Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Unexpected wedding

There was the surprise announcement of the imminent wedding of a couple of teenagers at my wife's church last week. The news is a whispered scandal.

Teenage pregnancies outside marriage are not uncommon, of course, but in the context of the church sex outside marriage - and disobeying parents - are serious issues.

The families are standing by them and welcome their decision to get married. It does occur to me that this understanding may come from one or more of the respective parents being able to empathise through their own less than strict adherence to church rules in their own youth.

The church itself is a little less forgiving. Half of the couple is the son of a Minister and he has been removed from the church band for an unspecified time. There needs to be some sort of penance - or at least a public message that his action is not condoned.

It is ironic in some ways as my current re-reading the the Bible from beginning to end shows plenty of behaviour far worse from people held up as heroes. As an example, Judah slept with a shrine prostitute and left his seal and staff in lieu of payment. Unbeknown to him it was his daughter-in-law, Tamar, in disguise. When it was revealed that Tamar was pregnant as she had been working as a prostitute, he ordered her to be burned to death. His hypocrisy was exposed when she presented the seal and staff to identify the father of her child. Judah spared her life (Genesis 38:1-30).

Yet elsewhere the hero is Eleazar for killing a member of the tribe of Israel who formed a relationship with a Midianite woman when they were in the wilderness. He thrust a spear through the couple as they lay together so bringing an end to a plague that God had brought to punish the tribe for forming relationships with other peoples and following their gods (Number 25:6-9). 

For myself, I wish them well and I cannot condemn. In fact, I hope they are happy. I am reminded of the line from John Lennon: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

There are many forks along life's road. There are past girlfriends I might have ended up marrying - or might still be tied to now from an unexpected pregnancy, a child and lifelong responsibility. In one case we did have a pregnancy scare, so I looked down a road that might have been. That, incidentally, killed our trust in contraceptives and we took a less risky approach from then on, something I continued with another couple of partners, a decision that was perhaps a blessing for one as it turned out she had been raped a year or so before and our relationship may have been a healing staging post on a journey back to trusting intimacy even if our future was not meant to be together.

So there will be a wedding and a birth. Fate has played its part, but perhaps no more so than in the chance encounters that bring many couples together. I met my own wife at an international meeting, we spent an evening dancing and it turned out she was passing through my country a few months later. 

Forks in the road.

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