The Gospel-Emptying Cruelty of Pat Robertson
Sometimes I think the category of “righteous anger” was created to respond to people like Pat Robertson.
His latest cringe-inducing statement is that a man should divorce his wife suffering with Alzheimer’s disease and “start all over again” if he is lonely and in need of companionship. When asked about the vow “to death due us part,” Robertson responded that “if you respect that vow,” then Alzheimer’s can be viewed as “a kind of a death.”
The best counsel is usually to ignore Robertson. But when a professing Christian says such cruel and worldly things, it also presents an opportunity to reexamine gospel truth afresh. In that regard Russell Moore has provided a wonderful service for us. He rightly writes that Robertson’s statement “is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
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.
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