Should You Divorce Someone with Alzheimer’s?

Weeks ago, Pat Robertson said something that shocked me (even for Pat).  He said that it was acceptable for someone to divorce his or her spouse if they developed Alzheimer’s since it was a “kind of death.”  It flabbergasted me.  Not only was it an offense to marriage, it was an offense to the gospel.

And it also reminded me of another Robertson that knew something about this topic.

Robertson McQuilken was experiencing his dreams. Serving as President of the Columbia International University, he was training and equipping ministers that were serving all over the world. When his wife, Muriel, displayed signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, Robertson had a choice to make. Many encouraged him to send Muriel to a home because he really could not help her. That way, he could continue to follow God and the calling on his life. At night, he would often get her ready for bed to discover that her bloodied feet had traveled back and forth the road to the school anxious to be reunited with him.

His choice was simple. The following is some of what McQuilken stated in his resignation speech to the school:

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True Love (In Sickness and in Health)

mcquilkinOn this Valentine’s Day, I want to introduce you to one of my heroes.  I’ve never bet Robertson McQuilken, but his life has had a huge impact upon me.

Robertson and his wife, Muriel, were married in 1949.  As a young missionary couple, they spent 12 years in Japan before returning to the United States.  He became the  president of Columbia International University in 1968.  In the early 1980s, his wife Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Through the gradual worsening of his wife’s condition, he eventually decided to resign from his post as president in 1990 to care for his wife full time.  This video is a brief summary of Robertson’s love for his wife, concluding with an excerpt of his resignation speech before the student body at Columbia.

It’s one thing to make a vow on a wedding day saying, “In sickness and in health”, but it’s another thing to keep that vow when it’s put to the test by something like Alzheimer’s disease.  I don’t know what your picture of love is on this Valentine’s Day, but it’s more than cards, flowers, chocolates, and physical attraction.  Maybe it’s something like that:

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