Recently Pat Robertson told his 700 Club viewers that he would not fault someone who divorced their spouse who had dementia. Most Christians shake their head at just another Pat Robertson statement. Many Christians probably worry about the perception of skeptics who might use Robertson as a reason to discredit the faith. I debated whether to even comment. I recently asked him to be quiet, so why comment again? Well, thanks to my friend, and blog post motivator, Josh Wood who not only sent me the link above to the Yahoo! report on Robertson, he sent me a post that linked to this eloquent response from Russell Moore. Here is a large piece of his post:
Marriage, the Scripture tells us, is an icon of something deeper, more ancient, more mysterious. The marriage union is a sign, the Apostle Paul announces, of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband, then, is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). This love is defined not as the hormonal surge of romance but as a self-sacrificial crucifixion of self. The husband pictures Christ when he loves his wife by giving himself up for her.
At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.
The Bride of Christ fled his side, and went back to their old ways of life. When Jesus came to them after the resurrection, the church was about the very thing they were doing when Jesus found them in the first place: out on the boats with their nets. Jesus didn’t leave. He stood by his words, stood by his Bride, even to the Place of the Skull, and beyond.
A woman or a man with Alzheimer’s can’t do anything for you. There’s no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That’s just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn’t “useful” anymore.
Pat Robertson’s cruel marriage statement is no anomaly. He and his cohorts have given us for years a prosperity gospel with more in common with an Asherah pole than a cross. They have given us a politicized Christianity that uses churches to “mobilize” voters rather than to stand prophetically outside the power structures as a witness for the gospel.
But Jesus didn’t die for a Christian Coalition; he died for a church. And the church, across the ages, isn’t significant because of her size or influence. She is weak, helpless, and spattered in blood. He is faithful to us anyway.
If our churches are to survive, we must repudiate this Canaanite mammonocracy that so often speaks for us. But, beyond that, we must train up a new generation to see the gospel embedded in fidelity, a fidelity that is cruciform.
It’s easy to teach couples to put the “spark” back in their marriages, to put the “sizzle” back in their sex lives. You can still worship the self and want all that. But that’s not what love is. Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Love is drowning in your own blood. Love is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”
Sadly, many of our neighbors assume that when they hear the parade of cartoon characters we allow to speak for us, that they are hearing the gospel. They assume that when they see the giggling evangelist on the television screen, that they see Jesus. They assume that when they see the stadium political rallies to “take back America for Christ,” that they see Jesus. But Jesus isn’t there.
Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.
But the gospel is there. Jesus is there.
You might want to take a look at my response thread at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2011/09/15/pat-robertoson-divorce-alzheimers-a-bad-step-away-from-fundamentalism/
I agree with the sentiment that, perhaps, Robertson overstepped his bounds… but others have thought “Perhaps this was his first clumsy foray into graciousness in a rough situation” and I tend to agree that, perhaps, we should ask him what he intended rather than standing off at a distance and firing shots at him… I see this criticism of Robertson similar to criticism of Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” book… Christians LOVE to rip apart other Christians when they do something outlandish… Shouldn’t we exemplify a different way?
I think the outrage over Rob Bell’s heresy was appropriate. Ditto Robertson’s ridiculous remarks. You don’t demonstrate grace by condoning sin – that’s the definition of cruelty.
Did you read Bell’s book? Are you inside Robertson’s head? Have you called Robertson, privately, to ask him what he meant (reference Matthew 18)?
That’s the problem with publicly expressed outrage among Christians… we complain about Robertson being a bad image for Christians… but is the infighting any better? Rather than crucifying him in the public media, how about we actually try and live differently than the rest of the world?