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It’s a good story

September 25, 2013

I was reading a blog post a few days ago written by a father who was explaining that, when his now-grown son was just a tyke, he had agreed with another father, who had a little girl-tyke, that their kids should get married.  Not married right then, mind you, but later when they came of age.  The kids weren’t told of this, of course, because well, I guess it was none of their business.

In any event, eventually the dads made the big announcement and the two young people were brought together and told they were getting married.  After this joyous news they got to spend two hours alone together not, as it turns out, to get to know one another but because the dads needed time to sort out the wedding details.  No details were given as to what the two young folk actually talked about when they were together as it appears from the article that whatever they had to say to each other was not that important.

In any event the article concludes with the glad report that these two young adults are now happily married and destined for a life of wedded bliss because they trusted in the wisdom of their fathers.  I take at face value that this couple is happy.  I wish them well.  And I think this is a shining example how a true and heartwarming story can prove….

….absolutely nothing.

With just a little effort I found articles online, indeed several of them, that detailed stories of similar arranged marriages that proved to be nightmares.  Each of these heartbreaking stories also prove….

…..absolutely nothing.

Stories have great power and, being an Irish storyteller at heart, I love them.  I can learn from them.  They teach me to think and make me ponder.  They make me laugh and make me cry.  Sometimes they really give me the creeps, like the story I opened with did.  But stories are not proof, they are illustrations of a point the teller is trying to make.  Period.  And it always seems to me that, no matter what the point is, you can find some stories to affirm it; or refute it.

Most political debates now are story-driven.  Every politician worth his salt has stories to tell.  Sadly, more and more Christian debate seems to be sort of competitive storytelling.  The idea of arranged marriages is a huge area of competitive storytelling.  Yes, there are examples of arranged marriages in the Bible.  There also are a lot of other strange ways marriages got started.  But soon here, as in so many things in life, you run face-to-face with the reality that one story can be matched by another making the opposite point.

Jesus loved stories and frequently used them to illustrate truth.  I’m not going to stop telling them either.  But there are two things I always need to remember.  There is no way that my story has to be your story; and when your story differs from mine I need to show you the grace to accept it.  If I am going to use storytelling to make my point then I’ve got to let your storytelling speak to me as well.

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From → Christianity

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