What does it mean to be a Bride?

In a week my daughter will become a bride. Ask me later to show you a photo of her in all of her bridal radiance. She is anticipating the day with great joy and some trepidation. There are beauties in marriage, to be sure. But to submit to another person in marriage is also to be vulnerable and to give up control; it requires great trust and creates opportunity for hurt. 

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John refers to the Church as the Bride of Christ. What a remarkable honor and joy that our identity is to be the beloved Bride of our Savior! In Ephesians 5, Paul describes the mysterious relationship between Christ and the Church as exemplified by a husband and wife: 

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (vv. 25-33)

Look at the tenderness of the phrases used to describe our Savior Groom: “loved her,” “gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her,” “cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,” “to present the church to himself in splendor.” Christ “nourishes and cherishes” the church “because we are members of his body.” A bride’s heart can rest in the care of such a groom!

Just before this, Paul gives a description of the role of wives:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (vv. 22-24)

As wives we are called to submit to the headship of our husbands and to flourish within the boundaries given to us in Scripture. The first sin of mankind was when Eve stepped beyond the boundaries given by God and entertained the devil’s lie: “Did God really say…?”  Ever since that fateful choice, our sin nature has driven us as women to strive to take the control that God has given to our husbands. Modern culture reflects that rebellion against God’s design. Feminism tells us that women have the right to be in charge and that we should be able to have, be, and do all that men have, are, and do. 

Yet contrary to the devil’s lies, this design created by God is not to our detriment. Christian apologist Alisa Childers posted recently about the mistaken assumption that gender role differences are equal to inequality, “as if whatever men do is the standard for what is good.” Our greatest glory comes instead in doing what we were created to do. It is no glory, in fact it is a disgrace, to disobey God and to force our way into a role that has been given by God to anyone other than ourselves. 

As I watch my daughter step into this wonderous new role as wife, I am confident she will flourish and grow as she submits to God’s design.