Divorce on grounds of Alzheimer’s

So what all is disturbing about this?

Pat Robertson advised a viewer of yesterday’s 700 Club to avoid putting a “guilt trip” on those who want to divorce a spouse with Alzheimer’s. During the show’s advice segment, a viewer asked Robertson how she should address a friend who was dating another woman “because his wife as he knows her is gone.” Robertson said he would not fault anyone for doing this. He then went further by saying it would be understandable to divorce a spouse with the disease.

“That is a terribly hard thing,” Robertson said. “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. So, what he says basically is correct. But I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something he should divorce her and start all over again. But to make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.”

Co-host Terry Meeuwsen asked Pat, “But isn’t that the vow that we take when we marry someone? That it’s For better or for worse. For richer or poorer?”

Robertson said that the viewer’s friend could obey this vow of “death till you part” because the disease was a “kind of death.” Robertson said he would understand if someone started another relationship out of a need for companionship.

Robertson gave the example of a friend who faithfully visited his wife every day even though she could not remember his visits to illustrate the difficulty of caring for someone with the disease.

“It’s really hurtful because they say crazy things,” Robertson said. “Nevertheless, it is a terribly difficult thing for somebody. I can’t fault him for wanting some kind of companionship. And if he says in a sense she is gone, he’s right. It’s like a walking death. Get some ethicist besides me to give you an answer because I recognize the dilemma and the last thing I’d do is condemn you for taking that kind of action.”

via Pat Robertson Says Divorce Okay if Spouse has Alzheimer’s | Liveblog | Christianity Today.

Note the Gnosticism.  I love Matthew Lee Anderson’s response:

The tragedy of Alzheimer’s is very real, but the fragmentation of the self that the inability to remember precipitates does not entail, as Robertson put it, that a “person is gone” or that Alzheimer’s is a “walking death.” While the debate over what constitutes a “person” is (and will be!) ongoing, as people who believe in an incarnate God, we should be wary of separating the person from the body in the way Robertson does. We are something more than minds that are floating free in the ethereal and insubstantial regions of space.

The point has significant ramifications for our marriages, for the union we enjoy is of two persons and for their mutual well-being. “With my body I thee worship,” reads the old version of the wedding service in the Book of Common Prayer (a prayer book that guides the liturgy of Anglican worshippers), a line that is as lovely as any in the English language. My wife didn’t let us say it in our wedding service for fear that it would confuse people, and I understand why. But it highlights the totality of the sacrifice that marriage requires, and points toward the body as the sign and symbol of my love.

Yet the sacrifice of my body is consummated in my affection and care for my wife’s. The love we have in marriage may not be exhausted by our concern for our spouse’s body, but it certainly includes their bodies—and not just their brains, either. The body is “the place of our personal presence in the world,” as Gilbert Meilander puts it, and the delight we have for the other’s presence is necessarily a delight of its manifestation in the body. The erosion of memory that Alzheimer’s causes makes this sense of presence less stable, but to suggest it can accomplish the final dissolution of the person is to ascribe to it a power that not even death has. For there is, within the Kingdom, a love that is even stronger than death.

HT:  Joe Carter

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Drewe

    This is only a step away from the nazi concept of disabled people being a drain on society and therefore worthy of being ‘removed’ for the benefit of us all…..

  • Drewe

    This is only a step away from the nazi concept of disabled people being a drain on society and therefore worthy of being ‘removed’ for the benefit of us all…..

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Whatever happened to ‘in sickness and in health’?

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Pr Mark Henderson

    Whatever happened to ‘in sickness and in health’?

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith,

    If you want a controversial discussion, you could ask whether polygamy, rather than divorce, would be tolerable in such a case.

    It would be a theoretical discussion, since polygamy is illegal, but if the options are infidelity, divorce, or polygamy, I would be curious to hear your serious answer and the reasoning behind it.

    Then again, it is not really answering the question you ask, so feel free free to ignore it if you find it irrelevant.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith,

    If you want a controversial discussion, you could ask whether polygamy, rather than divorce, would be tolerable in such a case.

    It would be a theoretical discussion, since polygamy is illegal, but if the options are infidelity, divorce, or polygamy, I would be curious to hear your serious answer and the reasoning behind it.

    Then again, it is not really answering the question you ask, so feel free free to ignore it if you find it irrelevant.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Feel free free.” That almost sounds like it was on purpose.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Feel free free.” That almost sounds like it was on purpose.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Ever since his bid for Presidency in 1992, Robertson has been pandering to the world in various ways.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Ever since his bid for Presidency in 1992, Robertson has been pandering to the world in various ways.

  • Tom Hering

    Drewe @ 1, that concept was central to America’s widespread and powerful Eugenics movement, long before there were Nazis – who adopted our view. We should ask why it is that we Americans hold to a utilitarian view of persons. (Robertson’s argument is that the wife is no longer a person because she’s no longer capable of the companionship function in marriage.)

  • Tom Hering

    Drewe @ 1, that concept was central to America’s widespread and powerful Eugenics movement, long before there were Nazis – who adopted our view. We should ask why it is that we Americans hold to a utilitarian view of persons. (Robertson’s argument is that the wife is no longer a person because she’s no longer capable of the companionship function in marriage.)

  • Booklover

    If I were Pat Robertson’s wife, I’d be crying in the next room for fear I would get Alzheimer’s. Or multiple sclerosis. Or cancer. Or just plain old.

    This wishy-washyness only makes me further admire the Catholic church, which sticks to its teachings, no matter the idiocy that flies through. Many look to “Mr.” Robertson as their own pope, and he has led them astray.

  • Booklover

    If I were Pat Robertson’s wife, I’d be crying in the next room for fear I would get Alzheimer’s. Or multiple sclerosis. Or cancer. Or just plain old.

    This wishy-washyness only makes me further admire the Catholic church, which sticks to its teachings, no matter the idiocy that flies through. Many look to “Mr.” Robertson as their own pope, and he has led them astray.

  • Joe

    “It would be a theoretical discussion, since polygamy is illegal, but if the options are infidelity, divorce, or polygamy, I would be curious to hear your serious answer and the reasoning behind it.”

    But those aren’t the only options. I know it may sound crazy but a person could deny their own felt needs in order honor their vows and love and care for the person with whom they have become one flesh.

  • Joe

    “It would be a theoretical discussion, since polygamy is illegal, but if the options are infidelity, divorce, or polygamy, I would be curious to hear your serious answer and the reasoning behind it.”

    But those aren’t the only options. I know it may sound crazy but a person could deny their own felt needs in order honor their vows and love and care for the person with whom they have become one flesh.

