Till Alzheimer Do us Part?

Televangelist Pat Robertson sent shock waves among the Christian faithful by commenting during the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 club program that divorcing your Alzheimer-ravaged spouse to hook up with someone else is perfectly OK with him. Reports the LA Times that Robertson’s comments came in response to a caller who said that a friend had begun dating other women while his wife lies seriously ill with Alzheimer's, and justifies it by saying that "his wife, as he knows her, is gone." The story notes:

Robertson said he agrees with the man: "What he says basically is correct. 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."

His co-host pressed Robertson about whether that violates the marriage vows. Robertson responded that Alzheimer's "is a kind of death" and added, "I certainly wouldn't put a guilt trip on you" for choosing divorce in such a scenario.

Geez! And the godless, selfishness-preaching Ayn Rand is the moral monster? I don’t know if Robertson himself has Alzheimer’s, but he certainly seems to lost his mind. (Actually, I take that back; that assumes he had one.)

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  • Doug||

    Legalize polygamy. Problem solved.

  • PIRS||

    You beat me too it. This is a very good case for it. You may still love your spouse but that spouse may be unable to fulfill all of your emotional needs. In fact, the very emotional needs that spouse once helped fulfill may be even greater now.

  • ||

    Screw emotional needs. What about the physical ones?

  • PIRS||

    =5 for the pun. IMHO those are part and parsel of the emotional ones. If there is no emotion involved it is just masturbation with a friend.

  • Alan||

    Agreed. Pat Robertson is correct that a spouse in such a situation is justified in seeking companionship elsewhere, but his hands are tied about requiring a divorce to do so, because Robertson believes in the Roman prohibition of polygamy.

    Oddly, the Bible nowhere denounces polygyny, but Christian tradition with Roman influence (most of it) has codified this Roman prohibition. The only significant branch of Christianity that was NOT significantly affected by Rome (Ethiopian Christianity) has always accepted polygyny, though not polyandry.

  • ||

    What this fellow is proposing to do is perfectly legal. The beef Ms Dalmia has (and I share) is that it's morally despicable.

  • ||

    it's morally despicable.

    You are morally despicable.

  • ||

    We don't want you to hate, joshua.

    WE WANT YOU TO LOVE!

  • $6M RoboTorso||

    I wonder if he would have said that about Nancy Reagan divorcing Ronald.....

  • Fluffy||

    Since Objectivism applies the ethics of the marketplace to personal relationships, wouldn't Rand say the same thing?

  • nobody||

    Yeah, I don't really understand the Rand comparison. She boinked Nathaniel Branden while still married to Frank. What does she have to do with this?

  • ||

    And did it quite openly telling her husband she was going to do it.

  • -||

    And with her husband's acquiescence.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And her husband didn't mind...at least not when he drank himself into a stupor.

  • steve||

    still amazed women who look like Rand actually have sex, esp enough of it to be extramarital. I am attracted to smart women more than others, but still I'd need at least a six pack.

  • Sparky||

    Did you guys really miss the meaning of that sentence? That's what she's saying, people call Ayn Rand a moral monster and here's Pat Robertson doing the same thing.

  • Fluffy||

    I thought the meaning of that sentence was "Not even the selfishness-preaching Ayn Rand would ever say anything this bad!"

  • -||

    Objectivism applies the ethics of the marketplace to personal relationships

    No, it doesn't.

  • Fluffy||

    Maybe Robertson came to this conclusion after sharing a few beers with Newt Gingrich.

  • ||

    LOL. Honestly, I don't know that what he said was that bad. It is a horrible situation. What do you do when your spouse no longer knows who you are? Especially if you are say in your 50s and still young enough to have a life. There are no good options. But I honestly can't say that I blame someone for finding someone new in that situation.

  • CaptainSmartass||

    Yes, a pastor saying that "in sickness and in health" doesn't apply to someone sick with Alzheimer's is hardly news worthy.

  • marlok||

    Sad as this is, I think Robertson has thought this through more than you. I can't vouch for the holiness of it all, but are you really going to fault a man or woman for wanting to find a companion while the spouse sits in a nursing home with end-stage Alzheimer's?

    I think he's saying that there's a responsibility to provide care and comfort to the spouse whose identity has been erased by a dread disease, but that the responsibility to remain married is no longer there.

  • ||

    Being locked into a marriage with a borderline invalid has to suck.

    So would being nailed to a cross.

    IIRC my (Catholic) Christian training said that the answer was essentially "suck up and deal", or more diplomatically to unite your suffering to the Lord's sacrifice.

    The most prominent segments of Evangelical Christianity have been pussified beyond belief. Jesus pretty unequivocally said divorce was immoral in more than one of the Gospels, but bible-thumpers show their true colors when they dump the bible and make up silly rationalizations for doing so as soon as it inconveniences them.

  • fish||

    People still listen to Pat Robertson?

  • O2||

    when he sez what the faithful wanna hear

  • fish||

    Jesus Double Anus would it kill you to use a capital letter and some punctuation once in awhile?

  • O2||

    blackberry sherlock

  • Sparky||

    Droid Watson.

  • O2||

    company provided & paid-for einstein

  • kinnath||

    So congress wants to make your posting at H&R a felony -- can't happen soon enough.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    company provided & paid-for einstein

    What a waste of their money.

  • fish||

    And I care about your technological deficiencies why....?

  • O2||

    hey u started it. im jumping over to palin now

  • Sparky||

    Jesus Double Anus would it kill you to use a capital letter and some punctuation once in awhile?

    Properly! You forgot that he needs to use them properly! This can only go downhill now.

  • O2||

    yEp ?*

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Journalists still listen to him. He's great copy. I don't know about other evangelicals, however.

  • ||

    Amazing. For once, I actually agree with Pat Robertson over the views of a Reason staffer!

    If your spouse is left in a permanent vegetative state, then I'd be fine with divorce too. For all intents and purposes, the conscious mind is dead, and it's not like you'd be hurting your (ex-)spouse's feelings or anything.

    Once Alzheimer's has advanced to the point where your spouse doesn't even recognize you anymore, I think the same logic applies. I know that I'd certainly want my wife to move on & get on with her life if/when I ever get struck by dementia to that extent. This is a very realistic scenario for us too; my father suffered from a long decline into dementia and didn't even recognize me towards the end.

