The Lover of Our Soul
Marriage was created by God as a place for intimacy. When we hear the word intimacy we immediately think of physical love expressed in the sexual union of a man and a woman. Sex is a part of intimacy, but if we equate it with intimacy we miss the point.
The reason God reserved sexual intimacy for marriage is because it was designed to be experienced within the context of commitment and faithfulness. Those who engage in sex outside of marriage allow their physical relationship to rob them of love’s fullness. This is why those who live together before marriage often have difficulty after they promise themselves to one another in a wedding ceremony. It isn’t that marriage has changed the dynamic of their relationship and made things worse, but rather that something from marriage was taken from them while they lived in disobedience to God’s Word. The damage can be repaired, but only when a couple acknowledges their confusion and strives to reset their relationship on a biblical foundation.
The relationship of Jesus to His Bride cannot be understood outside of this principle. As well, it is impossible for us to fully comprehend how God felt when Israel turned to idols if we fail to grasp the importance of marital fidelity. God’s words to Ephraim through the prophet Hosea make no sense apart from this: “They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises” (Hos 7:4 NIV).
If we ignored the sanctity of marriage, how could we treasure Paul’s words in relation to Christ’s love for His church? Indeed, He died “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:26-27).
As believers we have been called out of sin, washed clean by the blood of Christ, and betrothed for a holy purpose. Our Savior has returned to His Father’s house where He is busy preparing a room for us, just as husbands in the first century returned to their father’s houses and annexed living spaces for their brides. First century betrothals lasted for a year or two. The betrothal of Christ to His holy Bride has lasted for centuries.