A Parable…

… its not about marriage proper.

(UPDATE:  For those of you asking, “Who the heck is Suzie?” I fixed my post… This is what you get with you post late at night.)

There is a man in an unhappy marriage.  His wife is a constant drip and Mrs. Job-like with her counsel in the midst of suffering.  At one time he was a lovely man – full of life and accordion playing, but now he is bitter, critical and dour.  Dogs and children flee his presence, with growling.  And he never plays the accordion, not anymore.

One particularly brutal evening he attended a play at his children’s school.  It was there that he met his son’s first grade teacher, Constance.  Constance* turned out to be everything his wife had promised to be when they first met.  She was full of life and joy; she gave off a scent like honey and the light that bounced off her hair could blind the unwary.

The affair was brief, the divorce – even briefer.  Our man gave up everything he brought into that initial marriage so that he might be with Constance.  After the break with the wife of his youth, he married Constance and blossomed into a man dripping with goodness and light.  Now dogs and children love him and everyone, including his pastor, cannot believe the change in him.  Surely this is the best thing that could ever happen to him.  He is even playing the accordion again.

As he is leaving home one morning he is hit by a bus and killed. 

Here are my questions… Would not judgment wait for this man who broke his vow and abandoned the wife of his youth?  Is his goodness a facade?  Can goodness based upon a lie be called good, no matter how well he plays the accordion?

al sends
* with apologies to all Constances who are not home wreckers.

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23 responses to “A Parable…

  1. It does feel a tad specific (although that’s the point, eh?). I’ve been thinking about this all morning as I finish some projects at work and my initial thought is that the Church is bigger than one woman, and that faithfulness to the Church may not have a one-to-one correlation with faithfulness to a flesh and blood wife (i.e. What happens when the unhappy man moves to another city and his “wife” can’t come with him? Should he re-marry of her sisters or is a distant cousin okay? [And don’t all of these options sound kind of gross?])

    Anyhow, Josh + I are interested to discuss matters with you in person when we arrive. I think we’re both a bit emotional about this right now and there’s nothing to steady the nerves like a 3,000 mile car trip. 🙂

  2. While I had Josh’s and my conversation in mind when I wrote this, I really just wanted to put the principle I was reaching for in a winsome way. The parable may break down too quickly to be of much use.

    As I think about it now. I should have simply stopped typing awhile ago. My many words have not helped your decision making and probably caused unnecessary emotional distress. Who needs some guy you barely know giving you typed out lectures on personal matters? Forgive me if I have made your move more burdensome and put any trepidation in your hearts.

    God bless you both

    al sends

  3. I like this game. Can I have a go?

    Imagine that the woman the man was originally with (call her Martha) had already left a rocky relationship years before they met. She said he kicked her out. He said she was cheating. Nasty. But let’s not talk about that.

    The man met Martha while attending college — she was one of his professors. After graduation, the man moved in with Martha and the two had been living under the same roof for some time in a state of common law marriage (Each of their parents were “married” in the common law, so they didn’t find it unusual). They liked it this way–it was uncomplicated, they were free. Aside from the occasional flight of emotion when they would declare their undying love for each other, usually after a few drinks, they were basically roommates. But Martha especially felt a certain responsibility for the man. She was five years older than him after all.

    Any time things got rough, the man would consider moving out, but Martha would have none of it. She would give him a guilt trip about how much they’ve been through, about that month when he was out of work and she paid his rent and bought his groceries. She would tell him that if he left, he would never find another one like her. She accused him of being incapable of real love, of real friendship. The man did love her. Not in an erotic way, but like a brother. And so he would set down his bags, close the door and do his best to comfort her.

    One day, the man received the following letter from a distant cousin:

    Dear ______,

    For the last few years, I have been living with our great-grandmother Constance on the East Coast. I love it. We spend much of our time standing in her kitchen talking (man that woman can stand for a long time!) while she bakes bread. We play dominoes a lot. And then there’s the photo album. She’s always lugging that thing out! But I’m learning a lot of family history. Anyway, please come and visit over here. Constance wants to meet you, and I want to catch up.

    – Cuz

    The man accepted the offer and spent a wonderful week at Constance’s house. When he returned, he decided to have a talk with Martha.

