Jesus as lover embraces the bride in an imperfect condition. The bride is not lovable or attractive. She still needs a lot more beautification before the wedding feast. She needs to stop clinging to her past and putting aside her transgressions. As Peter Leithart observes:
Jesus’ affection for and devotion to His bride is clearly an affection for and devotion to a still-imperfect bride…Paul is not speaking of some beautiful “ideal” church, but of the bride-who-is-being-beautified. No theology of perfection can capture the wonder of this – no theology that says the perfect God can only love things like Himself. Jesus loves to make His bride like Himself, but He loves her when she is anything but.
The romance of redemption is the anti-Hollywood romance. Redemptive romance is about adorning and sanctifying the Bride by washing her with truth and wisdom (Eph. 5). Jesus is the beautifier of the Bride. He adorns her by His grace and mercy. He uplifts her and takes her from sin to glory. This is why the Bride finds Jesus to be the perfect lover. In the words of Charles Wesley:
Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.