On Pat Robertson, Alzheimer’s, and Marriage

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/17/us/pat-robertson-remarks-on-alzheimers-stir-passions.html

In case you haven’t heard, Pat Robertson yet again said something controversial. I know, big surprise, right?

Basically, his argument (as I understand it) is that if someone’s spouse has Alzheimer’s, divorce is ok, as Alzheimer’s is inevitably fatal and the healthy spouse needs companionship. Where’d he come up with that idea?

To be clear, I don’t think anyone argues how painful it is to watch loved ones age, especially if they have a disease like Alzheimer’s. It has to be one of the worst things ever to see your spouse succumb to such an illness. Divorce can’t seem like that bad of an option when things are terrible and a person desires the companionship of another.

Regardless of the circumstances, I think Robertson’s stance is, in many ways, awfully un-Biblical. One of the most read passages at virtually any wedding is 1 Corinthians 13, which mentions that love “is not self-seeking.” One person divorcing another for the sake of their own companionship sure doesn’t sound very loving, especially in the face of a horrible disease. And what about Paul’s words in Ephesians 5: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church…” Christ loved the church to the point of death and hell, taking on the sin of all humankind for all time. Undoubtedly, that’s a high standard for husbands to live up to, but it’s what God intended for marriage, in spite of any illness, difficulty, or anything else.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “On Pat Robertson, Alzheimer’s, and Marriage

  1. I think Alzheimer’s is an “unfortunate ” opportunity for the other spouse to display Christ’s love. Not saying that I would wish the situation on anyone! But it’s when we go through difficult times that Christ’s love is displayed, not during the easy times.

  2. danusellis says:

    Thanks for posting this Billy. I think it’s important for Christians to put their voice up against the juggernaut of loud-mouth buttholes that attempt to speak for God.

    I think you should watch (if you haven’t already seen it) the film Away From Her, based on the short story “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” by Alice Munro. I think you should watch it even though I’m going to use spoilers to prove a point.

    It is about a man dealing with his wife’s Alzheimer’s. He reluctantly puts her in a home and visits her at every opportunity, but her condition gets worse and she recognizes him less and less every time. He ends up becoming friends with a woman whose husband is also in the home and, eventually, their collective loneliness leads them into a sexual relationship. In one of the final scenes, after many weeks of his wife not knowing who he is, he goes to visit her and she finally recognizes him again and thanks him for being there and apologizing for how difficult it must be.

    Alzheimer’s disease is incredibly complicated and very difficult for everyone involved. But imagine if someone listened to Pat Robertson – on an Alzheimer’s patient’s most lucid day, they would have lost their connection to the life they used to live. The marriage vow says “’til death do us part.” So if Pat Robertson believes that brain death is enough, then he’s going to have to rethink his stance on Terry Schiavo as well.

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