Joseph Bean: "bride of Christ," 1741

A twenty-two year-old Bostonian named Joseph Bean does fierce battle with his own lust and sense of corruption, finally resolving his moral dilemmas by becoming an evangelical "bride of Christ." This male "bride" clearly models his relationship to God upon the earthly relationship of dominant husband and submissive wife as conceived by colonial Americans.

Bean first experiences himself as "Universally Corrupted in every power and faculty" of his soul. "Unchaste and iimnodest thoughts, Bean writes, "run through my head." His dreams are often "filthy."

In April, 1741, while a friend is married in the room below, Bean goes upstairs by myself all alone" and pleads "with God that this Night be the Wedding Night between Christ and my Soul." A short time later Bean dreams of a beautiful boy whom Satan lay upon, crushing the boy's bones and threatening him. And this young man, says Bean,

looked on me very Steadily Smiling and his Countenance even Shined; in short he Looked the beautifulest that ever I saw in all my Life, which made me sometimes for to think it was the Son of God.

Finally, on June 25, 1741, Bean writes out a covenant in which he gives himself up to Christ, 

and do hereby Solemnly Join myself in marriage Covenant to him . . . . But since such is thine unparalleled love: I do here with all my power accept thee and do take thee for my head husband for bitter [the mistake is in the original], for worse, for richer, for poorer, for all times and Conditions to love, honor and obey thee before all others, and this to the death: I Embrace thee in all thy offices. I Renounce my own worthiness and do here avow thee to be the Lord of my Righteousness: I Renounce mine own wisdom and do here take thee for my only guide: I renounce mine own will and take thy will for my Law.1


1. Philip Greven, The Protestant Temperament: Patterns of Child-Rearing, Religious Experience, and the Self in Early America, Random House, 1st edition (January 1978), pages 125-126. Greven quotes from Joseph Bean, Spiritual Diary, typed copy, Bryn Mawr Library/