The parable of the ten virgins

So for those of you not up on your New Testament or Christianity or Jesus or anything like that, our micro Sunday school lesson text comes from Matthew 25:1-12.

Ten virgins are going to a wedding and they bring their little oil lamps for light. Five of the virgins bring extra oil and the other five virgins only have enough to last the ceremony and go home. Well, the groom’s late (viz. “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” v.5) and everybody runs out the oil in their lamps, but the ones who brought extra oil refill their lamps and are allowed into the wedding. But because the bouncer can’t see the others in the dark, he doesn’t let them in because he doesn’t know if they’re invited or not.

The moral of the story is obvious: Be prepared.

And, more specifically doctrinally related: Be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

(Please note that the beautiful illustration by Gayla Prince portrays the ladies with extra oil as virtue and the ladies without extra oil as vice.)

Tonight I’m watching TV (*gasp*) and a commercial comes on that leads me down several pathways strewn with stones to trip over and pretty pansies to admire before I get to an observation I’ve never heard anyone voice and completely takes me by surprise:

The bridegroom was a bastard for not showing up on time and then punishing the ones who didn’t anticipate his assholishness.

Obviously I can’t know what Christ really taught because the Bible’s a mess and a half anyway, but the parable as it’s translated really doesn’t hold up as an analogy for your basic Christian theology. Why?

Because Christians are taught that Christ is going to return; you just don’t know when, so mind your Ps and Qs.

In the case of this bridegroom, he was expected at a certain time. The five virgins who didn’t have extra oil had no reason to expect that the bridegroom would “tarry,” so they had no reason to prepare. Further, casting them as “vice” because they had a reasonable expectation that the meeting time would be honored is just wrong.

Tell you what, though. If I’d gone to a wedding and had to wait so long for the groom to show up that I ended up having a good nap out of the deal, I’d’a said, “Fuck it” and gone home while I still had oil in my lamp.

22 thoughts on “The parable of the ten virgins

  1. David J. West

    And here I was, all worried after your last post (when I had just discovered you) that you wouldn’t be posting anymore.

    The “Vice” ones are always hotter too.

  2. MoJo Post author

    LOL! Thank my pal Haggis. She threatened me with bodily harm if I stopped blogging in favor of Twitter and she scares me.

  3. Phil Persinger

    The girls should have used the same vendor who supplied the lamp oil for the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. That stuff’ll burn for eight marriages.

  4. Zoe Winters

    I always thought the moral was: “Women, the man will come for you on HIS terms, not yours. Go get back in that kitchen, wench. And make me a sammich.”

  5. MoJo Post author

    Eight marriages? Good gravy. What’s it made from?

    Zoe, I never got that from it, but I’m going to assume you’re being cheeky. ;)

  6. Mike Cane

    >>>… because the Bible’s a mess and a half anyway

    Wow, is that putting it mildly!!

    Still can’t stand the fact Jesus cursed a fig tree. Hey, Pal, Who made it to begin with?

  7. Zoe Winters

    hehe awwww.

    well i’ve noticed in my fiction that my male leads are always cooking. hahaha. i’m so projecting my wants and needs. I sometimes hate cooking.

  8. haggis

    LMAO–I’m not sure how I got the reputation for being scary, and you of all people know that outer crustiness hides a delicious marshmallow center. . . Silly rabbit.

    Of course, if a little intimidation will keep the entertainment coming, I’m glad to oblige.

    If the lampless hussies are “vice,” what did they call the women who opted to fornicate in the woods and fart off the wedding altogether? If I’m going to have a bad reputation, I hope it comes with a guy who can afford to pay someone to make sammiches for both of us. >:)

  9. haggis

    Who–me specifically, or bad rep girls in general? (Why do I feel like I’m channeling Mae West now? Yes, when I’m good, I’m very good. . . but when I’m bad, I’m better. Meowr. :) )

    Not to worry. I don’t want to keep him, just abuse him for a while and send him home. I’ve already tried the keeping part and think I might be too old and set in my ways to bother with a guy full-time. If nothing else, I’ve already gotten used to having the queen-sized bed to myself and not having to worry about falling into the toilet bowl in the middle of the night because some lazy jerk fouled up my feng shui and left the seat up.

    Of course, I know better than to say never.

    This kind of thinking is a great example of why I found no use for religiosity from a very young age. Even before I grokked the concept of misogyny, I recognized it for what it was (my family is catholic, if that helps).

    So what about the bad boys? Do they get off scot-free or are we firmly entrenched in weird 1950s territory? I have to say that I find the concepts of “good” and “bad” largely subjective and irrelevant, which prolly makes it hard to argue in a satisfying way.

    So save me the chore of having to read this great fiction for myself. How many men came to this shindig without proper camping gear and did they also get sent home if they came without a spare bottle of propane?

  10. MoJo Post author

    I’m not sure how I got the reputation for being scary

    It’s the noobs, you know, Over There At That Other Place We Hang Out. Terrifying, really.

    I don’t want to keep him, just abuse him for a while and send him home.

    That’s what Beltane is for. Do I have to cite your religion at you?

    are we firmly entrenched in weird 1950s territory

    I have a post coming up on that. The Good Wife, according to 195x Good Housekeeping or some shit. I’m having to haul out the Friedan and Paglia to cope, I was so scarred.

    How many men came to this shindig without proper camping gear and did they also get sent home if they came without a spare bottle of propane?

    Naturally, men were not mentioned as having erred, but you know, I blame the Council at Nicaea for about 15/16ths of the bullshit.

  11. Joe

    I’ve always wondered what would have happened if the bridegroom had tarried even longer and the five with extra oil had run out. I’ve also wondered why five of the virgins were such assholes that they didn’t share (or at least didn’t sell at a good profit) some of their extra oil.

  12. Zoe Winters

    LMAO I think selling at a profit would have been wise. Then they could retire in luxury and take care of themselves without being at the mercy of some irresponsible bridegroom.

  13. MoJo Post author

    @Joe

    Sharing? Almost a dirty word in my household, but given the context of surrounding altruism, that’s a valid question. Widow’s mite blah blah blah. Were they sinners because they didn’t share? I vote yes!

    As for profit, well, the other five wanted to leave to go BUY some more, then come back, but weren’t even allowed to do that, so yeah, the “virtuous” five certainly could’ve profited.

    I’ve also wondered what would’ve happened if the bridegroom had waited any longer, but by then it probably would’ve been daybreak.

  14. mamajen121

    It is a parable people! Don’t take it so literal. The 5 virgin that had extra oil were prepared spiritually for the bridegroom…aka Jesus…to return! The 5 that didn’t have enough oil…had procrastinated the day that He would come and so they were not ready…thus not recieving their reward in heaven. We can not procrastinate the day of our repentance. We can not “eat, drink and be merry” and then expect to be rewarded for our bad deads when the Savior comes again. We must prepare and study the words of Christ so that we are ready to enter into His presence…thus knowing the Savior and Him knowing us! The 5 foolish virgins were not bad people…they just weren’t prepared to meet the Savior!!!

  15. MoJo Post author

    Hi mamajen and welcome!

    Yes, that’s the traditional metaphor for the story. It’s the stance taken in Sunday school and Gospel Doctrine and Primary and Relief Society. It’s ubiquitous around Christendom. As far as I know, there is no Christian sect that does NOT interpret it that way.

    I’m looking outside that because to me, the metaphor is highly flawed and it’s always made me slightly twitchy.

  16. Beelzabeth

    Interesting viewpoint, Moriah. I never looked at it quite like that, but the parable never really made sense to me either.

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