attaches those labels to him?
Doesn’t the “heterosexual man” need to know at the personal level he is beloved, pursued, embraced, and called out. Are there no low moments in his life when he needs to hear Jesus exclaiming “You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” or be reminded that the love bond between God and himself is “as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave”?
Is there something important for all of us to gain—including Pastor Driscoll—in contemplating what it means for us individually to be called the Bride of Christ?
What do you think?