One of the things I heard while listening to a podcast in response to the TGC article is that Christ is now betrothed to his bride, but not married to her.* In this way, the article’s sexualized language regarding Christ penetrating his church is inappropriate. Christ isn’t having sex with his church right now. Furthermore, he isn’t going to be having sex with his bride even then, when he returns for her in glory at the end of all things.
I always thought it was weird that there wasn’t going to be any marriage in heaven. Why not let us share in the perfection of the holy state that we might know what it was meant to be when God created it in the beginning? And the same with the marriage act. Why take away something good that in the glorified state could potentially be even better? It surely seemed to me that to enter into eternity was like taking a giant step backwards.
I asked my husband about this, about Christ’s bride being a virgin. If in the Old Testament God’s people were portrayed as an unfaithful bride, always running away and going after false gods, is he perpetually making her pure all this time, so that she’s just gradually becoming more and more pure as time goes on? How is she finally presented to him without spot or blemish? How is she pure now? He said it’s because she is resurrected.
(*This insight was shared by Christy Hemphill on Season 3 Episode 124 of the podcast Where Do We Go From Here, 44:00-45:00, Ephesians 5 Gone Wrong in the Latest Evangelical Take on Sex. It might be better if I’d have said that while the marriage between Christ and his church has not been consummated, the benefits of this marriage are received and experienced now by faith.)