  • Michael

    I don’t think you can divorce a spouse with advanced Alzheimer’s any more than you could divorce a dead spouse, so in that sense, Robertson’s advice is ridiculous. If you’ve ever been to a nursing home and seen somebody with Alzheimer’s (and especially if you’ve known them earlier in life), one realizes that the person is long gone, even if the body is still somewhat there. As an analogy, suppose you’re married to a very kind man or woman, and he all of a sudden becomes very violent and abusive. He dies, and doctors perform an autopsy that reveals a large brain tumor. Would you say that’s the same man you married?

  • Michael

    I don’t think you can divorce a spouse with advanced Alzheimer’s any more than you could divorce a dead spouse, so in that sense, Robertson’s advice is ridiculous. If you’ve ever been to a nursing home and seen somebody with Alzheimer’s (and especially if you’ve known them earlier in life), one realizes that the person is long gone, even if the body is still somewhat there. As an analogy, suppose you’re married to a very kind man or woman, and he all of a sudden becomes very violent and abusive. He dies, and doctors perform an autopsy that reveals a large brain tumor. Would you say that’s the same man you married?

  • Dennis Peskey

    Before this debate can be addressed, several points need to be clarified or corrected. First, alzheimer’s does not directly cause death; the nature of this disease assaults the brain attacking short-term memory first then gradually progressing to other parts of the brain. The finality of death comes only when the involuntary functions controlled by the brain cease to function properly if the patient does not first suffer non-related episodes (i.e. stroke, heart attack, pneumonia, etc.) which become terminal.

    Alzheimer’s is a painfully slow walk backward to the grave. The disease attacks – then sleeps, only to suddenly awake with renewed vengence. There currently is no reversal (nor viable stability) available. This monster progresses at it’s pace, sometimes slow, other times rapid but each and everytime the patient loses more of life.

    Where Mr. Robertson errs grievously is his understanding of marriage and our obligations inherent in such a relationship. I am painfully aware this disease will strip a family of all comfort, not only relational but financial as well. You simply do not have enough money to battle this disease even if your name is Bill Gates. It is the blackhole of patient care sucking up any and all funds available and when you are finally rendered bankrupt – it still looks for more.

    What then can we do? What can we offer in defense of such assault? The answer is found only in the cross of Christ – we offer care as best we can; we offer love for our spouse or relative in abundance; we pray continuously for them for they can not verbalize even the Lord’s Prayer after stage one. We do not abandon them in futility, anger or frustration because our felt needs or desires are not being served by them. God gave us alzheimer’s so we could understand our works do not avail. Only He can provide the comfort and peace which eludes both the medical profession and those who care for the infirm suffering this affliction.

    Yesterday, at 1:30am, my mother passed away after nearly eighteen years of battling alzheimer’s. Being baptized, we have the comfort of God’s inheritance promise. Two decades ago, she lost the ability to choose or comprehend or confess. The person she was married to at the time (not my father) obtained an illegal divorce and abandoned her to “protect” himself. She did not understand court summons to appear, the certified letters from the IRS, even the food spoiling in her refrigerator which could relieve her hunger.

    My brother and sister joined me in obtaining legal representation of her interests. We moved her to our local area – first, an alzheimer’s facility and when they could no longer provide, a nursing home. My mother’s accumulation of wealth, stocks, bonds, home, car – everything disappeared in the first decade. Mammon will not endure this assault. But she lived on unable to communicate or enjoy her children, brothers or sisters, even the care providers who dealt with her daily.

    Many will support a “quality of life” approach which favors not life but death. This is not a choice given us by the Lord; death is the curse of sin – it will come for all of us. We did not promote an “acceptable” end; we prayed, loved and care for the least among us as instructed by Christ. He suffered death for us so we may be with Him eternally. The inconvenience of a few decades or loss of accumulation is what compared to what the Son of God has done? I leave now for final funeral preparations and burial. My mother now has the peace which passes all understanding. All praise be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    Before this debate can be addressed, several points need to be clarified or corrected. First, alzheimer’s does not directly cause death; the nature of this disease assaults the brain attacking short-term memory first then gradually progressing to other parts of the brain. The finality of death comes only when the involuntary functions controlled by the brain cease to function properly if the patient does not first suffer non-related episodes (i.e. stroke, heart attack, pneumonia, etc.) which become terminal.

    Alzheimer’s is a painfully slow walk backward to the grave. The disease attacks – then sleeps, only to suddenly awake with renewed vengence. There currently is no reversal (nor viable stability) available. This monster progresses at it’s pace, sometimes slow, other times rapid but each and everytime the patient loses more of life.

    Where Mr. Robertson errs grievously is his understanding of marriage and our obligations inherent in such a relationship. I am painfully aware this disease will strip a family of all comfort, not only relational but financial as well. You simply do not have enough money to battle this disease even if your name is Bill Gates. It is the blackhole of patient care sucking up any and all funds available and when you are finally rendered bankrupt – it still looks for more.

    What then can we do? What can we offer in defense of such assault? The answer is found only in the cross of Christ – we offer care as best we can; we offer love for our spouse or relative in abundance; we pray continuously for them for they can not verbalize even the Lord’s Prayer after stage one. We do not abandon them in futility, anger or frustration because our felt needs or desires are not being served by them. God gave us alzheimer’s so we could understand our works do not avail. Only He can provide the comfort and peace which eludes both the medical profession and those who care for the infirm suffering this affliction.

    Yesterday, at 1:30am, my mother passed away after nearly eighteen years of battling alzheimer’s. Being baptized, we have the comfort of God’s inheritance promise. Two decades ago, she lost the ability to choose or comprehend or confess. The person she was married to at the time (not my father) obtained an illegal divorce and abandoned her to “protect” himself. She did not understand court summons to appear, the certified letters from the IRS, even the food spoiling in her refrigerator which could relieve her hunger.

    My brother and sister joined me in obtaining legal representation of her interests. We moved her to our local area – first, an alzheimer’s facility and when they could no longer provide, a nursing home. My mother’s accumulation of wealth, stocks, bonds, home, car – everything disappeared in the first decade. Mammon will not endure this assault. But she lived on unable to communicate or enjoy her children, brothers or sisters, even the care providers who dealt with her daily.

    Many will support a “quality of life” approach which favors not life but death. This is not a choice given us by the Lord; death is the curse of sin – it will come for all of us. We did not promote an “acceptable” end; we prayed, loved and care for the least among us as instructed by Christ. He suffered death for us so we may be with Him eternally. The inconvenience of a few decades or loss of accumulation is what compared to what the Son of God has done? I leave now for final funeral preparations and burial. My mother now has the peace which passes all understanding. All praise be to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • http://pastordbeck.wordpress.com Rev. Dustin Beck

    I concur with the Gnostic foundation…In fact, when I first heard the headline on the radio, I said outloud, “ick, Gnosticism.” Sad stuff, indeed.

  • http://pastordbeck.wordpress.com Rev. Dustin Beck

    I concur with the Gnostic foundation…In fact, when I first heard the headline on the radio, I said outloud, “ick, Gnosticism.” Sad stuff, indeed.

