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What Is Your IQ?

By: Henry Close, Th.M. Atlanta, GA

A friend’s son met a woman on a trip to Hong Kong and they fell madly in love. She moved to the United States and the couple lived together as they planned their wedding. The woman soon discovered, to her horror, that her fiance was extremely critical and verbally abusive. He rationalized these ways of treating her, and as he was very intelligent (and very proud of it) he could always talk her into accepting his logic.

The young woman felt trapped. She wanted to marry him for many reasons but did not want to be treated as he was treating her. She complained to her future mother-in-law, who totally supported her. But, alas, the son had never taken seriously anything his mother said. At that point, the mother asked for my advice.

I offered a few suggestions, and then composed the following story for the young woman. I “invented” a book in which this “Tale of Oriental Wisdom” appeared, and “invented” a publishing house to accompany it. I used the Japanese version of my name: Kurosu San Ga (San Ga is an honorific and Kurosu is Close) as author and editor of the book. The story went like this:

“After being married only a few months, the young bride was exceedingly unhappy. Her husband would frequently criticize her viciously over the slightest thing that displeased him-the table was not set properly, there was a wrinkle in the clothes she had washed. His attacks became more and more angry and more and more intimidating for the young bride.

“It was only when the young woman packed her bags to return to her father that the husband was willing to consult with the wise elder at the temple. The wise one greeted them with a courteous bow and the young woman described her unhappiness at her husband’s verbal attacks.

“The husband replied respectfully, ‘O wise one, my wife is exaggerating. Besides, she knows I mean nothing by it. I am only blowing off steam.’

  • ‘I see,’ said the wise one. He thought for a moment and then asked, ‘Tell me, what is your Q?’
  • ‘It is one hundred forty, O Respected ‘
  • ‘Then you are very intelligent,’ the wise one replied. ‘You are more intelligent than I. But I do not understand an intelligent man damaging an important relationship over things that are trivial.’ The husband had no answer.

“The wise one turned to the wife. ‘My dear, you must understand that there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. Intelligence refers to one’s capacity for wisdom. Wisdom has to do with the ways in which one actually lives. Your husband is very young now and it often takes time for wisdom to develop. When your husband’s wisdom approaches his intelligence, he will understand that your love is a gift to him rather than something to which he is entitled.

‘When his wisdom approaches his intelligence, he will look quietly for solutions rather than complain loudly about problems.

‘Now go in peace, both of you.  Do not speak for the remainder of the day, but meditate on these words.’

“The young couple faithfully obeyed the wise one and did not speak. But they did meditate on the words of the wise one.

“Several months later, the husband once again spoke angrily to his wife. No longer intimidated, she looked into his eyes with love and confidence and asked, ‘Tell me, my husband, what is your I.Q?'”

From: Tales of Oriental Wisdom, pp 76. Kurosu San Ga, editor. 1972. Orient Publishers, Hong Kong.
(Adapted from “What is Your IQ?” The Journal of Pastoral Care, Winter 2001.  Used by permission.)

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