Some months ago I had the opportunity to speak to a small audience. The subject I decided to speak on was the Marriage of Christ and the church, also called the Marriage of the Lamb. I posted the paper associated with my talk below. I hope you will enjoy it, and find it useful. In it I discuss this most important of all marriages from a scriptural perspective and the light that it throws on the atonement of Jesus Christ (or Yeshua Messiah).
I was participating in an online forum where various theories of the atonement were being discussed. The discussion was vigorous and interesting and was continuing much longer than typical discussion threads. I offered the following theory: that the Atonement is about restoring us to our marriage with God. Here is the summary (which I posted in the discussion thread):
We were married to God at Sinai. Then we played the harlot. He tried to convince us to return, but we didn’t. Eventually he divorced us. He still hoped we would come back, but we kept playing the harlot.
After this point, the Law, which he gave, forbade him from taking us back as his wife (see Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Ah, but the Law about marriage only applies to a wife while her husband is alive! Once her husband is dead, she is no longer an adulterer. And, what is more, if her husband comes back to life, then she is free to marry him again, and he is free to take her – he is a new man! (see Romans 7:1-3)
We are very impressed that he would do that to get us back.
So, we are still not married, but we are betrothed (engaged). We are waiting for the groom to come and take us as his wife – to consummate the covenant we have made. We want to know him and he wants to know us.
This idea was received eagerly. Many people had never heard about the Atonement in these terms (they were more familiar with the ideas of Penal Substitution, Ransom Theory, Christus Victor, etc.). Due to the response I received, I posted the same paper as below, which more fully explains this concept of the Atonement, and also why this explanation is relatively unknown (because it flies in the face of Replacement Theology). However, I was a little nervous since this paper takes the scriptural view of marriage, and this discussion group generally considers polygamy to be “the doctrine of devils”. If you are reading this blog you can probably see how these viewpoints will be at odds. However, this paper is not about polygamy per se, so I thought it wouldn’t generate too much controversy.
After a few people read the paper there were more questions generated, generally insightful. Among them was the following:
You touched on how the woman’s marital status is all that matters when determining adultery. Any insights into why that’s important?
I have written a blog post about this topic here, but thought carefully about my response. In the end, I opted to keep it in terms of God and his marriage practices. My response was:
After some thinking of how to answer your last question about adultery and the marital status of the woman, I will say that if the Lord is the husband (or the betrothed) of Israel, then it is adultery on our part to go whoring after other gods. However, it is not adultery on his part if he goes seeking after other nations. He has other sheep in other folds (John 10:16, 3 Nephi 15:11-24), and he is their God also.
It is of note that the heathen gods are limited to one land and one people (the Bible makes mention of this concept repeatedly), but not so with our God. He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and the ruler of the whole world. Indeed, he has worlds without number (Moses 1:33).
There was no response, and this was the final comment on that thread.