Jim and Pam and 1 Corinthians 13

May 1, 2013

The end of this Office episode, in which Pam recalls her pastor reciting 1 Corinthians 13 at her wedding, is startling and powerful.

An uncomfortably long 30 seconds elapse before Pam returns Jim's embrace.

An uncomfortably long 30 seconds elapse before Pam returns Jim’s embrace. There’s nothing glib about the show’s portrayal of marriage.

The Office appears to be concluding its nine-season run on a high note, as this most recent episode, “Paper Airplanes,” makes clear. Jim and Pam, the show’s romantic leads, have been struggling in their marriage recently. Last year, with little input from his wife, Jim invested in a friend’s startup business in Philadelphia. He found his dream job with the new venture and has been splitting his time between Philadelphia and Scranton, where he continues to work part-time for Dunder-Mifflin until the new business gets on its feet.

Pam, meanwhile, feels lonely, isolated, and overwhelmed. She’s juggling the demands of parenthood and career, while Jim is mostly out of the picture. Worse, she fears that her marriage is falling apart.

In this episode, the couple recently started marriage counseling. To say the least, it’s not going well. The cliché-ridden exercises that their counselor has assigned them—such as “speaking your truth” to one another—seems to have made things worse.

At the end of the episode, Jim is leaving the office in Scranton once again for Philadelphia, his problems with Pam unsettled and getting worse. Pam sees that he’s left behind his umbrella. She runs out to the parking lot, where Jim is boarding a cab, and hands him the umbrella. “Have a good trip,” she says, and he kisses her awkwardly on the cheek. As she turns to walk away, Jim runs to embrace her.

She looks stunned. Several long seconds pass. She doesn’t return the embrace. Cutaway to their wedding, a few years earlier. Their pastor is shown reading 1 Corinthians 13: “Love suffers long and is kind. It is not proud. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails… Now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Pam remembers these words.

After 30 full seconds, she returns his embrace. They kiss. “I love you,” she says. Cue the credits.

If the scene doesn’t choke you up a little, your heart is made of stone. 😉 Among other things, it’s one of the most pro-Christian moments in network television that I’ve ever seen. I’ve written in the past about how thoughtfully the show has dealt with both religion and marriage. They continue the tradition here.

For the time being, you can watch the episode for free on Hulu by clicking here.

3 Responses to “Jim and Pam and 1 Corinthians 13”

  1. Angie Says:

    For what it’s worth, I have had this article bookmarked in my phone for a while now since I first found it.. “The office” is my and my fiance’s favorite show, and in difficult times in our relationship, re-reading this article calls up the memories of watching the love story between jim and Pam, and how hard we always root for them (even though we already know the outcome!) and ultimately, we have to remember to always root for our OWN love story as well.. Thank you!

  2. Michael Scott Says:

    That’s not Pam’s pastor. Its Jim’s brother.

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