According to the texts of our Western Liturgy of the Epiphany, Christ washes, today, His Spouse in the Jordan; the Magi bring the sensuous Wedding Gifts of gold and incense and myrrh; the Guests are made merry (laetantur) by the water made into (best quality) wine. That distinctly flawed individual Eric Gill had got a grasp on an essential truth when he wrote that "I wish I could get you to see the point about Christianity - e.g. when we 'marry' we don't say to a girl: Madam, you realise that we are the embodiment of an idea. We say: Darling, we two persons are now one flesh. It is a love affair first and last. Joining the Church is not like joining the Third International. It is like getting married". And Gill expressed this in his memorable woodcut of the Crucified One being embraced upon the cross by a female figure clad in nothing but her long hair.
The imagery of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb picks up the imagery of Hosea (2:16), Isaiah (54:6) and Ezekiel (16:7 seq) to point to the intimate and indissoluble communion of Christ with the community he has purchased with his own blood (R H Charles); and it is found in the Pauline (Ephesians 5: 25 seqq) as well as in the Johannine and Synoptic (Matt 22; Mark 2) traditions of the New Testament. I find it hard not to feel that, even by the canons of the sour and reductionist assumptions and methodology of twentieth century New Testament 'scholarship', this must point to a central element in the Teaching of the Incarnate Word Himself.
As Gill pointed out, this union is physical and not simply conceptual. In the sermon of 1843 for which he was suspended for two years from preaching before this University, Dr Pusey spoke of Christ as penetrating the Eucharistic Communicant; in a fleshly as well as in a spiritual sense. Happily, although he got the anti-Tractarian dons of Oxford into quite a tizwaz, he did not have Freuds around to draw from his language unwholesome conclusions about his subconscious.
But his point was one which speaks as sharply to the modern heresy of despiritualising flesh as it does to the Victorian propensity for decarnalising spirituality. Neither of the two is Christian Truth.