The Hebrew Scriptures, aka the Old Testament, are rich with references to the people of God being, collectively, His bride or wife, especially in Ezekiel and Hosea.

The most well-known New Testament affirmation of this is probably in Ephesians 5, when Paul compares marriage to the relationship between Christ and the ecclesia, with the husband being compared to Christ and the wife being compared to the ecclesia..

There is another instance of the ecclesia being referred to in a feminine way, but most Bibles do not indicate it. In one of his most famous teachings, Jesus says, "On this rock, I will build my ecclesia, and the gates of hell shall not prevail..." - and here most Bibles say, "against it."

But the Greek says, "against her."

As long as a baby is in the womb and invisible, we may refer to that baby as an "it." But as soon as we get so much as a glimpse, whether by ultrasound or at birth, our language changes: "It's a girl!" We never refer to the child as an "it" again.

The moment we get a glimpse of the ecclesia, we can no longer refer to her as an "it."

Is this a minor detail? Read Ephesians 5, and ask yourself, "Does Jesus love an it or a her? Did he die for an it, or for a her?"

Or if you aren't up to doing theology, just strike up a conversation with any man who loves his wife. Refer to her as an "it," and see what happens.