In a recent b'berry message I sent to a friend of mine, who is in love with the wrong man (aren't we all?), I said: "Quote to help keep you on the straight and narrow. 'Fall in love with someone who deserves your heart, not someone who plays with it'." All very good advice, but having recently acquired the attention span of a flea, I was distracted from my unfortunate friends plight by the phrase, 'the straight and narrow'.....
We all know what is means: don't do anything naughty; do the right thing etc. So I can sort of see where the 'straight' bit came from, but narrow? Possibly because, it's easy to yield to temptation and thus the area available to do the right thing in, is narrow? Rather than speculate for hours, I did the only sensible thing, I googled it.
The 'dictionary definition of straight and narrow is 'the proper, honest, and moral path of behaviour'. Sounds boring already, further research didn't render it any less boring... It seems that the phrase comes from the bible where Matthew mention in chap 7:13/14:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.
So in summary, as I thought, there are loads of options (via the wide gate) if you want to be bad, but it won't end well. If on the other hand, you squeeze yourself through the narrow gate, you'll be fine. Interesting the word 'strait' (old spelling), turns up in the words and phrases such as: straitjacket; dire straits; strait-laced. None of them good....Luckily, I don't think I'd be fighting for space at the 'strait gate' with any of my friends. Think, I'll stay with them, raising a glass of wine at the wide gate :-)