Pat Robertson says: OK to divorce spouse with Alzheimer’s!

The Associated Press is reporting that religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his “700 Club” viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is justifiable because the disease is “a kind of death.”

From The AP:

“During the portion of the show where the one-time Republican presidential candidate takes questions from viewers, Robertson was asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife started suffering from the incurable neurological disorder.

‘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.”

“The chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, which airs the ‘700 Club,’ said he wouldn’t ‘put a guilt trip’ on anyone who divorces a spouse who suffers from the illness, but added, ‘Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer.’ ”

“Most Christian denominations at least discourage divorce, citing Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Mark that equate divorce and remarriage with adultery.”

“Terry Meeuwsen, Robertson’s co-host, asked him about couples’ marriage vows to take care of each other ‘for better or for worse’ and ‘in sickness and in health.’ ”

” ‘If you respect that vow, you say ’til death do us part,’’ Robertson said during the Tuesday broadcast. ‘This is a kind of death.’ ”

“A network spokesman said Wednesday that Robertson had no further statement.”

It is interesting to note though according to the rest of the story that is it actually UNCOMMON for couples to divorce when a spouse is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“Divorce is uncommon among couples where one partner is suffering from Alzheimer’s, said Beth Kallmyer, director of constituent services for the Alzheimer’s Association, which provides resources to sufferers and their families.

“We don’t hear a lot of people saying ‘I’m going to get divorced,’” she told The Associated Press. “Families typically respond the way they do to any other fatal disease.”

The stress can be significant in marriages though, Kallmyer said, because it results in the gradual loss of a person’s mental faculties.

“The caregiving can be really stressful on a couple of levels,” she said. “There’s the physical level. There’s also the emotional level of feeling like you’re losing that person you love.”

“As a result, she said, it’s important for couples to make decisions about care together in the early stages of the illness, when its effects aren’t as prominent.”

I am beyond shocked that he would say leaving your ill spouse is OK. Michael and I joke about it, but I don’t think either of us would walk away from a 50-year marriage if one of us becomes very ill in our 60s or older.

We have a little dog that often I feel like I would love to find a new home. However, I feel we made a commitment to this little dog when we took him in eight years ago to care for him until he dies so I would certainly not leave a spouse! I can’t even leave a dog!

I watched my mother care for her mother with cancer and her brother with cancer so I understand the emotional and physical strain it would put on a spouse to care for their sick husband and wife. Plus, it’s your husband/wife suffering! However, I just don’t think you leave your spouse in that condition with strangers to care for them.

Does the caregiver need support? Yes. Do they have to do all the daily care by themselves? No. If they can afford help, they should have it. Do they need to get out and have a life outside of caring for their sick spouse? Absolutely! But I think it would reflect very poorly for a spouse to divorce a sick husband or wife.

I am wondering if Robertson thinks it’s OK to leave a spouse with any debilitating disease. Would he say leave them if they had cancer, heart disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis? My mom has RA. Should my dad walk out after more than 40 years of marriage?

OK so what do you guys think? What have your parents’ experiences been? Is it ever OK to leave?

(I had a super awesome Fun Friday topic with video that I moved to Monday. This was just too newsy to pass up! So check back Monday for my Fun Friday topic!)

83 comments Add your comment

Russell & Levorn Spencer

September 16th, 2011
12:30 am

We pray that Pat Robertson would re consider his decision. This is not of God ,because the bible does state for better or worse, richer or poorer,in sickness and in health . This verse covers everything imaginable ,that could over take an individual.Pat Robertson is being selfish.And God will not honor this.
moreover he’s setting a bad example for the kingdom of God , as well as the people.Divorce is not an option. Christ is married to the church he’ll never divorce us, no matter how we treat him,he loves us just that much.When any one divorces their spouses ,they are not showing their faithfullness until Christ returns for his bride.

penguinmom

September 16th, 2011
1:04 am

Alzheimer’s is very hard (my mother recently died after having it) but I can’t imagine divorcing because of it. Does he also think it is okay to divorce someone who is in a coma (they are ‘dead to you’) or who has a brain injury (’the person they were died’)? At what point would he draw the line if he is allowing that exception?

djs_NC

September 16th, 2011
6:30 am

i love how supposedly christians only obey the laws that are easy for them. i am a christian and i get a tad upset at things like this. there are many sins stated in the bible-youre gonna go to hell if you get an abortion, if you do drugs, if youre gay, if you divorce…what about all the liars and cheaters and mean people. pat robertson is a moron. i cant believe he said that.

mom2alex&max

September 16th, 2011
6:49 am

Nothing republicans say surprise me anymore.And what Robertson said is not as bad as the recent tea baggers debate where the audience cheered that the uninsured should be left to die. So divorcing a dying spouse is nothing.

