By Jeff Girod
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his 700 Club viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is justifiable because the disease is “a kind of death.” Here’s another kind of death: Being a semi-respected preacher with a multimillion-dollar media empire, then going on TV and talking crazy out of your ass.
During a question-and-answer portion of his weekly Christian program, the reverend and one-time Republican presidential candidate was asked what advice he would give someone who started dating another woman after his wife began suffering from Alzheimer’s, the incurable neurological disorder.
“I know it sounds cruel,” Robertson said, “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.”
So-o-o-o Pat, what about the whole vows thing . . . “for better for worse” and “in sickness and in health”? Seems like Alzheimer’s might be a tad more serious than, say the flu.
And that’s when Robertson uttered the phrase that will inevitably be chiseled on stone tablets throughout the Holy Land. Or as I like to call it, Pat’s Eleventh Commandment: Said Robertson, “If you respect that vow, you say ‘til death do us part.’ This is a kind of death.”
So let it be written! (Maybe someone should check Pat Robertson for Alzheimer’s.)
But as long as we’re throwing loopholes into the marriage vows, I have a few others I’d like considered as “kinds of death”: Stretch marks, back fat, front fat, side fat, ear hair, nose hair, saggy arms, old man nose, farting, in-laws who were not accurately disclosed prior to the wedding, any spouse who secretly collects Hummels; and, of course, meeting somebody hotter, younger, more fun, funnier, smarter, dumber, wealthier, tanner, or who “just gets me, you know?”
Heck, why get married at all? Right, Pat? I mean, we’re all just wandering around feeling dead inside anyway. Most of the time I can’t remember where I parked my car or if I’ve shampooed my hair. Hey maybe we all have a teensy touch of the Alzheimer’s.
And here’s the thing about TV preachers, or for that matter, any public figure: You shouldn’t tell people what you’re thinking. Never. Not ever. And if you’re Pat Robertson, you can’t go on TV and tell the good Christians of the 700 Club to divorce their sick and dying spouses so they can get their Jesus-y freak on. You can’t—because not even God can put a positive spin on it.
Robertson is supposed to say, “Stand by your spouse, come hell or high water. Amen. Let’s eat.” Then everybody thinks: Boy howdy, that Pat Robertson, he’s a standup guy. Then, once the TV cameras are off, if Pat wants to lock his comatose wife in a broom closet while he and three underage Latvian hookers have a tickle party, well, that’s one he can justify later with a quick ride to the desert and another “kind of death.” (Look, if Pat Robertson can justify abandoning a suffering elderly spouse with Alzheimer’s, I’m sure he’ll find a way to take the sinning out of murdering three chatty prostitutes.)
Alzheimer’s is most frequent in people older than 65 years old, but it can occur in people much younger. Every person’s marriage is different, but if you’ve been lucky enough to stand by the same man or woman until 65, you’re probably not going to cash that in—not to mention your wealth of shared experiences, your kids and grandkids—when one of you contracts Alzheimer’s.
And if somebody does—hey, whatever. Alzheimer’s is an extremely painful, horrible illness and it’s a personal decision. There’s no judging here.
Well, except for Pat Robertson. I think we can all agree that Pat is entirely batshit crazy. And if he’s not crazy, then he’s just a Grade-A douche bag twisting the teachings of the Bible to do his evil bidding.
More importantly, if I were Pat Robertson’s wife, I’d be careful about accidentally putting the peanut butter in the wrong cabinet or forgetting my car keys. Pat’s liable to get a shovel and bury her alive in the back yard. (At least Pat will have a date for the eulogy.)
Contact Jeff Girod at firstname.lastname@example.org.