Marriage and the Family
Under attack—internally and externally
The Father’s silent answer is simple: “Trust Me.”
I ignore it and dial his mobile. I get the answering service. I DON’T WANT THE ANSWERING SERVICE! I want to talk to my husband … NOW!
I want to scream out, “Why is this happening to me?” but replace the urge to wake my neighbors by making myself a warm drink I cannot swallow—my internal agitation won’t allow it. Tears well up in my eyes, and I fight them back as I hear the patter of my 5-year-old on the stairs. I put on the bravest face possible when she asks me, “Mummy, where’s Daddy?”
God helps me to hold it together. And I explain to her that “Daddy is not here right now.” Then I’m hit in the face by her follow-up: “Is he coming back?”
Is he coming back?
I cuddle my daughter in my arms, and we return to bed together. As she saunters into dreamland, I face the reality of a life without my husband, without her father.
Point of Desperation
On January 21 my husband had awakened at 2:30 a.m. with a sharp pain in his calf. Because of a previous conversation he’d recently had with a medical friend, he called the emergency services, and a pastor friend took him to the hospital. There the doctors identified a life-threatening clot in his leg, a leg he’d broken some three weeks earlier while on a trip to the other side of the world. That same day, our daughter was diagnosed with a rare hormonal abnormality that will mean numerous tests, hospital visits, and monitoring for the rest of her life.
I managed to hold it together for most of the day, but around 7:00 in the evening I had a plan of action that would solve all my problems. I would raid our bank accounts, cash in all our investments, sell my car, and hire a team of nurses and carers to look after the increasing needs of my husband and daughter. Then I would leave.
Now I know you’re thinking: rotten wife, cruel Mummy, selfish person! But for those 10 minutes I wanted to stop the roller coaster of misfortune that had become my life and walk away.
Those delicious thoughts of freedom and mouth-watering recklessness, however, were rapidly replaced by the realization that I was in a committed family relationship for “better or for worse.”“Mutual love, honor, respect, and responsibility are the fabric of this relationship, which is to reflect the love, sanctity, closeness, and permanence of the relationship between Christ and His church.” 1 Pulling myself together, I banished all thoughts of “stop my world, I need to get off,” and determined by the grace of God to be as functional a wife and mother as I am able to be.
Beautiful (Tarnished) Gift
Marriage is not easy. I can testify to that. The past seven years for us have had challenges that resemble a dramatic fictional novel. Except that it was all real, and both my husband and I lived through it. What kept us together is our fundamental belief in the sanctity of marriage and family as we believe God intended it—as stated in the Bible and as intricately woven into the fabric of the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
I believe that marriage, along with the Sabbath, was a gift God gave to Adam and Eve as part of Creation. Marriage was intended to be beautiful, sacred, and intimate, one of the crowning acts of Creation—“bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:23). But sin badly tarnished this gift. And the state of perfection that existed between Adam and Eve, which God wanted for all generations, changed. In its place emerged boundless pain and endless suffering.
Of all the Fundamental Beliefs of the Adventist Church, none gets attacked publicly on a daily basis more than Marriage and the Family. You have only to turn on the television to see how distorted a view of family life it portrays. Affairs, incest, child abuse, spousal abuse, lying, cheating, materialism—these are integral to the dramatic scenes constantly being enacted. Marital unfaithfulness is depicted as fascinating and alluring, with few attending consequences. News reports highlight the growing problems in families, with little concern for long-term solutions. Documentaries take us into the homes of “real people” and exhibit the sorrow and anguish of daily life for a typical person. Society voyeuristically absorbs all the mess that it sees and then reenacts it, spewing its bile in front of up-and-coming generations of young people, who are led to believe that it’s “normal” to belong to a dysfunc-tional family.
An important, but often neglected, aspect of the doctrine on Marriage and the Family is that “increasing family closeness is one of the earmarks of the final gospel message.”1 I want a great family life for my own benefit and to enjoy my husband and daughter; but recently I’ve been wondering if I sufficiently appreciate the fact that “the greatest evidence of the power of Christianity that can be presented to the world is a well-ordered, well-disciplined family.” Says Ellen White, “This will recommend the truth as nothing else can, for it is a living witness of its practical power upon the heart.”2
When Christ told His disciples to “go and make followers of all people in the world” (Matt. 28:19, NCV),* He was not only talking to paid preachers and medical missionaries. He was talking also to everyone, including families. “I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me” (John 17:21, NCV).
My Master was talking to me.
A Tad Guilty … but at Peace
It’s 4:00 a.m one week later. My husband is asleep next to me. At least, I think he’s asleep, though I can’t feel his heart beating, nor hear him breathe.
He stirs. And all the muscles in my body relax. I suddenly feel very guilty about my earlier thoughts of leaving. I feel a kick in my back. It’s baby! I give her a hug and kiss. I feel terribly guilty. Both of them need me. And I need to be the wife and mother God designed me to be. Not only to serve the needs of my family, but in order to be true and faithful to Him, and be a witness to my community, my friends, my neighbors.
*Texts credited to NCV are from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.
1 Fundamental Beliefs, No. 23, italics added.
2 Adventist Home, p. 32.
Catherine Anthony Boldeau is a freelance writer/trainer and public relations practitioner. She is also a director of Vision Solutions, a Christian business solutions company; and is currently completing a master’s in creative writing, specializing in memoir and nonfiction.