Divorce and Alzheimer's

  • By: Joni and Friends
  • Sept. 15, 2011
  • In the Media

A Statement by Joni Eareckson Tada on Pat Robertson's comment on Divorce and Alzheimer's

“Any marriage has its challenges, but add a serious disability and they can, at times, seem overwhelming. This is why God instituted marriage as a lifelong commitment – Heaven knows it requires vows, solemn and serious, to weather a couple through the demands of disability."

“I was dismayed when this week Pat Robertson said to a nationwide audience that Alzheimer's disease is a kind of death that makes divorce justifiable. When a Christian leader views marriage on a sliding scale, what does this say to the millions of couples who must deal daily with catastrophic injuries and illnesses?"

“At the Joni and Friends International Disability Center, we encounter thousands of couples who, despite living with serious disabling conditions, showcase the grace of God in their weakness every day. Marriage is designed to be a picture of God’s sacrificial love for us. Alzheimer’s disease is never an ‘accident’ in a marriage; it falls under the purview of God’s sovereignty. In the case of someone with Alzheimer's, this means God's unconditional and sacrificial love has an opportunity to be even more gloriously displayed in a life together!”


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Marriage is a sacred relationship of three, two divine creations of God and The Creator, himself. Therefore, I only wanted His blessing in a wife provided for me. I met a uniquely, special woman and for seven long, introspective years I searched for His confirmation she was my eternal mate. When I wed the beautiful bride God provided me, I knew beyond any human doubt she was delivered to me, non-stop from heaven itself. We have both considered our marriage vows sacred and lifelong, for better or worse. Over the short 36 years I have known this heavenly creature, only Godly, unconditional and sacrificial love have flowed from her heart and I praise God everyday I may witness His great love for me through her. 36 months ago I experienced a severe hemorrhagic bleeds that caused me to stroke. Each day, since that fateful morning, I have witnessed God's provision through her. She has gracefully attended my needs since that day with loving compassion, only through His loving provision.
  • Oct. 8, 2011
  • 11:45 a.m.
  • Karl Orellana
Thank you for speaking out about this subject, Joni. As a former geriatric social worker I worked very closely with both residents and families of people dealing with Alzheimer's and dementia on a daily basis. It was very touching to watch spouses of Alzheimer's residents visit, feed, and show unconditional love to their mates. What ever happened to "in sickness and in health till death do us part"? I am very saddened by Pat Robertson's comments and I pray the Lord will give him insight and a right perspective on this matter.
  • Sept. 28, 2011
  • 10:02 a.m.
  • Patti Finocchiaro
I agree with you,Joni. I am disabled with MS. My condition is not as bad as paralysis or alzheimer's, but I daily thank my husband and my Lord Jesus Christ for their continued love and devotion. I know I am a constant burdenn to my husband. But we both know that divorce because of illness was not in our vows. Additional assistance for a caregiver is often essential, unconditional love does not include divorce. Only infidelity and abuse are acceptable reasons for divorce. Even those circumstances can be healed if both parties are willing.
  • Sept. 27, 2011
  • 9:49 p.m.
  • Nancy Tapsfield
I have been so very blessed by your testimony of God's grace through the years of your paralysis, cancer and now intense pain. I pray for you and for Ken. You have taught me much in my Christian walk, and I thank God for allowing you to impact so many lives, including mine! I appreciate so much your comments regarding Pat Robertson's comments about divorce and alzheimers.
  • Sept. 26, 2011
  • 8:25 p.m.
  • Linda Harris
I really appreciate you Joni! As a little girl I sang along with Wheels and now my daughter does too (thanks to the DVD you sent me!) It seems very appropriate that the person I drew so much strength from today is someone I have been looking up to and admiring since I was a child; someone who taught me to have an attitude of gratitude... You see, while my husband and I don't have a disability to deal with, my husband is bipolar. You would not believe the number of people who have tried to justify my leaving him over our last 7 years of marriage because of this disorder. Although the issue you were discussing is much more difficult to live with on a daily basis, living with a bipolar man is very difficult and there are days when I feel completely ill equipped and just want to run and hide. But, as you said, God's grace is sufficient for our marriage and He continues to bless our life together and give us both the patience and strength to make a happy life together, glorifying God and keeping our chins up. Thank you for your words today, they meant a lot to me.
  • Sept. 26, 2011
  • 1:06 p.m.
  • Amber
My husband and I have been married for over 35 years!! These last 3 years,I have been mostly in bed. My relation with my husband is even more sweeter than ever. We love each other not because of what we do or give to one anther,but what God is doing in spite of us. Keep your faith up Aster
  • Sept. 21, 2011
  • 3:56 p.m.
  • Aster Dibaba
17 of the 38 years I was married to my beautiful bride were lived within the encroaching shadow of early onset Alzheimer's disease. I can attest to the all-sufficient love and grace of the Savior in supplying whatever I needed to sacrificially love and care for my wife throughout our course and to do it with joy. Incredibly, as the disease progressed and the difficulties of care giving increased, God increased our love and devotion for each other and for Himself. Scripture says "Husbands love your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her". Divorce tragically misses the immense blessing of that command.
  • Sept. 20, 2011
  • 9:58 a.m.
  • Scott Egolf
Joni, thank you so very much for all your giving to God. I am so proud to be your Christian sister. I was so pleased to read your comment on Pat Roberson's statement, I totally agree with you. I prayerfully support you in everything you do. Thanks again! All HIS best to you and yours, Diane Douglas
  • Sept. 19, 2011
  • 11:19 p.m.
  • Diane Douglas
Good comment Joni. I agree that marriage (33 years for us) should be till death do us part. I don't believe God has ever given a command that was not for the good of His children.
  • Sept. 19, 2011
  • 8:06 p.m.
  • Ray Foucher
I am SO relieved to hear SOMEONE speaking about the completely concrete covenant that I know marriage to be! I appreciate your willingness to hold us accountable. I feel what marriage is truly missing in these times is the EXPECTATION of one another that it will be a complete fulfillment of those vows we said in front of some well dressed friends!! :) Thank you so much.
  • Sept. 19, 2011
  • 6:12 p.m.
  • Jill
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