Thursday, September 15, 2011

Divorce your spouse who has Alzheimer's?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Logo of Alzheimer's Society.[/caption]

I ran across this news story this morning.
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 incurableneurological 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.

Now, Robertson claims to represent Evangelical Christianity (whatever that means these days anyway) and divorce in the church is always a hot topic, but publicly advocating for divorce due to a deadly illness? Robertson offered no Biblical support for his answer and the reporter even brought up divorce and remarriage from the Gospel of Mark as something that could contradict what Robertson told his viewers. Robertson would do well to look at the life of another Robertson, Robertson McQuilkin for a Biblical response to a wife suffering with Alzheimer's. It's a fairly well-known story that Robertson McQuilkin, President Emeritus and son of the founder of Columbia International University, stepped down from his presidency at CIU to take full-time care of his wife, who had Alzheimer's. See this news story.
It's a story that continues to pop up nearly every day on the Internet.  The story is linked from Web site to Web site, from blog to blog.  It's the story of "A Promised Kept" - the story of Columbia International University President Emeritus Robertson McQuilkin and his late wife Muriel.  It's a simple story in one sense.  A man sets aside his career as the president of a thriving college to care full time for his wife who is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

But it's perhaps the counter-culture nature of Robertson McQuilkin's decision that makes the story so compelling - and to some so foolish.  He made a vow "till death do we part" and he kept it, even in an age where some say suicide is the best answer to a debilitating disease.

What would McQuilkin say to Robertson on this issue? How should we respond on this issue? Personally, I think it's time for Pat Robertson to fully retire and stay out of the limelight. Every time he opens his mouth lately, it seems that he further damages his credibility (if he has any left) and the credibility of all those who support him.  God has called spouses to be with each other until death literally does us apart. Robertson is suggesting otherwise, very unBiblically, of course. Your thoughts?

UPDATE: At the time I wrote this, I had no idea that Christianity Today had also linked both Robertson's together. Seeing as how I'm linked to CIU via my Alumni and former employee status, it was a natural connection for me.