Don’t believe me?

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/audience-tea-party-debate-cheers-leaving-uninsured-die-163216817.html

Jeff

September 16th, 2011
7:11 am

Mom2…compared to what? The hateful call to violence by Hoffa and the unions? Why don’t we call it a wash.

Sk8ing Momma

September 16th, 2011
7:21 am

No, divorcing over any illness is never acceptable…Period!

mom2alex&max

September 16th, 2011
7:21 am

Jeff: I don’t get what you are trying to say. At all.

Jeff

September 16th, 2011
7:56 am

Hoffa, president of the teamsters, recently said “it’s time toy go to war, take these Sob’s out, we’ll be your soldiers” addressing the last directly to Obama who was sitting on stage. My point is that there are quacks on both sides.

Hey, mom2alex...

September 16th, 2011
7:57 am

the filter is at it again, theresa – zapped my comments for the 3rd time this week and I am not cursing or anything.

Anyway, Jmaes Hoffa is the union leader who, during a rally on Labor Day with Obama in attendance, asked his minions to “destroy those SOB” (referring to the tea bag movement,. and yes, he used the “real” version of SOB) – Jeff was asking why you call teabaggers names but seemingly overlook this hate speech by your favored Democratic party…

mom2alex&max

September 16th, 2011
8:12 am

I didn’t call the teabaggers names. I was pointing out that nothing they say surprises me anymore. And I was not aware of that particular speech. But yeah…I sorta agree with it.

Obviously we are not going to change each other’s minds. So I will just agree to disagree and move on.

Lori

September 16th, 2011
8:21 am

You either follow the Bible or you don’t, Pat! You can’t pick and choose which passages fit your preferred lifestyle.

MomOf2Girls

September 16th, 2011
8:25 am

@mom2alex&max – do you know what the term teabagger (I hate to even type it) actually means? I suggest you look it up, then decide whether or not you want to use it in a civilized conversation. You should also try to avoid generalizing like that. As @Jeff points out, there are crazies on both sides, but that doesn’t mean that they represent the mainstream opinions.

Jessica

September 16th, 2011
8:34 am

Apparently, Pat Robertson has forgotten the ‘in sickness and in health’ portion of traditional marriage vows. Also, his advice doesn’t line up with what Jesus taught about marriage and divorce.

This man has a history of stirring up controversy, and the majority of Christians know that he isn’t a reliable source of information on matters of faith, politics, health, or…well, anything. I hope the people who watch his show every day will find better sources of spiritual advice, and start sending their money to other charities and ministries,

RJ

September 16th, 2011
8:35 am

“I am beyond shocked that he would say leaving your ill spouse is OK.”

@Theresa, are you really surprised? I mean, it’s Pat Robertson for goodness sake.

@Jeff, I am with you on there being crazies on both sides; that’s why I don’t claim either one.

I doubt that any reasonable person would divorce their spouse over any illness (well, there’s Newt but I won’t go there). Alzheimers comes later in life and usually the couple has spent nearly a lifetime together. I would never leave my husband. I would take care of him until actual death do us part. That was and will always be my commitment to him.

Jeff

September 16th, 2011
8:38 am

Truce.

Robertson is crazy. Always has been IMO. but people are free to contribute to him. If I start putting limitations on what other people can donwith their money and beliefs, hen that opens the door for them to do the same to me.

DB

September 16th, 2011
8:47 am

With a comment like that, I have to wonder if Pat Robertson is in the beginning stages of Alzheimers?!

It’s a terrible disease. So is cancer. So is ALS. That’s a pretty darn slippery slope Mr. Robertson is starting to slide down, there.

Sylvania

September 16th, 2011
8:49 am

Well, this is also the guy who said the following:

“Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to evangelical Christians. It’s the same thing. It’s no different. It’s the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and homosexuals who want to destroy Christians.”

and “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It’s about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

What’s scary to me is that there are many people out there who agree with what this man has to say.

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
8:50 am

I happen to enjoy a good teabag.

Me

September 16th, 2011
8:54 am

Shocked that he made the statement? No. Agree with it? Of course not!
With that said, however, I have seen first-hand how sad it is when one spouse, because of this terrible disease, no longer recognizes their partner. In essence, that person is no longer the same person at all. But to divorce because of it? Nope.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 16th, 2011
8:56 am

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
8:57 am

“This is a kind of death.”
I hope this will be tatooed on that hateful horrible man’s forehead when he meets his maker.

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
9:00 am

@TWG, what’s not to like between two consenting adults?

mom2alex&max

September 16th, 2011
9:00 am

Oh dang it!!!! I didn’t know what it meant in “that” context. I wish I hadn’t googled it! Well I didn’t mean it “that” way. Sorry!