  • ||

    There are cases where two married Alzheimer's patients will forget they have spouses and fall in love. No kidding. It is just a horrible disease.

  • ||

    I don't think Christians would hold them responsible for that since they're not knowingly choosing to sin.

  • Robert||

    That's your example of horrible? I hope that was sarcasm, because what's wrong with falling in love?

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    The emotional fallout for the families has got to be tough.

    That they've found love again may be a comfort of sorts, but still...

  • ||

    If the only problem with adultery is that it hurts your spouse's feelings, then an extramarital affair that you successfully keep secret wouldn't be a problem.

  • prolefeed||

    So what ARE these other problems you perceive? Besides violating some commandments from an alleged God, that is ...

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Agree Bramblyspam. If it happens to me, I hope my wife is smart enough to get me care then cut me loose.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    When you can leg press 2000 pounds, Shikha, maybe then I'll listen to a word you say on the subject of faith.

  • ||

    Sad to see the religion that felled Roman paganism reduced to "lalala not listening!"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Melded with Roman paganism, pal. And don't you forget it.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    What was so bad about Roman paganism?

  • ||

    Huh?

  • kilroy||

    Curious what happens if three years from now they find a cure that rolls back the effects.

  • kinnath||

    Brains cells die; memories are lost. What is lost stays lost.

  • ||

    What is lost stays lost.

    Hmm i am no expert but there is lost memories and there is a progressive degenerative disease.

    What if the degenerative part could be reversed and only some of the memories are lost.

    Is the person minus a few memories still the person you married?

  • ||

    I should also point out that memories are lost every time you remember them.

    What you remember the second time is the memory of the memory.

    If memory is what a person is then technically no one is who they married 40 years ago.

  • steve||

    This is true, but Alz is completely preventable if you believe diabetes is preventable since its been increasingly called diabetes of the brain. Cut the carbs, particularly processed variety and sugars. Done, no more Alzheimers

  • tarran||

    I don't think they will. It's not like the signals are being blocked, and once the cure is in place the person regains their memories and personality.

    My understanding is that there is significant damage to the neurons that means that even with a cure irreversible damage has occured.

  • kilroy||

    I thought I had heard of this:

    http://health.dailynewscentral.....ew/1299/63

    I'm not saying it will ever produce any viable treatment for humans but I also don't think we know enough to say the memories are irreparably lost.

  • Robert||

    Well, what would be so bad about gaining a new personality and forgetting all that old stuff?

  • kinnath||

    Thanks again Reason for passing ingorance along without context.

    Apologies for the extended quote:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2303989/

    By William Saletan

    Here's what Robertson actually said. At the tail end of Tuesday's show, his cohost, Terry Meeuwsen, read a chat-room question from a man seeking advice. The message said:

    I have a friend whose wife suffers from Alzheimer's. She doesn't even recognize him anymore, and, as you can imagine, the marriage has been rough. My friend has gotten bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition, and now he's started seeing another woman. He says that he should be allowed to see other people because his wife as he knows her is gone … I'm not quite sure what to tell him.

    Meeuwsen turned to Robertson for an answer. In the video, you can see him struggling:

    That is a terribly hard thing. 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. They're gone. They are gone. So what he says basically is correct, but—I know it sounds cruel, 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 and somebody looking after her—

    Meeuwsen interjected: "But isn't that the vow that we take when we marry someone, that it's for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer?" To this, Robertson replied,

    Yeah, I know, if you respect that vow, but you say "till death do us part," this is a kind of death. So that's what he's saying, is that she's like—but this is an ethical question that is beyond my ken to tell you. But I certainly wouldn't put a guilt trip on you if you decided that you had to have companionship. You're lonely, and you're asking for some companionship, as opposed to—but what a grief. I know one man who went to see his wife every single day, and she didn't recognize him one single day, and she would complain that he never came to see her. And it's really hurtful, because they say crazy things. … It is a terribly difficult thing for somebody, and I can't fault them for wanting some kind of companionship. And if he says in a sense she is gone, he's right. It's like a walking death. But get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer, because I recognize the dilemma and the last thing I'd do is condemn you for taking that kind of action.

    That's the whole text of the conversation. Robertson wasn't talking about terminal illness, much less sickness in general. He wasn't even talking broadly about Alzheimer's. He was talking about dementia so advanced that the afflicted spouse could no longer recognize her partner. This is different from other kinds of illness. It isn't just a loss of predicates such as mobility or strength. It's a loss of the subject herself. Four times, Robertson described her as "gone." Twice, he called it "death." You may disagree, but from the viewpoint he was articulating, this wasn't a question of abandonment. The loved one was already departed.

    Second, Robertson wasn't talking about bugging out when the going gets tough. In the story he recounted, the diseased woman's husband had visited her every day, enduring her reproaches and the loneliness of being a perpetual stranger. The husband had given love and labor. The question was whether at some point, his obligations changed.

    Third, Robertson didn't say divorce was better than staying with an afflicted spouse. He said divorce was better than adultery. In the situation presented to him, the husband was already seeing another woman. Robertson's answer was that the man should get a divorce "if he's going to do something." Again, you may object. But the point of Robertson's answer was that the man shouldn't go on dating while married.

    Fourth, Robertson didn't advocate divorce. He said he wouldn't "condemn" or "put a guilt trip" on someone who did it under the circumstances. And he stipulated that the obligation to provide custodial care couldn't be broken.

  • ||

    If William Saleton will defend Pat Robertson, I would say Shika screwed the pooch on this one.

  • kinnath||

    I can't say that I have any positive feelings for Pat Robertson. But the extended quote from Roberston has far a different meaning than the one little clip provided by Shika. So yeah, Shika fucked this one up royally.

  • Fluffy||

    Not really.

    You might see a huge difference in the statement given this "additional context", but I honestly don't see it.

    Shikha gives us the context Saletan claims is being withheld: that it's a choice between adultery and divorce, that it's about Alzheimer's specifically, and that Robertson called the spouse "gone". Which part of the context is missing, exactly?

  • kinnath||

    Televangelist Pat Robertson sent shock waves among the Christian faithful by commenting during the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 club program that divorcing your Alzheimer-ravaged spouse to hook up with someone else is perfectly OK with him.

