Look out, Mrs. Robertson.
In his television broadcast Tuesday, Christian televangelist Pat Robertson said that in certain cases, it may be ethically permissible for a spouse to divorce a husband or wife stricken with Alzheimer’s “if [the non-ill spouse] is going to do something” with a new partner.
“I know it sounds cruel,” Robertson said in answers to a viewer’s question, adding that although Christian marriage vows are binding “to death do us part” ... “this is a kind of a death.”
“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,” Robertson said, clarifying that the spouse would have to ensure that his wife would have “somebody looking after her.”
Robertson answers the question in the video below.
Robertson’s sexual pragmatism seems cruel to many around the Web, with a number of bloggers already criticizing him for his take. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary called the comments a “repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Tobin Grant at Christianity Today said, “Robertson’s advice stands in stark contrast with most theologians and ethicists who would advise fidelity.” And Gawker had a field day.
Am I the only religion blogger who heard in Robertson’s comments Paul’s utilitarian advice to celibate Corinthians that it is “better to marry than to burn with passion?”
If you watch the clip (full comments around the 51 minute mark), it’s clear that he is wrestling with the complexity of this moral dilemma, saying that his viewers should, “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.”
What do you think? Was Robertson’s answer compassionate or cruel?