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
9:02 am

Just to clarify….(cause I’m not digressing a seriouis topic at all) given my druthers, I prefer being the bag as opposed to the pot.

sa

September 16th, 2011
9:02 am

So let me get this straight, in his definition of marriage two people of the same sex can’t chose to commit their lives to each other in marriage BUT two people of the opposite sex can choose to forgo the whole “in sickness and in health” part of their vows as soon as it gets tough. That is just gross. Also, I love how he quantified it with “as long as they have a caregiver” or something along those lines.

Alrighty now......

September 16th, 2011
9:07 am

Tea Party activists are outraged by the revelation that Obama once used the term “tea baggers” to describe them… so without further ado. the URBAN Dictionary has made it a dirty connotation:

To with: “a man that squats on top of a womens face and lowers his genitals into her mouth during sex, known as “teabagging” 3) one who has a job or talent that is low in social status 4) a person who is unaware that they have said or done something foolish, childlike, noobish, lame, or inconvenient. 5) also see “fagbag”, “lamer”, “noob”

Yes, this is what the democratic president started when re-naming the Tea Party to “tea bagger”…

  

September 16th, 2011
9:08 am

What’s scary to me is that there are many people out there who agree with what this man has to say.

Why, because he’s right about a lot of it?

Jeff

September 16th, 2011
9:09 am

LOL. Mom2, that’s pretty funny. Jarvis, I’ve never been a huge fan of the concept, but I’m told positioning has everything to do with it.

;)

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
9:10 am

@Alrighty now…Who made it a dirty connotation? What rock have you folks been living under? The term “teabag” has been around much longer than the current Tea Party movement.

Man….have I been slumming all of these years without knowing it? Theresa immediately knew where I was coming from. Maybe we were bored in Lilburn in the 90’s.

Me

September 16th, 2011
9:25 am

@jarvis — oh, there are others here that recognized the term and the context. To some extent, though, I find it comical that @TWG immediately knew of the term! :)

Ann

September 16th, 2011
9:47 am

@ Alrighty now…… Obama did not rename the tea party to “tea bagger”. You can’t blame him for that. The term was used by tea party members themselves in the early days (by some who knew the other meaning and by some who most likely did not). When others began to use the term, they then viewed it as derogatory; but Democrats and liberals did not start the connotation. There is plenty of documented history of early use of the “tea bag” phrase by tea party members. Here’s a few photos in this link:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/right-now/2010/05/a_peoples_history_of_teabag.html

abc

September 16th, 2011
9:57 am

Pat Robertson is a deluded, hypocritical, self-righteous fraud. Any Christian with half a brain not only dismisses anything he says as tripe, they’re at least a little bit offended that he speaks as if guided by the Holy Spirit. He isn’t. If anything, pray for him to wake up and be saved.

JOD

September 16th, 2011
10:00 am

I wonder what Pat Roberton’s wife thinks about all this?

@jarvis – You absolutely, unequivocally stole the show today…

Thanks, Ann...

September 16th, 2011
10:27 am

…for supplying the link that confirms “The turning point, as The Week points out, came when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and CNN’s Anderson Cooper started making “teabag” jokes. And that was the start of tea partyers viewing the term as a snooty slur by coastal elitists. That’s why I don’t use it, even though “—bagger” rolls off the tongue easier than “—-partyer.” …

Bella

September 16th, 2011
10:33 am

Well, the Bishop Eddie Long is an evangelical Christian as well and I am sure he votes (D) as often as he can! Our entire society seems to be headed towards crazy town, or better yet we may have already arrived there! It is insane what people say these days, almost as if whatever they say won’t stimatize them (because it won’t). Tomorrow will be another story and will will move on…

I gotta say this – Pat Robertson’s comments ring true with alot of people. When my mom was going through the final stages of cancer and beyond her death, my father was in alot of support and grief groups. These consisted of alot of men that were pretty much over their marriage and commitments looking to move forward to the next phase of their life. The after death support group was like a meat market, and they finally had to split up the men and women. There were a few woman who were looking to quickly move on, but it was basically the men looking for a replacement to take care of them. Some of the stories he told me were funny, sad, but mostly shocking. It was kind of appauled by some of the behaviors of people that were “happily” married 30, 40, and 50 years. Afterall, the sentiment these days is that the baby boomer generation is a bit self absorbed and selfish.

While I think it is deplorable he would think like this, much less say it – it is not all that uncommon. There are support groups out there that are well meaning and then their are many like the ones I mentioned. We are living in crazy warped times!

PS: My day did not get caught up in the drama we witnessed :)

Have a good weekend!

