Sounds cruel? What happened to “for better or for worse,” Pat Robertson?

Or death do us part?

Pat Robertson says Alzheimer’s is grounds for divorce because it’s kinda sorta like death:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his “700 Club” viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is justifiable because the disease is “a kind of death.”

During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder.

“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her,” Robertson said.

The chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs the “700 Club,” said he wouldn’t “put a guilt trip” on anyone who divorces a spouse who suffers from the illness, but added, “Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer.”

Granted, I’ve always thought Protestant notions of divorce were … loose. Why bother believing in the idea of covenant marriage if you can dissolve it sans guilt? Doesn’t this betray the vows one takes? For better for worse. For richer or poorer. Till death do us part. Now we have famous evangelists who say, nah, your happiness is obviously more important. Go for it! It’s a kind of death anyway.

I wonder what Nancy Reagan would say.

H/t Hot Air headlines (with a lively discussion thread)

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10 Responses

  1. Marriage is about the vows. Period.
    I’ve worked with senior before, and I’ve seen some heartbreaking stories of people with Alzheimer. It’s very very hard on the family. But divorce over THAT? No way.

  2. Well there are times that an Alzheimer’s patient that is in assisted living starts up a relationship with another patient. It has happened. It is sort of a death. My aunt had it and it was awful. She was a very proud woman who started wearing her undergarments on the outside, had delusions that someone was in the house with her, and I could go on. I know this sounds cruel, but she developed a stomach infection that was much worse than it should have been but she never told anyone and we just decided not to treat it. It was an unbearable thing to watch. I can see some spouses not being able to handle it. It doesn’t make it right, but for the grace of God go I. You never know how you handle watching your spouse fall apart until it happens.

    • I’ve seen how the disease can ravage, JACG. But that doesn’t excuse the non-Alzheimer’s patient from fulfilling his or her own vows. My point wasn’t to debate the horrors of the diease, but how quickly even popular religious figures dispose of vows that are supposed to be eternal. Is that a sign of our culture? You move on after your spouse dies. Not before.

  3. Seems to me that it’s Robertson who is undergoing Alzheimer’s. Maybe his wife should divorce him. He’s a crackpot. I have my differences with Protestant theology, but I would not judge them based on him.

  4. It doesn’t really matter what Nancy would say. It’s what she’d do. And we already know the answer to that: “for better or worse” is what she chose to live. Amazing woman married to an amazing man.

  5. I oppose divorce except for when there is abuse or adultery. I think a huge problem with our society is the ease with which marriages are dissolved and the acceptance of divorce as being OK. It’s NOT.
    This is just another sad symptom of our throwaway culture. Anything that is inconvenient must be disposed of, spouses, babies, the disabled and ill… it is disgraceful.

  6. Disgusting. I was never a fan of Robertson to start with, this puts him clearly in the camp of evil. There are a thousand ways he could have answered that question better than he did. It would have been a great opportunity for him to appeal to his audience to stop in and visit people they know who are serving as caretaker spouses and to maybe give them a break now and then.

    I’ll admit it can be extremely stressful to be the caretaker spouse. Just in my small circle of family and friends I’ve seen several cases of the caretaker spouse dying before the ill spouse. Now, it’s impossible to definitively say a stroke or heart attack came from the stress of caring for the other spouse and wouldn’t have happened anyways, but I have to believe it contributed. Doesn’t matter though. You take care of a sick spouse. That is part of the deal you make when you get married. No, he or she may not be exactly the same vibrant person you married decades prior. Doesn’t matter. I pray I never have to see my wife deteriorate to the point where I would need to care for her as a child. But more importantly, I also pray that I would have the strength of character to do my duty to the best of my ability.

    • Ditto, Largebill. As a military wife, my prayers have been a little different: that I have the chance to care for my husband in his old age because that would mean he has always come home. ; ) We have dear friends who battle myriad illnesses and injuries post-war. It is heartening to see how tough some wives are. The flakes usually left their husbands during deployments, so most are gone already. But the tough ones, they’re the ones who awe you.

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