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bonar crump
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Ugly Brides make for Ugly Children

Let me start off by saying that I am NOT a theologian nor do I want to be one. I am not one to argue biblical translations or inerrancy. I do NOT view Christian scripture as a contract whereby all parties must accept it as holy writ to be enacted as law or to rule over us. I firmly believe in a living God that is perfectly capable of communicating with humanity in diverse and creative ways IN ADDITION to the written and heavily translated words of the Holy Bible. Getting antsy yet?

I DO believe that the scripture I’ve studied and made a part of my life for the last 35 years (the Protestant Bible, usually NIV although I discovered The Message version several years ago and prefer it most of the time) has been a foundational piece to my development and existence. Having said that—I feel compelled to confess that I do NOT worship the Bible and am quite sure that without its existence I would be the same believer in God that I am today. To me, the Bible is not the cornerstone of my faith—Jesus is.

I mash up metaphors like a child squishing together different colors of play-doh. Sometime I mash them all up so brutally that the individual colors disappear and the result is a brown ball of logic which resembles a philosophical turd. I know this about myself. I will never be cured and have no hopes of growing out of this “phase”. It is part of what makes me impatient with predictable movies, transparent poetry, and redactive biblical teaching. If I’m an expert on anything, it is this—I know a mixed metaphor when I see one.

"If we can hit that bullseye then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards... Checkmate." – Futurama character Zapp Brannigan

God as Father = metaphor
Jesus as Son = metaphor
Church as Bride = metaphor
Christians as Children = metaphor

Each metaphor standing alone serves as a useful tool to express or explain a complex relationship. All of them mixed up into a single thread of logic become a philosophical, spiritual, and relational turd. With that said, I shift my attention to the Church as Bride of Christ metaphor because it seems to be the only one in this particular grouping that proves to be more counterproductive than the rest due, in part, to the fact that it is biblically inferred but never directly defined in scripture.[1]

The reason I’ve decided to reject the Bride of Christ metaphor is because of the way that it is used not because of the validity of the claim. The validity of the claim I will leave to the theologians.

As long as there is criticism of mainstream Christian religion there will be a cry of, “how dare you defame the Bride of Christ!” As long as there is criticism of institutional Christianity there will be shouts of, “we must protect the Bride of Christ at all costs!” And as long as there are challenges to the rules, expectations, loyalty, and grace of traditional modes of Christianity there will be placards that read, “Save the Bride—keep her pure!”

It’s a very useful slogan/belief when calling our brothers to arms in defense of values and beliefs that have traditionally served us well. It’s also very useful as a fence to keep sheep from straying into other pastures. Because as soon as we convince each other that the holy Bride of Christ is the most important thing in all of God’s creation and we put on our t-shirt that designates us as a member of the holy Bride of Christ then by way of deduction we define ourselves as God’s favored/chosen group. Once you’re a part of God’s chosen group then you don’t want to go rogue and challenge too much of the status quo. Otherwise, you might wind up on the “outside” looking in wondering all the while when the Child of God metaphor is going to kick in.

Wait! I though you said I was a Child of God which means God is my Father. Then you told me that accepting God’s Son (Jesus) as my Lord and Savior made me part of the Bride of Christ. Now you’re gonna tell me that we’re all supposed to marry the Son of our Father which should encourage us to remain pure (unmolested by culture)? Pure? It all sounds pretty incestuous to me—where’s the door?

If you’ve been around Christian teaching for more than a couple years you’re not bothered by the brown color which develops from mashing all of this up. As a matter of fact, you’re quite turned off by my flippant way of making a point above. But if you’re not use to drinking the doctrinal kool-aid like the rest of us, you tend to think that Christians are some of the most screwed up, demented, cognitively delusional people in the world. And I think that in many ways we are. But the delusion isn’t our God—it’s our perception of God and the funky little box that we package him in called religion.

If the very means by which we teach people about God creates a barrier between them and understanding or believing in God then don’t you think Screwtape props his feet up on his desk, places his hands behind his head, and takes a joyful little sigh of gratitude?

I think it’s time to rethink some of our beliefs. I think that laziness has led us to accept whatever the religious machine is producing. I think that thinking for ourselves and being intellectually honest by way of applying our individual life experiences and logic are ways of opening up a line of communication with God allowing us to experience the totality of a benevolent loving creator outside the confines of an institutionally sanctioned package.

I think it’s time to believe in God with our hearts and by doings so diminish the noise in our heads that leads us to create our own packages for our little Gods to live in. It’s called embracing our spirituality and trusting God’s presence (or Holy Spirit) in our hearts.

Scary—a bit.
Rewarding—beyond belief!

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