The Parable of The Couple Wanting to Get Married

I love parables. Spending 8 months in Jesus’ parables only made me love them more. I thought I would try my hand in my own. Taking a few queues from the Good Samaritan.

A young couple was looking to get married. As they were putting their wedding plans together they realized that they didn’t have a minister yet to marry them. Since neither of them grew up religious or knew any ministers, they decided to go to the church that was closest to them and ask their minister to marry them. The church that they arrived at had a big front door and they knocked and knocked and no one answered. They looked up and saw a sign on the door that explained to congregants that the entire staff was at a protest in front of city hall opposing gays the right to be married, and that the regular office hours would resume the next day. Shruggingly they walked a few hundred meters down to try the next church. They walked into the beautiful building and was able to track down the minister. They walked into his office and explained to them their story and asked him to marry them. The minister reached for his Bible and opened it up to Genesis 1 and told them what his beliefs in marriage were. He told them that their relationship was an abomination and that they should both seek God and his forgiveness and turn from their wicked ways. Before he could say anything else, they interrupted him and thanked him for his time and went on their way.

Feeling quite frustrated and hurt, they walked to a third church on the block. As they walked up to the church, there was a woman sitting on the front steps sipping a coffee. She was friendly and started talking to them. After 20 minutes of chatting, the couple realized that this lady was the minister of this congregation. Feeling right about her, they asked her to marry them. The minister was ecstatic. She said she would be honoured. She asked them if it was ok that she was a woman. They laughed and said they wouldn’t have asked if they didn’t think it was ok. They chatted for a little while longer about the style of wedding and what to expect. The couple walked away feeling confident that they chose the right minister.

Which of these three churches do you think was a neighbour to the couple?

23 Comments

  • Nathan, thanks. This is a good one!!

    I am thankful for my grandfather, who was a minister, and who married anyone who asked him. He thought it was a privilege to join people together in marriage, regardless of their faith journey.

  • That couple sure sounds like a same sex couple.

  • Hi Nathan. Interesting parable you have here. Let me take a stab at this.

    The first minister may have got his dates mixed up and went to protest the ridiculously gay moon the balloon deal because Gospel By The Bay was the same weekend or, more than likely, he is simply off mission. His mission should be to see the most people possible come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He is likely a faithful servant who loves Jesus, who has simply been distracted off mission.

    The second minister seems to be faithful to the Word of God and obviously knows that these two dudes are living in sin and are engaged in a lifestyle that will destroy them both. Doesnt take a trained minister to figure the reasons for that to happen, just a sketched out diagram. This ministers problem is that he is just not nice. He seems to have skipped those verses that say to love the sinner and decided to treat them as if they were professing Christians. Nobody likes to get yelled at, especially with verses, when they have an unregenerate heart. These things are foolishness to them in their state and give the Church a bad name.

    Now the third minister is the one that scares the Christian. She just seems to be easily deceived, much like her first mother Eve in the garden. Im guessing her husband may have been on those steps too, hanging out and just passively watching it all go down. She seems to be very nice to these fellas, which is good. They havent called themselves Christian and so she isnt condemning them. She knows that we are all sinners by nature and choice and that until Jesus changes your heart you will always prefer sin to God. So she is kind and humble, as was Jesus. The problem with this minister is that she doesnt know Truth or hold it as final authority. She loves people more than the God of the Bible. Shes an idolater. The scary thing about her is that she is very nice, and that always makes heretics very effective. They are on Satans VIP list. The only thing scarier, would be if she blogged to boot.

    Anyways, thats my stab at it Nathan. You gave me some enjoyment here. One word of constructive criticism though. If you are going to mention Jesus parables and then decide to make one up, you really need to show what Jesus himself would have done. I dont want to judge anyone though; maybe you have a fourth minister out there that will truly represent what Jesus would do.

    Take care, mark.

  • I hope that 4th minister isn’t Mark.

    Best line “They are on Satan’s VIP list.” I’m taking that one all the way to the bank.

  • Ron,
    That wasn’t very nice. Come out and explain.

  • Hey Mark, well you probably analyzed it more than I did :) But that’s what’s it’s for, so let me respond a bit, without playing my cards too much.

    A few things…

    1. I never said the couple was two dudes (or a gay couple at all), you read that into the story.
    2. You never did answer the question at the end of the parable?
    3. I would say the second ministers problem has more to do with his focus on the law instead of grace.
    4. The parable wasn’t to show what Jesus would do, but maybe more highlight a parable that Jesus would tell.

