[Updated from the archives. The original version ran as a guest post at Aimee Byrd’s Housewife Theologian.]
Aimee Byrd posted an article about sisters and noted:
“I always say that us sisters really help prepare our brothers for marriage to a woman. I shamefully take part of the credit of my brother’s gentlemanlike qualities. Unfortunately for him, he’s learned much of his patience by being sandwiched between two crazy sisters. Hopefully we are helping prepare our brothers in Christ for marriage to the Lord.”
This got me thinking about the Borg Collective.
On Star Trek, the Borg are a race that seeks perfection through abducting individuals and assimilating them into a collective intelligence, so that life and technology are wedded into a single unified organism. Hapless victims of Borg assimilation lose any semblance of their individuality, other than a resemblance of their former physical appearance.
They no longer think for themselves, and all their actions are directed by the collective as a whole. While there is a queen who appears to rule – much as a queen bee rules a hive – she is really no more an individual than any other member.
Some critics of Christianity suggest that the Church is not much different from the Borg Collective, as if we will all be assimilated and lose our individuality. But the Bible teaches something quite different.
Becoming who we are in Christ
It’s true that the Church is made up of women and men who are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29.) But we do not become interchangeable parts like cogs in a machine nor like Borg abductees in a collective. Rather, as C.S. Lewis points out, our differences sometimes can only exist when we are in something working together with others.
Things which are parts of a single organism may be very different from one another: things which are not, may be very alike. Six pennies are quite separate and very alike: my nose and my lungs are very different but they are only alive at all because they are parts of my body and share its common life. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, quoted in Derek Rishmawy’s Is Christianity Individualistic or Collectivist.)
The Bible shows this clearly in the Parable of the Talents where individuals are recognized for achieving different results with the different resources given them (Matthew 25:14-30), and in the passages listing the types of roles Christians can have as individuals in the Church such as being a pastor or an evangelist, giving and being merciful, praying or serving meals. (See, for example, Acts 6:1-7, Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 and Ephesians 4:11.) None of these acts are done alone even though carried out by individuals, of course, but then again nothing is done alone in any organization.
As we serve God and grow in Christ-likeness, we are told that it is God who is actually working in us to complete the work he began. (Philippians 1:6.) The experience of Christians through the centuries has borne witness to the fact that those who mature in Christ do get better and better at serving him. But that same witness nowhere supports the notion that these same maturing believers lose their individuality and become indistinguishable from one another.
I think Aimee’s assertion that women can prepare men for being Christ’s Bride is true; after all, men will join women in putting on a bridal gown because we are all getting married to the Groom. (Revelation 19:6-9.).
What’s really interesting to me is that men will experience that wedding as men just as women will experience it as women. We will experience it together as the Church, but since we each become more the person God made us to be as we grow in him we will also experience that wedding as individual men and women within the Church.
So men, what do you think of taking on the role of bride, not just as a member of the Church but also as the individual that God has made you to be?
And women, what do you think of sharing the role of Bride with your brothers in Christ, those Y chromosome carriers who (in this world at least) can never understand fully what it means to be a woman of God?
I don’t know what to think, at least not in the sense of fully understanding how it will be. But I do know that it will be wonderful.
Let the wedding begin!