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
10:36 am

@JOD, that was not my intent. Very serious topic today. Sometimes my inner 13-year-old boy can’t help himself.

motherjanegoose

September 16th, 2011
10:51 am

Somewhat off topic..

I try not condemn parties or groups, as a whole. I have seen so many exceptions. I am a Christian but there are days when I am not acting like one and owe apologies. I am conservative and have also voted for several Democrats who are good solid people with the city, state or country’s best interest in mind.

A client of mine told me this, over the summer…

” I had a neighbor and friend who was dying of cancer. She told me that she needed to apologize for two things before she died. I told her that she did not owe me an apology. She insisted. Her apology was:

I am sorry that I smoked in your house once.
I am sorry for being a Democrat.

Have a great day all. I am enjoying Montana!

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
11:03 am

….and where is my favorite retired GI today. I want Shaggy’s take on both topics. They would be enlightening for sure.

redhousecat

September 16th, 2011
11:15 am

FYI Lori@0821

um, that is the norm for modern Christianity today, especially followers of the KJV. Of Course, that is a whole other discussion.

Roberson is a windbag that needs to go away. He is having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. It’s one thing for a family/person to privately choose how to live a life, it’s another for a religious windbag to propose otherwise.

JOD

September 16th, 2011
11:46 am

@jarvis – I imagine the temptation was unbearable. It must be something about growing up in Gwinnett – I thought it was hilarious.

Interestingly, it looks like evangelicals don’t even listen to Pat Robertson anymore. An interesting article from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/pat-robertson-forgets-marriage-is-about-sacrifice-too/2011/09/16/gIQAVBbTXK_blog.html

Valstake

September 16th, 2011
12:38 pm

I guess his comment/opinion doesn’t apply to non-Christians? And taking it a step further, what’s the consensus on divorcing a spouse that is institutionalized for severe mental conditions with little or no chance of improvement, or someone in a permanent vegetative state, kept alive only by artificial means? I am, sincerely, only wondering.

justmy2cents

September 16th, 2011
12:43 pm

ok, my post went *poof*

jarvis

September 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

Jokes aside.

My wife is my partner. I could not more leave her in a time of need than I could one of my children. I’m bound to her, and the thought of leaving her when she needed me is disgusting.

JOD

September 16th, 2011
1:56 pm

Watching my mother care for her mother, dying from dementia, stroke, and a litany of other illnesses over many years, I saw that with all the bad, the only thing Mom could control was how she dealt with it. She made the simple choice to care for her mother, no matter what that meant.

Bad things happen, and all we can do is to continue to care for each other, the best way we can, for as long as we can.

Roswell Jeff

September 16th, 2011
2:04 pm

Sorry folks, but Robertson is the one with Oldtimer’s errr I mean Alzheimer’s.

catlady

September 16th, 2011
2:34 pm

This was chewed over pretty well yesterday on another blog.

The man is positioning himself or someone he knows for an “out”. You heard it here first.

No cred.

jvy

September 16th, 2011
4:25 pm

Pat was being sympathetic to the one who does not has the disease, and, like GOD, was giving the spouse the choice. Considering the fact that the spouse who was well was having an affair. Maybe it would be better to just get the divorce than live in adultery???!!!!!! The situation is terrible, and Pat gave his opinion on the matter. That person is not the same anymore. They are not the same person. If the other person is going to resent God for it, and choose to live in a manner that will prevent them from one day going through the gates, then God allows us to make a decision, allows us to repent, and allows HIS BLOOD to cover our sins, if we are truely sorry and CHANGE our ways. Sometimes the only way to save ourselves and change is removal from the situation, in this case the marriage. I pray that the spouce who can make a decision makes the one that God would like him to make, and if he goes the other way, I hope he is forgiven and one day can spend eternity with the One who is full of Grace and Mercy. No sin is any greater or less than another. And all of us need the Blood of Jesus to cover us on that day of Judgement.

JAWJA

September 16th, 2011
4:27 pm

Maybe somebody spiked his KoolAid.

The Dude Abides

September 16th, 2011
4:39 pm

Religion is the root of all the worlds problems, period. Don’t tell me what to think, and don’t push your values on me, I have my own.

katie

September 16th, 2011
4:42 pm

This isn’t as easy as one thinks…..I know a man (no, I am not involved with him) who had a wonderful loving 25 year marriage when in her early 50’s his wife developed full blown Alzheimers. He stayed with her for almost 10 years. By that time she had no idea who he was, didn’t remember her marriage or her children. With the blessing of his wife’s family and their children he quietly divorced her (she had been living in a full time assisted living facility for quite a while) and got on with his life. He assumes full financial support for her and visits her several times a week.

He has had a couple of relationships with other women and quite honestly the sticking point in those relationships is their inability to accept his commitment to his former wife. We are all hoping he finds the right woman soon.