Downton Abbey as a Morality Play: The Long-awaited Engagement Scene

11 Mar

Wasn’t the last scene in Season Two of Downton Abbey worth the wait?

As the snow starts falling more rapidly, in big cottony flakes, Matthew and Lady Mary stand on the porch in front of Downton Abbey, talking after the Servants’ Ball.  After several minutes, it becomes obvious that Matthew not only intentionally asked Mary to dance at the ball but he is now, once again, going to ask her to be his wife.

Since the last time he popped this question, he has gained a fiancee and lost her to death.

Since the last time Matthew popped this question, Mary has gained and lost a fiance who was wealthy enough (and able, as a newspaper publisher!) to buy up the rights to her story about the death of the Turkish diplomat in her bed and to squash the story.  She has now set Sir Richard free from the engagement, despite (or because of!) his threats to ruin her by publishing that scandalous story at this late date. 

She has told Matthew everything.  She concluded that, in doing that, she would lose his friendship.  That has not happened.  

In fact, as he moves toward his proposal, my favorite theological moment in the entire series occurs.

Mary asks him whether he has found it in his heart to forgive her for giving in to lust with the Turkish diplomat.

And Matthew says, “No, I have not.”

As she looks at him in shock, he adds, “There is nothing to forgive.  We both have lived our separate lives until now.  I am just saying we should live them together from now on.”

What a wonderful statement!

He, unlike many people who learn before marriage that their potential spouse has had a past,  realizes that her sin, before she was engaged to him, was against God alone.  Unlike so many people who cannot forget that their spouses had a past and use it to bludgeon them mentally for the next twenty years, Matthew is able to let go of all this before God.   

Matthew is willing to leave it there, at the feet of the only qualified Judge.

What a precious truth of marriage.  For whether our spouse has a past or not, he/she has a sin nature.

If only we could all leave our spouse’s sins in God’s hands, as Matthew did, and offer our love and support in place of recriminations.  

Marriage would be that much sweeter for it!

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