Marriage and Difficult Sickness

by GfG on September 15, 2011 · 15 comments

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.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Mitchell September 16, 2011 at 5:50 am

Amen, Mindy. Very well put.

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The Reader September 16, 2011 at 6:24 am

Horrified, shocked, and angered with you.

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The Reader September 16, 2011 at 6:51 am

and here is the most perfect, beautiful example of what Pat Robertson *should have* said and what should be done in these cases, what should be in the hearts of the spouse caring for his or her loved one.

(a you tube video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6pX1phIqug

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GfG September 17, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Lovely. Just lovely. And very, very Christlike.

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The Momma @ The Straightened Path September 16, 2011 at 7:28 am

I am thankful you posted about this. I read about this yesterday and watched the horrid clip on You Tube. Unbelievable. I am just speechless really.

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Thyme September 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

That sickens me. Completely sickens me.

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Michelle September 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm

There are no words. False teachers abound!

(BTW…thanks to google reader on my phone…i believe I got a sneak peak at tomorrow’s post. I thought you were making an announcement at first! Lol!

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GfG September 16, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Yes, false teachers do abound. Sigh.

(Yeah, that was the post that was originally scheduled for today, but I had to share about Mr. Robertson’s words. I forgot to edit the post date and time. I KNOW! (looking like an announcement) I realized that after a bit. Oh, how I wish!! I’m trusting the LORD to add to our family via adoption. My husband is dead set against me having a seventh c-section. I fluctuate between being scared of another c-section and not. Again, trusting the LORD via my husband.)

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Jan September 16, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Ouch. I’m so saddened by what Pat Robertson had to say. Papa Lou is the PERFECT, PERFECT example of how to love someone “in sickness and in health.” God bless him!!

I would like to share the beautiful gift of providing sweet love to a spouse who has changed cognitively/personality-wise due to a long-term illness. Though I cannot imagine the heartache of my spouse not recognizing me, I do know the joy, honor, and privilege of loving a spouse whose personality has been altered due to illness. God can give a care-giver a sweet…sweeter than ever before…kind of love for a sick spouse. It saddens me that Pat Robertson is cheating people out of the joy that comes from God infusing you with HIS sweet love for a sick spouse. Truly, it is the purest kind of love I’ve experienced thus far in my life. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

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GfG September 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Yes! Thank you for sharing, Jan! I hoped you would.

It is a privilege to serve.

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Brooke September 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Amen Jan!

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Marvin Chisom September 17, 2011 at 10:02 am

Mr Robertson’s words were way off the mark, but they do serve a purpose in making us all realize that he, just like us, is human and makes mistakes.

My wife and I were caregivers to her dad and both of my parents in their last years, and she looks after her 84 year old mom and disabled sister now. Never have we once regretted doing what we know is right. We both have been honored to be trusted to ensure our loved ones are safe and comfortable in their journey.
I am sure Mr Robertson regrets having made the statement and we all have learned a valuable lesson in the process.

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GfG September 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Mr. Chisom,
Thank you for chiming in!
I agree. We are all sinners and will prove that often. We will all make mistakes, myself included. I’m grateful mine aren’t televised.
That being said, there is a difference between a mistake and false doctrine/teaching. Mr. Robertson is held to a standard of leadership by teaching first of all, and secondly, by being on television with a large audience.
For a Q&A segment, I am willing to assume that the questions were planned. I find it hard to believe that he didn’t know the question was going to be asked. I do not find it hard to believe that the producers and other people associated with the show didn’t know what his answer was going to be.
I hope the LORD moves on Mr. Robertson’s heart and shows him the error of his beliefs and then his teaching. I pray that he be willing to humble himself and admit this on television. When a public wrong has been made, the right needs to be public too. It would do a world of good for the audience to see someone truly admit their wrong and ask for forgiveness.

We have all learned a lot, that’s true.

blessings!

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Lynnea September 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I heard about this briefly on our local news and even the “secular” newscasters were shocked and horrified.
Thank you also for your response to Mr. Chisom about realizing we are all sinners. We left a church family because of false teachings and I had a hard time with that know that I too am a sinner. In fact I blogged about it in the same way as you – there is a difference between a mistake and false teaching. And a difference between a mistake you are sorry for and trying to turn from and a mistake that you are continuing to do without regret.
Thanks again for your inspirational blog!

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Tracy September 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I agree wholeheartedly. I watched my mother care for my father, who had Parkinson’s disease, until he passed away. He was not himself for the last 2 years of his earthly life. The life in his eyes was gone, his speech and other abilities were gone, but their marriage vows still mattered to her and she took them seriously. Thank you for posting!

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