Though I hate to say it, appearances matter when you are the leader of a church. When I was a single pastor I had to be pretty careful what I did or said, lest someone see or hear and have their faith affected. I can recall one time saying something from the pulpit that an older lady didn’t like and being slapped across the face within a few minutes of coming down from the stage.
Appearances matter. I can only imagine what would have happened if I would have invited a young lady to church who was wearing too much lipstick, high heals, and showing enough cleavage to distract every Y chromosome in the place. And then when the elders call me into a meeting to explain to me that woman I brought to church was a prostitute, my defenses flare. I first explain that God has told me to marry her and the ask how they happen to know so much about a woman of the night. But this is what God does with Hosea the Prophet. God tells him to marry a prostitute and he does it. Luckily for Hosea, there was no church elder board or congregation to vote him out of a job. God was his boss and he was serious about his job.
Hosea must have figured he could love Gomer the prostitute so much that she would give up here whoring ways, but he who loves least is always the loser in a relationship. He lavished flowers and kisses upon her and publicly showed his affection by holding her hand in public. She still liked to wear too much lipstick and people still got an eyeful as she bounced past but all that would change; or at least he thought.
It was only a few months after they got married that he came home to see clothes tossed about the floor. His heart sank and his heart raced as he slowing creeped the door open to find his wife and a strange man dressing. His plan to love her into faithfulness was failing and there was nothing he could do about it.
That night they raised their voices. He blamed her and she blamed him. She loved least but he demanded change she had no intention of giving. She packed a small bag and headed out the door. It was raining so he followed her from a distance in his car. She went to a house on the other side of town. She returned to a past he had tried to pull her from but the bond was too great.
I am such a Gomer. Loved by God yet finding it so difficult to convert the energy of His unfailing love to the obedient change it is designed to create. Like Gomer, I see a husband demanding a life I am not accustomed to living. Holiness is a stranger and I was taught not to talk to strangers. He demands that she quit her whoring and be the faithful wife she committed to be; she sees the seriousness in his eyes. Perhaps it would be better for everyone if I simply left, for I know I could never satisfy by beloved’s desires. To try and fail over an over would only stretch his patience with me.
I am such a Gomer. To love You is to know that I will break your heart. To love you is to stay with you, knowing that I love least. If I stay, will you still speak tenderly to me when I fail you? I didn’t say, “if” but “when”. I promise to come back when I stray. Loving you has taken time for you are not like all the others. I know how to love them. I know how to get what I want from them. But you are different. I have never met anyone like you. I have never experienced this kind of love and it scares me. It possesses its object and binds what it frees.
Why do you love me Hosea? Why do you love me God? For I am such a Gomer.
Dustin Largent is the Pastor of SonRise Bible Church in Atkinson, IL and the author of "The Christian Marriage Counseling Workbook" and “In Their Own Words: First Person Narratives from the Book of Genesis (Volume 1)