I've never been a fan of Pat Robertson. He is a couple sandwiches short of a picnic, as far as I'm concerned, and his theology is off-kilter. However, this week, he proved he was just plain dumb.
This past week on his show "The 700 Club", he answered a viewer's question about dating other women now that his wife's dementia was at the point where she didn't recognize him any longer. Pat, in a moment of deep theological and compassionate idiocy, remarked that it was okay to divorce one's spouse in this situation.
Robertson explained, "If you respect that vow, you say 'til death do us part.' This is a kind of death." He went on to say (apparently because his foot wasn't wedged deeply enough into his mouth): "I know it sounds cruel," Robertson responded, "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."
I hope when Pat got home that day, Mrs. Robertson said, "Come here, honey, and I'll give you a 'kind of death'....."
Actually, what I thought of was my mom and dad. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's in his later years, and he eventually developed dementia. He was easy to care for, but it was still a very hard situation, and we kids sort of strong-armed my mom into moving him into a residential care facility.
Here's the thing. If my mom opened up her back door and flung a rock, she could hit the care facility my dad was living in. Literally: that's how close it was.
And yet, she could not stand it. He was too far away from her, after 50+ years of marriage. She couldn't care for him herself, and that didn't sit well with her. Being, the stubborn Irish soul that she is, AND BEING CONCERNED WITH HER WEDDING VOWS - MR. ROBERTSON, LISTEN UP - she brought him home and cared for him 24/7 for the final years of his life.
What good is a marriage vow if there is an escape clause? "Well, the sickness and health thing? It couldn't possibly have meant THIS. I mean, THIS is hard, so...." I realize that not everyone in this situation can do what my mom did. She's in vigorously good health for an 86 year old, she's a registered nurse, and she could afford to bring in supplemental help to do some of the heavy lifting. I am not suggesting that every spouse has to personally attend to the daily needs of an ill partner.
I do wish Mr. Robertson could have spent a day or two with my folks during those years, though. Their home was like a little monastery - a place of prayer and work, dedicated vows, peace and heartache. My mom and dad exemplified the vows that they took in front of God, family and friends in November of 1947: "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for
richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part." No escape clause, Mr. Robertson - just a covenantal promise that God would bless and provide for these two people who promised to love.