Taking a chair in class, today’s lecture was supposed to be on “Bible study.” While perhaps not the most original topic for a junior theology major, the professor’s enthusiasm and catchy demeanor typically proved to spark the ashes of rudimentary subjects.
However, the professor did not speak on Bible study. Class rituals were forgone, and an unorthodox amount of time was devoted to an explanation of a different sort. He drew students in with a question. “Would you like to know the formula for choosing the best wife?”
As he listed his points, I quickly pulled out a piece of scrap paper and scrawled down his wisdom. The perfect wife:
1) Must be a loving person. 2) Must have attended an Adventist college. 3) Must be more or less your age. 4) Must be a Seventh-day Adventist. 5) Must have been raised with a similar socioeconomic status. 6) Must be either a nurse or teacher. 7) Must play the piano.
I sat aghast. Did I hear correctly? Of course, jokes circulate, but we don’t spread those haggard lines anymore, right? Wrong. He meant well. If it worked for him, surely it would for us. Many hung intently onto his every word.
Everything was “wife.” Husbands went unmentioned. With four female theology majors in the class, it was difficult to refrain from raising my hand to inquire if the church now openly accepts lesbianism. Whether in agreement with women’s ordination or not, it’s rude to pretend that men are the only students in the classroom.
In case you missed it, I have more than a few issues with his creeds. Yes, we all want love. However, what about number two? Apparently, if you have not attended an Adventist college, you are deemed too unintelligent, unsuccessful, and incorrectly integrated to marry. This is quite the ignorant statement. Many highly intelligent individuals have not attended college. And clearly, non-Adventist universities can offer extremely proficient educations.
How about number four? Honestly, I agree that it’s supremely important to share the same belief system as your spouse, especially in church work. However, I do know many nominal Adventists and many god-fearing people who are not Adventists. Spiritual qualities must synchronize with religious title. If he had said she must be a “godly, compassionate, and Sabbath-keeping wife,” then that would suffice. By saying merely Seventh-day Adventist, he purports the idea that our religion is infallible. In truth, the name only counts when it aligns with actions.
On socioeconomic status, your wife should apparently “be comfortable with future poverty.” Let’s be realistic. People who match up with number two have more money than most. Additionally, pastors, nurses, and teachers are certainly not God’s only workers. Every single member has place and value. We desperately need partnership with numerous other fields. Churches, hospitals, and schools could not run without people skilled in areas such as technology, business, law, and finances. So, believe it or not, there are many occupations that can be used to support the church.
And, you apparently need a spouse who can play piano. While there are benefits to being with someone of musical ability, I believe that God will bring musical talent to a congregation in need even if I don’t marry a pianist.
So, what is the purpose of writing all this? It’s a feeble attempt to both bring awareness to this type of thinking and seek out individuals willing to stand up against it. There are far too many complaints against Seventh-day Adventism. There are far too many people who think we are hypocritical, hypercritical, unfeeling, and outdated in our practices. While any organization infiltrated with people cannot be perfect, we are ministers of the Gospel. It isn’t our job to set out a list of overly specific, antiquated ideas about what denotes the correct type of wife and fosters an elite breed of exclusivity among us. It is both our right and duty to refrain from compromising our twenty-eight doctrines at any and all costs. It is our responsibility to open our arms to the broken; let’s just try not to break them any further in the process.
—Cherie Lynn Milliron is a junior archaeology and theology major at an Adventist university.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5037