  • Tom Hering

    Dennis @ 10, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your mother is transformed and joyful forever, being with her Savior now.

  • Tom Hering

    Dennis @ 10, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Your mother is transformed and joyful forever, being with her Savior now.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom – To your point @ 6 above. Is companionship everywhere and always a two-way street? It would seem that disease has robbed this woman of her ability to fulfill that role, however the husband is responsible for providing her with companionship, however difficult or trying that might be. Robertson’s argument seems to be that the husband is deprived of companionship, so his best recourse is to deny companionship to his spouse; mutual companionship is the ideal and if one party is unable to fulfill that role through disease or disability, then divorce is acceptable.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom – To your point @ 6 above. Is companionship everywhere and always a two-way street? It would seem that disease has robbed this woman of her ability to fulfill that role, however the husband is responsible for providing her with companionship, however difficult or trying that might be. Robertson’s argument seems to be that the husband is deprived of companionship, so his best recourse is to deny companionship to his spouse; mutual companionship is the ideal and if one party is unable to fulfill that role through disease or disability, then divorce is acceptable.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Amazing, a so-called Christian giving this kind of advice. Thing is I’ve watched people with Alzheimer’s and I’ve watched people deal with their spouses who have had it. And when it comes to granting forgiveness for sin, I’m quick to do so. But I’ve watched atheists sit by their wife for six years or more as they suffer from Alzheimer’s, and to me it epitomizes love to do so. To stand by and care for that person at that time, when you will not be getting anything in return for your sacrifices, and then to have a jerk like Pat say it is o.k. to walk away in that situation. wow.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Amazing, a so-called Christian giving this kind of advice. Thing is I’ve watched people with Alzheimer’s and I’ve watched people deal with their spouses who have had it. And when it comes to granting forgiveness for sin, I’m quick to do so. But I’ve watched atheists sit by their wife for six years or more as they suffer from Alzheimer’s, and to me it epitomizes love to do so. To stand by and care for that person at that time, when you will not be getting anything in return for your sacrifices, and then to have a jerk like Pat say it is o.k. to walk away in that situation. wow.

  • Tom Hering

    SK @ 13, Robertson ignores the fact that there are two people and one Person – the One who joins us together – involved in a marriage. That One hasn’t allowed us to divorce because of illness.

  • Tom Hering

    SK @ 13, Robertson ignores the fact that there are two people and one Person – the One who joins us together – involved in a marriage. That One hasn’t allowed us to divorce because of illness.

  • Jonathan

    For better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part.

    Is that just optional for the bride and groom at the marriage rites performed by Mr. Robertson?

  • Jonathan

    For better or worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death us do part.

    Is that just optional for the bride and groom at the marriage rites performed by Mr. Robertson?

  • Dan Kempin

    Joe, #8,

    “I know it may sound crazy but a person could deny their own felt needs in order honor their vows and love and care for the person with whom they have become one flesh.”

    You seem to have the impression that I am promoting polygamy as an option. Just to clarify, I am not. I certainly do not think that sacrificial love and self denial are “crazy.”

    Of course, it is easy to pile on Robertson’s obvious error. Yet no one has yet attempted to address the issue with which he was grappling when he made that error: What about the husband? It seems rather callous and perhaps even unfair to just say, “Deny your felt needs.”

    Pastorally, what answer would you give to someone who is enduring the long and horrible struggle so vividly described by Dennis in post #10? That would be a terrible burden for a spouse. I agree that forsaking a spouse is clearly in violation of marriage vows and Christian love. So let’s rule out divorce as an option. The sixth commandment prohibits infidelity, so that’s out. You propose mandatory celibacy. Fair enough. That is the clear necessity, at least in the short term.

    Yet I seem to remember that Luther was rather down on mandatory celibacy. He seemed to think that it tended to lead people to stumble, for the scripture says, “better to marry than to burn.” So perhaps I’m not quite satisfied to just leave it at that without any serious reflection.

  • Dan Kempin

    Joe, #8,

    “I know it may sound crazy but a person could deny their own felt needs in order honor their vows and love and care for the person with whom they have become one flesh.”

    You seem to have the impression that I am promoting polygamy as an option. Just to clarify, I am not. I certainly do not think that sacrificial love and self denial are “crazy.”

    Of course, it is easy to pile on Robertson’s obvious error. Yet no one has yet attempted to address the issue with which he was grappling when he made that error: What about the husband? It seems rather callous and perhaps even unfair to just say, “Deny your felt needs.”

    Pastorally, what answer would you give to someone who is enduring the long and horrible struggle so vividly described by Dennis in post #10? That would be a terrible burden for a spouse. I agree that forsaking a spouse is clearly in violation of marriage vows and Christian love. So let’s rule out divorce as an option. The sixth commandment prohibits infidelity, so that’s out. You propose mandatory celibacy. Fair enough. That is the clear necessity, at least in the short term.

    Yet I seem to remember that Luther was rather down on mandatory celibacy. He seemed to think that it tended to lead people to stumble, for the scripture says, “better to marry than to burn.” So perhaps I’m not quite satisfied to just leave it at that without any serious reflection.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I wonder if Pat Robertson (was he a minister?) ever performed a wedding ceremony. Ya know, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health… as long as you both shall live.”

    I guess that just goes in one ear and out the other. Also, breaking the commandments against adultery and false witness.

    As the kids say, sick and wrong.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I wonder if Pat Robertson (was he a minister?) ever performed a wedding ceremony. Ya know, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health… as long as you both shall live.”

    I guess that just goes in one ear and out the other. Also, breaking the commandments against adultery and false witness.

    As the kids say, sick and wrong.

  • Tom Hering

    Dan @ 17, there’s a big difference between mandatory celibacy imposed by a religion, and the celibacy God can call us to in our vocation as a caregiving husband or wife.

  • Tom Hering

    Dan @ 17, there’s a big difference between mandatory celibacy imposed by a religion, and the celibacy God can call us to in our vocation as a caregiving husband or wife.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I think Robertson is coming down with Alzheimer’s, he seems to be forgetting something here.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I think Robertson is coming down with Alzheimer’s, he seems to be forgetting something here.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom @ 15 – By all means. I’m just teasing out some of Robertson’s amoral utilitarianism. Robertson implies that mutual companionship is the highest ideal of marriage, never mind biblical imperatives or the role of God in marriage, and if this companionship becomes impaired due to disability and/or disease, then this may provide a means for one party to the marriage to abrogate their promises as this will lead to greater happiness for the party leaving the contract. Now, how one can dissolve a contract with a party that is non compus mentis when the party acting to dissolve the contract is the one with legal power of attorney for the second party is beyond me. I’m sure such a mechanism exists, but I question the morality of its use in the situation of marriage. Especially, if the one acting to divorce is still a beneficiary under insurance, wills, etc. of the party being divorced.

