Where in scripture does it say that God is married to the backslider?
Barbara from Fort Worth, Texas
Is God married to backsliders? (Part 1)
Jeremiah 3:14 says: "'Return, O backsliding children,' says the Lord; 'for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.'"
The sense that is conveyed in this scripture passage is that the Lord is the husband over his people; he is the master over them and in control. For the people's part, they didn't treat God as their husband but ran after other gods who were worthless.
Besides this passage, there is another place which conveys the marriage relationship between God and his people. In the Old Testament book of Hosea the prophet married a harlot. Interestingly, Hosea 14:4 contains one of the few uses of the word "backsliding" in the Bible. The Lord says; "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him."
He is speaking of his people Israel who have acted as a harlot the same way Hosea's wife Gomer did. God uses Hosea's marriage as a prophetic statement about the condition of his people. The Israelites have gone after other gods and the Lord tells them that; "Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall deliver her from My hand." (Hosea 2:10)
Additionally, God invites the people to return to him so he can restore them "And it shall be in that day, says the Lord, that you will call Me 'My Husband,' and no longer call Me 'My Master.'" (Hosea 2:16) Notice that it is in the restoration that the word "husband" comes into play - not while they are backsliding.
Coming forward in time, is there any precedent for referring to backsliders today as married to God? NO. However there is another beautiful image we can remember for those who are in rebellion after once walking with the Lord. It is shown in the parable of the Prodigal son from Luke 15 in which the Father stands daily watching for the lost son to return home.
For more information on the subject of backsliding, please read "Backsliding - Leaving Your First Love."