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.


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