Two Robertson’s and a Deteriorating Church

Sep 15th 2011

So Pat Robertson did it again.  He made a controversial comment.  Surprise.  Maybe he should write Proverbs 17:28 on his hands — Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

If you were watching the “700 Club” on Christian Broadcast Network recently, you might have heard his words.  They came in response to a caller who said that a friend had begun dating other women while his wife deteriorates from Alzheimer’s, and justifies it by saying that “his wife, as he knows her, is gone.”

Robertson’s response, “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 make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.”  Robertson’s co-host pressed him about whether that violates the marriage vows. Robertson responded that Alzheimer’s “is a kind of death” and added, “I certainly wouldn’t put a guilt trip on you” for choosing divorce in such a scenario.

My grandfather lived his life apart from Christ, but when my grandmother was stricken by Alzheimer’s not only would he not divorce her, he would not even put her in a nursing home.  Words like commitment, loyalty, faithfulness and love shaped his actions far more than words like “guilt trip.”

But even more than the fact that my non-Christ-following grandfather had a better handle on the value of marriage vows than Robertson, I am grieved by Robertson’s calloused view of the church.  In Ephesians 5, Paul compares the love between a husband and wife with the love between Christ and the church.  His instruction, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

I remember my grandmother pre-Alzheimer’s and post-Alzheimer’s.  When I look around at the church — Christ’s bride — in America, sometimes I think we might be a bit more like grandma post, than grandma pre.  In fact if Jesus addressed a letter to us today, it might start, “Dear Church of Alzheimer’s.” We are a forgetful church.  When you ponder our actions and our responses, don’t you wonder if we haven’t lost our minds?

I can’t tell you how glad I am that Christ loves the church and gives himself up for us.  His love doesn’t end.  He will not give up till we are healed and whole of love and mind.  The problem with Robertson’s comments is that they strike deep into the heart of the gospel.  Jesus died for the church, not because she was intelligent, beautiful, successful or powerful.  Jesus died for the church because he loves her, weak, helpless and forgetful.

Oh yeah, you may be wondering about the “two Robertson’s?”  The other Robertson that comes to my mind is Robertson McQuilken.  If you don’t know his story, read it HERE.  Robertson McQuilken reminds me of the hope of Christ for the church. Pat Robertson…reminds me of why we need it.