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Having mentioned this passage in my message yesterday, I thought it wise to further make clear my position on the content of Pat Robertson’s response. First, let me make clear as I did yesterday that this type of quote should not be a surprise even coming from a Christian broadcaster like Mr. Robertson. Whenever we are confronted with the reality that Jesus demands total surrender of all our selfish desires we face a hard decision. Either we can surrender and follow Christ or we can selfishly have nothing to do with such a tyrant. The herdsman of Matthew 8:28-34 clearly wanted nothing to do with Jesus because of what he had cost them and what they feared he would cost them. When it comes to care for a spouse with debilitating disease many who call themselves Christians want the same type of out.
Secondly, Mr.Robertson’s comment hurts the pro-life stance and argument made by the majority of the evangelical community. Those who believe all human life is sacred understand that God has formed human by “knitting” together his physical being with the immaterial person-hood miraculously in the womb as Psalm 139:13-16 proclaims. Thus it is God’s prerogative to take life, a fact affirmed by Job after hearing of the loss of his children in Job 1. These Scriptural insights concerning person-hood are fresh in my mind after reading John Piper’s chapter calling for pastors to speak out for the unborn in Brothers We Are Not Professionals. Just as loudly though, we must cry out for those created equally in God’s image, but afflicted with debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. Mr. Robertson’s comments basically asserts that person-hood cannot be assigned to a human being after the onset of Alzheimer’s. Thus the norms we associate with persons no longer apply to Alzheimer’s patients. Though accountability may not be present as it once was and cognition may be impaired, if we make this sort of claim of Alzheimer’s patients over against the Scriptural truth how long will it be before we claim the same loss of person-hood for the unborn, the infants, or the handicapped.
Thirdly, and perhaps the most hurtful, is the way Mr. Robertson’s comments denigrate the biblical picture of the marriage. God’s revealed intention of marriage stated in Ephesians 5:22-33 is best represented by the nature of Christ’s relationship with his church. A husband is supposed to be like Christ giving of self to his bride; not giving a divorce when the bride doesn’t live up to his expectation. By make divorce permissible when someone is marred or injured by disease is to affirm that Christ divorces his church if she is broken and sinful. This simply is not so. If we look to Christ’s great love for the church, even when she is not ideal, we understand that he gives great attention to her care and provision through the cross. Similarly wives, in the same manner that the church gives herself to respecting and submitting to Christ, should give themselves to respecting and submitting themselves to the needs of their husbands even when they have debilitating diseases.
This is the hard road, one fraught with weakness and distress. Even so it is this road that testifies to Christ who never leaves nor forsakes us. Let us plead with Christ for help as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 so that he might remind us that when we are weak he is strong.