The other night while I should have been sleeping, I found myself watching a documentary on the life of Pat Nixon. Let me preface the following by saying this: when Eric goes through anything difficult, it weighs heavily on my heart. So, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be the wife of a President who was so deeply shamed in the eyes of his country and the world. Sometimes I wonder if I could have handled it if I had been in her shoes. Aside from that, President Nixon showed very little regard for her in public and it was rumored that he left her out of many of his political dealings and cared little for her. Whether or not he showed her the proper affection outside of the public eye we will never know; regardless, her faithfulness to him amazed me.
Pat Nixon was a private woman. She was not crazy about politics, but her husband lived and breathed affairs of state. It was his passion in life and she supported him. She worked almost as hard on his campaigns as he did, even though she would have loved it if he had left it all behind. He was questioned and trampled by the press long before the presidency or Watergate; but, as much as it all wounded her, she was faithful to her husband. On their fifty-third wedding anniversary, after the family had gathered to celebrate, Pat Nixon slipped into a coma and then passed away. As President Nixon walked out to his seat at her funeral, he wept. He was the most pitiful widower I’ve ever seen. It was a beautiful thing for the nation to see, because it showed once and for all how much his wife had meant to him. She had been faithful to him, not only in sexual fidelity, but also in her support of his life goals and dreams.
More than likely, the first thing you think of when you hear the word faithfulness, is that of not cheating on your spouse, fiancée, boyfriend, or girlfriend. In our culture, that is what we have been programmed to think; however, there is more to faithfulness than sexual fidelity.
The Greek word for faithfulness is pistis, which has two primary definitions:
- The conviction of the truth of anything; belief; assurance.
- The character of one who can be relied on
The Bible says that Christians are justified by faith (Romans 3:28, Galatians 2:16), sanctified by faith (Acts 26:18), receive promises by faith (Galatians 3:22), live by faith (Romans 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:7), and are united by faith (Hebrews 4:2). Faithfulness is a result of solid character, and is certainly an evidence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.
Faithfulness is not just a concept embraced by Christians – even non-Christians have standards of faithfulness that they expect other people to uphold. For example, a person can be faithful to one’s spouse, one’s parents, one’s friends, or one’s job. Yet, the level of faithfulness that comes with the guiding of the Holy Spirit is a supernatural faithfulness.
The character quality of faithfulness is something that nearly everybody in every culture desires in a spouse. So far, I’ve never personally met anyone who told me they didn’t care if his or her future spouse was faithful after they were married. This is because when we get married, we want to know that the person we are marrying will never betray us – because there is an innate understanding in us that when people are married and have sexual relationships with others who are not their spouse, that it is wrong.
An oft-quoted statistic is that one out of every two marriages end in divorce. There are a good number of reasons why God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16); however, one of them is because it goes against His nature of faithfulness. And Christians are called to show God-like character qualities to the world. Nevertheless, divorce still ravages marriages and families. If you have had parents who divorced, you have a greater probability of divorcing yourself – largely because you have seen it “successfully” modeled. This is an important area to discuss with a future spouse. Take some time to discuss divorce and faithfulness with your future spouse. Is there anything he or she could do that would make you leave your future spouse? What about anything that it would take for him or her to leave you? Many people would say, “If my spouse cheated on me, I would leave him (or her).” How do you define cheating? How does he or she define cheating? It is just sexually cheating? How about emotionally cheating? Dig in and discuss the topics of divorce and faithfulness in depth.
Some couples where sexual infidelity has taken place have determined to work through the betrayal, transgression, and pain. It is not easy (which is an understatement), but it can be a great testament to God’s restorative power for a couple to reconcile after such a deep transgression – that is, if true repentance over the sin has occurred.
Again, more than just sexual fidelity, we want to know that our future spouse will be faithful to encourage us and stand beside us through all of life’s ups and downs… through thick and thin… for better or for worse… till death you do part. Faithfulness begins in the heart and if your future spouse’s heart is hardened towards God, you have no evidence that he or she will be faithful to you. The clearest proof you can have that your future spouse will be faithful to you is if he or she is already faithful to God. A man who is faithful in following after God will be devoted to his wife. A woman who devotedly seeks to please the Lord, will faithfully love and support her spouse.
Does faithfulness come easy to you? Has faithfulness been modeled well for you? How will faithfulness impact your future marriage?