The host of the popular “700 Club” Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) television show recently stirred up a bit of controversy when he gave advice that seemed to approve of divorcing one’s spouse if they get Alzheimer’s. However, the well-known evangelical host, Pat Robertson, later backed down from his position a bit and stated that what he said was “misinterpreted.” Robertson said “I want to say I envy the Catholic priest, because when they have someone in confession its all kept secret, when I have somebody asking me for advice, it spreads and it gets misunderstood.”
The incident stemmed from a viewer’s request for Robertson’s advice on a friend who had a wife suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The viewer, identified only as Andreas, wrote to CBN and said “My friend has gotten bitter at God for allowing his wife to be in that condition, and now he’s started seeing another woman. He says that he should be allowed to see other people because his wife as he knows her is gone.”
The trouble started when Robertson advised the husband to “divorce her and start all over again.” He also said that the husband should make sure that his wife’s custodial care was taken care of but to consult an ethicist for further consultation. Later the CBN founder explained that his advice was not meant for general use and was only for the specific viewer and question that was asked. “Basically I’m saying, adultery is not a good thing and you might as well straighten your life out and the only way to do it is to kind of get your affair with your wife in order,” Robertson said.
Robertson then explained that he loves his wife love and both have supported each other through their various illnesses and that this kind of behavior should always be expected because that’s the way it should be. “I was not giving advice to the whole world and nor was I counseling anybody to be unscriptural and leave their spouse,” added Robertson. His co-host Terry Meeuwsen pointed out that Robertson and his wife have had close friends affected by Alzheimer’s and they know the pain that the caretaker spouse experiences.
Robertson concluded his amended advice by saying, “Please know that I believe the Bible. Please know that I never would tell anybody to leave their sick spouse. I never would say such a thing because I need my spouse when I get sick and she needs me when she gets sick, in sickness and in health, I believe it!”