My Response to the Pat Robertson Controversy
I’ve been asked several times over the past several days what I think about the whole issue of Pat Robertson’s comments in regard to divorce and Alzheimer’s. I did address the actual story on the September 20th episode of my radio show. If you are so inclined to hear what my take was, click here. I won’t go into detail here in this post, but what I would like to comment on is the outpouring of responses that Christian people all across the Internet and media world put forth.
Huge numbers of people—both believers and non-believers—have been in an uproar and it’s created quite the firestorm of controversy. First, over Robertson himself, and second, about how awful, heartless and cruel someone would be to divorce a spouse in the throes of a terrible disease. Yet, I would guess that it is many of these very same people who condone and advocate divorce in circumstances far less trying than Alzheimer’s. Does anyone else see the inconsistency here?
READ THIS VERY CAREFULLY: I am NOT advocating divorce in the cases of Alzheimer’s. I am NOT saying it’s okay to dump your spouse and find another. I DO believe that the marriage vows we take say we are in this covenant for better or worse, sickness and in health, till death do us part and that we don’t get a free pass just because a disease like this is, in Robertson’s words, like a death.
I do find it extraordinarily ironic that so many Christians are up in arms over this example, yet so freely endorse divorce for reasons like I’m not happy, my needs aren’t met, we’ve just grown apart, and we’re not in love anymore. (Studies estimate that 60% of all divorces occur in low-conflict marriages where there is no infidelity, abuse, addictions, etc.) Silly, stupid, ridiculous reasons that people in churches give for ending their marriages every single day. Funny, it doesn’t seem that anyone is rushing in to make a big deal made about those divorces. There is no backlash in the Christian community decrying the cruelty to those husbands and wives, or to those children who are being abandoned.
Apparently, everyone who is shouting out the callousness in this case can very easily see how heartless it is to divorce a sick woman. (Now track very, very carefully with me here. Again, I am not saying it’s okay to leave a sick spouse. It is not okay.) But the truth is in a case like the example Robertson spoke of, she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know her who husband is anymore, or that he’s not there. She’s not going to suffer the emotional heartbreak over this. The children in this family would be older and could possibly see and understand the situation for what it is. But what about all the Christians who divorce and leave spouses and kids who do know what’s happening? What about the innumerable wives, and children who are small or teenagers and are very well aware of the pain and suffering that comes as a part of dad moving on. (The reverse is also true when the wife is the one divorcing her husband.) Doesn’t anyone see the cruelty in that? Where is the rallying cry for them?
Do you see my point? Why is the example in Robertson’s case such an atrocity, while the many instances of church-goers abandoning their spouses for any reason under the sun given the stamp of approval? Scores of Christians think, “God wants us to be happy, He doesn’t want me to stay in a marriage where I don’t feel loved or my needs aren’t met. The kids will adjust and be okay. I deserve to have a better life than this.” Isn’t that all the man in the Robertson case is saying? Isn’t he just saying what many Christian couples say every day? Then please explain the difference to me.
Can we take a moment to really examine how gravely inconsistent the thinking is on this issue? I have yet to come across any blog posts, articles, or editorials that even touch on this viewpoint of the whole Robertson brouhaha. Maybe they are out there, but I just haven’t stumbled upon them. Why is it that this Alzheimer’s thing is causing people to have such a cow? Because it seems cold and selfish to walk out on a woman who has lost her mind? Well, to me it’s cold and selfish when you walk out on your wife and kids who do still have their minds and are left reeling in the pain and disillusionment of a divorce. Yet far too many people don’t even bat an eye at that.
Seriously…how double-minded can people be?