The marriage vows may say “for better or for worse” and “in sickness and in health,” but Rev. Pat Robertson told his “700 Club” viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is just fine. Robertson says that the vows say “until death do us part” and Alzheimer’s should be viewed as a type of death.
Robertson was asked on this television program for advice for a friend whose wife has started suffering from Alzheimer’s and has started to see another woman. Robertson responded “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.”
When he was reminded of that vows concerning “for better or for worse” and “until death do us part,” Robertson explained “If you respect that vow, you say ’til death do us part.’ This is a kind of death.”
I have always been fascinating by these programs with Muslim or Jewish or Christian figures dispensing advise to the faithful. No one ever asks, “are you just making this stuff up as you go along?” This seems a pretty massive change in the plain meaning of those vows. I hate to lawyer the language, but what is the basis for this new interpretation that the term “death” extends beyond the obvious meaning of the end of life and can include constructive death. It brings a new meaning to the phrase “you are dead to me.”