Analogy of a Marriage
Pilgrim’s Further Progress
(nod to LeoPardus for the suggestion)
There once was a girl who was looking for love. She was tired of the same old surface relationships; ones that never truly satisfied her heart as well as her intellect. She tried dating off and on. She found a lovely peaceful man named Buddha, but to her, he was too passive. She ended up always having to make the decisions or sit calmly watching him meditate. She needed more excitement than that. She dated a guy named Aristotle and even his best friend Plato, but they were too much “into hanging out with the guys” and didn’t want to commit to romance. Her friends kept trying to set her up with a new guy named Jesus. He was perfect for her and would love her until the end of time. He was manly and heroic. His relationship with his Mother wasn’t so hot, but his dad and he were very close. He sounded wonderful, almost too wonderful, but after a series of failed dating experiences, she agreed to go on a blind date and see for herself.
She was enraptured! Never before had she felt like someone knew her very soul. He would gaze into her eyes, listen to her conversation for hours, and she just KNEW that he was the one. Apparently, he did too, because instantly he professed his love for her and wooed her with all his might. Sure, there were some warning signals. He wanted her to completely renounce all her old friends and even her family. He said she would have a new family now and if she really loved him, she’d do this for him. He was extremely jealous of the possibility that she might have been intimate with anyone else. He wanted to know every single detail of her previous relationships. This worried her a little. He seemed so intense sometimes. She was hesitant to renounce her family because her family had always been supportive of her and loved her, but she reluctantly agreed. He was every thing she was looking for after all. She even met his family and they were all so very nice to her. She couldn’t believe her luck!
Her fiance did not want a long engagement, nor did any of his family and friends. “You’d best snag him now, while you still can! You never know when it might be too late!” they’d tell her. Her family was concerned she was moving too fast and advised caution. But she didn’t listen. So within a few days she and Jesus were married. The ritual was of water and wine and much joy. She felt so spiritually attuned to him and seemingly he to her. She didn’t even notice much that her family was treated by her new husband’s family as less than neighborly at the wedding. She was too thrilled. The honeymoon lasted for almost a year as she and Jesus got to be on more intimate terms.
Only one thing marred her happiness. The day after her wedding a couple of members of Jesus’ family showed up at her door after he had gone to work one day. They handed her the “family book” with great reverence and awe. “Here,” they said, “you MUST memorize this and follow everything you read here. It’s very important. Your husband’s father wrote the book and we all must follow it.” “Does my husband have to follow it?” she asked. “Oh, no!” they cried, “he wrote it with his father, so he doesn’t have to follow it, but we do. It’s for our own good. Everyone will be happier if you just accept it and do it without question. Read it EVERY day and you’ll be alright.” they counseled. So, she took the book reluctantly from them and began to read it and try to follow it. It wasn’t easy because it was a mishmash of family history and stories that seemed not to have much to do with anything. But there were some parts that seemed beautiful and she wanted so much to be beautiful for her new husband.
But soon, the honeymoon excitement began to wane and things started to turn sour quickly. She knew it was her fault. Her new family kept telling her that it was her responsibility to keep the relationship exciting for Jesus. Perhaps if she didn’t talk so much or ask questions at family gatherings. Jesus’ family was pretty rowdy themselves and were always fighting and squabbling over trivial things. She didn’t know why she was always singled out as the troublemaker. There were more than enough! Pretty soon, Jesus was hinting that she’d gotten to gawdy in her attire and was putting on weight. This hurt her feelings, but she tried desperately to keep him interested. He and her family kept pointing to examples in the book which described how they wanted her to be, but it just felt false to her. It didn’t help that Jesus was off most of the time, working. He had many jobs to oversee because he worked for his father’s business. He was slated to take over the company and very soon at that. His family kept promising that soon all would be perfect and they would all be rich and move into larger quarters. Just be paitient.