    “Marty,” (that’s what he called her), “I’m gonna go live with Constance.”

    “What? Why?”

    “It’s just something I need to do.”

    “But you have everything you need right here!”

    “No I don’t.”

    “But what about all I’ve done…”

    “There were some times you totally bailed me out, and I thank you.”

    “You owe me.”

    “I know.”

    “Then stay!”

    “I don’t owe you that.”

    “You don’t love me. If you did, you wouldn’t do this.”

    “I do love you, but I’m not a good roommate for you.”

    “You’ll never come see me, will you?”

    “Yes I will.”

    “We won’t go mountain climbing anymore!”

    “Yes we will.”

    “No more volunteering in the soup line!”

    “I’ll see you there next week.”

    “But how can you do all that? You’ll be so far away.”

    “Distance is relative. Constance has given me unlimited frequent flyer miles.”

    Then Martha started to cry. “You won’t sleep in the bunk-bed anymore.”

    “No. I won’t. But everything will be okay.”

    “I’ll miss you.”

    “I’ll miss you too.”

    And that was that. He left and boarded a flight to the East Coast. When he arrived at Constance’s house, his cousin greeted him at the door. They embraced.

    “Let’s go see Constance.”

    His cousin led him into the living room. As soon as Constance saw the man, she walked up to him and kissed him twice. She looked deep into his eyes and smiled. He looked a lot like his great-grandfather.

  4. Dan (and everyone else),

    Our little back and forth has to do with leaving a church; specifically, leaving an orthodox Protestant Church for The Orthodox Church. It is a carry over from another blog.

    The excellent (though wrong headed – sorry JP) piece from John Paul was written by a good friend who has made that change.

    Hope that helps.

    al sends

  5. “Our little back and forth has to do with leaving a church; specifically, leaving an orthodox Protestant Church for The Orthodox Church.”

    So that’s what OPC stands for! I must say, I find the phrase “orthodox Protestant Church” a bit confusing.

  6. Well, notice that the orthodox was not capitalized… it was an adjective and not part of a title. As I look at it though, I should have lower the P in Protestant as well.

    al sends

  7. My point was related to something Josh Gibbs, the writer at thecedarroom.org, said about people growing and their goodness increasing when they leave one “tradition” for another.

    I posit that if the church one is joining is in serious error (we all have a mixture of error and truth) then goodness does not increase no matter the outward appearance. So, the purpose of my parable was not to say that Josh was committing spiritual adultery, but to say that disobedience does not produce good fruit, no matter how well one plays the accordion.

    Depending on the church one is leaving there may be vows that need to be considered, but that was not the main focus of my post.

    al sends

  8. Oh. Thank you, I guess I get it better.

    Satan never sells his stuff by making it horrid and repulsive to his prospective mark. What effective salesman would? Think of him and Eve: that fruit was just what she needed for her spiritual growth.

    I think of a dear friend who left a (as far as I knew) good Presbyterian church to go to an Episcopalian church. I expressed some alarm. He assured me it had had a wonderful effect on his spiritual life, his witnessing, everything.

    A few years later he accidentally sent me an email meant for someone else, in which he said he was considering becoming a Roman Catholic, because there wasn’t much difference.

    I can also picture, with heart-breaking vividness, a young man — who had been a radiant Christian and shining witness for Christ — explaining to me how his ongoing widely-known fornication with his now-pregnant girlfriend was giving him great opportunities for witnessing about the grace of Christ.

    Satan: most effective salesman, ever. Only the Word exposes his line.

  9. Wow…being a Catholic is spiritually equivalent to fornication?

    The majority of the world’s living Christians and the vast majority of the great saints who went before us are going to be quite put out when they get the memo!

  10. We know you do Ed… We know. I was actually thinking of you as I picked our man’s instrument. Of course that is where all similarities end.

    al sends

  11. I think your parable is deeply flawed, Al. If the man with no name here was married to a girl named “Roma” in the first place, it was no marriage at all — she duped him into a sinful union. If the first girl was merely “Faith”, and now he realizes he really loves “Constance”, he’s a sinner who should repent of his adultery.

    Not every act of leaving a place with a cross on the wall is sin, and not every union with such a place is sweetness and light. Think: Paul and the Corinthians.

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