Two stories ran concurrently this past week about two marriages, two wives, two choices, and two books. Both stories centered on the husbands’ public infidelities and their wives’ very different responses in the aftermath.
The February issue of Christianity Today ran an interview with Gayle Haggard, wife of Ted Haggard, Why Gayle Haggard Stayed, on the release of her new book, Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour.
Last Sunday’s NY Times published an article, Southern Discomfort, on Jenny Sanford’s divorce from her husband, disgraced South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Mrs. Sanford has also released her memoir, Staying True.
The two women, both professing Christians, came to a fork in the road and chose opposite paths. Jenny Sanford walked away. Gayle Haggard chose to forgive and stay.
Video interviews of both women are online. (Some of the insensitive 20/20 questions are a reminder of why it’s important to think twice before agreeing to a Barbara Walter’s interview.)
Both women are being lauded for their courageous choices. Both are under fire. Blogs are buzzing. It’s hard to avoid comparisons. More importantly, their stories give us an opportunity to reflect on how the church stands by her daughters when they’re facing what has to be one of the worst personal dilemmas a wife can experience.
I have two questions:
First, do both wives’ decisions affirm the sanctity of marriage?
And second, if the same thing happened to a woman without this kind of public notoriety, would she find safe haven in the church, no matter which way she turned?