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More articles at www.IsraelPalestineDialogue.com about the Gaza conflict.

I will be out in DC on Tuesday and Wednesday

Mike Ghouse
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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TEXAS FAITH: Is it ever right to divorce a spouse with Alzheimers?

Whether it is Pastor Robertson or Imam Mohiuddin, they are in the same garb. What I see is the abuse of one's advisory position and misuse of scriptures. I would expect religious men and women to teach unselfish but rewarding love and loyalty. The Pastor is suggesting exactly what a handful of Muslim Robertsons interpret Sharia to be; to suit their chauvinistic mindset.
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When Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson told a caller on his TV show that a married man dating another woman because his wife was suffering from Alzheimer's "should divorce and start all over," it caused a predictable reaction. Even his co-host reminded Robertson that couples vow to remain together "for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer." But Robertson did not back off: "I hate Alzheimer's. It is one of the most awful things because, here is a loved one, this is the woman or man that you have loved for 20, 30, 40 years, and suddenly, that person is gone. They're gone. They are gone." Alzheimer's, he said, "is a kind of death." And he said he would not put a "guilt trip on someone who divorced for such a reason."

What to make of this? Conservative Christian leaders were swift to condemn Robertson's remarks. But as the New York Times reported, many doctors and patient advocates had a more complex response - some suggesting that he had broached an important subject, how spouses and other family members of dying patients can prevent their lives from being engulfed and start to move on.

How do we reconcile the practical and moral conflicts in Robertson's advice? Is it ever right to divorce a spouse suffering from Alzheimer's? What is the morally acceptable thing for people who develop new relationships while caring for a spouse in the last stages of Alzheimer's?

Our Texas Faith panel weighs in with some provocative, and often surprising, answers on a very difficult issue. 14 Panelists respond including mine: http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/09/texas-faith-is-it-ever-right-t.html

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

Is life all about usefulness of one to the other? Indeed it starts out that way; each one becomes a catalyst and fulfills a need or want of the other. Over the years relationships sustain with mutuality of benefit exchanges, however true love develops reaching it's ultimate in spirituality; loving without a benefit. True love is unconditional and has its own rewards; it's like love of the God.

Neither one of the spouses can remain eternally beneficent to the other in meeting each other's needs as we are bound to face vulnerability. This is what differentiates us from most animals; to stick with the person through thick and thin. Relationships do form in those moments with others who sympathize and understand, however where you take that relationship depends on your own spirituality and morality.

Obviously Pat Robertson does not believe in sacredness of the wedding vows to advocate a married man to divorce and start all over again.


It is a betrayal of one's own sense of morality to divorce a spouse suffering from Alzheimer's for the selfish needs. Most of us are built to feel a sense of guilt, remorse and repentance and not walk away from a non-benefit giving spouse, by extension, would one dump God in distress? What if it was the man, wouldn't the wife stick with him? Didn't Nancy Reagan stick with President Reagan? Betrayal is an exception and not the rule; a majority of people regardless of their faith do not take that option and in turn find their worth in serving the loved one.

When my late wife was unable to do personal chores during her cancer treatment, I volunteered to do it for her; instinctively she refused and was not comfortable, but accepted it on the same argument. Would you do it for me if I were in your shoes? The bonding reward is something I would cherish for a life time and I have discovered hundreds of men and women rejoicing the same.

The Pastor is suggesting exactly what a handful of Muslim Robertsons interpret Sharia to be; to suit their chauvinistic mindset. There is a case going on in New Jersey, where the right of a man to demand sex from his spouse is debated, the guy thinks it is his God given right and uses an in-authentic quote from the Islamic tradition in his defense. On the other extreme a French court fines a man for failing to have sex with his wife while he was married to her for two years. It was calculated at $1.79 per day amounting to $13,200.00 for the services he did not render.

Whether it is Pastor Robertson or Imam Mohiuddin, they are in the same garb. What I see is the abuse of one's advisory position and misuse of scriptures. I would expect religious men and women to teach unselfish but rewarding love and loyalty.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day to the media and the public. He is a speaker thinker and a writer on the topics of pluralism, cohesive societies, Politics, Islam, interfaith, India and Peace. Over a thousand articles have been published on the topics and two of his books are poised to be released on Pluralism and Islam. Mike's work is reflected in 4 website's and 27 Blogs indexed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/ and you can find all of his current articles at www.TheGhousediary.com

1 comment:

  1. Regardless of religious affiliation, there is an urgent need for each of us to reflect upon the concept of "selfless" love in these horribly selfish times. We must not hide behind relativism in an attempt to excuse our inexcusable behavior.

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