I was absolutely stunned to read Pat Robertson’s supposedly sagacious counsel that a person should feel free to divorce a spouse who has Alzheimer’s Disease. His argument goes along these lines: if your mate has Alzheimer’s and therefore is utterly incapable of relating to you anymore, then your mate is essentially dead and thus you should feel free to move on.
I am utterly blown away by his perspective. To quote one reviewer of the video clip highlighted above, “So when your wife needs you most kick her to the curb. Nice moral standards Mr. Robertson.”
Of course, this is a bit personal for me. My beautiful Christa’s mother died from Alzheimer’s in 2006. We cared for her in our own home, feeding her and cleaning her and generally ensuring that she had some semblance of well-being. By the time she had arrived at that particular stage in her long journey with Alzheimer’s, a journey that lasted around twelve years or so, she had no idea at all who we were or where she was. Indeed, she died in the bedroom right across the hall from us, all of us gathered around, misty eyed, grateful, tired, and overwhelmed by God’s sustaining grace. And you know the most remarkable detail of that entire experience for Christa and me and our lovely daughters?
Christa’s dad was right there the whole time, pouring himself into his wife’s care, loving her with exceptional grace and tender mercy. Indeed, Christa’s dad is one of the greatest men I have ever known. My entire family and our friends watched as this man stayed at his wife’s side, caring for her with everything he had, until the moment she slipped into Heaven just days shy of their fifty-sixth wedding anniversary. It was a journey that took years. It was excruciating at times. The stress of it was so great that at one point he had a heart attack.
But he was there.
He told me one time something I will never forget. “Matthew,” he said, “this woman has given everything for me, standing by my side as I made a living, worked to raise a family, through all kinds of ups and downs. After all that she has been for me, there is no way I will ever leave her side.” Then he went on to add, “Life isn’t perfect. It’s hard. But when you make a vow you stick to it. Younger people today know nothing of commitment.”
Evidently neither does Pat Robertson, who, frankly, and, sadly, once again, ought to be ashamed of himself.
Thank you for your commentary about Pat Robertson. As you were, I was absolutely floored by Robertson’s commentary that someone should be free to divorce if their spouse has Alzheimer’s disease. The well-known (and up until now well-respected) head of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN for short) definitely misfired on this one. Though Alzheimer’s has not touched my life or the life of my family (God forbid), I do know that as a born again Christian; that it definitely is not okay for someone to divorce if their spouse has Alzheimer’s disease. On the contrary, something like this should draw the couple closer together. They should use this experience in order for them to grow closer to God.
Wow, I hope Jesus doesn’t walk away from me if I ever get Alzheimer’s and become “essentially dead” to Him. I know He won’t because His love for me is unconditional. My love and my committment to my husband should also be unconditional.
At what point is one considered “essentially dead”? Isn’t that the same type of question as “When does life begin”? Those two questions are way above my pay grade and I choose to believe that life and death are absolutes and not a sliding scale where we pick the point we want.
Wonderful words! (Your words, that is. Pat Robertson’s words … not so much.) I can appreciate your family’s experience. I also witnessed my Mom live out the “in sickness and in health” part of her wedding vows as she walked the painful road of caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease.
Very VERY sad. Glad you posted on it.