However the new bride began to wonder if perhaps Jesus’ father’s business wasn’t more important than his relationship with her. He stayed out later and came home exhausted. His father was a stern unapproachable man who demanded perfection of everyone. He had no problem sacrificing his son’s health to be a success in the business he ran. It began to take a toll on her and Jesus’ marriage. Where before Jesus would listen to her talk for hours, now she knew he barely listened. She would get monosyllables for responses and he never initiated romance any longer. Their times of intimacy disappeared. She blamed herself and tried harder to adorn herself with the clothes the family manual told her to. But Jesus neither noticed or cared what she did. He was only concerned with the company. She even spent more time on her knees in front of him because he seemed to perk up when she did that. But even that wasn’t enough.
Finally, she could take no more of Jesus or his family. Nothing she did was right. She wasn’t trying hard enough, they all told her. Jesus was even contemplating new relationships with other women and seemed enraptured anew by them. He spent all his time wooing them and promising them things that never materialized for her. She was devastated and then angry. Jesus had promised her unconditional love, but she realized there were all sorts of hidden conditions attached to those promises. She tried to warn the new women he was wooing, but they were too enraptured themselves and wouldn’t listen. Other people who had been wooed by Jesus but who refused him came by to give her comfort and she was grateful for that. She also missed her family very much. Jesus’ family kept insisting that her old family had to marry members of Jesus’ family or they couldn’t be truly accepted by them. She thought this was absurd. She was at her wit’s end.
She had met some new friends while Jesus was away all the time. One friend she met, named Reason, kept telling her that it wasn’t normal for one’s husband to make her do all the work in the relationship. “Why,” Reason asked, “do you have to follow the manual to the letter, but your husband and father-in-law don’t have to?” “Ummm, because they wrote it, they know best?” she countered. Reason was aghast, “Well, why should you believe them? I know of another family who has a similar book and they say their’s is truer than yours. How do you know their book doesn’t have the best way?” That was a good point, and she didn’t know how to answer. Reason brought up lots of good points, many answers to which she could not find in her book. She began to question the veracity of the family book for the first time. She asked Jesus about it, but he told her to keep reading…it would come to her in time.
She finally decided that she’d had enough and told Jesus she wanted a divorce. He didn’t respond at all really because he was too busy, but he did leave it to his family to take care of the problem. Jesus’ father was furious and insisted that she stop this nonsense or he would cut her out of their will and inheritance. She would be left without a dime! The rest of the family were furious as well. Some tried to make her get an annulment, insisting that the marriage was never consummated. She however, KNEW differently. Others who were happily married themselves begged her to give it another try; to become more compliant and willing and do everything Jesus told her to do. She had to learn to compromise, they told her. She knew, though, that she had compromised her own self respect and integrity enough.
She moved out of Jesus’ family compound and back in with her old family, who welcomed her with loving arms. “We’ve missed you and hoped you would come to your senses, but could never contact you!” they cried. She felt ashamed for the way she had treated them and apologized. Her new friend Reason helped her to get over the relationship with Jesus, but a couple of times she ran back to Jesus and his family and tried to make amends. It would be great at first, but then the same old frustrations and coldness would creep back in. The family would let her back in, but always hoping to teach her a lesson. They didn’t allow her the same freedom as they used to and began to gossip behind her back about her new friends, even hinting that she practiced “weird rituals” and contacted unsavory characters. She tried to ignore them, but the stony silence from Jesus and his family became too much for her and she decided to move away completely; to sever the relationship for good.
She was sad, but at the same time she was excited about her new friends, her reunion with her family, and the prospect of a new life. She was elated to be free from the dark, dusty family manual that was foisted on her when she married. She soon discovered that other families had similar books, which they either took too seriously or not seriously at all. She began to read these books and found them to contain the same obscure stories and ancient homilies all designed to keep everyone believing the same things. Some of the books contained wonderful tales with new concepts and vivid images. Those she kept on her library shelf. She didn’t have to worry anymore that every book she owned had to meet Jesus’ and his family’s approval. She had less and less contact with them and more and more confidence in herself. She was finally free!
She finally settled down and married Reason, who had always been her faithful companion; from the very first time she had met him. He never lied to her and always insisted she find out things for herself rather than accept everything he said. Their relationship was effortless and loving and in their intimacy they bore several children together; Charity, Love, and Patience. Their marriage was a marriage of equals. She wished she had met him sooner, but knew that her first marriage prepared her for the maturity she needed to live a confident, free life with Reason later. And for that she was most grateful.