    I really tried hard to make the third minister despicable to Christians, because as you may know, the Samaritan was hated by the Jews, so much so that they thought there was a special place in hell reserved for them. I took a little bit off of it there, but there is still this underlying frustration with the third minister’s type, this seemingly wishy washy relativistic Christian that seems to discard the beliefs of the church for likability. While I think it goes a lot deeper than that in the story, i think you have nailed the frustration part.

    In the Good Samaritan, the first two people that walked by the beaten up guy, were actually following the law. They didn’t want to become unclean, and they were seriously weighing out the ramifications of helping such a man along with what their law told them to do. The third guy, disregarded the laws that said don’t become unclean, and the nuisance of becoming clean again to be a neighbour to the suffering man. He chose to show mercy to someone else even at the expense of breaking the law and putting himself out. I think this parable is very similar, just a modern day twist on the circumstances.

    Thanks for the comment though, be curious to see what you thought now about it.

  • My comment not nice? All I said was I hope you aren’t the forth minister.

    I do believe it was you proclaiming a VIP list for “certain” people.

    Seriously though, that was a awesome line, I cant wait to use it in my vocab.

  • Hey Ron, glad I could help. I didn’t want to be as harsh as the Bible calls them. ie. Matthew 7:15 (“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheeps clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.)

  • Hey Nathan. Hope all is well with you. I don’t see any of these church being a good neighbor. In reply to your points

    1. (I never said the couple was two dudes (or a gay couple at all), you read that into the story.)
    This is true. You did choose your first minister as protesting gay marriage at city hall. Had you said he slipped home to kiss his wife and tell her he loves her, I likely would have thought differently. I assumed your second minister was quoting Leviticus 18:22 (You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.) when he was speaking to the couple in love. And, finally, I noticed that the last six of nine blogs by you, have been on homosexuality. So, I dont want to seem assuming, but .

    2. (You never did answer the question at the end of the parable?)
    Which of these three churches do you think was a neighbor to the couple?
    I would say none of them.
    The first church would have been the closest to being a neighbor to the couple. We dont know how that minister would have handled their meeting since they missed each other and the couple didnt give the church a second chance.
    The second church had a minister, like all, that isnt perfect and really blew it on that occasion. He wasnt a good neighbor and made his church look bad. And finally, as for the third church, they just seem like a bunch of sheep, wandering where the grass is green. No sheppard to warn them of the cliff ahead. So that church may seem like a good neighbor initially but not ultimately. They are the worst.

    3. (I would say the second ministers problem has more to do with his focus on the law instead of grace.)
    Yeah, I would agree. I would say this minister has forgotten, at least for the moment, that it was only by grace that he himself began to see himself condemned in relation to the law. Hopefully he has in place, a godly ban of elders in his church that he submits to, who will be quick to lovingly remind him of that.

    4. (The parable wasn’t to show what Jesus would do, but maybe more highlight a parable that Jesus would tell.)
    Im not sure that makes sense Nathan.

    I think we may see the law differently from one another. The impression Im getting from you is its ok to break Gods laws in order to be nice to people.
    John14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Nathan, I think it is all an issue of the heart.
    As a Daddy of, soon to be, four kids, I dont give them rules to make them stiff-necked and to stop them from being kind to other people in need, as we see in the Good Samaritan. I dont want little Pharisees running around.
    I love them in such a way that, for their joy and mine, they GET to obey me as an important way to love me back. And that love Ive shown them spills over into the people around them, like the Good Samaritan. So bottom line, if your heart has been changed and you love Jesus, you will obey Him and naturally want to love other people. Its a big mistake to not do the first, like some denominations have done, for the sake of the latter. Am I still way off base from where youre going here?

  • I intentionally didn’t say who was in this couple to make the responses a bit more focused on. Fair enough assumption, but rather assuming they are gay, i’d rather you assume this is just a couple that some church people generally disgaree with their lifestyle and some church people don’t. However, it is your rite to read into it however you like, that’s the beauty of the parable?

    Part of having the minister not there was playing off on the fact that there are three churches on one block (I can see four from my front porch), and when people are actually in need, they weren’t there. Also, it was poking a little fun at where they were at, a protest for gay marriages.

    Maybe I need to explain the Samaritan parable a bit more. The priest and the levite would have put themselves at odds with the law by helping the Samaritan (because of the ceremonial laws in the Torah). Just like the first two ministers would have broke the ‘law’ by helping the “couple.” The third person in both circumstances chose to, for whatever reason, put grace and mercy before the law and put themselves at risk at the sake of becoming unclean.