    Sorry, but this is bullshit. Shikha has a significant problem with reading comprehension.

  • Fluffy||

    Robertson said that the circumstances made it something he wouldn't condemn.

    The difference between that and "perfectly OK" is mere flippancy.

    If I'm going to summarize Robertson's opinion, the gist is that he's OK with it.

    If your complaint is that Shikha doesn't give enough context with her quote, I could turn that right around and say you are giving enough context with Shikha's quote. Since she supplies the additional context in the next sentence. She doesn't doesn't sympathize with Robertson's artificial and self-imposed moral dilemma between the received wisdom he wants to stick to and basic common sense and decency.

  • kinnath||

    The difference between that and "perfectly OK" is mere flippancy.

    You and I have a completely different understanding of the English language.

    No further discussion is required.

  • Fluffy||

    Well, we could still discuss how you deliberately lied about Shikha's statement by truncating it.

  • ||

    kinnath, perhaps my understanding of English is similarly divergent, but as I understand it "being OK with" something means that you don't protest/condemn/try to prevent it, even if you mildly disagree with it in your heart of hearts. Being OK with something does not require full throated approval.

  • kinnath||

    Being perfectly OK with something is pretty fucking close to full throated approval.

  • Alan||

    I think this is a case of outsiders not really understanding what Christians believe.

    Robertson made a good call here ... within the limits imposed by his religion as he understands it. Unfortunately, this can easily appear heartless to those not familiar with these beliefs.

  • ||

    It's a common pattern with Shikha.

  • ||

    +1

  • tarran||

    Damn that Pat Robertson for showing humility and announcing that he won't fault someone for making a difficult moral choice.

  • Fluffy||

    To me the criticism here would be that if he gets to do that with this issue he's decided is important enough and complex enough to justify deviation from the "simple and straightforward eternal moral truths" handed down to us from Jesus, then anyone else should get to do that whenever they want, too.

    One basis for the claimed superiority of our Judeo-Christian inheritance to humanism is its supposed "clarity and certainty". Man supposedly needs simple and unambiguous moral rules he can understand.

    But if the simple and unambiguous moral rules Judeo-Christianity supplies actually have a lot of loopholes and require a lot of analysis for application to real-world situations, then there's no basis for that claim of superiority. It's just a muddled pile of equivocation and uncertainty just like any other moral approach out there.

  • ||

    This.

    Say what you will about the Catholic Church, and I've said plenty, but at least they stick to their principles in theory at least. (Administrative shuffling of molesters notwithstanding)

  • Abdul||

    I just looked this up, and the church agrees with Pat Robertson:

    Canon 1095 gives 3 conditions for annulment, the final one basically says:

    "Finally, there can be a defect due to the inability to actually assume the essential obligations of marriage. A person may have sufficient reason, even sufficient discretion, but have a psychic condition that incapacitates them for fulfilling marriage's essential obligations (the conjugal act, the community of life and love, providing mutual help, and procreating and educating children). As noted by Pope John Paul II regarding the lack of reason, it must be an incapacity not just a difficulty, and it must be present at the time of exchanging consent. Examples of such conditions are psychosexual disorders and personality disorders."

    Dementia would certainly qualify.

  • ||

    Yes, but it would have to be present when the marriage begins.

    it must be present at the time of exchanging consent.

    So if you marry a person who is already suffering from dementia you might be able to get an annulment, but otherwise not.

  • Abdul||

    Aren't the genes that cause alzheimer's present at the time of consent (albeit unknown to the parties)?

  • ||

    The CCL passage you quote doesn't refer to genes, it refers to incapacity. The potential for a future incapacity doesn't count.

  • Robert||

    It means exchanging consent for annulment.

  • ||

    Annulment doesn't require consent. It only takes one spouse proving that there was an impediment to marriage for it to be annulled. In fact, it doesn't even require either spouse's permission; in theory the church can annul a marriage that both spouses want to be considered valid.

  • tarran||

    One basis for the claimed superiority of our Judeo-Christian inheritance to humanism is its supposed "clarity and certainty". Man supposedly needs simple and unambiguous moral rules he can understand.

    I don't think this is correct in that there is no monolithic Judeo-Christian ethic.

    There are numerous parameters to any moral system. Rules vs. Principles. Ceremony vs Gnosis etc.

    The various sects of Christianity all filter the tradition through the parameters, and come up with their own systems.

    So the Catholics get their infallible pope, with lots of rules and ceremonies. The charismatics have their own approach. The methodists yet another.

    This has nothing to do with the superiority of the Judeo-Christian tradition, per se.

    I personally feel that the central tenet of Christianity is an instruction to not seek vengeance and to love your enemies. I think this is pretty superior to ethical systems that counsel vengeance, taking revenge, or hurting people over matters of honor. I don't think how people implement this principle in any way would impact its superiority.

    OF course, being of the start-with-basic-principles-and-derive-the-rules-crowd, I tend not to see variations in implementations as a problem. ;)

  • T||

    I personally feel that the central tenet of Christianity is an instruction to not seek vengeance and to love your enemies.

    So the Old Testament, while interesting, is completely irrelevant? Is that your position? Because the God of the Old Testament wasn't into what you're describing.

  • ||

    The OT is complicated, but there are several instances of anti-vengeance preaching even in the OT. I mean, that's what the entire Book of Jonah is about.

  • tarran||

    So the Old Testament, while interesting, is completely irrelevant?

    Nope, there are more choices than {central tenet, completely irrelevant}.
  • tarran||

    Fricking tags! how do they work?

  • prolefeed||

    To me the criticism here would be that if he gets to do that with this issue he's decided is important enough and complex enough to justify deviation from the "simple and straightforward eternal moral truths" handed down to us from Jesus, then anyone else should get to do that whenever they want, too.

    I don't have a problem with people using their judgment and deciding what is best for them in difficult situations, instead of turning their agency over to the sayings of someone who has been dead about 2,000 years.

  • ||

    Pat Robertson faults people left and right for making moral choices he disagrees with. Have you forgotten who we're talking about?

    Does he similarly withhold judgement in the case of two guys who have a strong urge to fuck each other?

