“When the LORD began to speak to Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: ‘Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD’” (Hosea 1:2).
The familiar story of Hosea powerfully portrays the tragedy of an unfaithful wife; the great indignity and betrayal of a wife breaking covenant with her husband. The people of God, His Bride, had broken covenant, had become unfaithful.
The sins of false worship, compromise, and error are causes for great outcry from faithful Christians (preachers, in particular) in any age. An unfaithful bride must never go overlooked. She must be called to repent.
But what of the bride who acts as a “continual dripping” (Proverbs 19:13, 21:9, 21:19), throwing her house into a den of confusion, turmoil, and strife? What are we to do with her? We give that bride a book deal, internet fame, and invite her to speak at conferences. That bride is heralded as a stalwart of truth, is permitted to toss out heresy charges like first pitches, and is viewed as a valorous soldier in the “truly Reformed” army.
The Bride of Christ has many wrinkles and spots that are still being ironed out and one of the most painfully obvious ones (to those actually looking) is that She is struggling between two errors – behaving like Hosea’s wife and behaving like the wife of “continual dripping.” Hosea’s wife is out there, ordaining homosexuals, denying the Resurrection, and endorsing abortion. The wife of “continual dripping”, however, is all around us, acting more like Mrs. Bennett (of Pride & Prejudice) than the virtuous wife (of Proverbs 31).
As a convert to the Reformed world, I am grateful that I do not fall into the camp of Hosea’s wife; but I am grieved at seeing continual drippings all around. Our sin is not privileged. Just because we do not ordain homosexuals in our house does not mean our house is beyond the need of cleaning. Dr. John Frame, former professor at Westminster Seminary and current professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, points out, in his essay “Machen’s Warrior Children” that the Reformed world indulges in a major conflict about once every five years.
Conflict is a problem in all “camps” of Christendom, but I find it horribly strange that the Reformed community, which proclaims so passionately man’s inability to save himself, is so slow to demonstrate humility and so quick to indulge in divisive conflicts and rhetoric.
Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,” (that is, the salvation he described in the first three chapters) “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
In other words, we are called to preserve both the truth of the gospel and the unity of the Church. BOTH! Patting ourselves on the back for preserving one is celebrating disobedience. Cheering ourselves for preserving the truth of the gospel (not being Hosea’s wife) while tearing one another to shreds (being the wife of “continual dripping”) is disobedience. The solution for such disobedience is the same for us as it is for Hosea’s wife…repentance. God has commanded us to preserve both truth and unity and we must do so. Preferring one over the other is not an option.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1)!