Friday, September 16, 2011

Pat Robertson encourages divorce for Alzheimer's couples

Inconsistencies in marriage vows, rights for others, within troubling comments

Who Would Jesus Divorce? For Pat Robertson, the answer is obvious: people with Alzheimer's.

When asked a question regarding a cheating husband whose wife was suffering from the debilitating disease, the Christian leader had a very unorthodox answer -- he actually suggested that the husband divorce his wife, comparing the disease to already being dead.

"I know it sounds cruel," Robertson explains, "but if he's going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again."

Robertson's answer is bizarre for a plethora of reasons. For starters, most marriage vows (certainly close to all in Christian marriages) ask couples to remain faithful and supportive of one another, "in sickness and in health, till death do [they] part." But Robertson suggests otherwise, that a partner with a terminal illness grants the other partner the "religious right" (pun not intended) to depart from those vows.

So if they've got the sniffles, stick with them. If their prognosis is bad, hey, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Why not start "fishing" now?

Sarcasm aside, the comments are troubling for yet another reason: for a man who spends a lot of his time railing on and on about the sanctity of marriage (usually as a justification for barring state-sanctioned marriages to gay and lesbian couples), Robertson sure doesn't find much fault with straight couples who abuse the privilege.

Now, I don't claim to be a theologist of any kind, nor am I saying that there ought to be restrictions on when divorce can occur. What is important to note here, however, are the inconsistencies between Pat Robertson's beliefs on marriage. Either the practice is sacrosanct, or it's not. Excluding a group of people in a state marriage based on rules you make in your own religious beliefs is wrong on its own; but giving those you permit to partake in the practice free reign and even encouragement to break those rules, while still excluding others who'd happily live by them, is even worse.

Robertson needs to reassess his stances on marriage, both politically and from a religious point of view. His inconsistencies with the issue do a disservice to those who are unfortunate enough to consider him a leader.

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