Friday, September 16, 2011

What Part of “For a Lifetime” Am I Missing?

What Part of “For a Lifetime” Am I Missing?

I am not one to get riled up, but this one ticked me off. Big time!

As Sheila and I were winding down the evening last night, she told me of hearing about Pat Robertson’s latest public degree that a man would be morally justified to divorce his wife with Alzheimer's disease in order to marry another woman. The dementia-riddled wife is, Robertson said, "not there" anymore. http://ow.ly/6vzjE. It had made a secular news broadcast in Pittsburgh.

What part of “as long as we both shall LIVE” am I missing?

Pat Robertson’s statement is so wrong at so many levels!!!

There’s the human commitment level. We live in a culture that is already confused about commitment and is attempting to redefine it all the time. Jesus is the model of commitment and we are to follow that example of never, ever, ever giving up on commitments. “’til death do us part” or “as long as both shall live” is a lifetime commitment, not just until we selfishly conclude “she is no longer there.”

It is wrong at the caring level. In Sheila’s work with the elderly, she has learned that most often the last part of the brain to cease functioning is where feelings are sensed. Even though his wife may not respond in any other way, it is highly likely that she could respond to loving, self-sacrificing, heartfelt touches and words of love. People are “still there” long after our observations believe they are not.

It is wrong because of God’s purpose in marriage. Marriage is not just about the commitment between husband and wife. The Bible is clear that it is also a picture of the relationship between Christ and His Bride, the people who are His Church. If Christ was willing to die for His bride, what right does a husband have to divorce his wife because she no longer fulfills the husband’s needs? Rather, it is an opportunity for the husband to live out for God and the world the picture of Christ’s love for us! I love Gary Thomas’ book, “Sacred Marriage.”* The subtitle gives you a taste, “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” Yes, marriage is a gift from God, but a much different gift than most of us think. It is the opportunity to live and love as Jesus modeled.

Our human nature tends toward selfishness. Our world’s culture promotes that same selfishness. Those result in an attitude that marriage is for me, my happiness, my pleasure, me… me… me!! God’s design for marriage is an opportunity to become like Christ in self sacrificing commitment FOR A LIFETIME! Not until it is no longer convenient or enjoyable or my spouse “is no longer there.”

I would ask Pat Robertson, If it is right to abandon a spouse when “she/he is no longer there” then what prevents abandoning the spouse any other time my desires, needs, satisfaction are not fulfilled? Where does it stop? It is a slippery slope that we should not even peer at through binoculars.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND: my heart goes out to spouses and family members who must watch a loved one suffer the effects of Alzheimer’s disease or any other debilitating condition. I watched my mother care for my grandmother through long years of Alzheimer’s, my uncle lovingly care for my aunt through ALS, my best friend love his mother as she deteriorated and my father-in-law care for Sheila’s mom through debilitating illness. I don’t dismiss the pain, but I celebrate the courage and commitment of people who refuse to give up!! It is the right thing to do!

At the end of the issue is the fact that only God has the authority to proclaim what we should do, not any other human being. And He does not provide a loophole for us to abandon our commitment because we are not happy.

Just my thoughts. As passionate as they may be. I’d love to hear from you on this issue.

Boldly, Herb

*I highly recommend this book. It has given me a Biblical understanding of marriage as nothing else.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Over the past several years, I've consistently struggled with my decision to divorce my spouse due to mental illness. I wouldn't have ended the marriage if my spouse became physically debilitated, or contracted cancer, etc. What are your thoughts, indeed what are God's thoughts, on divorcing because of mental instability?

curtisofletcher said...

Don't even get me started on this one!

If you're willing to allow that a woman Alzheimer's "isn't there anymore" then you can easily allow for the abortion of an unborn fetus who "isn't there yet". But Pat apparently wants to split hairs.

If you're willing to allow that a woman Alzheimer's "isn't there anymore" then you either have to say this is a "different person", in which case the person is the sum total of their physical body and mental capacity but not their soul, OR you have to say it is "no" person and allow for euthanizing Alzheimer's patients.

If you're willing to allow that a woman Alzheimer's "isn't there anymore" then "till death do us part" means death of mental capacity and you have to allow for dissolution of marriage based on stupidity.

Why he would even choose to pontificate on such a topic is beyond me...what an idiot.

Curtis said...

Don't even get me started on this one!

If you're willing to allow that a woman Alzheimer's "isn't there anymore" then you can easily allow for the abortion of an unborn fetus who "isn't there yet". But Pat apparently wants to split hairs.

If you're willing to allow that a woman Alzheimer's "isn't there anymore" then you either have to say this is a "different person", in which case the person is the sum total of their physical body and mental capacity but not their soul, OR you have to say it is "no" person and allow for euthanizing Alzheimer's patients.

If you're willing to allow that a woman Alzheimer's "isn't there anymore" then "till death do us part" means death of mental capacity and you have to allow for dissolution of marriage based on stupidity.

Why he would even choose to pontificate on such a topic is beyond me...what an idiot.

Herb Shaffer said...

To anonymous... When there is abuse involved, and when a person has the mental capacity to make choices it is a much different issue. Too many facets to explain, but would be glad to talk with you about it.
--Herb