I do not regularly offer critiques concerning spiritual points of view here, but in this case, I believe it is warranted. Pat Robertson made yet another "shocking" statement recently. I have a hard time believing that he really believes what he is saying -- that Alzheimer's disease is a morally acceptable reason to divorce...or if it is for shock value. Either way, it is troubling. Here are some thoughts concerning whether Alzheimer's is a reason to divorce via Ed Fudge's gracEmail.
Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson recently said on his television show that a man whose wife had Alzheimer's disease could morally divorce her and marry someone who was healthy. His reasoning? The wife burdened with dementia, Robertson mused, "is 'not there' anymore."
Some say the remark is an embarrassment to Christianity, others call it profoundly cruel. But Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, says those responses are far too easy. Robertson's statement is worse than cruelty and more culpable than an embarrassment, says Moore. It is "a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
"Pat Robertson’s cruel marriage statement is no anomaly," Moore explains, noting that Robertson and company have for years preached a so-called prosperity gospel that resembles "an Asherah pole" more than it does a cross. Their emphasis has been on a "politicized Christianity" that sees churches as a means to "mobilize voters," rather than as communities of faith that "stand prophetically outside the power structures as a witness for the gospel." Many viewers, seeing this "parade of cartoon characters" presented as preachers of the gospel, assume that "the giggling evangelist" on their television screen really represents Jesus. Many assume, when they watch television coverage of "political rallies to 'take back America for Christ,' that they see Jesus. But," Moore warns, "Jesus isn’t there."
Instead, says Moore, "Jesus tells us He is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46)." Or, to be very specific, Moore explains. "Somewhere out there right now," he writes, "a man is wiping the drool from an 85-year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them. But," Moore concludes, "the gospel is there. Jesus is there."
Russell D. Moore, "Christ, the Church, and Pat Robertson," Moore to the Point (September 15, 2011).