The final component that enhances bonding or that sense of love is touch. Research shows us that the hormones (vasopressin and oxytoin) stimulated by touch promote a sense of bonding and connection. Just recently I read how holding hands with your spouse can actually can raise your immune system response and lower your blood pressure. Touch is a powerful factor to maintain bounding or attachment between a couple.
How does touch in a marital relationship reflect how Christ loves the church? That’s a great question! For some time I have been seen the value of Gary Chapman’s ‘love languages" as a great metaphor to help couples understand each other and learn how to speak each other’s love language. However, I was amazed when I read his book "The Love Languages of God" and he illustrated how God expresses His love to us in all five languages (including touch), and how we tend to express our love for God through our own primary love language. Many of those who have the primary love language of touch seem to enjoy expressing their worship of God through physical expressions such as uplifted hands and forms of worship that include physical expression like clapping hands, dancing, etc. If Chapman’s theory is correct, touch is a primary way for some to express their love, both to spouse and God.
On a much deeper level, biblically the act of sexual union is viewed as two bodies becoming one-Genesis 2:24: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." That "one flesh" connection or relationship was meant to be shared with only one other human, according to God’s original plan. Biblically, this type of oneness is unique in that we do not have it with other friends or relationships, only with our spouse.
The unique oneness in marriage is a wonderful picture of the oneness God desires that we have with him spiritually. Among some of the analogies of Christ and the church in the New Testament, the church is compared to being a body, with Christ as the head (I Corinthians 12 and many other passages). Christ considers us one with him.
Often throughout the Scriptures unfaithfulness to God is compared to unfaithfulness in marriage. Jeremiah 2:20 speaks of the children of Israel and their lack of faithfulness to worship the one and only God: "Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute." In the New Testament I Corinthians 6:15 says "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!" Our faithfulness to Christ requires oneness with Him and no other god.
In the New Testament numerous passages refer to the truth that Christ lives in you, or "oneness." Romans 8:10-11 "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you." Not only are we one in spirit, but just as the sexual union produces new life physically (a child), so oneness with Christ produces new life within us spiritually.
Our physical union in marriage is a beautiful picture of our oneness with Christ. The commitment that keeps us physically and emotionally pure (faithful) in our marriage is a strong image of the commitment each Christian should have to be spiritually pure and have unity with Christ in their relationship with Him. Remaining strongly attached, or bonded to Christ requires this "oneness," just as sexual oneness is a factor in maintaining attachment in marriage.
So, all five factors identified in science to be crucial to maintain a healthy attachment to a marital partner (know, trust, rely, commitment, and touch) are also factors that are crucial to maintain a healthy attachment to God. No wonder God uses marriage as a symbol of His love for and relationship with the church!
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