Called to Love the Whore?

In what is becoming common occurrence, I came across an article in Christianity Today last year, which jarred and irked (“Called to Love the Whore” – possible paywall). It continues to do so. After listing a number of criticisms about the churches, the writer proclaims:

The church is like that unfaithful woman God commanded the prophet Hosea to marry and have children with. The church is like that same errant woman God later commanded Hosea to seek and bring home, her and her children by other lovers. The church is like that unlovable woman God commanded Hosea to love. Yes, the church is like the prostitute Gomer: wayward and compromising, unfaithful to her promises, unlovable.

The bride of Christ? She’s a whore.

Love her.

The immediate image that transpired was that of that great whore that sits on many waters; which is depicted in Revelation. And the final verdict concerning her was:

Alleluia;

Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, to the Lord our God:
For true and righteous are his judgments:
for he has judged the great whore,
which did corrupt the earth with her fornication,
and has avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.

Alleluia
And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.

Not feeling the love there; from neither God nor the saints!

Indeed, the most x-rated passages of the Bible tend to be associated with spiritual whoredom in rather graphic and vulgar language. But it is highly improbable for one to ever hear a sermon on Ezekiel 23, for example; although it would be a most appropriate message for both the Evangelical Right and Evangelical Left at the present time. But effete Evangelical sensitivities command CIA-style redaction of those passages.

Furthermore, the writer’s abridged version of the Hosea and Gomer story (Hosea 1-3) misconstrues its rather more complex meaning. This is no Boaz-Ruth redemption. One cannot read into the narrative the Eros of Song of Solomon. Even modern rock stars and thespians are not as inventive and cruel with naming their children “not loved” (Lo-ruhama – “no mercy”) and “not my people” (Lo-ammi). And the intimations from the narrative is that the adulteress wife concedes to Hosea’s redemption in the name of a rational mercenary calculus.

If the church hurts people; and boy do they ever; if it sacrifices the substance of the gospel; if its counsel is worse than worthless; if it inculcates ignorance and rational absurdity; if many are critical and suspicious of those with curiosity, artistic ability and aesthetic appreciation, or who take thoughtful and philosophical approaches to God and His Kingdom; if it runs its operations with good-ol’ American industrial know-how and Madison Avenue contrivances; if its leaders command salaries more than triple the average salary of its congregants (rule of thumb); if it self-righteously marginalizes those who falter within its midst and demands that they get out of State before sundown; if it is unwilling, and more so, incapable of credibly fielding doubts and questions; if it is a lonely place; if it calls for war and commits analingus with sociopolitical movements and both political parties of the insane Right and the loony Left; it probably isn’t the Bride of Christ. (Jeff Foxworthy anybody?)

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

Besides, who is it that calls the Bride of Christ a whore, anyhow? As Paul Washer contends:

And I want to say this. If pastors have ever come to close to blaspheming it is with regard to this. I hear theologians, itinerant teachers, pastors, this and that saying these sorts of things. “There is just as much sin in the Church as out of the Church. There is just as much divorce in the Church as out of the Church. There is just as much immorality and pornography in the Church as out of the Church.” And then preachers say, “Yes, the Church is acting like a whore.”

I want you to know this. You ought to be very careful calling the bride of Jesus Christ a whore. I will tell you what the problem is. Pastors and preachers don’t know what the Church is. I want you to know that the Church of Jesus Christ in America is beautiful. She is frail at times. She is weak. She is buffeted. She is not perfect, but I want you to know she is broken. She is humbly walking with her God. The problem with you is you don’t know what the Church is.

Today because of the lack of biblical preaching the so called Church is filled up with carnal, wicked people identified with Christianity. And then because of all the goats in the midst of the lambs, the lambs are blamed for all the things the goats are doing and then the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of us.

Nor is the visible church an adulteress whore. For, in order for a person to become an adulteress, one must have first been married. The minimum expectations in universal and ahistorical understandings of marriage, (yes there have been exceptions), is that both spouses commit everything they have and everything they are to this their new conjugal entity. A one-night stand in the orgiastic frenzy of an altar-call hardly befits that description.

Rather, the visible church has somehow become the primary mission field; the current site of the gates of Hell, which somehow got transplanted there in the middle of the night.

♦          ♦          ♦          ♦

We were never called to love the Whore. But to love God in Christ. Yes. We were called to forebear and love the ignorant, the foolish, the struggling, the emotionally crippled and the spiritually lost and feeble, in honor and love of Christ and His Gospel. And to desire and seek their own best interests without trampling all over their will and dignity.

But the Whore, and the various bastard daughters of that Great Whore? I certainly never was called to love that.

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