Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Open Letter to The Rev. Pat Robertson from a Man Who Once Was Dead

Dear Mr. Roberston,

I am writing to you as a fellow pastor and as a divorced man. I take umbrage at your remarks suggesting that since Alzheimer's is a 'kind of death' and that as such it is reasonable to divorce the spouse provided there is custodial care. Enough has been said about the vows we make in sickness and health til death do us part. So the part I find troubling is when do we die? I am divorced because a few years ago I was diagnosed with depression. My now ex-wife told me all the cliches from "snap out of it" to "You choose to be depressed." Anyone who has suffered from clinical depression knows no one chooses it. And before you say there is a difference between Alzheimer's and depression, let me remind you, that not only does the body hurt in depression, but suicidal ideologies come with the mix. So, with my desire to kill myself, am I dead already?

The good news about my depression is that by the grace of God I came out of the darkness that I was in. God put faithful people in my life to confront me and help me. Unfortunately, my wife was not one of them. My wife sued me for divorce as I was too broken. I did not counter sue as I see divorce as a sin. God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:15-17) Jesus only gave sexual immorality as grounds to divorce (Mt. 5:32) and St. Paul said that only an unbelieving spouse can divorce a believing spouse, not the other way around. ( 1 Cor. 7:10-16) This all may sound legalistic, but Jesus reminds the Pharisees that letters of divorce were permissible because of the hardness of our hearts. (Mt. 19:8) It is for this hardness of heart that Jesus died on the cross.

On your program, watched by millions I image, you had an opportunity to teach what the sacramental nature of marriage is, as well as Christ's teaching and the nature of sinful man, a nature that is impatient, selfish, and in need to have a heart regenerated by God Himself. This is what pastors do! We are not called to make excuses for man's sin.

I do not know the circumstances of this man who is 'dating' while his wife suffers. But a financial trust cannot offer affection to a person whose body is broken and in need of a human's touch. Alzheimer patients respond to external stimuli and the presence of another would remind the suffering that Jesus is there, too. When my mother's cancer went into her brain causing her to be unresponsive, I did not stop my visits to the hospice, but came regularly, reading Scripture, saying prayers, saying to her all that she meant to me. I know what it is like to be left alone broken and suffering. Where were the disciples when Jesus was left alone broken and suffering in the Garden and on the Cross. Is it no wonder that it was the women, powerless in their day totally dependent on men for their welfare (see The Book of Ruth) could watch as He suffered. But He suffered because we all need a redeemer. Our hearts need to be pierced. (Acts 2:37-41)

Mr. Robertson, please think upon the responsibilities God has given you and understand that we all need to see our self-serving, sinful nature. Please remember that as pastors we are to shepherd people to the cross to understand why Jesus died there. And if you have forgotten, then I will remind you. He died so that we may have life eternal. Not because we deserve it but because we cannot due to the hardness of our heart! When we can see Jesus bleeding where we should be, we understand what grace is all about and are freed from a life of sin becoming slaves of righteousness. (Rom. 6:15-23)

Your brother in Christ

Allen Peyton+