We live in a time when everything is defined in terms of processes – multistep, linear, aggregate, sociological, demographic, processes. Scientists hang there hats on them. The theory of evolution and big bang would fall apart without them. In living systems, the process of growth over time appeals to human nature. Babies grow. Trees grow. Mushrooms grow. Some things grow fast. Some things grow slow. We like the comfortable, predictable, measureble assurance of processes. We like to measure children’s growth on height and weight charts. We like to predict the future of investment banking with nice linear regression lines. Couples go through a process of getting to know each other; from casual dating to committed relationships to no strings attached sex to living together. You can choose your five step romance program of choice.
While everything on earth may appear to be a process, spiritual transformations really do happen on a big bang scale. Christ’s death on the cross symbolizes the salvation of man. “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Matt 27:50-51. I think this rent is more significant than we realize. It symbolizes Christ’s death and its sufficiency for the atonement of our sins and is a symbol to us that the way into the Holy of Holies is open to everybody – Jew or Gentile, slave or free – for all time. The curtain did not gradually break away over time or deteriorate. It was not carefully unhooked from the rod and folded up. It was not halfway torn to let only one or two people see the splendor of the Almighty. It was miraculously rent from top to bottom to allow everyone access to Christ, not just the priests. It allows in those at the top echelons of society as well as those at the bottom. Even more profound, it cannot be put back up again.
Marriage is another spiritual transformation on a big bang scale and its consummation symbolizes Christ’s marriage to the church. It too is not a process over time. The veil in the Holy of Holies was torn at precisely the time of Christ’s death, not before and not after. This underscores the importance of timing in human relationships and why God intended for sex to occur at marriage, not before or after. The Bible never speaks of a process on earth to transform a single person into a married person, to step from unknown to known. It happens in the blink of an eye.
Just as marriage symbolizes Christ’s marriage to the church and a holding pattern on earth, celibacy symbolizes the separation of the church from the world and our eternity awaiting in heaven and the supernatural existence of those who remain bethrothed at the feet of Christ. So we have the choice of stepping through the rent in the curtain and taking the route of marriage to heaven or waiting at the rent and for Christ to take us away with him for the ultimate wedding extravaganza.