  • tarran||

    He doesn't. In fact, I dislike Pat Robertson intensely for numerous reasons, not only for his willingness to use aggressive violence to impose his moral code on others, but also for his use of the pulpit for personal gain, for example his attempt to get his supporters to lobby the U.S. government to give military assistance to Charles Taylor to protect Robertson's interests in the gold-mines that Taylor was operation.

    However, in this case, he is actually not behaving despicably, and I think its odd that he is being condemned for being a nice guy for a change. It's almost as if people would prefer that he be a monster consistently rather than be a monster less than 100% of the time.

  • ||

    Yep, just like the Jim Crow laws were nice to white people by letting them vote without having to pass difficult legal exams.

    He's being "nice" to someone his audience can identify with.

  • tarran||

    Well, if you think voting is good, then surely allowing only white people to vote is a step up from allowing nobody to vote?

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    For white people yes. For people of any other race, it probably be in their best interest that no one be allowed to vote.

  • ||

    Well, if you think voting is good, then surely allowing only white people to vote is a step up from allowing nobody to vote?

    I don't think voting is inherently good. I think democracy is a utile system of govt, but allowing only whites to vote is not democracy.

  • Robert||

    You'd rather white people not be allowed to vote easily, and that people not be nice to persons their audience can identify with? What are you supposed to do, piss people off because they're sympathetic?

  • ||

    You're supposed to stick with your principles, whether dealing with a sympathetic person or not.

    The people rejoicing that PR is taking a step towards cosmotarianism are missing the fact that he has ulterior motives.

  • Robert||

    I guess it's the ethose of the blog commenter. You're not supposed to make friends, you're supposed to upset people who are on your side.

  • Daniel||

    According to Jesus, divorce and remarriage is adultery. Either way you're committing adultery, but Robertson's way leaves you breaking your oath and abandoning your spouse.

    Sorry, but if we're going to use evangelical arguments, they have to be consistent.

  • kinnath||

    Point discussed by Mr Saletan.

    This is a valid complaint. Whereas the quote taken out of context is bullshit.

  • Fluffy||

    I still don't see how it's taken out of context.

    Robertson’s comments came in response to a caller who said that a friend had begun dating other women while his wife lies seriously ill with Alzheimer's, and justifies it by saying that "his wife, as he knows her, is gone."

    This text by Shikha contains with it the context you claim is missing. It just does so with a lot less sympathy than Saletan does.

  • robc||

    Its not Robertson's way. He didnt recommend it. He just said he wouldnt condemn it.

    Big fucking difference.

  • Fluffy||

    Ummm...how so?

    If your preacher can't give you a list of the things you aren't supposed to do, what the fuck is he there for?

    Last time I checked, when the preacher says, "Yeah, you can do that," that meant you could do it.

    If I as a libertarian said, "Yeah, I don't think you should pay children a dollar a day to sew rugs, but I can't tell you that you can't do that," would I be entitled to have people refrain from saying I was OK with employers paying their workers as little as they could negotiate?

  • ||

    Except that Robertson isn't a preacher. He gave up his credentials as a Baptist minister back when he ran for president in 1988.

  • ||

    You need credentials to be a preacher?

  • T||

    What? As I understand the Baptist ministry, it's not like there's a certifying body who decides these things. You get the calling, you're a preacher. Did God tell him he was through or something?

  • robc||

    Yes, there is a certifying body. Its the membership of the individual church.

  • ||

    Actually, it depends on which of the myriad baptist sects you wish to be a affiliated with. However, almost all baptist denominations require that you be ordained and/or licensed to preach by a group of current recognised pastors. The Southern Baptist Convention has fairly strict standards, while some of the smaller, more fundamentalist groups are more informal. But if you want to have the privileges associated with being a Baptist minister, such as performing weddings and signing marriage certificates, etc, you need some group to recognize your status.

  • robc||

    The SBC has fairly strict standards which individual churches within the SBC are free to ignore.

  • ||

    So he doesn't condemn adultery?

    As I said above, you can be sure he wouldn't withhold condemnation from the case where a guy has strong homosexual urges and indulges them. Going without sex your whole life is a lot harder than having an Alzheimer's patient for a spouse, but Robertson and his ilk totally expect that.

  • ||

    Third, Robertson didn't say divorce was better than staying with an afflicted spouse. He said divorce was better than adultery.

    According to the God/man that Robertson supposedly worships and follows, divorce and remarriage IS adultery. It's right there in black and white in the Gospels.

    Bible-based my ass.

  • ||

    Third, Robertson didn't say divorce was better than staying with an afflicted spouse. He said divorce was better than adultery.

    Well, then, Robertson is going to have to find a way to wiggle out of those statements of Jesus (and Paul) holding that divorce (at least when combined with remarriage) is adultery.

  • ||

    He also said that divorcing your wife forces her to commit adultery, so you've sinned even before she remarries.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Makes you kind of wonder why a loving God would do this sort of thing.

  • robc||

    You say that, but no, I didnt wonder that at all.

  • ||

    A thousand questions don't add up to a single doubt.

    -- John Henry Newman

  • ||

    Smug aphorisms are no substitute for serious debate.

  • ||

    I wasn't debating, just reassuring robc that it's OK to entertain questions that may at first seem dangerous to faith.

  • robc||

    I have no problem entertaining the question, it just didnt occur to me. And Vanneman claims it did.

  • ||

    How sumptuous!

  • robc||

    ???

  • Abdul||

    I'm so quoting that in my next debate.

    Oh, wait...

  • Narrarator||

    it's a dildo. Of course it's company policy never to, imply ownership in the event of a dildo... always use the indefinite article a dildo, never your dildo.

  • cynical||

    Sort of a dickish thing to say -- but really, the ideal solution for such situations is to allow a second marriage, so that you don't so much abandon your spouse as solve the problem of having been abandoned by them.

  • O2||

    obviously, but the christards would soil their oversized underwear

  • JEP||

    way to add to the discussion and to go out of your way to be offensive

  • O2||

    tell me im wrong

  • ||

    I dunno, Martin Luther recommeded it for Phillip of Hesse.

  • Warty||

    Everyone should watch Terry Pratchett musing about Alzheimer's and death.

    Choosing to Die

  • AblueSilkworm||

    Really hard to watch. I had trouble remembering he is also the same funny guy who writes those whimsical books.

  • Tony||

    Can't both Pat Robertson and Ayn Rand be moral monsters?

