Thursday, 31 March 2011

Another thought about John Wesley - this time his marriage

This may prove to be an ill-considered post, possibly too much of a rant.  But something in me really loves John Wesley, and I felt very very angry when I read this.

It seemed to me to have all the usual feminist unfair bias towards women and incapacity to perceive the plain facts of what lies before us that I have come to associate with the world of psycho-tinkering.

The writer of the article quotes a letter from Wesley to his appalling wife in which he says:
‘Know me and know yourself. Suspect me no more, asperse me no more, provoke me no more: do not any longer contend for mastery…be content to be a private insignificant person, known and loved by God and me.’

The article describes these words as hostile and scathing.
Scathing? Hostile? Is it? To go on steadily telling someone that you love them and that God loves them too, even when they have done their utmost to ruin your reputation and even behaved violently towards you?  Why?

It reads to me like a simple, humble plea.  True he speaks plain, and maybe a person would have to understand plain speech to see where he's coming from.  But what a man!  I honour him.

The article describes with sympathy Molly's cause for disgruntlement:
At first Molly accompanied him but his travel schedule (by any standard through all church history) was relentless, and she, as a newly married 40 year old woman, was clearly hoping for some normal domestic joys.

But, did she not pause to consider whom she would be marrying?  Did she not realise that Christ was his first love and deepest passion?  What did she imagine marriage to John Wesley would be like?

The writer describes the Wesleys' home life as very unhappy, saying that Molly left home on more than one occasion, and John Wesley begged her repeatedly to return - in spite of her violence towards him; the article cites a diarist of the time who entered their home to find Molly dragging John across the floor by his hair.

He did his best.  The article says that when Molly finally walked out on him, John recorded in his diary - 'wryly' the article says, I don't know why:
 ‘I did not forsake her, I did not dismiss her, I will not recall her.’

But what enveloped me in red mist was the paragraph in which the writer concludes:
He should have consulted with Charles. He should have asked for the wisdom of other leaders. He should have been prepared for marriage. He should have considered his wife’s needs more than his own.

And his wife?  Oh yes, poor lamb!  She should have had everything exactly her own way and it was all John's fault, of course!

Tchah!!!!  Spit!!!!

At the end of this piece, the writer suggests that if we, too are experiencing difficulties in our marriage we might like to apply to Holy Trinity Church Marriage Course to be further immersed in more of the same.

You can see it now, can't you... a whole classroom full of whingeing disaffected violent women whose lives are SO unfair because unlike John Wesley their husbands had the temerity to get a haircut and can't be dragged anywhere.

You know what?  I would have married him.  I would have been PROUD to be married to a man who loved the Lord as much as John Wesley did, even if he was just the tiniest bit bonkers.

Rant over.


Julie B. said...

Rant read and appreciated.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

This was just great...the rant was wonderful. Oh my, well said, thanks for sharing. The visual of a man being drug by his wife, wow! Recently we have experienced some young married men go through that and it was horrible. This is a timely word.

Ember said...

:0) Hi ladies x

Donna said...

It sounds to me like they both got a bit of a raw deal, if she did indeed expect "normal domestic joys". If only the author had said, "*They* (rather than he...) should have been prepared for marriage." I suspect that if they were both properly prepared, they'd have called it off.
How sad.

Ganeida said...

Oh dear. Should I have restrained my other comments? :D Did not realise you felt that passionately about Wesley. Any man that can endure being dragged round by the hair without retaliating has my utmost admiration!

Ember said...

Hi Donna - yes, he got the wrong lady. Married quite late in life too. I don't think anyone who had even a passing acquaintance with John Wesley, anyone who had even heard of him, would have been expecting normal domestic joys. I guess she imagined he'd change. Some hope.

Heh heh Ganeida - yes I am a Wesley fan. There have not been many like him.

Linda said...

Really I don't think normal domestic joys would have kept a woman like that happy perhaps, don't know.

I enjoyed reading your post and the article and agree with you.

Ember said...

No, I agree with thee, Linda - his home would have become a prison.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my! Well, I didn't know - but he has my sympathy, having seen my own dearest treated thusly in his first marriage.

Ember said...

:0) Hi Magdalena - waving from England!

Buzzfloyd said...

I didn't find the article as one-sided as you did. In my reading, they gave some explanation of her motivation in order to prevent it reading simply as a list of why she was bad and he was good.

The bit about being wry - if you read Wesley's words as "although I tried hard to behave well in the marriage, don't expect me to ask her to come back!", then the description fits. One might read it as simple statement, however.

The bit about what Wesley should have done, I took to be another attempt to balance what would otherwise have been a very one-sided piece. But maybe I am simply reading this through my own filter, in which one would take descriptions of abuse as so clearly one-sided that they stand on their own against other editorial remarks.

Ember said...

:0) Helpful as always, Buzz - thanks x

Amy Danielle said...

thank you for the last two posts on John Wesley. i tend to side with you. what are people thinking these days? blessings on you, sweet sister. xo

Ember said...

:0) Hi Amy! Waving... x

l said...

Loved the post! And I concur with Magdalena: my dearest was treated thusly in his first marriage for 17 years like that!

Ember said...

Hello I :0) - yes, sometimes it is forgotten that men also are vulnerable and need to be treated with as much gentleness and consideration as women.