When The Church is a Whore, and Our Reaction is Wrong

So, last week I wrote a post about When The Church is a Whore based off some pretty stellar conversation with Natalie Trust. I still agree with what I wrote, but I think that maybe there’s another side to this as well. Maybe there’s some merit to the other side of the pendulum. Maybe there’s some people who are too ready to admit that the Church is a whore.

Honestly, this thought hit me after Natalie read the post and commented saying that she’s still “uncomfortable with the body of Christ being referred to as a ‘whore’.” I began to reply to her comment, answering some of her questions as best I could, and then halfway through, it hit me. What if all the language about Christ’s Bride being a whore is supposed to stop us in our tracks? What if calling God’s People adulterous (James 4:4), is supposed to bring the full weight of sin to bear on us so that we press into Christ for strength to pursue holiness all the more?

Last week was the anniversary of when Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the “I have a dream” speech. And last Monday Russell Moore made a few excellent points as he showed us the ways that MLK appealed to both the moral conscience AND the imagination in this speech.

I think that’s exactly what’s going on in Jeremiah, and what should be happening now. Jeremiah lived in an age when if you committed adultery they would stone you. It might sound harsh today, but that was God’s Law. He commanded it. Adultery was and is a big thing. Being a whore wasn’t something to be joked about among friends, it was scandalous and shameful. So when God tells Jeremiah that Israel and Judah “played the whore,” it was to provoke his moral conscience and to illustrate the gravity of their sin. It was to make him feel the weight of Israel’s sin, so that the message of grace and call to repentance would be equally stunning and convicting.

I believe this is the case because right after He calls Israel and Judah a whore in Jeremiah 3:6-10, in the same breath He says this:

Jeremiah 3:11-14 ESV
11 And the LORD said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say,
“‘Return, faithless Israel,
declares the LORD.
I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful,
declares the LORD;
I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you rebelled against the LORD your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree,
and that you have not obeyed my voice,
declares the LORD.
14 Return, O faithless children,
declares the LORD;
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.

Our culture is very different from Jeremiah’s. Themes of adultery litter the evening news, and breaking the marriage covenant through divorce is all too common. Girls joke with their friends calling them “whore,” “skank,” and “slut.” Apparently this is some twisted sense of affection?

We have become desensitized to the idea of adultery. Sure, we agree that it’s wrong, but I fear that it isn’t as soul-wrecking as it should be. So, maybe when we say “the Church is a whore” we should feel the pain of that in our hearts. Yes, we should forgive one another as Christ forgives us. But maybe we should also have our moral consciences provoked by the very thought: the Bride of Christ is a whore.

Maybe instead of leaning on this phrase as a crutch to get out of addressing real problems in local churches, we should feel the weight of it and try to address them. Instead of using this as an excuse for giving in to the idols of our hearts, we should be provoked by them and repent. Our hearts should break over our sin, so that we would run to Jesus to find healing and grace and redemption.

Maybe we should take this phrase and apply it personally, and pray for forgiveness and strength to pursue holiness.

Calling the Church a whore didn’t sit right with Natalie because it’s not supposed to sit right with us. It’s supposed to stir up our conscience and point us to the way things should be, and make us feel all the more loved by God when He does not “look on [us] in anger” but instead offers grace and forgiveness. Calling the Church a whore is supposed to give us a gut check, so that the good news of the gospel can invade the bad spaces of our adulterous affections and redeem and reconcile His People.

Ultimately, calling the Church a whore should help shock us into real repentance, and it displays the glory of God in the mercy and grace we find in Jesus.

6 responses to “When The Church is a Whore, and Our Reaction is Wrong

  1. Pingback: When The Church is a Whore | TransformingWords

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