  • Tony Turing||

    Don't you have an act of fellatio to perform somewhere?

  • Tony||

    No matter how many times you beg, you can't afford me.

  • Tony Turing||

    That's not what I hear.

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, not really.

  • ||

    Talk about fish in a barrel.

  • ||

    This is actually huge ethical progress for Robertson. This sort of redefinition of humanity based on functional criteria versus genotype opens the way for fundagelicals to be able to abandon their untenable position that a zygote is equivalent to a baby.

    And I'm not sure that divorce is appropriate here, either. Perhaps a special mandatory annulment rule that kicks in when one reaches a certain threshold of senility.

  • kinnath||

    Also discussed by Saletan. The biggest fall-out is from fundamentalist christians that don't like the logical conclusion of these recent comments by Robertson.

  • ||

    Yep, this opens the door for complete reversals on abortion, Schiavo, etc. This leaves them with only the gays as a "moral" issue...

  • ||

    So fundamentalists rebelling against a Robertson statement that paves the way for approving abortion means that fundamentalists are on the road to approving abortion.

    Brilliant deduction there.

  • ||

    Hooray, once we deny the humanity of disabled people, it makes it easier to kill other kinds of non-useful humans without moral qualms. That's "progress" according to some belief systems, I guess.

  • ||

    Wow, that's a pretty big leap from total vegetative state like Schiavo, to all disabled people.

    Hyperventilate much?

    C'mon, you know you want to Godwin...

  • cynical||

    But would he have said the same thing if Alzheimer's was curable or temporary? A zygote might not be sapient, but it is an organism that will soon be sapient, which is a distinction that they could utilize.

  • Jennifer||

    What an utter hypocrite. A few years ago I had a book Robertson wrote, with a title like "Answers to 200 of Life's Questions." (I did NOT buy the book direct from Robertson or any of his ilk; I found it in a thrift store not far from Robertson's CBN Headquarters.)

    Anyway, one question was from a woman whose husband had committed suicide -- I forget if he had a painful incurable disease, or severe depression or some other mental issue -- and the woman worried her husband was now in hell. And Robertson didn't even try to soften the blow when he replied "Yeah, sorry, suicide is a sin and you're husband is now barbecuing for all time."

    So Robertsons' God is not compassionate enough to forgive the suicide of a man who was NOT sound in mind and body at the time, but IS compassionate enough to forgive divorce from someone who is? My suspicion is that Rpbertson's wife is in the first stages of Alzheimer's, and he's laying the groundwork to divorce her rather than spend any of his hundreds of millions of dollars on caregivers.

  • ||

    So Robertson God is not compassionate enough to forgive the suicide of a man who was NOT sound in mind and body at the time, but IS compassionate enough to forgive divorce from someone who is?

    Let's keep it real, Jenny.

  • Sparky||

    Since Robertson is God's mouthpiece on Earth, she has it right.

  • Jennifer||

    Robertson thinks he is keeping it real, Tony. I'm sure I've made some inconsistent comments over the course of my life, but I've never claimed to have a direct line to a perfect, infallible, all-knowing lord of creation, either. Robertson's God is allegedly perfect, never makes mistakes, and damned sure doesn't have to change his attitudes over the course of a twenty-year period; changing your mind is what you do if you decide you were originally wrong. Robertson's God is supposed to be above that.

  • ||

    Robertson thinks he is keeping it real, Tony.

    I would not call him Tony.

    Tony is a totally different person, and if Tonio is a sane person he does not want to be confused with Tony.

  • ||

    Thanks, Joshua. I suspect that JenniFER knows the difference but was punking me in return for my calling her "Jenny".

  • ||

    My point, courageous Jennifer, was that you're giving Robertson, et als, an out by enabling their claims that they're just saying what their god wants them to say. I just find it more honest to take his imaginary friend out of this and make Robertson responsible for his own words.

    Sure, Tulpa, "semantics". Just as when I promise you a kiss but deliver a kick it's just semantics.

  • Jennifer||

    I just find it more honest to take his imaginary friend out of this and make Robertson responsible for his own words.

    Which Robertson himself refuses to do; his whole career is based on the idea that he's speaking for The Lord, not just to get more donations for his diamond mines.

  • ||

    It's not an "out" in the slightest. Robertson has ostensibly chosen to align his will with that of the God he believes in.

    Thus if I have a problem with the opinions of the God Robertson believes in, I have a problem with Robertson's opinions too.

  • ||

    Quibbling over semantics, I see.

    Jennifer's wording was correct. When Robertson stated that the suicider was in hell, he was saying that God didn't forgive him.

  • ||

    Sure, Tulpa, "semantics". Just as when I promise you a kiss but deliver a kick it's just semantics.

  • ||

    Actually, Robertson said that a person in that situation would have to "make sure she has custodial care," so if Mrs. Robinson is starting to lose it, then by his standards, Pat would have to spend at least some of those hundreds of millions on caregivers.

  • Jennifer||

    Another thing: wasn't Robertson the one who said 9/11 was God's punishment on America for allowing feminism and homosexuality and non-Christians and other evil things? So is it not possible that, if your spouse comes down with Alzheimer's, it's God's way of punishing you for pissing him off? Instead of leaving your spouse, you should spend several days in fasting, prayer and repentance, and if you're lucky God will tell you exactly why your spouse got exactly what he or she deserved.

  • ||

    iirc the 9/11 thing was Jerry Falwell.

  • Jennifer||

    Just did a quick Google to refresh my memory; Falwell and Robertson were on TV together, Falwell said the actual words and Robertson agreed.

    So if Pat Robertson thinks God would kill a kid in New York to express his disapproval of gay guys gettin' it on 3,000 miles away in San Francisco, God inflicting Alzheimer's on some elderly person who (unlike the kid) at least got to live a rich, full life makes perfect sense. Why, oh why, is Robertson endangering the souls of his followers by telling them to engage in such sinful, un-Biblical activities?

  • ||

    The kid probably deserved it for lying to his mother or having lustful thoughts or something anyway.

  • robc||

    What an utter hypocrite.

    All ministers are hypocrites, by definition. It comes with the job description. Ive never had a problem with it and no one who understands their job would either. How can they not be hypocrites?

