Pat Robertson versus Robertson McQuilkin on Alzheimer’s and Marriage
Pat Robertson has said something so stunning, so at odds with the Word of God and the heart of our Savior, that when I heard he had said it I thought he had been misunderstood or misrepresented. But listen for yourself:
In contrast to these unbiblical, God-dishonoring, and marriage-undermining comments, I think of another Robertson, Robertson McQuilkin, who I wrote about in If God is Good:
Robertson McQuilkin, at the peak of his career, resigned as president of Columbia Bible College in 1990 to become the full-time caregiver for his wife,Muriel, who had Alzheimer’s. Robertson did this, he said, because Muriel was much happier when he was with her. Years later in a radio interview, Dennis Rainey asked if he had any regrets about the transition from college president to caregiver. McQuilkin said,
I never think about “what if.” I don’t think “what if” is in God’s vocabulary. So I don’t even think about what I might be doing instead of changing her diaper or what I might be doing instead of spending two hours feeding her. It’s the grace of God, I’m sure.
Rainey asked a follow-up question: “But do you ever think about what you may have given up to care for her?” McQuilkin responded,
I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up. Our life is not the way we plot it or plan it.... All along I’ve just accepted whatever assignment the Lord gave me. This was his assignment. I know I’m not supposed to have that kind of reaction, but you asked me, and I have to be honest. I never went to a support group. I had enough of my own burdens without taking on everybody else’s. Sometimes I have accepted an invitation to speak at one of these. A lot of angry people. They’re angry at God for letting this happen—“Why me?” They’re angry at the one they care for, and then they feel guilty about it because they can’t explain why they’re angry at them.... I say, in acceptance there’s peace.
Let me close with a statement from our friend Joni Eareckson Tada, who, as usual knows what to say, and as a disabled person says it with particular insight:
A Statement by Joni Eareckson Tada on Pat Robertson's comment on Divorce and Alzheimer's
“Any marriage has its challenges, but add a serious disability and they can, at times, seem overwhelming. This is why God instituted marriage as a lifelong commitment – Heaven knows it requires vows, solemn and serious, to weather a couple through the demands of disability."
“I was dismayed when this week Pat Robertson said to a nationwide audience that Alzheimer's disease is a kind of death that makes divorce justifiable. When a Christian leader views marriage on a sliding scale, what does this say to the millions of couples who must deal daily with catastrophic injuries and illnesses?"
“At the Joni and Friends International Disability Center, we encounter thousands of couples who, despite living with serious disabling conditions, showcase the grace of God in their weakness every day. Marriage is designed to be a picture of God’s sacrificial love for us. Alzheimer’s disease is never an ‘accident’ in a marriage; it falls under the purview of God’s sovereignty. In the case of someone with Alzheimer's, this means God's unconditional and sacrificial love has an opportunity to be even more gloriously displayed in a life together!”