This week the Evangelical World was abuzz over the comments of Pat Robertson on his show “The 700 Club”. A viewer called in to ask a question about his friend whose wife is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“His wife as he knows her is gone,” the caller said, and the friend is “bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition, and now he’s started seeing another woman.”
“This is a terribly hard thing,” Mr. Robertson said, clearly struggling to think his way through a wrenching situation. “I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things, because here’s the loved one — this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly that person is gone “
“I know it sounds cruel,” he continued, “but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care, somebody looking after her.”
Robertson’s comment has set the evangelical blogosphere afire with comments and criticisms. While I cannot do this topic justice as Russell Moore has on his blog, or Joni Erickson Tada on her web site, I can add my own experience with this situation; or rather my mother’s.
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was in his early 60’s. He lived almost 20 years with the disease. His Alzheimer’s did not progress as rapidly as some. In fact when first diagnosed we wondered if Mom was not imagining his symptoms. But time proved her correct and her early detection allowed Dad to get on some medication that seemed to slow the effects of the disease. Still is was a difficult life for Mom, one she did not chose nor would she wish on anyone else. She nursed her mentally handicapped younger sister until that sister’s death of cancer. Then she took care of Dad until a brain tumor took her from us suddenly in 2004. I think God decided to spare my mom more years of care-taking by taking her home. It would be my sister-law Kathy and my brother Bob who would take care of Dad the last few years of his life. (if I was Catholic I would recommend Kathy for sainthood)
I think what makes my mom’s situation all the more unique is that Mom chose to remarry Dad after being divorced for 15 years; a divorce that she did not want but he did due to his infidelity with another woman. She forgave him and choose to marry him again years later, for better or worse, till death do us part.
So I have not only the example of Jesus Christ in the Bible of what love and commitment looks like; I had a real life example in Bettie Jane Reeves Hoke as to what love and commitment looks like.
So Mr. Robertson though your choice may be easy more palatable one, it is not the one I will make; it is not the one I wish my husband to make; it is not the one my mother made; and it is not the one my Lord made when He decided to give his life for me his bride and stick with me for better or for worse; till death unites us at His throne.