29 November 2021 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy.
I really enjoy your column and I would like your advice on my dilemma.
I am a non-denominational Christian who married an Adventist. Because I wanted my family to worship together, and my husband is convinced that the Adventist church is the only true church, I also joined the Adventist church. At the time of my becoming a member I knew that Adventists kept the Sabbath, forbade certain foods, had a prophetess and believed the church to be the remnant church. Although I had some reservations regarding those things, I was told these were not big deals, so I joined.
However, as the years have gone by and I have learned more about church, I have become more uncomfortable, particularly with doctrines like the sanctuary and the investigative judgment, and I am not convinced Ellen G. White was a prophetess.
I love my husband and would like my family to keep worshiping together. However, I feel like a fraud, and I find myself not taking part in church as I worry the brethren will realize I don’t share their beliefs.
I should note here that I attend a very conservative Ellen White-quoting church. What should I do?
Signed, Perplexed Christian
How difficult it is to be torn between your family and your faith!
First, I want to assure you that in some Adventist congregations the things that are bothering you really aren’t “big deals.” There are many Adventist congregations where Jesus is exalted, and Ellen White isn’t.
But that’s not the kind of congregation you’re in. So what can you do?
You could try a different Adventist church if there is one available. Unfortunately, some regions don’t give you a choice of Adventist congregations within driving distance.
You could just quit attending church, or you could attend a church of a different denomination. These might cause family tension, and only you can decide whether it’s worth it.
Some in your situation augment a disappointing congregation with a more ecumenical faith experience that meets during the week, like the nationally-known Bible Study Fellowship.
Another option: keep attending your church, but find contentment in your heart about what you believe and don’t believe, and be calmly open (not obnoxious or disputatious) with others about it. This means deciding not to care what “the brethren” think of you—to depend more on your relationship with Jesus than your relationship with the church. Perhaps you can mentally pass over those parts of the classes and sermons that you don’t find meaningful, and affirm those that lift up Jesus.
Yes, your honesty will cause some raised eyebrows. But it will put your heart at ease, and let you be there with your family.
What Aunty hopes you don’t do is continue to suffer in silence. By being honest with others, you may even open the door for them to find a more accepting and open kind of faith.
Aunty believes we have done great harm to families with the way we have implemented the “one true church” teaching. We refuse to marry a member with a non-member, which is often alienating, while in our evangelism we have never hesitated to spiritually break apart families where one spouse joins the church and the other doesn’t. Please understand that even though many Seventh-day Adventists don’t know it, we are not the only Christians. All who call on the name of Jesus are his children. I’m sorry you stumbled into a group of us who aren’t clear about that.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published — always without identification of the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.