Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is Pat Robertson Right That A Spouse With Alzheimer Should Be Divorced?

On Christianity Today on September 14, 2011, the honorable Pat Robertson said that

I hate Alzheimer's. It is one of the most awful things because here is a 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. 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.

 There has been an outcry for Pat Robertson to resign or tender an apology to his viewers. Americans should stop asking people to resign when they err in their opinions. Sometimes a bad opinion does not necessarily translate into a mea culpa. Pat Robertson’s statement is almost as if it is a paradox until one applies equity. The Bible gives two cases when divorce is permissible: infidelity (Mt 19:9) or desertion (I Cor 7:14-15). Here is why Pat Robertson could have been right, and why he is wrong.

Marriage has at least three purposes. Firstly, for a help meet or companion (Gen 2:20), secondly, it is a medium of fulfilling the sanction of multiplication (Gen 1:28), and lastly a means to avoid fornication (I Cor. 7:1-2).

If blood is the main requirement in a covenant, sex is the one in a marital relationship. That is the reason why abandonment is one of the reasons why a spouse is permitted to divorce (I Cor 7:14-15) because by abandoning your post, you break the bond that existed via sex. Thus, you are considered dead (Rom 7:1-3). Abandonment is tantamount to someone who is dead because except the spouse dies, digamy is sinful (Rom 7:1-3; I Cor 7:39). When a spouse abandons a covenant, they are considered dead, and the living partner is no more under the covenant because a covenant is only alive by two living parties coming together (Mt 22:32, I Cor 7:15). Since a covenant requires two living beings, the surviving spouse is permitted to look for another partner for a new covenant.

Perhaps we may sympathize with Pat Robertson if he ends here. It is true that the spouse with Alzheimer is unable to fulfill the most rudimentary marital duty of sex, so she could be considered AWOL or a deserter.  However, the Bible says if he or she runs away. That calls for the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. That means; they must show intent to vacate the marriage covenant physically or spiritually which to my opinion is not because the spouse with Alzheimer did not invite the disease.  

It is true that marriage is a covenant registered before God and must be upheld unfailingly, but it is that established bond that binds the two mates as soulmates despite their shortcomings. Therefore, marriage is a bond in blood sexually administered. In a covenant, both covenanters make vows. Most men use the more traditional marriage vows that we know as:

I take you -------to be my lawful wedded wife from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish you till death do us part. Heretofore, I make you the promise!

With this vow which is part of the written covenant, a husband divorcing his wife because of Alzheimer or any other disease or mishap, has abandoned their marital vows thereby breaking the covenant to her as a covenantee. The social responsibilities of the covenant though not limited are summarized in Eph 5:25-29 as follows:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.

We should ask Pat Robertson a few questions. How are you ready to show that you love your wife and are ready to die for her if you cannot even care for her when she has Alzheimer? Would Jesus abandon a sick church that is willing to be healed since a man must love the wife and be ready to die for her as Christ loved the church and died for her? Would you like to be abandoned by your wife when you become sick and bedridden? If not why would you abandon your spouse because she is sick?

Therefore, while initially it seems Pat Robertson is right, he is wrong because the law that is applied by the letter kills while the one applied by the spirit brings life. There is no way one can profess love for s spouse and then abandon them when they have Alzheimer, Cancer, HIV or any other terminal situations. Isn’t it time for the Bible to be applied by the spirit and not the law? Aren’t spouses supposed to be friends in need?

Until then, you should be there more in times of need to your spouse.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk.

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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