  • SKPeterson

    Tom @ 15 – By all means. I’m just teasing out some of Robertson’s amoral utilitarianism. Robertson implies that mutual companionship is the highest ideal of marriage, never mind biblical imperatives or the role of God in marriage, and if this companionship becomes impaired due to disability and/or disease, then this may provide a means for one party to the marriage to abrogate their promises as this will lead to greater happiness for the party leaving the contract. Now, how one can dissolve a contract with a party that is non compus mentis when the party acting to dissolve the contract is the one with legal power of attorney for the second party is beyond me. I’m sure such a mechanism exists, but I question the morality of its use in the situation of marriage. Especially, if the one acting to divorce is still a beneficiary under insurance, wills, etc. of the party being divorced.

  • Tom Hering

    “I’m just teasing out some of Robertson’s amoral utilitarianism.” – @ 21.

    I understand that, SK, and I’m enjoying it, too. Robertson is defaulting to the dominant ethic in our culture.

  • Tom Hering

    “I’m just teasing out some of Robertson’s amoral utilitarianism.” – @ 21.

    I understand that, SK, and I’m enjoying it, too. Robertson is defaulting to the dominant ethic in our culture.

  • Joe

    Dan @ 17, I am sure that it would be terribly difficult for a pastor to find the right words and actions to provide comfort to someone dealing with this issue, but excusing sin is not an acceptable part of pastoral care.

    You would provide the spouse with as much care and support possible and as a pastor would be duty bound to remind him or her of their vows and the fact that they not merely a companion but are of one flesh with the suffering person.

    I don’t mean to sound cruel, but this is really not that difficult of a question to answer. Of course, it is difficult to find a way to express the answer.

  • Joe

    Dan @ 17, I am sure that it would be terribly difficult for a pastor to find the right words and actions to provide comfort to someone dealing with this issue, but excusing sin is not an acceptable part of pastoral care.

    You would provide the spouse with as much care and support possible and as a pastor would be duty bound to remind him or her of their vows and the fact that they not merely a companion but are of one flesh with the suffering person.

    I don’t mean to sound cruel, but this is really not that difficult of a question to answer. Of course, it is difficult to find a way to express the answer.

  • Dan Kempin

    Tom, #19,

    Care to elaborate?

  • Dan Kempin

    Tom, #19,

    Care to elaborate?

  • rlewer

    As someone said, “She might not know me anymore, but I still know her.”

  • rlewer

    As someone said, “She might not know me anymore, but I still know her.”

  • Dan Kempin

    Joe,

    I don’t seem to be succeeding in the discussion I was hoping to generate. (That happens with me from time to time.) The conversation here is locked on the person with Alzheimers, not the spouse, so fine.

    Just so you see the theoretical orbit of my thought, what about the case of a spouse that was “missing, and presumed dead?” Would there ever be a time when such a person could remarry, or would that be a breaking of faith?

    And then, say that the person did remarry and then the first spouse turned up. How would you reason that one out? Are they now an adulterer? Did they sin?

  • Dan Kempin

    Joe,

    I don’t seem to be succeeding in the discussion I was hoping to generate. (That happens with me from time to time.) The conversation here is locked on the person with Alzheimers, not the spouse, so fine.

    Just so you see the theoretical orbit of my thought, what about the case of a spouse that was “missing, and presumed dead?” Would there ever be a time when such a person could remarry, or would that be a breaking of faith?

    And then, say that the person did remarry and then the first spouse turned up. How would you reason that one out? Are they now an adulterer? Did they sin?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Great comment, Bror, at 14.

    Talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Yeesh!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Great comment, Bror, at 14.

    Talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing. Yeesh!

  • Jonathan

    A good movie on the subject of marriage commitment in Alzheimers is “The Notebook.”

    @26, I think the surviving spouse who remarries in the “Castaway” movie was truly abandoned. She had neither her husband’s body or mind to take care of, unlike the Alzheimer care-giver spouse. Missing and presumed dead would be another category altogether from the Alzheimer situation. Completely apples and oranges.

  • Jonathan

    A good movie on the subject of marriage commitment in Alzheimers is “The Notebook.”

    @26, I think the surviving spouse who remarries in the “Castaway” movie was truly abandoned. She had neither her husband’s body or mind to take care of, unlike the Alzheimer care-giver spouse. Missing and presumed dead would be another category altogether from the Alzheimer situation. Completely apples and oranges.

  • Lou

    Dr. Russell Moore also wrote a great piece about this last week, in case anyone is interested:
    http://www.russellmoore.com/2011/09/15/christ-the-church-and-pat-robertson/

    Here is the bulk of it:
    “Marriage, the Scripture tells us, is an icon of something deeper, more ancient, more mysterious. The marriage union is a sign, the Apostle Paul announces, of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband, then, is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). This love is defined not as the hormonal surge of romance but as a self-sacrificial crucifixion of self. The husband pictures Christ when he loves his wife by giving himself up for her.

    At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.

    The Bride of Christ fled his side, and went back to their old ways of life. When Jesus came to them after the resurrection, the church was about the very thing they were doing when Jesus found them in the first place: out on the boats with their nets. Jesus didn’t leave. He stood by his words, stood by his Bride, even to the Place of the Skull, and beyond.

    A woman or a man with Alzheimer’s can’t do anything for you. There’s no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That’s just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn’t “useful” anymore.

    Pat Robertson’s cruel marriage statement is no anomaly. He and his cohorts have given us for years a prosperity gospel with more in common with an Asherah pole than a cross. They have given us a politicized Christianity that uses churches to “mobilize” voters rather than to stand prophetically outside the power structures as a witness for the gospel.

    But Jesus didn’t die for a Christian Coalition; he died for a church. And the church, across the ages, isn’t significant because of her size or influence. She is weak, helpless, and spattered in blood. He is faithful to us anyway.

    If our churches are to survive, we must repudiate this Canaanite mammonocracy that so often speaks for us. But, beyond that, we must train up a new generation to see the gospel embedded in fidelity, a fidelity that is cruciform.

    It’s easy to teach couples to put the “spark” back in their marriages, to put the “sizzle” back in their sex lives. You can still worship the self and want all that. But that’s not what love is. Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Love is drowning in your own blood. Love is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

    Sadly, many of our neighbors assume that when they hear the parade of cartoon characters we allow to speak for us, that they are hearing the gospel. They assume that when they see the giggling evangelist on the television screen, that they see Jesus. They assume that when they see the stadium political rallies to “take back America for Christ,” that they see Jesus. But Jesus isn’t there.

    Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.

