In last Friday’s post, I contrasted Robertson McQuilkin’s dedication to care for his wife Muriel, stricken with Alzheimer’s, to Pat Robertson’s cruel answer to a question regarding a man having an affair that if he’s going to do anything, he should divorce his wife who has Alzheimer’s. When asked by his co-host about marriage vows till death do us part, Pat Robertson said that essentially, since she already had Alzheimer’s, the wife was already dead.
I remember listening years ago to McQuilkin’s announcement of his retirement from being president of Columbia Bible College, to care for his wife. Here’s the audio with some pictures. I find it very touching and Christ-honoring, and it is a refreshing contrast to the ugliness reflected in Pat Robertson’s statement.
We are the bride of Christ. And the way we behave toward Him is often forgetful and disrespectful. But He does not abandon us. He goes right on carrying for us. The marriage of a man and woman is to reflect the gospel of Christ, His love for His people (Ephesians 5). That reality was conspicuously absent in Pat Robertson’s comments.
There were a number of comments on my Friday blog in relation to Pat Robertson’s words, but we also linked to the blog from my main Facebook page. On Facebook we received over 125 responses, a number of them claiming it was inappropriate to “judge” Pat Robertson or criticize him publicly for his comments rather than speaking with him privately or just praying for him. Since relatively few readers would have seen my response to that thread, I am including a slightly revised version of it below, because I think it is worth stating to those finding fault with the criticisms of Pat Robertson.
When Christian leaders, who someone has no private access to, make public statements that aren’t minor or secondary errors but which undercut something as basic as the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage, it is not only appropriate but necessary to speak up.
The “judge not, just pray” approach some have advocated in the comments sounds virtuous. But in fact either what Pat Robertson said—heard now by 10s of millions of people in the network prime time news broadcasts—was true or it was not. It was either important or not. If it dishonored Christ, then my first obligation is to defend the truth of Jesus, not to defend the man who spoke a cruel and terrible untruth.
I am all for praying for Pat Robertson, and I have prayed for him. I have also prayed for those around him that they will step up and correct him and refuse to go along with this and other unbiblical statements he makes, even if it means losing their jobs. This is the loving thing to do for everyone, including Pat, because as Jesus said “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36).
To not speak up against what Robertson falsely spoke as a so-called representative of Christ would be, in my opinion, moral cowardice. I speak against a brother’s words only with great sadness, but the alternative of silence is unacceptable, because silence connotes approval. And if by our silence we approve of the notion of a man divorcing his wife because she becomes mentally disabled, then God help the church.
Christians who care little about keeping sacred vows “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part” have nothing to offer the world or each other.
Finally, if you want to see a Christian leader address this whole mess in a biblical and Christ-honoring way, see this interview with Russell Moore on CNN.