Sometimes we can be right for the wrong reasons.

As a charismatic pastor, I have probably heard the statement “Jesus is not our boyfriend” a hundred times. (I don’t recall ever hearing someone say he is our boyfriend, by the way, but that’s another story.) Obviously, this is true: no one is dating Jesus, and Jesus doesn’t want to be our boyfriend, or relate to us like one. Yet the statement is true for very different reasons than the ones usually given.

When it comes to Jesus, we’re understandably anxious to ward off any notions of romance, intimacy, or sexualized imagery. There are too many worship songs that descend into adolescent mushiness and sentimental schmaltz. There are too many churches where immanence is everywhere and transcendence is nowhere. All these aspects of modern church life are problems. But the biggest problem with thinking of Jesus as your boyfriend is not that the image is too intimate. Actually, it is not intimate enough.

Biblically speaking, Jesus is our bridegroom (John 3:29). We are not dating him because we are already betrothed to him (2 Cor. 11:2). The relationship between Christ and the church is compared not to a boyfriend and girlfriend but to a husband and wife (Eph. 5:22–33). At the end of the biblical story, the curtain comes down to the sound of a wedding feast (Rev. 19:6–9; 21:2).

There are other flaws with the boyfriend imagery. First, Western evangelicals often see their relationship to God in an individualized way: Jesus is one party, and I am the other. Yet the Scriptures see the relationship corporately, with Israel or the church as the other party. A boyfriend has just one partner, whereas Jesus takes an entire “people for his ...

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Spirited Life
Spirited Life is a collision between biblical reflection and charismatic practice, aiming to make people happier in God.
Andrew Wilson
Andrew Wilson is teaching pastor at King's Church London and author most recently of Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship (Zondervan). Follow him on Twitter @AJWTheology.
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