    But the gospel is there. Jesus is there. “

  • Lou

    Dr. Russell Moore also wrote a great piece about this last week, in case anyone is interested:
    http://www.russellmoore.com/2011/09/15/christ-the-church-and-pat-robertson/

    Here is the bulk of it:
    “Marriage, the Scripture tells us, is an icon of something deeper, more ancient, more mysterious. The marriage union is a sign, the Apostle Paul announces, of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband, then, is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). This love is defined not as the hormonal surge of romance but as a self-sacrificial crucifixion of self. The husband pictures Christ when he loves his wife by giving himself up for her.

    At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.

    The Bride of Christ fled his side, and went back to their old ways of life. When Jesus came to them after the resurrection, the church was about the very thing they were doing when Jesus found them in the first place: out on the boats with their nets. Jesus didn’t leave. He stood by his words, stood by his Bride, even to the Place of the Skull, and beyond.

    A woman or a man with Alzheimer’s can’t do anything for you. There’s no romance, no sex, no partnership, not even companionship. That’s just the point. Because marriage is a Christ/church icon, a man loves his wife as his own flesh. He cannot sever her off from him simply because she isn’t “useful” anymore.

    Pat Robertson’s cruel marriage statement is no anomaly. He and his cohorts have given us for years a prosperity gospel with more in common with an Asherah pole than a cross. They have given us a politicized Christianity that uses churches to “mobilize” voters rather than to stand prophetically outside the power structures as a witness for the gospel.

    But Jesus didn’t die for a Christian Coalition; he died for a church. And the church, across the ages, isn’t significant because of her size or influence. She is weak, helpless, and spattered in blood. He is faithful to us anyway.

    If our churches are to survive, we must repudiate this Canaanite mammonocracy that so often speaks for us. But, beyond that, we must train up a new generation to see the gospel embedded in fidelity, a fidelity that is cruciform.

    It’s easy to teach couples to put the “spark” back in their marriages, to put the “sizzle” back in their sex lives. You can still worship the self and want all that. But that’s not what love is. Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Love is drowning in your own blood. Love is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

    Sadly, many of our neighbors assume that when they hear the parade of cartoon characters we allow to speak for us, that they are hearing the gospel. They assume that when they see the giggling evangelist on the television screen, that they see Jesus. They assume that when they see the stadium political rallies to “take back America for Christ,” that they see Jesus. But Jesus isn’t there.

    Jesus tells us he is present in the weak, the vulnerable, the useless. He is there in the least of these (Matt. 25:31-46). Somewhere out there right now, a man is wiping the drool from an 85 year-old woman who flinches because she think he’s a stranger. No television cameras are around. No politicians are seeking a meeting with them.

    But the gospel is there. Jesus is there. “

  • Dan Kempin

    Jonathan, #28,

    To whom are you referring?

  • Dan Kempin

    Jonathan, #28,

    To whom are you referring?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    “It’s really hurtful because they say crazy things,” Robertson said.

    Irony, that.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    “It’s really hurtful because they say crazy things,” Robertson said.

    Irony, that.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
    Matthew 19:8

    Okay, straight up hardness of heart.
    Nothing new under the sun.
    These are not the advisors you are looking for.
    Move along.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
    Matthew 19:8

    Okay, straight up hardness of heart.
    Nothing new under the sun.
    These are not the advisors you are looking for.
    Move along.

  • rlewer

    Back to the theology of glory vs. the theology of the cross. That is the basis of everything.

  • rlewer

    Back to the theology of glory vs. the theology of the cross. That is the basis of everything.

  • –helen

    Several women I know have cared for a husband until he died; more are doing so now. If their “needs” weren’t/aren’t being met, I never heard them complain of it.

    But I’ve known several husbands to walk out because their wives, after managing the household and raising several children weren’t [let's be honest here] as young as they fancied themselves to be. Alzheimers is just an extreme version of the “walkaway syndrome.”

  • –helen

    Several women I know have cared for a husband until he died; more are doing so now. If their “needs” weren’t/aren’t being met, I never heard them complain of it.

    But I’ve known several husbands to walk out because their wives, after managing the household and raising several children weren’t [let's be honest here] as young as they fancied themselves to be. Alzheimers is just an extreme version of the “walkaway syndrome.”

  • Susan

    Jonathan #28

    Do you rather mean the movie ‘Away From Her’? David Hyde-Pierce, who starred as Niles Crane in the comedy series ‘Frasier’, spoke in the pre-movie segment of the need to raise awareness of and increase research on Alzheimer’s.

    The movie itself is very moving and is a testament to a husband’s unwillingness to forsake his stricken wife, but still he does in fact break his marriage vow [again-he'd apparently had a brief affair with a student years ago] with a woman whose husband is in the same facility as his wife.

  • Susan

    Jonathan #28

    Do you rather mean the movie ‘Away From Her’? David Hyde-Pierce, who starred as Niles Crane in the comedy series ‘Frasier’, spoke in the pre-movie segment of the need to raise awareness of and increase research on Alzheimer’s.

    The movie itself is very moving and is a testament to a husband’s unwillingness to forsake his stricken wife, but still he does in fact break his marriage vow [again-he'd apparently had a brief affair with a student years ago] with a woman whose husband is in the same facility as his wife.

  • steve

    Let’s take for granted these people are dead, for all intents and purposes. Why do we have funerals for the dead? When they’re dead, they’re dead. Why not dig a hole, drop them in, and be done with it? No need for the extra expense. We can use a landfill. They’re dead, after all. We have no obligation to those bodies, right? One only need to observe the reverence with which we treat the dead to know Robertson is way off base, even if he were correct about the state of the Alzheimer’s patients’ body—which he still is not. He is wrong on so many levels.

    These people are not dead and they’re not aliens inhabiting an empty shell. They are the same people we loved before the disease and should continue to love after. If we’re taught to love and forgive people when they err, why would it be any different when they err due to a disease nobody would wish for? I get that is a difficult and agonizing thing, and one which I would not wish on even the most evil. But let’s all be honest about what this is. It’s rationalization of betrayal.

    I’d have more respect for the man if he just told the caller to keep seeing the other woman, outside of marriage, while he cares for his wife. Which is the greater sin?

  • steve

    Let’s take for granted these people are dead, for all intents and purposes. Why do we have funerals for the dead? When they’re dead, they’re dead. Why not dig a hole, drop them in, and be done with it? No need for the extra expense. We can use a landfill. They’re dead, after all. We have no obligation to those bodies, right? One only need to observe the reverence with which we treat the dead to know Robertson is way off base, even if he were correct about the state of the Alzheimer’s patients’ body—which he still is not. He is wrong on so many levels.

    These people are not dead and they’re not aliens inhabiting an empty shell. They are the same people we loved before the disease and should continue to love after. If we’re taught to love and forgive people when they err, why would it be any different when they err due to a disease nobody would wish for? I get that is a difficult and agonizing thing, and one which I would not wish on even the most evil. But let’s all be honest about what this is. It’s rationalization of betrayal.

