By Dillon Burroughs
According to an MSNBC article released today, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson told his “700 Club” viewers that divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s is justifiable because the disease is “a kind of death.” Is this what the Bible teaches?
A comprehensive look at the Bible makes clear that there is not a single incident in which a person is given permission to divorce a spouse due to a mental illness (or any illness). Robertson’s claim that Alzheimer’s is “a kind of death” cannot be justified, since even he would argue that life is created the God’s image and is of infinite value to God. If so, there is no exception for divorce due to a person’s physical status.
A person married to a spouse with a mental health illness may certainly struggle with whether to stay together. In some cases, the person with the mental illness may leave, abandon the relationship, or initiate a divorce themselves. In those cases, Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:15-16 could apply, since the person is acting as an unbeliever would. However, this is closest the Bible comes to affirming divorce in such a case.
When a Christian leader waivers on the issue of what the Bible says on divorce, especially by referring to a mental issue as a kind of death, Christians must be encouraged to stand for what the Bible does teach, affirm a biblical view of marriage, and pray for those in difficult marriage situations. According to God, marriage is sacred and intended as a life-long partnership between a man and a woman. May we continue to honor and affirm his view in this important area of life and society.