After posting my rebuttal to Pat Robertson’s shocking advice on The 700 Club last Tuesday, I went to The 700 Club’s “Contact Us” page and posted a link to my blog post, letting them know of my shock and disagreement with Pat’s advice.
Here is the e-mail response I received the next day from the Christian Broadcasting Network:
“Thank you for sharing your concern about Pat Robertson’s response to a Bring It On question about a friend’s wife in the late stages of Alzheimer’s.
Having had many close friends struggle through Alzheimer’s, Pat has seen the devastating impact that it has on not only the spouse with the disease, but especially the caregiver whose quality of life also becomes completely debilitated by it.
The advice he offered was meant for only the most extreme cases, where the spouse is in the advanced stages of the disease (such as the woman in the letter) and the mental health of the caregiver is also at risk.
Pat acknowledges that this is a hard thing, saying, “This is an ethical question that is beyond my call.” He also said, “Get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer, because I recognize the dilemma.”
We are including below the complete transcript, which we hope will clarify Pat’s answer.
The 700 Club Daily Broadcast
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
BRING IT ON
TERRY MEEUWSEN: Well, we have your questions from our chat room, and we’d like to take some time to address them now. Pat, this is Andreas, who says, “I have a friend whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. She doesn’t even recognize him anymore. And as you can imagine, the marriage has been rough. My friend has gotten bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition, and now he has started seeing another woman. He says that he should be allowed to see other people because his wife, as he knows her, is gone. I’m not quite sure what to tell him. Please help.”
PAT ROBERTSON: That is a terribly hard thing. I hate Alzheimer’s. It is one of the most awful things, because here is the 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 is 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.
TERRY MEEUWSEN: But isn’t that the vow we take when we marry someone, that it’s for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer?
PAT ROBERTSON: I know, if you respect that vow. But you say, “To death do us part,” and this is a kind of a death. So that’s what he is saying, is that she’s like-but this is an ethical question that is beyond my can do to tell you. But I certainly wouldn’t put a guilt trip on you if you decided that you had to have companionship, you’re lonely, and you’re asking for some companionship. But what a grief. I know one man who went to see his wife every single day, and she didn’t recognize him one single day. And she would complain that he never came to see her. And it’s really hurtful, because they say crazy things.
TERRY MEEUWSEN: Well, they see things, too.
PAT ROBERTSON: She finally died. I don’t know what he’s done. But nevertheless, it is a terribly difficult thing for somebody. And I can’t fault them for wanting some kind of companionship. And if he says in a sense, she is gone, he is right. It’s like a walking death. But get some ethicist besides me to give you the answer, because I recognize the dilemma, and the last thing I would do is condemn you for taking that kind of action. All right.
I’m very disappointed that CBN as a network is standing behind Pat’s advice. I believe this has severely hindered their ministry and sent the message to millions of viewers that divorce is okay if someone believes that their spouse is “already gone.”
What is the measurement of “gone?” How do you define “a kind of a death?” Such determinations are not up to us but to the One Who created life and instituted marriage.
What a mess.