Question: I started a study on the “bride of Christ” and am very bothered as to why Christians use the term! Since the primary example of the church is “the body of Christ”...how can the Lord’s very own body be feminine when He is masculine? To be fair, Mr. Hunt, how could a person not steeped in religious tradition ever get the idea we are Christ’s bride?
Response: If the church is not the bride and thus the wife of Christ, then who is? To whom (if not the church) do such verses as the following refer: “for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Rv 19:7), and “the Spirit and the bride say, Come....Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rv 22:17, 20)? If the bride here is not the bride of Christ, why would she be longing for His return; and whose bride is she if not His? She is called the bride because she has not yet been married to Him.
John the Baptist said of Christ, “he that hath the bride is the bridegroom” (Jn:3:29). The bride, clearly, belongs to Christ and will be married to Him in heaven (Rv 19:7-9). Who else is in heaven at this time to be married to Christ except the saints of all ages who have been caught up to heaven at the Rapture? That the bride is composed of such saints is clear, for she is “arrayed in fine linen, clean and white,” and the “fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (v 8). Is it not the church that is expecting Christ and longing to be taken to His Father’s house in heaven (Jn:14:2-3)? That promise is for none other.
That the church is the body of Christ (Rom:12:5; 1 Cor:12:27; Eph:4:12; Col:1:15) as you admit is all the more reason to believe that it is also His bride. Man and woman, when married, become “one flesh” (Eph:5:31). In the very next verse Paul writes, “This (being one flesh) is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” As the wife is with her husband, so the church is one flesh with Christ.
This entire passage (Eph:5:22-33) is about the relationship of husband and wife and it is likened to Christ and His church. You say that Christ’s body “can’t be feminine when He is masculine.” You are separating Christ from His body. The “one flesh” which husband and wife become is neither male nor female but something new comprised of both of them, a “mystery.” So the body of Christ of which He is the head is comprised of Christ and His bride. It cannot be separated from Him but is one with Him and is neither male nor female. Indeed, because of our union with Christ in one body, Paul writes that in the church “there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ” (Gal:3:28).