[This post first appeared as a guest piece at Aimee Byrd's blog, Housewife Theologian. You have been reading her blog, right? It's got some of the most edifying and thought-provoking articles available, and the writing is tops.]
Aimee, my interwebz friend and blog mentor, posted an excellent article about sisters and noted:
“I always say that us sisters really help prepare our brothers for marriage to a woman. I shamefully take part of the credit of my brother’s gentlemanlike qualities. Unfortunately for him, he’s learned much of his patience by being sandwiched between two crazy sisters. Hopefully we are helping prepare our brothers in Christ for marriage to the Lord.”
This got me thinking about the Borg Collective. (Stay with me, it all makes sense eventually. I hope.) On Star Trek, the Borg are a race that seeks perfection through abducting individuals and assimilating them into a collective intelligence, so that life and technology are wedded into a single unified organism. Hapless victims of Borg assimilation lose any semblance of their individuality, other than a resemblance of their former physical appearance. They no longer think for themselves, and all their actions are directed by the collective as a whole. While there is a queen who appears to rule, much as a queen bee rules a hive, she is really no more an individual than any other member.
Some critics of Christianity suggest that the Church is not much different from the Borg Collective (Google “Christianity Borg Collective” and you’ll see), as if we will all be assimilated and lose our individuality. But the Bible teaches something quite different.
It’s true that the Church is made up of women and men who are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29.) We are also called to serve Christ, but we do not serve as interchangeable parts or like cogs in a machine (nor like Borg abductees in a collective). Rather, as C.S. Lewis points out, as we become more like Christ we actually become more ourselves.
This is shown in the Parable of the Talents where individuals are recognized for achieving different results with the different resources given them (Matthew 25:14-30), and the passages which list the things Christians can do as individuals in the Church such as being a pastor or an evangelist, giving and being merciful, praying or serving meals. (See, for example, Acts 6:1-7, Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and Ephesians 4:11.) None of these are to be done alone, of course, but then again nothing is truly done alone in any organization.
As we serve God and grow in Christ-likeness, we are told that it is God who is actually working in us to complete the work he began. (Philippians 1:6.) The experience of Christians through the centuries has borne witness to the fact that those who mature in Christ do get better and better at serving him. But that same witness nowhere supports the notion that these same maturing believers lose their individuality and become indistinguishable from one another.
The women and men who make up the Church, the Bride of Christ, really do end up being more of who they are as individuals created by God. The question I came up with when I first read Aimee’s post is this: how will we – the men and women who make up the Church – experience the heavenly wedding celebration, the wedding where Christ is the Groom and the Church is his Bride? (Revelation 19:6-9.). I’ll repeat for the benefit of our male readers: Christ is the Groom, we’re the Bride; men are the Bride here just as much as women are; we all collectively are the Bride. Get it guys? We will join the women in putting on a bridal gown because we are all getting married to the Groom.
That’s what brings me back to Aimee’s assertion that our sister’s in Christ can prepare us men for being Christ’s Bride. I think that’s true. I think we men will experience that wedding as men just as our sisters in Christ will experience it as women. Yes we will experience it together as the Church, but since we each become more the person God made us to be as we grow in him we will also experience that wedding as individual men and women within the Church.
So men, what do you think of taking on the role of bride, not just as a member of the Church but also as the individual that God has made you to be?
And women, what do you think of sharing the role of Bride with your brothers in Christ, those Y chromosome carriers who (in this world at least) can never understand fully what it means to be a woman of God?
I don’t know what to think, at least not in the sense of fully understanding how it will be. But I do know that it will be wonderful, a feast for the soul, a feast for eternity. Let the wedding begin!