Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Bridled Bride

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:26-27)

The image of a bridled tongue is not a pretty one. A discovery of the palace of the Assyrian king Sargon II at Dur Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad), Irag, later produced sculptures found on the site depicting prisoners who had iron rings thrust through their lower lips. Cords were attached to these rings so they could be led or held with ease.*

James takes the idea of bridling the lips or noses even further by suggesting the tongue be bridled so it could be led in a specific direction or held back from speaking spontaneously or in a way that brings reproach against one’s testimony of faith (religion). The idea was to make it possible to maintain a lifestyle of purity, undefiled against God, being His hands and mouthpiece to those who were most in need — orphans and widows.

On the surface, a picture of a bride with a bridle is quite offensive! After all, our idea of weddings and bridal array is usually void of any idea of being bound. But, let’s stop a minute and consider the meaning of being a Bride to our Eternal Husband.

The Vows

Both husband and wife make commitments or vows to one another before witnesses, binding their lives together in covenant:

I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

In other words, one could say they vow to be “bridled together” for life, walking hand-in-hand, step by step, and even sharing the responsibility for errors or poor decisions. The vow works as a bridle, holding both husband and wife together as someone or something leads them.

The Surrender

As a married couple publicly vow the conditions and promises of marriage, they surrender their wills and ways to become one with their spouse. Imagine, if you will, being bridled together (ie, the picture above) and one making demands against the will of the other. Although tugs along the way through life build a strong relationship, the end result of surrender on the part of both must be the goal. It would be excruciatingly painful for both husband and wife for one to demand his/her own way against the will of the other even to the point of tearing the flesh as the bridle is broken. This happens in marriage all too often — the battle of the wills is almost always at the root of separation and divorce.

Surrender is the goal. In the case of marriage, both should consider surrender as one of the greatest and most important acts of love and honor.

The Bride of Christ

When you consider the purpose of the bridle, it is fairly easy to see the purpose of the Bride of Christ being bridled to her divine Husband. The marriage covenant includes her surrender to His loving leadership. She understands that His love for her is the root of all He asks of her. As she allows Him to lead her, she will never have to worry about failure in any way — He will always lead her to victory as long as she is bridled to Him (2 Cor 2:14).

Yes, the Bride is bridled to her Beloved … not as a form of punishment as was the practice in the days of Assyrian king Sargon II, but as her rightful place by His side.

It might be noted here as some food for thought … if the Bride chooses to withdraw her surrender to His leadership, it is not only painful to her, it is painful to Him. He was willing to be pierced in order to lead her; He subjected Himself to everything it would take to be all His Bride needed that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The sin and rebellion of the Bride not only treats His sacrifice as worthless dung, but reduces His leadership to meaningless boundaries she’s not willing to accept.

The Bridled Bride is a Surrendered Bride — surrendered to her Bridegroom … to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honor and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part. The only way they would part would be through death—the wilful unwillingness of the Bride to surrender to the Bridegroom’s amazing love and gentle leadership.

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(c) 2015 Jan Ross
All Rights Reserved

 

* Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible. North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

 

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