Pat Robertson: Divorce an option for Alzheimer’s patients’ spouses (Video)

Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told his viewers that in certain cases, a man can divorce his wife if she has … Continued

Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told his viewers that in certain cases, a man can divorce his wife if she has Alzheimer’s disease.

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?


Elizabeth Tenety Elizabeth Tenety is the former editor of On Faith, where she produced "Divine Impulses," On Faith’s video interview series. She studied Theology and Government at Georgetown University and received her master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. A New York native, Elizabeth grew up in the home of Catholic news junkies where, somewhere in between watching the nightly news and participating in parish life, she learned to ponder both the superficial and the sacred.
  • cassandra9

    What he’s saying is that Alzheimer’s is effectively the death of one partner or the death of the marriage and lets the surviving partner out as regards the prohibition against divorce. But it’s a slippery slope and defies the oath “in sickness and in health.” Once you say Alzheimer’s is a moral free pass for divorce, what other degenerative brain diseases join the list? And then what other diseases and disabilities?

  • knjincvc

    Robertson is losing it.

  • splashy8

    This is a common attitude of right wing men, that when women outlive their usefulness to the men they should be discarded in favor of a younger woman. The women are interchangeable, not someone you really love.

    That’s why they are fine with forcing them to give birth. It’s about what women can do for men, not what’s good for the women.


    Anyone cruel enough to leave their spouse because they got Alzheimer’s deserves to be strapped to a chair and forced to watch Pat Robertson’s show.

  • sarahabc

    So much for “in sickness and in health.”

    The only people I’ve heard of divorcing their Alz spouse was if the spouse were in a coma (which can happen in stage 7) and it was the only way to afford the nursing home while still maintaining a residence for the other. Perhaps unethical, but a decision made out of desperation to get care for the spouse, not just because someone thought they could do better with the next significant other.

    Boo, shame on Robertson. Again. Why do we keep listening to this guy?

  • Absoroka

    What ever happned to “until death do you part”?
    The person with Aizheimers has my sympathy, not because of the disease but the total depraved indifferent of the spouse. Mr. Robertson needs to retire.

  • sealogic

    Robertson never misses a beat when it comes to outrageous. And don’t forget to keep those “love” checks flowing in. Jet fuel is expensive these days, you know.

  • jaction3

    Forget this Fool

  • Gracefulboomer

    Isn’t this the same Terry Schiavo crowd?
    How many ways can the wing nuts spell hypocrite?

  • Montrose80

    He needs to retire.

  • sutherland5

    Wow, why not use your life verse: “I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me”? Would he have said the same thing to a woman? So, til death do us part, is only when things get really rough? How about someone who is suffering from cancer, lost their hair, body swells up. They are not the same person. Or just someone who gained a lot or lost a lot of weight. No one is the same person that you married. Pat R is wrong so many times over with this comment that it isn’t funny. What a lousy way to honor the wife, dump her when things go bad. I hope the husband enjoys his new gal, with Pat’s blessing! You are right, look out Mrs. R.

  • dhdulk

    I truly hope the Mr Robertson never develops an extreme health issue or his wife/family may just kid his b— to the curb and look for a man with some sense.

    For a preacher, you really have some major issues………….

  • Famareus

    I lost my Mother to Alzeimers, she didn’t know any of us…It is so sad.
    You are not an Authority on Alzeimers, nor are you a medical Doctor, nor
    are you for real.
    Are you having symptons?

  • chenzo

    Maybe it’s an option for him but it’s not an option for Christians.

  • Famareus

    Uncle _Slam….I agree with you.. maybe they can watch Jerry Fallwell And Pat Robertson, etc.

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