The service at Vineyard Church of Kansas City made me think of this song:
We Will Dance (David Ruis)
Sing a song of celebration,
Lift up a shout of praise,
For the Bridegroom will come,
The glorious one,
And oh, we will look on his face,
We’ll go to a much better place.
Dance with all your might,
Lift up your hands and clap for joy,
The time’s drawing near,
When he will appear,
And oh, we will stand by his side,
A strong, pure, spotless bride.
We will dance on the streets that are golden,
The glorious bride and the great Son of man,
From every tongue and tribe and nation,
Will join in the song of the lamb.
Sing aloud for the time of rejoicing is near,
The risen King, our groom, is soon to appear,
The wedding feast to come is now near at hand,
Lift up your voice, proclaim the coming Lamb.
Then, my mind wandered to this song:
Don’t Ever Leave Me Jesus (Faith + 1)
Don’t ever leave me Jesus, I couldn’t stand to see you go,
My heart would simply snap, my Lord, if you walked on out that door.
I promise I’ll be good to you, I’ll keep you warm at night,
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, why don’t we just shut off the light?
And before I knew it, my mind illustrated an image: me in a conservative but fashionable white dress, Jesus in cargo pants and an undershirt, the perfect wedding. Who better to marry than God in human form? In addition to the unlimited red-carpet experiences and world-saving excursions, I would have constant access to a healer, counselor and friend. I would love him because, well, he’s Jesus, and he would love me because he pretty much loves everyone. Though he may be a bit preoccupied and generous with his talents, no one can question his faithfulness.
Swooning now, I listened to the pastor ramble on about God’s covenant with us being just like a marriage covenant. He was pointing to a chuppah, the open tent used for marriage in a Jewish wedding. Reconstructed on the stage, the chuppah contained flowers, candles and a white runner. “And then,” he pointed to the right side of the chuppah, “the couple would go into a private tent to consummate their marriage.”
“Then, they would come out afterwards for the big party and celebrate their wedding.”
Two questions formed in my mind, “What do the guests do while the couple…consummates?” and “Are you suggesting that I consummate with Christ?”
It does have a certain ring to it. Consummate with Christ. And the pastor didn’t lead into an explanation, here. He went straight from talking about us being like a bride to God to sex in a tent. Sure, I disliked the music and felt generally annoyed by the space already, but this took the daftness of both the congregation and their pastor to a new level. Did no one else notice that we went from loving God to being IN LOVE with God?
The Faith + 1 song above is from an episode of South Park when Cartman bets the other boys that he can sell over one million copies of his band’s CD if they sing Christian Rock. He then proceeds to take 1980s love ballads and change the words to include “Jesus” and “God.” Later in the episode, as the band’s success takes off, one of the record producers questions whether Cartman loves Jesus or is IN LOVE with Jesus. Quickly, Cartman tests the producers’ faith by asking if it is possible to love God too much.
I know of nuns who wear a wedding ring to signify their dedication and therefore marriage to God. That seems personally symbolic, and I get that. I don’t, however, appreciate taking a beautiful Jewish tradition and twisting it around to benefit a sermon. It’s the hijacking of faith that bothers me, the picking and choosing. We want to separate ourselves from the Jewish faith, so we take off our hats in church while they cover their heads. But occasionally, we will admit that we owe aspects of our religion to Judaism but not quite imply that Jesus, himself, was Jewish. We don’t get to damn them to hell one minute and then steal their traditions the next. We can’t cite Leviticus to prove the sinfulness of homosexuality and then turn around and eat a piece of pepperoni pizza.
I know of many Christians that admire the Jewish faith and participate in their traditions with open-mindedness and respect. The outrageousness of this pastor’s implication, though, reminded me of the innumerable inconsistencies within Christianity. And it made me wonder, can a faith’s devotion to love go too far? Do I really want to marry Jesus?