In Scripture, the analogy used most often to describe God’s love for humanity is spousal. He is the Bridegroom and we, the Church, are the Bride.
I have always thought that this might be easier for women to understand than men. We “get” being brides.
How do men understand that they too, are brides?
The key lies in receptivity.
The story of God creating the first man and the first woman can give some insight.
“So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, the man said:, ‘This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called woman, for out of man this one has been taken.
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body.” (Genesis 2:21-24)
Man’s receptivity is here in these verses. First, he is cast into a deep sleep, which symbolizes his vulnerability and deep trust of God. He rests in his loving relationship with Him.
Then, God ordains that it is the place in man which guards his heart- his rib, that should be taken out. Now, man is open and vulnerable. Now the one who will end his loneliness, the woman, has a place to enter his heart.
And he is open to giving it. He allows God to take it.
And it is from this very rib taken out, that she is built up.
She’s created from his offering to give up his guarded place.
She is alive because of him.
God uses what man has given up in trust- his sacrificial gift of his rib which makes him vulnerable- to create someone new who can give herself back to him!
When they first see each other- they are ecstatic! Finally, a place to be gift! Finally a place to be gift and receptivity all at the same time.
And the giving and the receiving create union and love between the two.
And together, even in man, they know how to be God’s bride.
Together they receive God’s gift of love and give it back.
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