“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Love & Marriage

“You may wonder why we have gathered here instead of a church building. But listen! The Bible says ‘wherever believers have gathered to praise the Lord, He shall be present there’. Therefore, believers in Christ, this beautiful auditorium is the house of God for now, for He is surely witnessing this holy matrimony and is here to bless this young couple”. Words to such effect. The pastor in the podium wore shirt and trousers like normal people but had the priest’s collar (I have seen it only in movies before) and spoke in fluent English with a trace of American accent.

I was at the wedding of a close friend’s daughter. It took place not in a church but in a posh auditorium in Trivandrum. Though both were Christians, they belonged to different churches or denominations. The bride’s side was Mar Thomite and the bridegroom’s, I didn’t catch it exactly, a kind of new American Methodists. It was a ‘love marriage’ and the couple was IT professionals.

Outside was parked a glorious Mercedes –Benz. Now, nothing else, not even Rolls Royce or BMW or Porsche or whatever – has a prestige value that equals that of Mercedes in India. Inside in the centralized air-conditioned hall, I was agape at the bevy of beautiful women. It always makes one acutely aware of one’s age and appearance.

Agape. The next pastor who delivered an inspiring sermon, said – “Marriage is a covenant, not a contract that can be broken. Love, my dear S & R, is not a matter of the mind. It is a matter of deliberate choice. There are different kinds of love; one is ‘Agape’ (he pronounced it u’gaa-pay), the love for Lord Jesus. The next is the love for your partner; sexual, emotional love. But always remember, love is a matter of choice”.

I wished I had my glasses, notepad and pen. I was being exposed to new thoughts.

The pastor apologizes gracefully to the women present and says- “S, remember that you are the man, the head of the new family. It is your duty to love your wife, R. And R, remember, you shall obey and submit to him. You shall remember that S is the head of your family and you shall always be subservient to him. You are not inferior to him, but below him”. I am dumbstruck. Obey? Subservient?

R is a pretty girl. As my friend who is still quite handsome and elegant, walked up the aisle with R to the tune of the wedding march or whatever (I have seen it in so many Hollywood movies and have always been moved by the solemnity and grace of the ceremony), we friends chuckled, - "We gotta get him a new wife, he looks so hot".

The ceremony wasn’t as long and tedious as the usual church weddings. The choir sang beautiful songs in English and Malayalam and I felt like singing with them. Later, with excellent bread, rice, fish curry, roast mutton and butterscotch ice-cream with honey syrup (I had two helpings from two different counters) and a bellyful ogling at the beauties under the belt, I was curious about the non-church wedding and asked my Christian friends. “Now R will be totally banished from her church”, they said grimly. “Poor R’s grandma is heartbroken. These guys (depreciatingly said) are of a new-fangled Methodists or something”. The speaker was agitated, himself a Catholic or Mar Thomite. I kept silent. I knew I was on thin ice here.

But – but I wondered. Both believe in Jesus Christ, don’t they? Both believe in the Bible. I said lamely, - ‘I liked the ceremony though. And the concept that where ever believers gathered to utter His holy name is the church’. He nods his assent, though grudgingly. “Hm, except for the absence of ‘now you may kiss the bride’, every thing was so Amerrrican!”

Christianity is truly a universal religion. Universal in number, but in ostracizing the girl for marrying from another church, not very different from the much maligned caste system in Hinduism.

Riding my bike home, I happily hum the choir song,- “ Nallavanaya Yesuve…"

******* Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 10.10.2010


  1. The Bard said," now join hands and with your hands your hearts".

    Marthoma, Methodist, Malankara, Seventh day adventist , Born again, Presbyterian, my foot.
    What was Christ? In which church or group did he fall?Did he represent any of these groups?
    And on what experience does a priest base his oration and sermon when he oversee a wedding?
    Outlandish and quite funny, that is what I would say.

    And these congregations are primarily meant to leash the flock.

  2. One Christ and 1200 denominations. That is how it is now. I am sure Christ himself would get confused which one to choose, the preachers are so convincing,they can mislead him as well.
    A study was done some years ago asking American Catholics 10 simple, basic questions like "is the devil a real being or a symbol for evil", etc, and only 7% answered all ten questions in line with the catholic doctrine!Very few attend the church. Many Christians do not even know what they believe in.

    In the future there will be no denominations, if Christianity even exists anymore eventually.

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  4. I was getting my hair done in a saloon at Delhi .I asked the owner a US born bengali Christian that if she wanted to have a look of Pope John Paul during his visit to India.To my shock she said very nasty things about him and was furious .She said many other things-that was the day i first came to know about different church going groups in Christianity .She also invited me to the church she used to go .

  5. These thousand and more denominations that we have today are people's way of construing the Word, the religion and the faith, each thinking they are closer to God than others! Everybody seems to be looking for the short-cut to heaven. Faith and what Christ had preached, is forgotten enroute. It's a sad state of affairs indeed. But looks like you enjoyed the wedding :)

  6. @RGB: You bet I did! :D . Of course, I am talking about the ice-creams!;)

    @Anil,Doc, Kavitha: Being a Malayalee, I am quite familiar with the numerous denominations in Christianity, also because of studying in different Christian educational institutions and quite a number of very good friends born as Christians.

    What amuses me is how the caste system is ridiculed and condemned, by the so-called saviours of the socially backward communities who got converted to Christianity but remain where they are, at the lowest rung of the society, kept at a distance from the blue-blood believers, who takes pride that their forefathers were Brahmins or other upper castes. You see, the tendency of oneupmanship is deeply imbedded in humans; therefore everywhere you can see the divisions, the numerous strata in society, based on whatever criteria that the said society upholds.
    What else can one do, but to laugh at our absurdities!

  7. Balan, you won’t believe this: “ The Story of a Catholic priest who became a Christian!!!” Oru katholika purohithan kristhyaani aaya katha.

    I got this booklet from the author himself. He was by then born again and therefore no more a catholic, I was told. To add authenticity to the story there were some photographs of the author in his priestly robe posing by the side of Pope John Paul II.

    For some reason I did not appreciate the whole thing. Now I feel that I should have kept the booklet as a collector’s item!

  8. @Ashok: Great loss! You have robbed yourself of some good laughs!

  9. its not just about christians and their sub sects... i was thinking the other day.. how can there be a different god for each religion. that would be 110 creators! just listen to any religious music. whether bhajans or gospel music or sufi music.. anything.. and u will realise there is only one god...How he must be laughing as we fight over mosques and temples...

  10. Who said that fact about religion, was it Marx or Mao. That the goddamn thing is pure opium?
    And poor God he is helplessly tangled on the cross , confined to granite or bronze sculptors or designated as inanimate and unseen.

    The farther away one is there is peace.

  11. Yes, Christianity is also very much divided, and it is brought out in its worst form when a girl and boy from different sects decide to get married :( I am not sure how many of my friends have struggled to get their parents to agree for marriage just because of this reason..

    Obviously it is the girl's side who is always reluctant as the girl may have to follow a different religious practice after marriage.

  12. @Elizabeth: Yes,it is sad, isn't it, when even a single entity cannot unify people!The same is the case with all religions; the shias and sunnis and sufis in Islam and the innumerable castes in Hinduism!


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