    I think the third minister was the neighbour, she offered love and acceptance and chose to bless love where she saw it. The second one was to concerned with his ideas of a holy life that he forgot to love the people right in front of him, and the first minister believed that he was going to create change in people by yelling at them, or standing up for what he believed to be right. Both sides to me are nothing like Jesus. So I would go with the third one, she was the neighbour, she offered mercy and love.

  • The four churches on your block thing sounds a little sketch Nathan.

    I think I have a handle on the good samaritan parable. And that’s why I can’t see the parallel you are suggesting between your parable and it. In the real one, a man was left dead, bleeding and dying on the side of the road and needed help. In yours, two pagans (the Bible’s lingo) want to sit in their sin for the world to see and want the Church (ultimately God) to affirm it. It’s not apples to apples, no pun intended.

    And lastly, you said “she offered love and acceptance and chose to bless love where she saw it.” I’m so glad you said that and showed us that card you’ve been holding back. Ignore the sin, and teach them a false gospel while loving them.

    Christianity is a faith of continual repentance. The EXACT opposite of the one you are choosing in the third minister.

    Luke 5:32
    I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
    2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
    Etc, etc, etc.

    I’d love to see a list of the authors you have been listening to and reading. Be careful, garbage in means garbage out!

    Thanks for your thoughts. mark.

  • Hey Mark, I live on Devine st right across from inn of the good shepherd (which used to be a church) then I can see a united, Presbyterian and catholic church on top of that. Pretty crazy.

    I think you and I are just looking at the third minister differently. I’m seeing her for her grace and acceptance, you are seeing her for her lack of discernment, or her outright lapse of care for righteousness. I think they can both exist in the same person. Which is why the question was about her being a neighbor and not if she had a good enough grasp on holiness, which in my opinion are two different things.

    Check out a few of the books I’ve read recently that may or may not be influencing my thinking

    1. Robert Capon, Kingdom, Judgment, Grace, Outrage, Paradox in the Parables – this book is where I have been inspired a lot from on the parables, I have a copy if you would like to borrow it.

    2. Miroslav Volf – Exclusion and Embrace

    3. NT Wright – Surprised by Joy

  • Maybe we can meet up again for a coffee in the next few weeks. I’ve got holidays. God bless, mark.

  • Lets suppose they are gay.
    I am having a hard time seeing how us “non gays” can be so hypocritical to gay people.

    After all Romans 3:23-24 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Would it be appropriate Mark for a minister not to marry you because you have/had/will lust after other women in your life time?

    Will your response be “well Ron, yes I am a sinner however I am trying my best not to and I don’t live in sin and dont accept sin that the gays.”

    Who are we are to say what is and isn’t righteous? Our own lacking interpretation?

    James 2:10
    For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
    We ALL have broken and will continue to do so.

    I don’t think we realize just how sinful we are. If we do not accept all and have reservations for a few groups, really we should also have reservations for ourselves.

    Why do we think homos and heteros are different? What gives us the right?

    I feel more upset for people who judge and label others because I fear this for myself as well:

    Matthew 7:1-3
    Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3Why do you see the speck in your neighbors eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?

    Why are we so hell bent on keeping people in and out. For what sins we believe to be sins are we not called to let the weeds grow with the wheat?

  • Ron. my wife is having a baby, goto go now, looking forward to replying likely monday, thanks, take care, mark. good questions.

  • Good luck Mark!

  • Hmmm … I noticed that Nathan wrote the second pastor opened his Bible to Genesis and proclaimed the couple apostate, not Leviticus.

    What if they were not gay at all. What if, instead, they were a man and a very pregnant woman? Perhaps the second pastor was going to get around to saying that he would marry them, but was very grumpy that day and had to have his pound of flesh by telling them they had lived in sin before getting married. He was so grumpy that they left before he could get around to it. As would any of us if we were chastised for doing the right thing.

    Now we come to the third pastor on the steps and she sees two people very much in love, trying to start a family and says, “yes … I will help you. I will bless what you are doing, because God blesses it too.” All of that seems to make more sense.

    But … even if they were gay. She was being neighborly and the first two were not. She was opening the door to a relationship with the couple within which she could talk to them about the desires of God’s heart for each of us to turn towards Him a little more each day. All of us are turned away from Him and need to turn back on some level. Some believe that homosexuality is one of those places. I’m not so certain and I don’t want to get into that debate here. But I will talk about how it is absolutely necessary for a pastor to be in relationship with anyone in order for him/her to talk to that person about their relationship with God. That part has to come first. Thundering scriptures at a person is worse than useless because it just tells that person that God hates them. Which is, of course, the wrong message.

