In Scripture we are taught to be imitators of God, as dearly loved children (Eph. 5:1). As Christians who accept the Bible as God’s authoritative voice in our lives, this immediately presents us with several kinds of problems.
Theologians distinguish two different kinds of divine attributes, which they call communicable and incommunicable. God is love, and that love can be given to us, shared with us, and spread aboard in our hearts. This means that love is a communicable attribute—it can be communicated to us. But God’s omnipresence is an incommunicable attribute—that is part of His glory that He will never share with another. God can work in ways that make us more like God, but He cannot work in a way that would make us Deity itself. We will always be creatures—image bearers, not image replacements.
So when God gives Himself to us, the kind of fruit He generates in our lives is the fruit of the Spirit. It is not a knock-off or a counterfeit. When we forgive those who have wronged us, when we love our enemies, when we humble ourselves for the sake of our brother, this is not like the love of Christ—it is the love of Christ.
But there are other areas where God manifests, and displays, and does things that are as far above us as the other end of the sky is. In this sense, we cannot duplicate the works of God—we cannot pretend to fully accomplish such things in ourselves. For example, husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. But no fallen man is capable of being a substitutionary sacrifice for his wife. He cannot be a spotless lamb, and he cannot take her sins upon himself in the same way that Jesus did. But even here, while the duty of imitation is altered, it is not abolished.
In short, he cannot duplicate Christ’s love for the church. But he can certainly treat his wife in a way that rhymes with it.
I bring all of this up because I know that the two of you love to dance. Your love of dance says something important about you, but it is also an important statement about the cosmos, and about God Himself. The Bible teaches that the three persons of the Trinity indwell one another, and that they do so in love. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John 14:10, ESV). As the early church struggled to describe this active triune love, one of the words they began to use for it was perichoresis. Each Person of the Trinity fully indwells the other two—it is false to say, for example, that each person of the Trinity is just one third of God.
Now in recent years, a number of Christian leaders have argued that this word perichoresis was originally the word for a circle dance, but—as pleasant as that would be—the actual etymology does not really back that claim up at all. So the Trinity is not “a dance,” and to try to press that point will only land you in some very convoluted heresies. But remember the point made earlier about imitating God. When we dance, we are doing something that rhymes with the Trinity.
C.S. Lewis once noted that “in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.” As a passing point, this can be edifying and illustrative, but only if you don’t take it in the wrong way, as Lewis did not. The Trinity is not strictly speaking a dance . . . but still less is the Trinity like a perpetual wallflower, never invited to dance.
God is an eternal torrent of love—with love being understood as an action verb. The way He loves within the Godhead is beyond our comprehension, and it is good for us not to pry into it. Let us not go beyond what is written. But what we can do that rhymes with the way He loves is not beyond our comprehension. God created us in this way, and it is very much like a dance.
Jeremiah, your task in this marriage will be to lead. But when the man leads in a dance, he does not do it in order to assert his dominance, or to show off, or to make sure he gets wherever they are going first. The one who leads in a dance does so in order to showcase his partner. He leads in order to glorify another. This should be one of your central prayers for your wife. Make it a point to pray and to live in such a way that you can consistently ask God to glorify Megan, both in this life and in the life to come. Do not limit or otherwise constrain your desires on her behalf. Do not set your sights low.
Megan, your task is to follow your husband in this dance of life, and the best way to manifest the fact that you are in fact following him is through becoming that glory. The world will know that you are a respectful and submissive wife if you actually wind up where he is taking you. His skill in leading will be honored if you don’t wind up on opposite sides of the ballroom. His solemn charge is to lead the dance in such a way as that you are glorified. Your charge in this is to not fight him. Let him lead you there. And you know that you do not receive this glory in order to spend it on yourself or your own conceits, but rather so that you might honor him.
Keep all these things in mind, and it will do you well. Mike Reeves once said this: “The triune God is the love behind all love, the life behind all life, the music behind all music, the beauty behind all beauty.”
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.