  • ||

    Amazing that Jesus would make such a big deal about the Pharisees and other Jewish religious leaders being hypocrites then, if it was impossible for them not to be. Bible-based Christians are second to none in ignoring inconvenient parts of the bible, it seems.

    The difference between an ordinary sinner and a hypocrite is that the hypocrite acts as if there's nothing wrong with their actions that contradict their words.

  • Gray Ghost||

    My suspicion is that Robertson's wife is in the first stages of Alzheimer's, and he's laying the groundwork to divorce her rather than spend any of his hundreds of millions of dollars on caregivers.

    I wonder if you're onto something with this, Jennifer? Of course, it could just be that the man has gotten a bit more humble and less sure with age. His advice struck me as genuinely felt and pragmatic. I admit to some difficulty associating "pragmatic" with anything that Robertson has counseled.

  • Robert||

    I like barbecuing. Barbecuing for all time doesn't read as bad to me.

  • cmoney||

    Awful reason post. No reasoning, just emotional reactions. Take this to your livejournal, Shikha.

  • ||

    I imagine you'd threaten to revoke your subscription, but I imagine you probably don't have one.

  • cmoney||

    why would I?

  • ||

    Evidence of Pat Robertson moderating his views is a good reason to criticize him?

    Why?

  • ||

    He's moderating his views to accommodate a despicable act. There's no evidence his views on, say, homosexuality have moderated in the least.

  • ||

    Exactly, Cruel consistancy is the only thing Pat had going for him. Compromising on one position (that should obviously be compromised on) while holding rigid to less cruel decisions makes him a despicable hypocrite.

  • ||

    Careful you don't get head faked Ken. Pat is still an intolerable bastard when it comes to teh geyz.

  • ||

    Of course! He thinks they're all going to hell. ...and as a free person, he has every right to do so according to everything from the Constitution to the rules of common sense.

    But evidence that he thinks ethical dilemmas are situational? Is no reason to criticize him. To the contrary...

    I'm not about to fall under the spell of anybody who wants to use the government to enforce their ethics on the rest of us, but that doesn't mean I have to criticize narrow-minded people like Pat Robertson for expanding their horizons.

    That criticism defies logic. Yeah, I know a lot of people hate Pat Robertson--so what?

    Everybody whose hate for Pat Robertson makes them do silly things like criticize him for being open-minded? Those people need to get over themselves.

  • Jennifer||

    So, Ken: when the likes of Ted Haggard and Larry Craig were caught with their dicks shoved up some other man's ass, AFTER Craig and Haggard had made their entire careers by preaching "Gayz are Teh EVIL!!!" did you think "Cool, Craig and Haggard are finally opening their minds," or did you think "Wow, they're even bigger hypocrites than I thought?"

  • ||

    Good examples, though Eliot Spitzer has to be the crown jewel of that club, since he actually coercively destroyed people's lives for doing the same thing he did.

  • ||

    ...or did you think "Wow, they're even bigger hypocrites than I thought?"

    Yeah, those guys were major hypocrites.

    ...but if they subsequently moderated their views on LGBT? I wouldn't criticize them for it.

  • ||

    If Ken Shultz isn't naively defending the indefensible, it's probably a spoof. See: Libya KMA and winning hearts and minds of the Arab Street.

  • ||

    Basically, Robertson doesn't want to say that it's OK for this guy to abandon his spouse, so he passes off the question to "an ethicist". Are you kidding me? A supposedly Christian preacher deferring moral questions to an ethicist? What a fucking farce.

    The Catholic answer (apologies for slumming in the religious ghetto I was raised in) would likely be to suck up and deal, unifying your suffering with the sacrifice of the Cross, but you can be sure Robertson isn't going to tell one of his viewers they have to do something hard. Evangelical Christianity is all about easy salvation. Say the right words, think the right things for one moment of your life and you're guaranteed a spot in heaven for free.

  • ||

    ...oh and the people you suspect are the reason for your pains are definitely to blame. Eliminate the bastards.

  • T||

    The Catholic answer (apologies for slumming in the religious ghetto I was raised in) would likely be is to suck up and deal

    I can answer that one for you definitively, Tulpa.

  • ||

    What can I say, I likes me some weasel words.

  • Abdul||

    As I quoted above, that is not the Catholic answer. When a spouse has lost the ability to participate in marriage through some mental infirmity, the marriage can be annulled.

    I really don't know why people are slagging Robertson. Yes, Christianity teaches that divorce is wrong. But there is no biblical support for the idea that one must endure all evils in order to avoid the evil of divorce.

    This is more evidence that people who dislike Christianity really have just developed absurd opinions of what Christians believe, or found Christians who they don't like, and then hate those things.

  • ||

    As I quoted above, that is not the Catholic answer. When a spouse has lost the ability to participate in marriage through some mental infirmity, the marriage can be annulled.

    Nope, you're misreading the CCL. Annulment is only possible when the deficiency was present AT THE TIME OF MARRIAGE. So if you marry someone who is already debilitated from Alzheimer's you can get an annulment, but not if it develops after you're already married.

    Annulment doesn't end a marriage, it merely recognizes that the marriage was invalid at the time it was initiated because of some circumstance that existed AT THAT TIME.

  • Abdul||

    I responded late above, but alzheimer's is present at marriage, but unknown to the spouses. That condition only become apparent late in life.

  • kinnath||

    So are the genes linked to suseptability to alcoholism, cancer, heart attacks, depression, and so forth.

    The issue for Catholics is whether or not the person could function in the marriage at the time of the marriage.

    Shit happening 30 years later is part of that "for better or worse".

  • ||

    And I responded that potential for future incapacity is not the same thing as incapacity. The CCL only mentions incapacity present at the time of marriage.

  • kinnath||

    That is my understanding of Catholic doctrine as well.

    The issue presented to Robertson is a free-throw for a Catholic priest -- "until death do us part" means exactly that.

  • Jennifer||

    Yes, Christianity teaches that divorce is wrong. But there is no biblical support for the idea that one must endure all evils in order to avoid the evil of divorce.
    Except for when Jesus himself said that getting a divorce means you're committing adultery. (Jesus never said a word against homosexuality, but he did NOT like rich people and did NOT like divorce. If Pat Robertson hopes to meet Jesus soon, he's better clean up his act pronto.)