  • Nice Sonja, thanks for that comment, it brings a little more understanding to it.
    It’s no fun to explain my own parable.
    The point is being neighbourly, not being subjectively moral. I don’t know if they have much to do with each other.

    Thanks Sonja!

  • Hi Ron. Thanks for your good wishes for my family and I. The Lord blessed us with a healthy baby boy, to complement our three beautiful little girls, so thanks for the kind thought.

    In response to your questions.

    Would it be appropriate Mark for a minister not to marry you because you have/had/will lust after other women in your life time?
    If I tell the minister that my intention in this marriage is to lust after other women after I am married and thats just who I am, I would hope this minister would not perform the marriage ceremony. Especially, if he is marrying one of Gods daughters. If this man confesses past sins of lust and that particular sin is a stronghold for him, I would hope the marriage would be at best delayed, hopefully cancelled, and that he be put with a group of godly Christian men, and begin a redemptive process. Romans 3 would jive with that. If that is successful, then maybe then he is ready to be married in the church.

    Who are we are to say what is and isn’t righteous? Our own lacking interpretation?
    Scripture is the answer to that. It is very, very clear for those that love Him.

    Why do we think homos and heteros are different? What gives us the right?
    We arent different, in this way. We are all sinners. We are equal in that regard, and if we are true Christians who love Jesus and have changed hearts, by the preaching of the Word, we will be convicted of our sin do a 180 to God. We will repent of all depravity and depraved lifestyles. If a guy is having hetero sex outside of marriage, downloading porn, having homo sex, lying, stealing gossiping etc. and not turning from it by the grace of God, then hes not a Christian. He may be hanging out with Christians, but hes not one. And if he is a Christian, then he will not want to marry anyone of the same sex, because Jesus is too precious in his/her sight.

    Why are we so hell bent on keeping people in and out? For what sins we believe to be sins are we not called to let the weeds grow with the wheat?
    I guess define in or out. My thoughts are, the church doors should be open for anyone. Practically, pedophiles I would not allow to mingle in the church on Sunday along with some other dangerous people. Homosexuals would be very welcome. They would be seekers. If they then wanted to be baptized, married or made a member, they would need to repent of that lifestyle. God hates it, destroyed a whole town over it in the Old Testament, and so we should not affirm it either. If at that point, they decided to leave, Im guessing they could join at whatever church you guys go to. But make sure you let the pedophiles do ministry with your kids, because who are we to judge.

    Its just such a heart issue. God is the judge, for sure. But man, you guys dont sound like you know the God of the Bible or love Jesus very much. These things are really weird for Christians to even debate with one another. With non-Christians, sure, but not among believers. Getting kinda of depressing I think. Wondering when to shake the dust off my feet here.

  • In response to Sonja.

    All of us are turned away from Him and need to turn back on some level. Some believe that homosexuality is one of those places. I’m not so certain and I don’t want to get into that debate here.

    Need to turn back at some level? Sonja, can you show me where in the Bible it says we just need to turn to Him at some level. If you cant find it, where did you hear that?

  • Hi Nathan.
    I wish you would explain your own parable and what you believe. What’s the worst that could happen, the free methodists throw your pastoral tracking out the window. You don’t care about the machine anyway.

  • Hey Mark, I don’t want to give you anymore reason to wipe the dust off your feet :), so I’m not explaining the parable (I have a few more coming I believe) And no, I’m not worried about my pastoral tracking, they are aware of my journey and struggles, and continue to make room for them. It’s true though, I don’t care about the machine as much as some people, thought I do think it’s needed in many cases.

    Congrats on the new addition to the family.

    I think what Sonja meant is that we all have parts of us that are still being sanctified, none of us are fully there, and all these parts are different for us all. I don’t think she’s saying that we only need to be saved bits and pieces (which is what it felt like you were reading into her comment)

    I’ll leave you and Ron to debate your conversation, however, just two things.

    1. Ron, you are making vast assumptions with your comments assuming the people you are talking to assume the same things you do, you can’t do that, you need to start from scratch and not assume anything.

    2. Mark, I find probably our biggest disagreement will be where we land grace and law. I think grace plays a major role in even the worst of circumstances, especially when it’s presence is unknown or undesired, you seem to think that grace only plays a role when the law is at least being attempted at being kept, if there is no intention, then they do not experience grace, would I be correct in saying that?

  • For those of you that are interested, Mark and I continued on the conversation here.

    http://www.nathancolquhoun.com/blog/index.php/2009/07/03/some-more-thoughts-on-homosexuality#c5995

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