Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Spitting on the Bride

The wedding started off quite typically: organ music, cute but distracting flower girl, etc. etc.

But the timbre of the evening completely changed when the bride stepped out into the aisle. Immediately I could hear the murmurs. The bride looked different. I guess the months leading to the wedding were stressful, because she had put on a bit of weight and her normally clear face was spotted with acne. And while she was wearing a wedding dress, it looked like it was straight from the 80's--you know the kind I mean. She had a veil on, but unfortunately it didn't hide her scraggly hair. She looked nervous. She was walking very slowly and shakily.

I took my eyes off her for a minute and looked at the people sitting around me--some had pained expressions on their faces. A few kids were giggling. There were some who looked absolutely disgusted, as if they could not believe this woman was allowing herself to be seen in public. It was an uncomfortable, embarrassing atmosphere.

The worst part, however, was just as she was nearing the front of the sanctuary, a man in the third row leaned over the pew rail and spit on the bride. You'd think the congregation would have been outraged by this act--and some were. But there were others who applauded--actually applauded.


Okay, okay. So this is isn't a true story. But I've been thinking..if Christ is the bridegroom, and the Church is truly the bride, than why are we so quick to criticize the church? How do we purify the church without "spitting on the bride"?


JRV Lower said...

But what if the bride isn't nervous and shaking? What if the bride is raging, absorbing the attention she gets from her loud yelling and screams for attention? What if the bride is taking off her wedding garb and throwing it at the people in the pews? What if the bride is more obsessed with her walking down the aisle that she is with her groom who waits for her?

I would like to see the church as a homley bride, but I'm not convinced that picture fits the American church. That said, spitting back and snickering is probably not the best course of action...so where does that leave us?

Keith.Drury said...

Perhaps this is why some ministerial students are not ready to get married/ordained--they think of themselves as hunk-of-the-year and they're stuck with a bride of with vomit-level ugliness. (They're wrong on both points, of course.)

When I fall in love with the church, the bride appears (to me) to be prettier than she actually is and then I know I am ready to get married. Unfortunately, with today’s rush-to-ordination approach of most denominations, many will be forced into bed with her long before they love her and all we can hope for is that she'll grow on them.

If the church is the bride of Christ--He miust really have bad taste or low standards....or is there something wrong with our taste and standards?

Amanda said...

Progression of thoughts in my head...

1. "Whew! I sure am glad I have not had to be a part of a "raging and absorbed" bride/church that continually calls attention to herself.

2. Unless, of course, I AM that raging and absorbed bride and no one has the nerve to break it to me.

3. Wait a minute. I wrote this post from the wrong perspective...I'm not a part of the audience...I'M A PART OF THE BRIDE!!! I am a part of the bride whether she is beautiful, homely, or beastly.

4. If I am a part of the bride, then my criticisms only "shoot myself in the foot." I injure my ministry when I criticize the church. I guess my job is to look in the mirror and pull out the spinach before walking down the aisle and do the same for my fellow bride-walkers--quietly pulling her off to the side to keep her from embarressing herself and the rest of us.

Thanks for getting me to think deeper on this issue, Jess...

Amanda said...

Great comments, Dad.

As you can see in my above comment, my thoughts on this topic are shifting a bit...

I don't realize that when I fall in love with the church, I am not marrying the church (that's Christ's job), I am BECOMING A PART of the church. I am the bride.

Maybe the question of ordination is less, "Can I get in bed with this woman," but "Am I willing to BE this woman?"

YOU SAID: "If the church is the bride of Christ--He miust really have bad taste or low standards"

I need to mull over this a bit...you're messing with my mind. :)

The Cubicle Reverend said...

We are all the bride, we try our best to hide our ugliness (and some quite well) underneath a bright white dress, but beneath it all we are all just as unattractive as the next. But that is the difference between Christ and us. Mike Yaconelli put it best I think when he said, "we shouldn't be so smug in church. We should be standing in front of the church before new members and say, 'I'm sorry, we are the church. I know you were expecting more, but we are it.' We weren't supposed to be here! We have nothing to be smug about."

jrv lower said...

I think that last comment is interesting. I want to ask "what more do we think people are expecting?"

My husband always says that he has never seen an ugly bride--there is always a glow to her face and a brightness in her smile that makes even the worst fitting dress look wonderful on her. She is beautiful because she knows, at least for that one day, that she is the center of her husband's attention and that, ultimately and entirely, she is loved.

In your analogy, Mandy, you spoke about the people in the pews. I see those people as non-Christians. When we are at a wedding, what do we expect to see of the bride? We don't expect her to come clean our shoes or give us money and attention--we expect her to be excited to get married and the beauty that radiates from her is our blessing. And it is that beauty that brings us out of ourselves to see the beauty of the moment, of the couple's love, and of our privelage to be there.

I don't think that non-Christian expectations are that high for us. And I know that God's expectations are based in love and grace as a result of the Justice of the Cross. So where is this low self-esteem coming from? Cause it's sort of making us ugly...