Earlier in the week, Pat Robertson made some very unhelpful comments regarding the appropriateness of divorcing a spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s. It was unloving and more self-serving than gospel-driven. Here is a summary of Robertson’s response during a “700 Club” interview where he was asked about divorce in the context of Alzheimer’s. Justin Taylor summarizes an opposing view that is more gospel-saturated and models the love of Christ. The response comes from Russell Moore, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who frames the situation in light of the gospel. You can read Moore’s entire article here. However, I wanted to provide a helpful summary of Moore’s article…
“The Gospel-Emptying Cruelty of Pat Robertson”
HT: Justin Taylor, September 15, 2011
Sometimes I think the category of “righteous anger” was created to respond to people like Pat Robertson.
His latest cringe-inducing statement is that a man should divorce his wife suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and “start all over again” if he is lonely and in need of companionship. When asked about the vow “to death due us part,” Robertson responded that “if you respect that vow,” then Alzheimer’s can be viewed as “a kind of a death.”
The best counsel is usually to ignore Robertson. But when a professing Christian says such cruel and worldly things, it also presents an opportunity to reexamine gospel truth afresh. In that regard Russell Moore has provided a wonderful service for us. He rightly writes that Robertson’s statement “is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.
The Bride of Christ fled his side, and went back to their old ways of life. When Jesus came to them after the resurrection, the church was about the very thing they were doing when Jesus found them in the first place: out on the boats with their nets. Jesus didn’t leave. He stood by his words, stood by his Bride, even to the Place of the Skull, and beyond.
A woman or a man with Alzheimer’s can’t do anything for you. There’s no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That’s just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn’t “useful” anymore.
Pat Robertson’s cruel marriage statement is no anomaly. He and his cohorts have given us for years a prosperity gospel with more in common with an Asherah pole than a cross. They have given us a politicized Christianity that uses churches to “mobilize” voters rather than to stand prophetically outside the power structures as a witness for the gospel.
But Jesus didn’t die for a Christian Coalition; he died for a church. And the church, across the ages, isn’t significant because of her size or influence. She is weak, helpless, and spattered in blood. He is faithful to us anyway.
If our churches are to survive, we must repudiate this Canaanite mammonocracy that so often speaks for us. But, beyond that, we must train up a new generation to see the gospel embedded in fidelity, a fidelity that is cruciform.
You can keep reading the whole thing here.
McQuilkin resigned as President of Columbia Bible College and Seminary in order to minister to his beloved bride. May God give every Christian husband the grace to love his wife so faithfully and sacrificially:
Here’s another short video that tells the wonderful story of McQuilkin’s love and service in the midst of Alzheimer’s.