Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coverture of the Church by Christ

We know that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ saves us from our sin. We can say his blood has washed our sins, that Jesus has paid the price for us and redeemed us. But the redeeming power price is really something outside the rest of our experiences. There is nothing else in the up ever experience that come comes close to what Christ has done for us. We must use analogies to talk about the reality of what Christ has done for us.
This is my own analogy that I've come up with. I wouldn't hold it out as certain gospel truth or cling to it as something that I would put my faith in. But part of my meditation on God's word is trying out ideas, trying to think things out for myself. I've heard various theories about exactly how God accomplishes the work of justifying us taking our sins away and making us righteous. I've heard about substitution and double substitution, and while I wouldn't want to dismiss any of those ideas, the very controversy and passion which there discussed leads me to think of ideas of my own also.
One thing that strikes me as similar is the idea of coverture. Coverture is an old idea in English common law whereby a husband-and-wife are one person and, in the eyes of the law that person is the husband. This meant things like a woman who was married could not contract the legal debt. Any contract she signed would not be enforceable unless her husband had consented to it. This could make it hard for a woman to do business because people, knowing this, would not want to lend her money or conclude business contracts with her without checking with her husband. But if the woman happened to have a perfect husband, then the situation would provide protection for her. It would shield her from obligation, and show clearly that it was her husband's duty to provide. Leviticus provides for something like this in relation to debts to God. A maiden living in her father's house or married woman who promised something to God, a sacrifice or some other obligation, would not be held to that obligation, would be cleared of it in the eyes of God, if her husband or father forbade it when he first heard of it.
If Christ and his bride the Church are one flesh, than any debt or obligation we have has already been taken on by him. God disallows, renders null and void all our tresspasses against Him. When people come come to accuse us of our wrongs Jesus says, ‘I and the one you are looking for for my Church is united with me. And I have already been executed.’ Once the head has been cut off justice does not demand that the pinkie finger be executed also.
One thing I like about this analogy is that it emphasizes this is not just an anonymous gift. You can’t send off for your salvation to be delivered via a PO Box. Intimacy with God comes along with accepting His redemption of us. We should expect to know and comune with Him as a result of the fact that He has redeemed us. One we are presented before God in clean linen, we wouldn't just bow and back out, to go our own way, but will be part of the court forever.

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