Christian Television personality Pat Roberston has created another firestorm of controversy. He did so while responding to a viewer's question about if it was okay for a man to date another woman while his wife was struggling with Alzheimer's disease.
Robertson's advice: "He should divorce her and start all over again." While he agreed that this was a difficult moral choice, he was hesitant about putting someone on a guilt trip for making a decision like that. You can see more of what he said on an ABC news report found here.
While I am tempted to make comments about Robertson's tendency to put his foot in his mouth, I won't do that here. (It seems that everyone else is.) I don't think Robertson is an evil man...just a bit too past his prime to be "winging it" and making off-the-cuff statements before thinking them through. I predict that his ministry will release a "clarification statement" as sort of an apology for what he said. This is what usually happens.
What concerns me is how prevalent Robertson's perspective is in the Church. While he said something that is specifically offensive to families of Alzheimer's patients, his comments capture the general philosophy that permeates so much of the body today. It might sound like this:
"God's Word and God's will can be trusted...most of the time. Sure, we should follow the principles and truths that God gives us in scripture, but there are some situations when it is okay to ignore them. Really committed Christians are zealously devoted to strict obedience to God, but most of us regular people have to use our best judgement to identify those situations when the scripture doesn't apply."
I call this "Yeah, but" Christianity. You subtly hear it when a Christian is rationalizing a decision that just about every believer around them is saying is Biblically wrong.
It looks like this: "God says to be forever faithful to your spouse? Yeah, but my situation is unique.
"Yeah, but she is very sick."
Or: "Yeah, but he is very mean."
Or: "Yeah, but I don't feel like I love her any more."
We adjust what God said to match our own opinions or experience. And it is usually done in the name of our own happiness, comfort, or convenience. But what it really shows is our own arrogance and pride.
It is the ultimate in arrogance to say to the God who created us "I know better than You what is best for me. You can be trusted with the majority of my life; but not this part. I must ignore your clearly defined will for me in order to experience the life that I have planned for myself."
When will God's children finally learn the lesson He has been trying to teach us since the fall of man? Obedience to God results in blessings. Disobedience results in suffering. No matter how difficult the path that God has for us, we can trust that He is with us. We can trust that he is always true to His Word. We can trust that He knows what He is doing.
And it is not our place to pick and choose when He is right and when He is wrong.
If our ultimate goal is to glorify God in our lives (and it should be), then choosing to do some difficult things may be the best way to show the world Who He is. Following Pat Robertson's advice may get a man some companionship, but it won't get God much glory.
For a very encouraging anti-version of Pat Robertson's perspective, read the story of Robertson McQuilkin as reported in Christianity Today back in 2004. God is honored in a big way through this one man's faithfulness. Keep the tissues close.