    I’d have more respect for the man if he just told the caller to keep seeing the other woman, outside of marriage, while he cares for his wife. Which is the greater sin?

  • Grace

    Pat Robertson has made a disgraceful statement regarding marriage and divorce. When I read the news article last week, it made me VERY sad. How many people watch a man who professes to be a Christian, tout un-Biblical statements – and then look at their own situation, and see how they might excape their marriage vows.

    “Till death do we part” doesn’t mean much to many individuals, but we, who proclaim Christ as our Savior are under Christ, we know that there is no divorce except for fornication/adultery.

  • Grace

    Pat Robertson has made a disgraceful statement regarding marriage and divorce. When I read the news article last week, it made me VERY sad. How many people watch a man who professes to be a Christian, tout un-Biblical statements – and then look at their own situation, and see how they might excape their marriage vows.

    “Till death do we part” doesn’t mean much to many individuals, but we, who proclaim Christ as our Savior are under Christ, we know that there is no divorce except for fornication/adultery.

  • Grace

    When I was a child, there was a lovely couple in the church my father pastored. They were both very good looking, …. and in love, it showed. I had not seen the couple for a long time, however in the early 90′s my husband and I saw them at a Birthday party I gave for one of my mother’s friends. They were still a devoted Christian couple, still handsome and beautiful.

    The lovely wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – her husband decided to sell their home and move to a lovely Christian senior retirement home, one in which there was ‘assisted living, and then full nursing care.

    A party was planned for their Wedding Anniversary, he made sure she looked as lovely as ever….. she choked on something she ate, and had to be medically attended to. This dedicated husband loved his wife to the very end, he took care of her – his Christian love was a blessing to all who knew them.

    The last time we saw the husband was at the funeral of the woman I had given a Birthday party – he was alone, older, but still the gracious man he had always been.

    God bless those who follow Christ, who keep their marriage vows, who love the LORD Jesus Christ more than anything else.

  • Grace

    When I was a child, there was a lovely couple in the church my father pastored. They were both very good looking, …. and in love, it showed. I had not seen the couple for a long time, however in the early 90′s my husband and I saw them at a Birthday party I gave for one of my mother’s friends. They were still a devoted Christian couple, still handsome and beautiful.

    The lovely wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – her husband decided to sell their home and move to a lovely Christian senior retirement home, one in which there was ‘assisted living, and then full nursing care.

    A party was planned for their Wedding Anniversary, he made sure she looked as lovely as ever….. she choked on something she ate, and had to be medically attended to. This dedicated husband loved his wife to the very end, he took care of her – his Christian love was a blessing to all who knew them.

    The last time we saw the husband was at the funeral of the woman I had given a Birthday party – he was alone, older, but still the gracious man he had always been.

    God bless those who follow Christ, who keep their marriage vows, who love the LORD Jesus Christ more than anything else.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Hey, if we can redefine Marriage to suit our fleshly lusts, why not Death, too?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Hey, if we can redefine Marriage to suit our fleshly lusts, why not Death, too?

  • Purple Koolaid

    Sadly, many Christian pastors support divorce in similar slippery-slope circumstances. All manner of “abuse” and “cruelty”. This happens all the time. Ask your Pastor for what reasons he’ll allow divorce. You might be surprised.

    And no, I’m not saying a man/woman should stay in the home of a violent spouse. Getting a protection order is a far cry from a divorce.

  • Purple Koolaid

    Sadly, many Christian pastors support divorce in similar slippery-slope circumstances. All manner of “abuse” and “cruelty”. This happens all the time. Ask your Pastor for what reasons he’ll allow divorce. You might be surprised.

    And no, I’m not saying a man/woman should stay in the home of a violent spouse. Getting a protection order is a far cry from a divorce.

  • Tom Hering

    I wonder if Robertson is prepping his audience for an endorsement of Newt Gingrich.

  • Tom Hering

    I wonder if Robertson is prepping his audience for an endorsement of Newt Gingrich.

  • Booklover

    Dennis @10: May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you, and give you peace.

  • Booklover

    Dennis @10: May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you, and give you peace.

  • steve

    Any chance for a political jibe, eh Tom?

  • steve

    Any chance for a political jibe, eh Tom?

  • Grace

    Denise @ 10

    God bless you. You are a good son, one of courage and strength, if only other parents, wives and husbands were so blessed.

  • Grace

    Denise @ 10

    God bless you. You are a good son, one of courage and strength, if only other parents, wives and husbands were so blessed.

  • MarkB

    As I read the comment here I had tears in my eyes. I have seen many people in congregations I belong to go through this time of hardship. I know it has to be hard to deal with, but the reason we have it that hard is because of sin. Ours, yours and Adam and Eve. If we Christians cannot live our lives in humble service to our spouses, even if they have Alzheimer’s disease, are we truly deserving of the title Christian.

    For those of us on the outside of this relationship we might consider in Christian love to offer our help in what ever way we can to the caretaking spouse. That response would not and should not be something we feel compelled to do to show our Christianity or to work our way to heaven, but should be in loving response to what Christ has already done for us.

    Dennis @ 10: I am sure the Lord has blessed you in many ways as you have dealt with the progression of this disease that affected your mother, because even in our times of sorrow, stress and strain God gives us little blessings. However, now comes the most blessed thing, she is home in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory be to God that it is so and only through the work of the Son can it happen so.

    To ask why this happens is to ask the wrong question, it is because of sin. But, God does use this for our good as Christians and to reach out to those around us, even though we might not notice it or have any inkling about how a Christian responds to such a thing affects those nearby. Maybe the Christian love shown an Alzheimer afflicted person will turn someone to Christ. Who knows but God what the blessings that come from this might be.

  • MarkB

    As I read the comment here I had tears in my eyes. I have seen many people in congregations I belong to go through this time of hardship. I know it has to be hard to deal with, but the reason we have it that hard is because of sin. Ours, yours and Adam and Eve. If we Christians cannot live our lives in humble service to our spouses, even if they have Alzheimer’s disease, are we truly deserving of the title Christian.

    For those of us on the outside of this relationship we might consider in Christian love to offer our help in what ever way we can to the caretaking spouse. That response would not and should not be something we feel compelled to do to show our Christianity or to work our way to heaven, but should be in loving response to what Christ has already done for us.

    Dennis @ 10: I am sure the Lord has blessed you in many ways as you have dealt with the progression of this disease that affected your mother, because even in our times of sorrow, stress and strain God gives us little blessings. However, now comes the most blessed thing, she is home in heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory be to God that it is so and only through the work of the Son can it happen so.

    To ask why this happens is to ask the wrong question, it is because of sin. But, God does use this for our good as Christians and to reach out to those around us, even though we might not notice it or have any inkling about how a Christian responds to such a thing affects those nearby. Maybe the Christian love shown an Alzheimer afflicted person will turn someone to Christ. Who knows but God what the blessings that come from this might be.

