Tags

, , , , ,

At this point, the poet continues on with the absurdity which lies at the heart of Christianity: How and why could or would God be joined to us?

I have heard atheist mock Christian belief with the ridiculous thought that God – if there were a God – would concern his Godship with a particular set of beasts roaming around on a small planet around an insignificant star in the midst of an enormous universe.

However, that absurdity is the nature of the Christian claim. One can reject it; but it is silly to think that one has come upon some novel insight. Even before we realized the size of the universe, we were well aware of the ridiculous claim.

Here Taylor presses home the point: it would be more reasonable to believe a king married a flea than to believe God should have dealings with us:

My Maker, he my husband? Oh! Strange joy!
If kings wed worms and monarchs mites we should
Glory spouse shame, a prince a snake or fly
An angel court an ant, all wonder would.
Let such wed worms, snakes, serpents, devils, flies.
Less wonder than the wedding in our eyes.

At this point, it would be useful to take time to consider what is meant by “marriage in this context. It plainly cannot mean an actual human marriage. Rather, marriage is one of the many images which God has given in the world to help us understand what it means for God to love us.

First, it is not the only image: other incompatible images are used such as Father and son or Lord and servant or Creator and creature. There are, for instance, 95 different images used to describe the Church in the New Testament.

To understand this marriage imagery, John Piper helps in his bookSex and the Supremacy of Chirst:

In answering this question let’s remember that knowing someone in the fullest biblical sense is defined by sexual imagery. Genesis 4:1, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.” Knowing here refers to sexual intercourse. Or again in Matthew 1:24- 25 we read, “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” He “knew her not” means he did not have sexual relations with her.

Now I don’t mean that every time the word know is used in the Bible there are sexual connotations. That’s not true. But what I do mean is that sexual language in the Bible for our covenant relationship to God does lead us to think of knowing God on the analogy of sexual intimacy and ecstasy. I don’t mean that we somehow have sexual relations with God or he with man. That’s a pagan thought. It’s not Christian. But I do mean that the intimacy and ecstasy of sexual relations points to what knowing God is meant to be.

The language of marriage and sex helps as a metaphor to understand God’s love. Since we could not understand God directly, God created metaphors in the world so that could understand God analogically. The metaphor helps to understand the original.

Taylor continues on with this theme of the absurdity of God’s love. The analogy of a King wedding a mite is insufficient. Christ’s love for me makes less sense than a king marrying an ant:

I am to Christ more base, than to a King
A mite, fly, worm, serpent, devil is,
Or can be, being tumbled all in sin,
And shall I be his spouse? How good is this?
It is too good to be declared to be thee.
But not too good to be believed by me.

Human sin makes a human being more unfitting of relation to God than does mud make a worm less fitting to an emperor. And yet this Good News (which is the meaning of Gospel) is not too good to be rejected

The heart of the Gospel is not going to heaven, it is being with God. We are not seeking a place but a friend and more than a friend.

In this stanza, Taylor hits upon the grace of God which first works upon us before we believe and love Him. The Spirit first speaks these words to us before we believe. As it reads in 1 John, we love Christ because he first loved us:

Yet to this wonder, this found in mee,
I am not only base but backward clay,
When Christ doth woo, and till his Spirit be
His spokesman to compel me I deny.
I am so base and forward to him, he
Appear as wonders wonder wedding me.

The poem ends with a prayer that Spirit work upon his heart to make him into the man who can be conformed and fitting to this call:

Seeing, Dear Lord, it’s thus, thy Spirit take
And send thy spokesman to my soul, I pray.
Thy saving grace my wedding garments make:
Thy spouses frame into my soul convey.
I then shall be thy bride espoused by thee
And thou my bridegroom dear espoused shalt be.

Marriage is the beginning and end of the Bible. In the Garden of Eden God performs the first marriage. The eschatological hope of the Church is the marriage party of the Lamb.