If I held any regard at all for Pat Robertson before today, I hold none now after he told his vast television audience that people with Alzheimer’s are “kind of dead”.
“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.
“If you respect that vow, you say ’til death do us part,’” Robertson said during the Tuesday broadcast. “This is a kind of death.”
This is wrong, and not just a little wrong, but 100-feet tall, flaming letters in the sky wrong. Marriage is more than an arrangement of mutual convenience and benefit. It is a solemn promise and when you swear “to death do us part”, you had darned-well be ready to commit to whatever that promise entails. Sometimes it means that you deal with a few rough patches and sometimes it means you carry a heavy burden on your back for the person you love for years. That is hard, and it’s certainly not fair, but it’s the deal you make when you stand before God and man and swear that oath. If you can’t make that promise, then modify it. Say “to kind of death do us part” or “I’m with you until it gets really, really hard, then I’ll find you a nurse or something”.
I realize that it’s easy for me to talk about hard commitments because I’m not faced with the choice the person who asked Robertson for advice is. If you want to ding me on that point, fine. I can’t honestly tell you how I’d handle the situation if I was in that man’s shoes. I like to think I’d live up to the highest ideal, but I’m human. I could well fail; that is, after all, what humans do and I will not claim to be anything but a horribly-flawed human. But if we don’t have high ideals, how in the world do we excel? How do we transcend our brutish, lazy natures to become better?
It’s easy to offer convenient escape hatches to hard decisions. It takes real effort of will to say we will carry burdens that will break our backs and fill our hearts with sorrow. It takes something else, something I don’t believe we humans do not carry in ourselves, to pick up that burden, load it on our shoulders, and walk with it every day. Pat Robertson claims to represent that something else. If he won’t refuse the easy rationalization, then he’s not fit to be God’s messenger here on earth, and we should feel no obligation to regard him as anything more than a cheap advice columnist.
Category: Gimme that Old Time Religion