  • fws

    dan @ 26

    let me take a bite of what you are floating as a point of discussion.

    Jesus tells us that ..
    1) the Law is made for man and not man for the Law.
    2) God’s purpose in both the Law and Gospel are the same thing: this is Fatherly Goodness and Mercy . This is to say that love (mercy and sacrifice ) are the “sum” or complete fulfillment of the Law.
    3) Jesus tells us that his comment on the law being made for man is the meaning of this “God would have Mercy rather than sacrifice.”

    The Lutheran Confessions tell us that it is idolatry to do the Law as a way to offer obedience as a sacrifice to God. Why? it is alone the Sacrifice and Obedience of Christ that is acceptable to God.

    So how do we know that we are keeping the Law as God desires? We are doing goodness and mercy for others. If goodness and mercy are not the result of our actions, then we are to question whether we are doing God’s will in our actions.

    So then question then , from the scriptures and confessions is this one:

    What course of action should the spouse of an alsheimer patient take that best provides creaturely Goodness and Mercy for both spouses?

    I would suggest that it is two things: a) The healthy spouse needs to provide for the bodily comfort and needs of his spouse until he no longer can (as Dennis Peskys post outlines) and b) the healthy spouse should be encouraged by his pastor and loved ones, to date and commit to a companion for the reasons St Paul outlines in I cor 7.

    Why not?

    I don’t see that Pat Robertson is suggesting anything different actually. I think grabbing onto the Gnostic button is looking tired now. Everyone seems to reach for that as some sort of blanket response for everything from homosexuality, women pastors to now… this. That seems silly to me.

  • fws

    dan @ 26

    let me take a bite of what you are floating as a point of discussion.

    Jesus tells us that ..
    1) the Law is made for man and not man for the Law.
    2) God’s purpose in both the Law and Gospel are the same thing: this is Fatherly Goodness and Mercy . This is to say that love (mercy and sacrifice ) are the “sum” or complete fulfillment of the Law.
    3) Jesus tells us that his comment on the law being made for man is the meaning of this “God would have Mercy rather than sacrifice.”

    The Lutheran Confessions tell us that it is idolatry to do the Law as a way to offer obedience as a sacrifice to God. Why? it is alone the Sacrifice and Obedience of Christ that is acceptable to God.

    So how do we know that we are keeping the Law as God desires? We are doing goodness and mercy for others. If goodness and mercy are not the result of our actions, then we are to question whether we are doing God’s will in our actions.

    So then question then , from the scriptures and confessions is this one:

    What course of action should the spouse of an alsheimer patient take that best provides creaturely Goodness and Mercy for both spouses?

    I would suggest that it is two things: a) The healthy spouse needs to provide for the bodily comfort and needs of his spouse until he no longer can (as Dennis Peskys post outlines) and b) the healthy spouse should be encouraged by his pastor and loved ones, to date and commit to a companion for the reasons St Paul outlines in I cor 7.

    Why not?

    I don’t see that Pat Robertson is suggesting anything different actually. I think grabbing onto the Gnostic button is looking tired now. Everyone seems to reach for that as some sort of blanket response for everything from homosexuality, women pastors to now… this. That seems silly to me.

  • fws

    Dennis I am so very sorry for your loss.

    love,

    frank william

  • fws

    Dennis I am so very sorry for your loss.

    love,

    frank william

  • fws

    booklover @ 7

    wow booklover. Why? You are saying that you would want your husband to do without companionship for 20 years if you lost your mind through alsheimers. Again. why? how is that fulfilling YOUR marriage vows to love honor and cherish in sickness and in health?

    What about your spouses needs? Would those simply not matter to you. Dang gal!

  • fws

    booklover @ 7

    wow booklover. Why? You are saying that you would want your husband to do without companionship for 20 years if you lost your mind through alsheimers. Again. why? how is that fulfilling YOUR marriage vows to love honor and cherish in sickness and in health?

    What about your spouses needs? Would those simply not matter to you. Dang gal!

  • Tom Hering

    steve @ 43, you bet. But in this case, I’m serious.

  • Tom Hering

    steve @ 43, you bet. But in this case, I’m serious.

  • Pingback: Pat Robertson and the duty to care for a spouse with Alzheimer’s « Political Science at University of the Pacific

  • Pingback: Pat Robertson and the duty to care for a spouse with Alzheimer’s « Political Science at University of the Pacific

  • Tom Hering

    “… the healthy spouse should be encouraged by his pastor and loved ones, to date and commit to a companion for the reasons St Paul outlines in I cor 7.” – @ 46.

    1st Corinthians 7 says to marry, Frank. How can the healthy spouse do that if he or she is already married?

  • Tom Hering

    “… the healthy spouse should be encouraged by his pastor and loved ones, to date and commit to a companion for the reasons St Paul outlines in I cor 7.” – @ 46.

    1st Corinthians 7 says to marry, Frank. How can the healthy spouse do that if he or she is already married?

  • Helen F

    For a moving quote from Prof. Douglas Hofstadter’s book, “I Am a Strange Loop,” scroll down on this sample to pg. 228, “I looked at her face…”
    Now, there is a man who understands what marriage is about!
    http://www.amazon.com/Am-Strange-Loop-Douglas-Hofstadter/dp/0465030793/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316488754&sr=1-1#reader_0465030793

  • Helen F

    For a moving quote from Prof. Douglas Hofstadter’s book, “I Am a Strange Loop,” scroll down on this sample to pg. 228, “I looked at her face…”
    Now, there is a man who understands what marriage is about!
    http://www.amazon.com/Am-Strange-Loop-Douglas-Hofstadter/dp/0465030793/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316488754&sr=1-1#reader_0465030793

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@46), I must disagree with your line of reasoning.

    The Lutheran Confessions tell us that it is idolatry to do the Law as a way to offer obedience as a sacrifice to God.

    I suppose this is a releveant response if people are saying that the husband should remain married solely in order to do his Christian duty. And it would seem some here might be saying that, in part. But not all are. Quite a number are arguing that the man should remain married to show love and mercy to his wife.

    But that’s not my main point. No, my main point is to play two quotes of yours off each other. The first:

    So how do we know that we are keeping the Law as God desires? We are doing goodness and mercy for others.

    (My emphasis) And the second being your question:

    What course of action should the spouse of an alsheimer patient take that best provides creaturely Goodness and Mercy for both spouses?

    My question to you then becomes: since when did love and mercy include doing things for ourselves? Are we commanded to love ourselves? Or are we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?

    In short, the question you pose appears to elevate selfishness to the definition of love. This would be in contrast to:

    Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

    In many ways, a man who sacrifices many aspects of his life — his time, his emotions, his money — for a wife that does not appreciate or even recognize him is laying down his life for her.

