“Aunt Bettie’s Vote”
“Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands, so that, even if some of them do not obey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives’ conduct, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” [1st Peter 3: 1-2]
“Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:22]
In the 1980’s, my wife and I visited my great-great Aunt Bettie at the nursing home where she lived in rural Central Texas. At the time, a presidential election was approaching, and my wife and disagreed on the candidates. When we had spent some time with Aunt Bettie, we both asked her whom SHE liked in the presidential election. She smiled and looked back and forth at us. Then she told us a great story about voting…and obeying biblical authority.
In 1952 and again in 1956, Dwight Eisenhower ran for President against Senator Adlai Stevenson. Aunt Bettie loved Stevenson, and her husband, my great-great Uncle Morris, loved Eisenhower. As the election day drew closer, Uncle Morris was insistent that his wife honor his wishes and vote for Eisenhower – even though he knew that she liked Stevenson. On the day of the election, Uncle Morris drove them both to the voting precinct, and they walked in together. Just before Aunt Bettie entered her voting booth, Uncle Morris told her, “Now Bettie…I want you to vote for Eisenhower.” Aunt Bettie replied, “Yes, Morris,” and then she went into the voting booth and voted for Stevenson. As soon as she exited the voting booth, Uncle Morris was waiting for her. He asked her pointedly, “Bettie…did you vote for Eisenhower?” “Yes, Morris,” was her untruthful reply. She admitted to us that she did the same thing in both elections and that she lied to Uncle Morris both times. As she told us this story, she looked a little uncomfortable, but she also chuckled as she remembered those conversations.
Then she turned serious for a moment. She said, “Those were the only times in our entire marriage that I lied to Morris. I just couldn’t vote for Eisenhower…I didn’t like him. And I just loved Senator Stevenson. But if I had told Morris the truth, he would have been so upset. So I lied. Do you think I did a bad thing?” Jeanne and I both insisted that she had done nothing wrong, that she was fully justified in her actions, and that we were certain that Uncle Morris loved her, no matter what.
Later, as Jeanne and I were going home, we talked about that odd conversation. Aunt Bettie was a devout, righteous Christian and a Biblical scholar in her own right. She lived her life guided by her faith in Christ and the words of the Bible. But when it came to defying her husband, she recognized that the greater love existed in acting outside of what the Bible specifically said.
And, as far as I know, we were the only people she ever told.
When Aunt Bettie greets her Savior, I am absolutely convinced that He will not hold her accountable for these actions. She acted with love and with gentleness. She followed her Savior’s example, but she “strayed” from the letter of the Law.
Lessons from this story:
1. Live with love and gentleness in all that you do. That was Jesus’ example in all that He did.
2. Be at peace whenever you face the “letter-of-the-Law vs. Spirit-of-the-Law” situations. Jesus preached often against the letter of the Law when it ignored the love we should have for one another in all that we do.
3. Vote your conscience, and don’t let ANYONE tell you how to think.