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Unholy Matrimony

This article was published in the Presbyterian Standard, Issue No. 29, January-March 2003.

THE dignity of the marriage union is due to the fact that it is a faint representation of the one true marriage. As Paul instructs believers on the respective duties of husbands and wives he refers them to the divine institution of marriage in paradise. Then he says: "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and his church" (Eph.5:32).

Scripture often refers to the church as the bride of Christ. She was promised to Him in eternity. In time He came from heaven to win her with His dying love. Now He woos her by His Word in the gospel of His grace. Betrothed to Him and united to Him she is purified from all her sin until that glorious day when she shall be without any blemish, "as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev.21:2).

If the Lord in heaven claims the church on earth as His wife-to-be then we would expect to see in her already a reverent submission to Him as her only Head and Husband. We would expect to see a recognition of His authority and a sincere obedience to Him. But what do we see in today's professed bride of Christ? Do we not see much disobedience to our Lord and Saviour?

The trends in today's society have their counterparts in the visible church. The false 'feminist' movement, in which women assume the leadership roles of men, is mirrored when the church tries to assert herself against Christ's lordship. Adultery, the violating of the sacred marriage bond, also has its parallel, for God often has to complain of His church, "thou hast played the harlot with many lovers" (Jer.3:1). Divorce, that "putting away" which God hates (Mal.2:16) is seen in the religious realm as many churches go so far in their rebellion that they are likely to cast off Christ altogether.

This modern, liberal 'bride' is bold, brazen and not very beautiful. But recently a scheme has been announced, in keeping with her character, by which she imagines to make herself more attractive to Christ and to secure her wedlock to Him. The 'Scottish Church Initiative for Union' has been fully seven years in preparation. It aims to bring together the Church of Scotland (which is not really the Church of Scotland), the Scottish Episcopal Church (which is not truly episcopal), the United Reformed Church (which is hardly reformed) and the Methodist Church (which is scarcely a church at all these days).

Accepting the idea that 'big is beautiful', the proposal is for 'maxi-parishes' covering whole towns or large areas of the country. And of course to make the new entity truly admirable there must be 'bishops' to lead these parishes – which then begin to look suspiciously like dioceses. As a sop to any remaining presbyterian conscience in the land these bishops will be elected for a unspecified period of time – but this will be by regional church councils rather than by popular vote.

If such a plan ever takes shape and this bride ever appears to view, we may say with complete confidence that Christ will not have her, however impressive she may appear in her own eyes and to the world. She has refused to learn that what is desirable to Christ in His own bride is a love for truth, not territory, a regard for righteousness, not political correctness, and a faithfulness to God rather than a fear of man.

As time proceeds there is less and less to distinguish the morals and practices of the denominations which make up this unfaithful bride from those of that known harlot, the Church of Rome. To any friends of Christ who remain within the pale of this pretend Protestantism the Word of God comes with this clear command: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2Cor.6:17).