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Unrequited

June 12, 2022

File:All Saints Catholic Church (Walton, Kentucky) - portal tympanum, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.jpg

“Marriage Supper of the Lamb”, portal tympanum at All Saints Catholic Church, Walton, KY, Author Nheyob (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The relationship between Christ and His church has often been compared to a marriage.

Old Testament

In the Old Testament, Boaz – the kinsman-redeemer who marries the Moabite widow Ruth – is considered a foreshadowing of Christ [1].

The Song of Solomon describes the covenantal love of Christ for His church.  In medieval mysticism, this book was construed to apply to the love between Christ and the human soul [2].

On the other hand, the prophet Hosea’s troubled relationship with his wife is used as a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel.

But God promises Israel:

And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness….You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be married.  For…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you” (Isa. 62: 1, 4-5).

New Testament

In the New Testament, John the Baptist describes Christ as the Bridegroom (John 3: 29).  This concept is reinforced by the parable reference Christ makes to Himself as the Bridegroom (Mark 2: 19-20).

In fact, the church is regularly referred to as the Bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11: 2; Eph. 5: 25-27; Rev. 19: 7-9, 21: 2, 22: 17).

Failed Relationships

While we can recognize the analogy and its bearing on the corporate body, what are we as individuals to make of this?

Certainly, those who have been happily married can understand that steadfast love and commitment are intended (covenantal love being even more profound than human love) [3].

What though of the rest of us?  Are we second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God, forever precluded from an experiential understanding of His love.

We know what love is, at least in theory.  We may have been fortunate enough to experience the love of a devoted mother and/or father, the love of siblings and friends.  Surely, we love our own children.

If, however, we have had painful and failed relationships (perhaps a series of them), we are likely to feel somewhat excluded when Christ’s relationship with the church is compared to a marriage.

Unrequited Love

Those who have never experienced unrequited love will frequently tend to dismiss it.  But unreturned affection can be agony.  More than one life has been ended prematurely, as a result.

God’s Love

Yet this is the very nature of the love God has for sinners.

To say that is not to trivialize God’s love.  To the contrary, scripture tells us that we love because He loved us first (1 John 4: 19).  And He grieves when we turn away from Him (Gen. 6: 6; Ps. 78: 40; Isa. 63: 10; Hos. 11: 1-3).

All of which means that even our painful and failed relationships, even our unrequited love, can point us toward God.  Rather than serving as “proof” of His abandonment or rejection, they provide us with unique insight as to the depth of God’s own love.

[1]  Ligonier, “The Ultimate Kinsman-Redeemer” by Stephanie van Eyk, 6/5/13, https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/ultimate-kinsman-redeemer.

[2]  Encyclopedia Britannica, “Song of Solomon”, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Song-of-Solomon.

[3]  Pepperdine Digital Commons, Vol. 3, Issue 4 Special Studies, Article 5, “Unconditional Love and Covenant Love:  A Comparison” by John Free, 1/1/95, https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1995&context=leaven.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://www.avoicereclaimed.com

From → Christian, Religion

8 Comments
  1. God’s love is never failing. His mercy is new every morning.

  2. Allan Halton permalink

    Someone has said that to love is to make oneself vulnerable to the suffering of unrequited love. Is it worth the risk? But if not, how can it be love? How can love do otherwise than to love? Calvary is proof of that.

  3. Vielen Dank, liebe Anna, für all diese schönen und sorgfältig geschriebenen Berichte. Liebe Grüße und alles Gute, Marie

  4. Great post Anna,
    It is amazing when we consider the love of God ..
    We could never find a love more enduring..

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