    "And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." —Mark 1:1-12

  • ||

    Abdul is also confusing moral evil (eg divorce & remarriage) with natural evil (putting up with Alzheimer's). One is not permitted to commit moral evil to avoid natural evil, regardless of how severe the natural evil is.

  • Abdul||

    Where in there does it say that spouses must remain married despite abuse, crippling dementia?

    I'm talking of the lesser of two evils here. Jesus acknowledges that divorce is an evil in that passage, but his questioners hadn't presented him with whether it would be acceptable in the face of a greater evil--such as an abusive spouse, or a spouse who will never recognize you ever again.

  • ||

    In the case of abuse there is the option of separation, while the marriage remains in force in a formal sense. Of course remarriage would not be allowed. Lord's cross, uniting sacrifice, etc.

  • Jennifer||

    Where in there does it say that spouses must remain married despite abuse, crippling dementia?

    Where in there did Jesus say ANY form of divorce is acceptable? He didn't.

    Now, if Robertson wants to argue that people should NOT subject themselves to misery based on the precepts of a 2,000-year-old book, I'd agree with him. But he's not; he's still insisting the book is the unerring word of God, except for the parts Pat Robertson doesn't like. Like the parable of Lazarus and Dives, which suggests Jesus hates rich people so much, simply being rich is all it takes to condemn a man to hell. Unless the rich man is Pat Robertson, maybe, getting rich by convincing little old ladies to sign over the Social Security checks.

    Luke 16:19-25 :

    [19] "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
    [20] And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz'arus, full of sores,
    [21] who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
    [22] The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried;
    [23] and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz'arus in his bosom.
    [24] And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.'
    [25] But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz'arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.

    See? Jesus says if you are rich in this life, that's all the happiness you get, and boy howdy will you be sorry after you die. (Shit, I'm not rich but I DO have purple clothes, and linen clothes, and eat pretty well. This is as good as it's ever gonna get for me.)

  • robc||

    Where in there did Jesus say ANY form of divorce is acceptable? He didn't.

    Matthew 19:9

    RIF

  • Jennifer||

    You can divorce your wife for infidelity, and that's it. Not abuse, and definitely not Alzheimer's. Unless you trick your Alzheimer's spouse into fucking somebody who isn't you; they it's okay.

  • robc||

    Where in there did Jesus say ANY form of divorce is acceptable? He didn't. -- Jennifer

    You can divorce your wife for infidelity, and that's it. -- Jennifer

    As I said, Reading is Fundamental.

  • ||

    There's also the question of whether the "except for porneia" is better translated as "even for porneia" as discussed here.

    Also, the synoptic verses in Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18 do not contain any exception to the condemnation of divorce.

  • ||

    Matthew 19:9 is a tricky translation. The Greek word porneia refers to sexual immorality in general, not necessarily adultery. It may be referring to incestuous marriages and the like.

    Keep in mind Jesus wouldn't have been speaking Greek, and Matthew was originally written in Aramaic but all we have left now are the early Greek translations.

  • ||

    "Where in there did Jesus say ANY form of divorce is acceptable? He didn't."

    Did you ever read the part about, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven"?

    How about "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

    How about, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

    "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone"?

    Jesus isn't exactly known by Christians as "the Lawgiver". And protestants, generally, think everybody should read the bible for themselves and interpret it for themselves.

    Pat Robertson may be a hypocrite in a lot of ways, but I'm not sure I see why it's necessary to point that out. If you're going to point out Pat Robertson ideology being contradicted by the Bible, I'd start with Jesus constantly telling his disciples that God's kingdom (read State) was a heavenly kingdom--completely apart from political authority.

    And, anyway, I don't see the point in trying to convince average Americans from the Bible that Christians should be less tolerant...not from a libertarian perspective anyway.

    This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about before. You hate Pat Robertson so much--it makes you argue from the Bible that Christians should be less tolerant of adulterers?

    Why?

    In addition to being woefully inaccurate, isn't that also profoundly counterproductive?

  • Jennifer||

    This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about before. You hate Pat Robertson so much--it makes you argue from the Bible that Christians should be less tolerant of adulterers?

    Why?

    No, Ken, despite your deliberately quixotic misunderstanding, I'm simply pointing out the utter hypocrisy of Robertson's behavior: making a fortune by posing as a particular flavor of fundamentalist Christian, yet conveniently ignoring whatever aspects of fundamentalist Christianity he finds inconvenient while still pretending to be guided by those precepts.

    You seem to be saying hypocrisy in public figures should not be condemned, so long as that hypocrisy leads to outcomes we personally like. Why?

  • robc||

    As I pointed out already, all ministers are hypocrites. Its an unavoidable (literally) occupational hazard.

    I dont get why you care about it at all.

    At my church, we once had to fire a minister for repeated adultery. But we didnt let him go for his hypocrisy. That was expected.

  • ||

    Uh, Jesus was extremely harsh on the ministers of his day for being hypocrites.

    Matt 23:1-5 "Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men."

    Mark 7:5-7 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'

    Matt 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

    Matt 23:13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in."

    Matt 23:27-29 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

  • ||

    "You seem to be saying hypocrisy in public figures should not be condemned, so long as that hypocrisy leads to outcomes we personally like. Why?"

    Christianity isn't a list a rules. Even the people who treat it more like a list of rules--don't think it's only a list of rules.

    I'm not even sure the things you're calling hypocrisy are really hypocrisy. Telling other people to stay away from heroin--when you're a heroin addict yourself? That isn't hypocrisy. That's good advice.

    And the idea that Christians should be forgiving of the faults of others isn't hypocrisy either. There are a number of really weird beliefs out there about Christians--one is the weird idea that sinners don't sin. And part of the reason your take on this is kinda weird is because you're actually quoting the Bible at Pat Robertson like the Pharisees quoted the law at Jesus.

    A big chunk of Jesus' message was about refuting the very same stiff legalism you seem to be advocating. You're essentially criticizing Pat Robertson for not advocating the sort of legalism that Jesus made it his mission to refute. Rejecting legalism and accepting righteousness by faith is actually foundational protestantism.

    Meanwhile, you're more or less ignoring Pat Robertson's real hypocrisy--using the power of the state to inflict God's will on others was specifically rejected by Jesus on more than one occasion. When Pat Robertson advocates doing that, he does so in complete, perfect, total contradiction of what Jesus taught.

