Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Story Where You Choose the Ending

I'd like to run a scenario by my fellow Christians...

Imagine that a young married couple--a man and woman--begin attending your church. They are perhaps in their mid-20's. You gather that they have immigrated to the U.S. from a small and obscure Eastern European country. After a few weeks, they come to an informal get-together for people who are interested in becoming more involved in the church. As part of the gathering, people are invited to tell their stories. And so, the young husband tells theirs...

He begins by explaining that in their country the economy is very bad--most people are very poor. Because of this, young men generally don't become established until they are in their mid-20's, and so most men don't marry until they are of that age. Additionally, health care is almost nonexistent in their country. The result is a high level of infant mortality and a high number of women who die in childbirth. Because of this, women tend to marry very young--15, 14, even 13. And so, in their country it is typical for the husband to be 10 or 15 years older than the wife (you notice, however, that this young husband and wife are about the same age). Marriages are usually arranged by the parents and generally have more to do with family or clan alliances or business relations than with romance.

The young husband then begins to tell about a man from their country who followed this cultural pattern. He married a much younger woman and they had some children. After several years, the wife died (the young man doesn't explain how, but you suspect it may have been during childbirth), leaving the man a widower with children. Eventually, the man remarried--he needed a wife to cook and clean and care for his children and perhaps produce a few more. Of course, the available pool of potential wives would have been comprised mostly of teenaged girls, so now the man was considerably older than his second wife. In fact, the man's oldest son from his first wife was as old as his new bride. The new wife came into the home and assumed her duties. Some time after that, the man died (life expectency is also relatively short in this country), leaving the second wife as a widow and step-mother.

The man's son and the man's widowed second wife--who were about the same age--fell in love. But, technically, the second wife was the son's step-mother. Even though there was no biological relation, their family and societal role took precedence, and so in their culture, such a relationship was forbidden. The young couple decided to run away together and wed. They came to the U.S.

The young husband concludes his story by stating what you have already come to realize: "My wife and I are that young couple."

And now they are at your church.

And now I end my scenario with a question: Would you allow this couple to stay in your church, or would you demand that they leave and never return?

Please click here for Part 2 of this story!


Blogger Bob said...

Absolutely I would welcome them to stay! If you look at the lineage of Jesus, there were a lot of ancestors in His line that many would want to exclude from the church if they could, such as Rahab the harlot, Ruth the Moabite, and Perez, a child born of incest. If those people were allowed to be listed in the genealogy of Jesus in the New Testament, why should we keep someone off our membership role? Let's just call such opportunities "manna", or "what is it?"
God sends us new gifts in surprising ways.

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This doesn't seem like a tough question at all....They should absolutely stay!

8:08 PM  
Blogger Peggy Senger Morrison said...

I would like to know what happened to the younger children that they abandoned in the old country,in order to chase love.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Daniel P. (Danny) Coleman said...

Good question! I should clarify that this is a hypothetical situation (and that it is going somewhere hermeneutically, which is revealed on my blog in the sequel to this post: http://dannycoleman.blogspot.com/2013/03/part-2-story-where-you-choose-ending.html).

Because I wrote it for that reason, I (callously) didn't dwell on the fate of the children. Let's assume--for the sake of the scenario--that the kiddies are being well cared for by relatives until our young couple can get established and bring them over to the U.S.

9:09 AM  

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