I remember that back when Pat Robertson made his immensely horrible comments on the Haitian earthquake Jon Stewart did this amazing response to it, pointing out all the great (and Biblical) responses Pat could have made instead. That was one of the clips that got me started watching The Daily Show because I thought it was just such a smart and well thought out response that showed Pat Robertson for the insensitive jerk he was. Apparently not everyone thought so though. In the comments on that clip I was stunned to see many comments along the line of "How dare you criticize God's anointed?", "Pat Robertson is a man of God, shut up about him!", "Pat is a prophet speaking the Words of God, you will be judged for opening your mouth against him!" etc. And I remember thinking "WTF is wrong with you people??" Do you really think this failed apocalyptic prophet, this ghoul who has never found a tragedy so heartbreaking that he couldn't turn it into an opportunity to take cheap shots at the groups he dislikes, this horrible, cruel, self righteous old man - you think he is God's anointed prophet?! How ugly would your God have to be for that to be true? How damaged would you have to be to actually buy into such a claim?
Long story short, I try to avoid Pat Robertson because he's really bad for my blood pressure. But now he's gone and said something else that I simply can't ignore:
So if your wife has Alzheimer's disease, consider her dead, consider your commitment to your marriage vows done and go find yourself someone else. Just be nice about it and at least dump your spouse at a care facility first - just dumping them on the street just wouldn't be Christian after all!
Lest you think I'm upset just for the sake of dogma or ideology, I'm not. I am all too familiar with the horror that is Alzheimers. My grandmother, the only one I ever knew and who I loved dearly, had Alzheimers and it was hell. It's not like most bad diseases where someone gets it, gets worse, dies and then everyone gets to mourn and move on. No with this hellish disease you get to watch for years how someone you love turns into someone who doesn't even know who you are. I've never lived through anything worse. So I get how hard it is, I understand fully just how badly one wants to escape from it. But I would never agree that it would be OK to forget about them and move on as if they are already dead.
See, her illness was hard for me - it was hard for everyone in the family - but no one suffered due to it like my grandfather. I just had breakfast with him last week, he turned 93 and the man is still as sharp as a tack. I can't even begin to imagine how it must have felt for him to watch his wife of about 50 years slowly deteriorate day after day until there was nothing left of the woman he married. I can't even conceive of that kind of pain. Here's the thing, he never bailed on her. He stayed with her, taking care of her all day and every day until the day she died. Just by doing that, my grandfather taught me more about what it means to be a real man and far more about what the term "sanctity of marriage" means than every lecture, book, sermon and talk I've heard on the subject my whole life.
A real man, doesn't take the easy way out. A real man stands by his loved ones until the very end no matter what. Marriage vows mean something. Phrases like "in sickness and health" and "for better or for worse" are not just idle words, if you speak them you better mean them. The vow you make is the vow you live by.
I don't think anyone ever called my grandpa an "anointed man of God" but I have to say, I think he is a million times the man Pat Robertson is. If I can live to be half the man my grandfather is I would not have wasted my life.