Thursday, November 05, 2009

Is Jesus My Boyfriend?

I read two blog posts today that I don't think are directly related to each other, but which couldn't correspond any better if they were.

The first is a post on one of my favorite blogs, Abraham Piper's 22 Words, which had the title "The problem with disliking Jesus-is-your-boyfriend music is that Jesus is (y)our boyfriend":
I’m uncomfortable as anyone with Christians being Jesus’ lover.

But that’s my fault. I shouldn’t blame those who thrill to this metaphor.
The purpose of this particular blog is to have the entire post be under 22 words, so obviously there's no room for exposition of his view (this also explains the rather long titles).

The second is a post from Professor John Stackhouse (Regent College) entitled "Jesus, I'm NOT in Love with You," in which he argues against "Jesus-is-my-boyfriend" music by saying that loving Christ and being in love with Christ are two completely different things, and that being in love with someone is something reserved only for your spouse. He goes into much more detail than Piper does, and I think his most compelling argument is the following:
But the New Testament never calls Christians Jesus’ fiancĂ©es or his brides. Instead, it is the Church collectively, and only the Church as a whole, that relates to Jesus this way–just as individual Israelites did not relate to Yhwh as so many spouses, but only the nation of Israel as nation was his beloved bride.
So who is right? Is Jesus my boyfriend or not? Are those songs helpful or not? I think the question comes down to the nature of an individual's relationship to the community.

My initial thought is that although Stackhouse is basically right, I don't know if the community can be separated from the individual that dramatically. I think there's overlap where it's not necessarily a problem to sing those songs, although I think there are maybe better things you could be singing about.

But those are just my preliminary thoughts. What are your thoughts?


Peter W said...

I've a sort of gut reaction to that kind of idea mainly because of the shallow lyrics and simplistic melodies that the "Jesus is my boyfriend" tends to have (at least the ones I've heard).

As an ideal, I would agree that the "bride of Christ" metaphor applies to the church as a whole and not to individual Christians. But honestly, if it's something that helps Christians love Christ more, then I won't nitpick it. They can deepen their love through sound theology later.

Josh T said...

Well, I think as far as the music goes, I generally don't like it because half the time you could sing it to God or you could sing it to your girlfriend/boyfriend without having to change anything. It's not usually too doctrinally sound.

However, if we are called to love him with a love that is so great it makes all other love look like hatred (Luke 14:26) then I would say there is a calling to be "in love" with Jesus. Now, let's be clear - I don't think this is the same as being in love with a wife or husband. It's not a romantic love. It's so much deeper and more profound. I think it all comes down to the question of what are you meaning when you say it? We are supposed to be lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:4) but that's not using the word "lover" as a romantic lover. My point - when you use the word, what are you saying?

And now I'm babbling and probably not making much sense... hmm... okay... basically, I agree with Sam's initial thoughts that the individual can't be separated from the whole body so easily. My initial support for this - look at how many times all of Israel was punished for one man's sin. It works both ways. I think that since the church is the bride of Christ, the individual in the church needs to be in love with Christ, and a lover of Christ, with the kind of love that Jesus is referring to in Luke as I stated above. If that kind of love is not called being "in love" then I don't know what is.