Transcript from a show I don’t watch, but heard about online (or you can watch it here):
PAT, THIS IS ANDREA WHO SAYS, “I HAVE A FRIEND WHO’S WIFE SUFFERS FROM ALZHEIMER’S. SHE DOESN’T EVEN RECOGNIZE HIM ANYMORE. AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, THE MARRIAGE HAS GOTTEN ROUGH. MY FRIEND IS MAD AT GOD FOR ALLOWING HIS WIFE TO BE IN THAT CONDITION, AND HE HAS STARTED SEEING OTHER PEOPLE. HE SAYS HE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO SEE OTHER PEOPLE BECAUSE HIS WIFE, AS HE KNOWS HER, IS GONE. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO TELL HER.”
Pat Robertson: I HATE ALZHEIMER’S. BECAUSE THIS IS THE WOMAN OR MAN YOU HAVE LOVED FOR 20, 30, OR 40 YEARS, AND SUDDENLY THAT PERSON IS GONE. THEY’RE GONE. THEY ARE GONE. SO WHAT HE SAYS, BASICALLY, IS CORRECT. BUT I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRUEL, BUT HE — IF HE IS GOING TO DO SOMETHING, HE SHOULD DIVORCE HER AND START ALL OVER AGAIN.
Terry: ISN’T THAT THE VOW WE TAKE WHEN WE MARRY SOMEONE, FOR BETTER OR WORSE —
Pat: I KNOW, IF YOU RESPECT THAT VOW. YOU SAID TO DEATH DO US PART, AND THAT IS KIND OF A DEATH. THAT’S WHAT HE IS SAYING. THIS IS AN ETHICAL QUESTION THAT IS BEYOND MY KIN TO TELL YOU. I CERTAINLY WOULDN’T PUT A GUILT TRIP ON YOU IF YOU DECIDED YOU HAD TO HAVE SOME COMPANIONSHIP, YOU’RE LONELY, BUT WHAT A GRIEF. I KNOW ONE MAN WHO WENT TO SEE HIS WIFE EVERY SINGLE DAY, AND SHE DIDN’T RECOGNIZE HIM ONE SINGLE DAY. AND SHE WOULD COMPLAIN HE NEVER CAME TO SEE HER. IT IS HURTFUL BECAUSE THEY SAY CRAZY THINGS. SHE FINALLY DIED. AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT HE’S DONE. NEVERTHELESS, IT IS A TERRIBLY DIFFICULT THING FOR SOMEBODY. I CAN’T FAULT THEM FOR WANTING SOME KIND OF COMPANIONSHIP. IF HE SAYS IN A SENSE, SHE IS GONE, HE IS RIGHT. IT IS LIKE A WALKING DEATH. BUT GET SOME [unintelligble] BESIDES ME. I RECOGNIZE THE DILEMMA, AND THE LAST THING I WOULD DO IS CONDEMN YOU FOR TAKING THAT KIND OF ACTION.
I hardly know what to do about these words. They anger me and sadden me and stun me. I am confident God is not pleased with them or the sentiment behind them.
I sit here weeping.
This image and memory came to mind instantly after hearing Mr. Robertson’s horrid advice:
My precious mother resting in her husband’s arms while she suffers from side effects of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) less than two months before her death.
Mr. Robertson’s words clash against this image, don’t you think?
To think that this man who claims Christ as well as knowledge of Scripture advises that marriage is not based on life-long covenant, but upon life-ish or life-like or life-as we wish it used to be, is horrid. That it may end based on a kind of death or death-like or a death- as we want to see it, is terrible. That it may end if the spouses no longer like the idea of what worse is turning out to be, is stunning.
There is no doubt that debilitating diseases which steal the mind of a loved one are difficult. Extremely difficult. I do not deny this at.all. They fit in a specific category of trial: to serve and love with expecting nothing in return.
I watched it. I watched my stepwonderfuldad love on, care for, and minister to my mother in ways that were very difficult. Ways that broke his heart. Ways that my mother wasn’t even aware of sometimes.
We didn’t know that ALS can rob a person’s mind as well as their body, but we learned it first hand. I remember sharing that here: watching my mother slip away from us. How terrible that Mr. Robertson believes (and teaches on television!!) that my mother’s changed mental state can determine the validity of her husband’s marriage vows.
I pray that many people see his horrid words for just that.
I pray that Mr. Robertson doesn’t find himself (I don’t want to spend more of time researching if he is currently married or not) or a happily married loved one with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Or a head trauma. Or ALS.
Would Mr. Robertson say the same to a mother? Does her responsibility end if her child can not love her back? If her child does not know her anymore? What if he or she never has?
Redefining death is a very, very slippery slope.
“love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” I Corinthians 13: 7
“in sickness and in healthy, for better or for worse” Most marriage vows
I’m so grateful my dad/stepwonderfuldad did not believe the load of garbage Mr. Robertson gave as advice. Seriously.