Alzheimer’s, Divorce, and Morality

Yesterday, I saw on Matthew Paul Turner’s blog a post that shook me. It was called, “Pat Robertson: Divorce Your Wife With Alzheimer’s.” As a disclaimer for some people who read this blog, I have to say that MPT and I disagree on many points. Many. MANY.  Now… that issue is out of the way.

This video has received a lot of attention in the past couple of days.  Russell Moore at the Baptist Press had some interesting things to say.  Ken Davis wrote a very personal response on his blog.  The Huffington Post, Newser, The Christian Post, ABC News paraphrased Roberson’s remarks as “Alzheimer’s Makes Divorce OK”, and even the New York Times got in on the action.  All in all, it hasn’t been a banner week for Pat Robertson or the 700 Club.

Now before we get started (and in case you don’t feel like navigating all those links) here’s the actual video:

The 700 Club has addressed the statement and some of the comments that followed.  On the outset, let me say that I didn’t hear Pat Robertson say quite what it seems everyone else seems to think he said.  The general consensus seems to be that Robertson is condoning divorce in the face of Alzheimer’s as long as the person pursuing divorce takes care to see to it that the spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s is cared for. What I heard Pat Robertson say was, if you’re going to cheat on your spouse then it’s best to get a divorce.  The problem, of course, if that this particular situation is all wrapped up in the horror of Alzheimer’s.

The problem I have, however, is not that Robertson did or did not condone the man’s actions or the possibility of pursuing divorce. The real issue, for me, is that, as a man of influence and position, Robertson didn’t say to the man “you’re wrong in what you’re doing. Marriage is a commitment forever. You made a vow to your wife to be with her in sickness and in health, and whatever your attitude toward God is, you are absolutely NOT justified in cheating on your wife, much less in getting a divorce form her in this situation.” Gone is the voice of correction from pastors, and that is, in my opinion, a failing on the part of the Church.

I have a friend whose wife suffered from an Alzheimer’s-like disease. Everything I know about that situation says that her final years were terrible. Sadly this was a case of early-onset, and the two of them were, relatively, young. A few months after the wife died, my friend got married. Did he engage in an affair? Honestly, I don’t know. At the very least, it was probably an emotional affair. But he stayed with his wife until the end. That’s the kind of self-sacrificial love that we are called to have for our spouses.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  –  Ephesians 5:25

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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