Pat Robertson says disease is acceptable grounds for divorce

According to, Evangelist Pat Robertson stated on his television show 700 Club yesterday that it’s okay for a man to divorce his wife if she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. His statement was in response to a viewer’s question about a friend who had begun dating another woman because his wife had Alzheimer’s.

Pat Robertson Says Divorce Okay if Spouse has Alzheimer's | Liveblog | Christianity Today

Pat Robertson Says Divorce Okay if Spouse has Alzheimer’s | Liveblog | Christianity Today  Co-host Terry Meeuwsen asked Pat, “But isn’t that the vow that we take when we marry someone? That it’s For better or for worse. For richer or poorer?”Robertson said that the viewer’s friend could obey this vow of “death till you part” because the disease was a “kind of death.” Robertson said he would understand if someone started another relationship out of a need for companionship.

Mr. Robertson’s own co-host didn’t seem comfortable with his remarks.

This is a sad commentary about the state of Western Christianity in our postmodern culture. The church is increasingly being shaped by the relative morality of the world around us.

Mr. Robertson has essentially declared that figurative death releases husband and wife from the bonds of marriage. Following his line of reasoning, one could easily justify homosexual “marriage” on the grounds that one partner is figuratively a husband and the other is figuratively a wife. And there could be many other examples of such figurative interpretations of Bible passages that are clearly prohibitive of divorce or that require lifelong committed marriage.

We see in Ephesians 5 that marriage is to reflect the love that Christ has for his church (particularly in Ephesians 5:25, which says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”). Christ sacrificed his own body for the sake of his bride the church. He condescended from his heavenly throne to become a man of low estate so that he might win his bride. He sacrificed himself so that the church might know his love. The Scriptures admonish husbands to love their wives in the same way so that they may exhibit to the world an example of Christ’s love for his church.

If a man divorces his wife because she contracts a disease, what example is he giving the world about Christ’s love? Sadly, he is suggesting to the world that Christ will forsake us in our moment of need, of vulnerability, of impotence. This is contrary to all that the Scriptures tell us about the love of Christ. The Lord is faithful and will never forsake us. Christ sacrificed himself for us even when he knew we were diseased with sin and incapable of healing ourselves, when we didn’t realize his identity as Savior and Lord of the universe.

Thanks be to God that he did not forsake us when we were incapable of knowing who he is, when we were incapable of providing companionship to him, when we were incapacitated by the wickedness of our hearts.

This article is part 8 of 12 in the series Ugly Church Stuff.

Posted by Daniel J. Sparks

Anglican minister, teacher, speaker, and writer.

9 thoughts on “Pat Robertson says disease is acceptable grounds for divorce”

  1. Well everyone it’s obvious that Pat Robertson has contracted Altzeimers. He has obviously forgotten all the teachings of Christ and the bible.

  2. Diana, it’s truly sad. I’ve never completely agreed with him on things, though I’ve appreciated many things he’s said and done. However, I think it’s clear that his remarks about this topic are motivated by something other than Scripture. It seems he’s speaking from the same relativist viewpoint as the rest of our postmodern culture: “When marriage is tough, I’m justified in quitting.” The Bible teaches the opposite.

    I am thankful that Christ doesn’t do divorce.

  3. The closing paragraph is perfect, God doesn’t forsake us because we don’t know who he is or we become lost. Instead he lights our way on the path back to him. How can we forsake our spouse because they are sick. It makes me sick that first someone could just dump their spouse because it is now a hassle but second that a man who has spent years spreading the word could say that’s ok. Why get married at all if or relationships are so disposable?

  4. Interestingly enough, there are 3 Biblical positions on divorce: 1. Jesus of Nazareth’s which follows the Pharisee Shammai’s hardline position; Moses’ liberal position which follows Yahweh’s command; and the Apostle Paul’s humane position that tries to find a happy medium between the two…perhaps under the influence of the Spirit? There is no real way to choose between the three as to the “Real Bibilical” position. Depending upon your personal dogmatic choices, you will interpret and choose to follow, Christ, God or the Holy Spirit… Is it really righteous to condemn those who follow different divine voices than the one you chose to hear? Really now…

    1. Emyth, it seems that you’re trying to trot out some liberal or atheistic platitudes but are getting your wires crossed on the details. The Bible presents a consistent position on divorce throughout. Even if your suggestion were true–that there are three biblical positions on divorce–none of them sources you refer to suggest that it is acceptable to divorce because of the spouse’s poor health.

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