    Why not call him out on that? Instead of faulting him for the one occasion when I think he's actually consistent with Jesus' teaching. The law said adulterers should be stoned; Jesus said "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." If Pat Robertson sees some situational ambiguity in how we should judge those who get divorced, then that's good news...

    It's not a good reason to fault him for not being a hardline idiot on the issue.

    Try to keep in mind too--Jesus' message wasn't that there's no need to pretend sin isn't sin. How sinners should treat each other is another question entirely. I don't know if Jesus would have thought divorcing your invalid, Alzheimer riddled spouse was a sin or not--but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts he would have thought such adulterers should be treated with kindness.

    ...Just like Pat Robertson apparently does. There isn't anything un-Christian or hypocritical about Christians saying that adulterers should be well treated.

  • ||

    Where in there does it say that spouses must remain married despite abuse, crippling dementia?

    Uh, in the place where he said "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. . . . Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery," and neglected to add "except in the case of abuse or crippling dementia."

  • ||

    I don't think it should be surprising to discover that Christianity frowns on adultery.

    It frowns on lying too--can you believe it?! Christians think that unrepentant liars may find themselves thrown into a lake of fire.

    Why is any of this shocking? Because Christians are just like everybody else, and they lie and divorce just like everybody else?

    Surely you all know more about Christianity than what you've seen in the media about Pat Robertson. Surely, some of you must have heard of righteousness by faith, etc.?

    This stuff can't be new to all of you.

  • Jennifer||

    I don't think it should be surprising to discover that Christianity frowns on adultery.

    Christianity also frowns on leaving your spouse if the latter gets sick. Pat Robertson, apparently, does not.

  • ||

    "The poll, released in late August by the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute, found that nearly half (44 percent) of young evangelicals between the ages of 18 to 29 favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry."

    http://www.christiancentury.or.....y-marriage

    Christians believe whatever they want to believe--regardless of what Pat Robertson says about anything.

  • ||

    It's "justification by faith", not righteousness, and the largest Christian denomination in the world considers it to be a continuous, lifelong process that must be renewed over and over again rather than a momentary purchase decision once in your life.

  • cmoney||

    I mean, it's Pat Robertson. Who gives a flying fuck?

  • ||

    The millions of people who follow him and believe as he does. He's an influential leader, and this represents a huge change in his thinking.

    Do try to keep up, cmoney. Or take it to your LJ if you can't.

  • ||

    It actually represents him wanting to dodge a question, both possible answers to which will piss off different parts of his audience.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Shikha, apparently. Why, I have no idea.

  • MJ||

    "Geez! And the godless, selfishness-preaching Ayn Rand is the moral monster?"

    So, Dalmia, how much of a moral monster was Michael Schiavo for fathering children on another woman and then having his wife put to death?

  • ||

    Funny we should mention Ayn Rand, since her husband had Alzheimer's (though I don't know whether he had it at the time she started boning Nathaniel Brandon).

  • ||

    Remember the part about "For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health"? Man up!! I believe one of the few constants of libertarian thought is that people have to live with the consequences of contracts, even when things go bad. If you didn't mean, "in sickness" and "for worse", then you shouldn't have signed the damned license!! Next thing you know, evangelicals will be dumping their cancer-ridden wives for hot younger women while pushing for a Defense of Marriage Ammendment to save marriage from the threat of committed, loving gay people.

  • ||

    I’m just catching up with the comment thread. The commenters raise two issues about Pat Robertson’s statements. One: Is his view that divorcing an Alzheimer-ridden spouse morally abhorrent from a Christian perspective. And two: Is it morally abhorrent from an ordinary human perspective.

    I am no expert on Christian or Southern Baptist (Robertson’s denomination) thought so I can’t say for sure that he is wrong from a Christian perspective. Strict Christians of course have always been uncomfortable with divorce because marriage is not just supposed to be a contract that can be broken at will. It is a sacred covenant. So for Robertson to maintain that a figurative death is sufficient to renounce your marriage vows would be unconscionable from their perspective. But, as many readers have already pointed out, it is hypocritical as well given that Robertson has betrayed absolutely no taste for this kind of Christian casuistry when it comes to moral dilemmas involving homosexuality, adultery and suicide.

    But Robertson is wrong from a human perspective. I have dealt with Alzheimer’s in my family having watched an uncle and my mother-in-law slowly succumb to this awful disease. The care of an Alzheimer’s patient is an all-consuming affair with or without “custodial care.” Even in the finest of facilities, the patient still requires constant personal supervision from his or her loved ones. You can’t simply dump the patient in a facility, send a monthly check, and expect that they’ll get the attention they need. Their care requires a full emotional and physical commitment that I just can’t imagine a spouse who is off building another life for himself or herself with someone else providing. One relationship will get neglected in this kind of emotional multi-tasking—and it likely won’t be the one that is more pleasant.

    The suggestion that all you owe a spouse with whom you might have built a life, raised children, and walked together in the sunset years is “custodial care” seems beyond the pale to me. You owe them more, unless, of course, you had an explicit prior understanding that you could walk away. But, frankly, I don’t think too many couples do. For many, I suspect, one big upside of getting married is knowing that, if your spouse is around, you’ll be loved and cared for when you are at your most helpless and vulnerable.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Excellent points, but if it's any consolation, Robertson's days as a Christian spokesmodel are pretty much over. By now, he is more of a celebrity, with a supply of shocking statements for the media to pick up on.

  • John Rohan||

    This blog post entirely twist Pat Robertson's words. The truth is, he DIDN'T say you can divorce your wife if she has Alzheimer's. Why don't you look here for a better clarification:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2303989/

  • ||

    He said he wouldn't "condemn" or "put a guilt trip" on somebody in that situation.

    And he predicated all of that by saying it was a terrible dilemma and he didn't feel qualified to judge somebody in that situation...

    All of which he should be commended for--if anything.

    I think we should reserve our denouncements of pundit Christians for when they really do step over the line... If we give a big knee jerk reaction--when they're really just discouraging their fellow Christians from condemning or putting a guilt trip on others? Then what do we do when the fundies really do try to use the state to inflict their religious beliefs on the rest of us?

    That's when we should be jumping on the would be theocrats--not when they're publicly acknowledging the limitations of their own rigid ideology.

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