    Would you argue that, by doing so, he’s not showing the love Jesus said he was? Would you counsel a man laying down his life for his friends to consider his own creaturely goodness, and not just that of his friends?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@46), I must disagree with your line of reasoning.

    The Lutheran Confessions tell us that it is idolatry to do the Law as a way to offer obedience as a sacrifice to God.

    I suppose this is a releveant response if people are saying that the husband should remain married solely in order to do his Christian duty. And it would seem some here might be saying that, in part. But not all are. Quite a number are arguing that the man should remain married to show love and mercy to his wife.

    But that’s not my main point. No, my main point is to play two quotes of yours off each other. The first:

    So how do we know that we are keeping the Law as God desires? We are doing goodness and mercy for others.

    (My emphasis) And the second being your question:

    What course of action should the spouse of an alsheimer patient take that best provides creaturely Goodness and Mercy for both spouses?

    My question to you then becomes: since when did love and mercy include doing things for ourselves? Are we commanded to love ourselves? Or are we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?

    In short, the question you pose appears to elevate selfishness to the definition of love. This would be in contrast to:

    Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

    In many ways, a man who sacrifices many aspects of his life — his time, his emotions, his money — for a wife that does not appreciate or even recognize him is laying down his life for her.

    Would you argue that, by doing so, he’s not showing the love Jesus said he was? Would you counsel a man laying down his life for his friends to consider his own creaturely goodness, and not just that of his friends?

  • Grace

    48 – fws

    “booklover @ 7

    wow booklover. Why? You are saying that you would want your husband to do without companionship for 20 years if you lost your mind through alsheimers. Again. why? how is that fulfilling YOUR marriage vows to love honor and cherish in sickness and in health?

    What about your spouses needs? Would those simply not matter to you. Dang gal!”

    Is so called “companionship” the most important thing in ones life, or is doing God’s Will.

    Is “companionship” an adulterous affair?

    Is “companionship” a homosexual affair or anything else you might want to call it? Since two males or females does not a marriage make, there is no marriage that is blessed of God. So…. since their is no marriage, no matter how much fanciful thinking, and faux marriage vows, it wouldn’t make any difference what the faux partner did to………SEEK what you call “companionship” –

    As you answered booklovers question, … the most important thing is God’s law, not the ones you make up. You post about; “What about your spouses needs?” We all, male to female as Christian Believers marry for better or worse, and that includes Alzheimer’s.

    I have lost a great many female friends through cancer, early heart problems, diabetes, etc., ….. not one of their husbands ran off and decided their so called “needs” were of much importance,….. perhaps that was because they were REAL MEN, the kind who’s backbone is made of something other than lust!

  • Grace

    48 – fws

    “booklover @ 7

    wow booklover. Why? You are saying that you would want your husband to do without companionship for 20 years if you lost your mind through alsheimers. Again. why? how is that fulfilling YOUR marriage vows to love honor and cherish in sickness and in health?

    What about your spouses needs? Would those simply not matter to you. Dang gal!”

    Is so called “companionship” the most important thing in ones life, or is doing God’s Will.

    Is “companionship” an adulterous affair?

    Is “companionship” a homosexual affair or anything else you might want to call it? Since two males or females does not a marriage make, there is no marriage that is blessed of God. So…. since their is no marriage, no matter how much fanciful thinking, and faux marriage vows, it wouldn’t make any difference what the faux partner did to………SEEK what you call “companionship” –

    As you answered booklovers question, … the most important thing is God’s law, not the ones you make up. You post about; “What about your spouses needs?” We all, male to female as Christian Believers marry for better or worse, and that includes Alzheimer’s.

    I have lost a great many female friends through cancer, early heart problems, diabetes, etc., ….. not one of their husbands ran off and decided their so called “needs” were of much importance,….. perhaps that was because they were REAL MEN, the kind who’s backbone is made of something other than lust!

  • Helen F

    I may have missed it, but has anyone mentioned the possibility (a very real one!) that the spouse of one who has Alzheimers has really been given “a cross to bear”?! That, perhaps, through this cross one’s faith is strengthened?

  • Helen F

    I may have missed it, but has anyone mentioned the possibility (a very real one!) that the spouse of one who has Alzheimers has really been given “a cross to bear”?! That, perhaps, through this cross one’s faith is strengthened?

  • Joe

    Dan – sorry I did not respond sooner. Yes, I can envision a situation where the spouse of a presumed dead person could remarry but there are a lot of facts that would need to be explored before you could get to that point in any particular situation.

  • Joe

    Dan – sorry I did not respond sooner. Yes, I can envision a situation where the spouse of a presumed dead person could remarry but there are a lot of facts that would need to be explored before you could get to that point in any particular situation.

  • Christopher Greenwood

    Robertson is being a typical Word of Faith heretic, “my desires out weigh my responsabibilties

  • Christopher Greenwood

    Robertson is being a typical Word of Faith heretic, “my desires out weigh my responsabibilties

  • Dan Kempin

    Congrats, Fws, #46, you succeeded where I failed in generating conversation.

    I think it is pretty clear that everyone here agrees with your first proposal, that a spouse is obligated by the marriage vow and by Christian love to never forsake a sick spouse and to care for them faithfully, to the best of one’s ability, until God should remove the burden.

    Amen to that. Robertson was wrong. Everyone here is right. End of story. Peace. out. If that’s all we wish to establish, then the conversation is over and we agree.

    You point out, though, that a complete conversation should really encompass BOTH spouses. I agree.

    Your second proposal, that “the healthy spouse should be encouraged by his pastor and loved ones, to date and commit to a companion,” is more problematic. Companionship, apart from marriage, especially if it involves, shall we say, the fulfillment of “needs,” is doubly forbidden. Not only is it adultery, but it is also fornication.

    Still, the concern is real. And here is where I differ with you, tODD, #52, where you say, “. . . since when did love and mercy include doing things for ourselves? Are we commanded to love ourselves? Or are we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?”

    Your point is valid, so far as it goes, but it misses the whole dimension raised by 1 Cor 7, which is the inherent spiritual danger of celibacy for one who has not the “gift.” “Let each of you have his own wife . . . do not deprive each other . . . so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”

    There is a real, scriptural issue that can be raised here. It is uncharitable to think that any needs of the healthy spouse are simply for selfish gratification. Is the temptation they face at the loss of their spouses body of no concern? I mean, the scripture does say ,”do not deprive each other.” And he is deprived. Just sayin’.

  • Dan Kempin

    Congrats, Fws, #46, you succeeded where I failed in generating conversation.

    I think it is pretty clear that everyone here agrees with your first proposal, that a spouse is obligated by the marriage vow and by Christian love to never forsake a sick spouse and to care for them faithfully, to the best of one’s ability, until God should remove the burden.

    Amen to that. Robertson was wrong. Everyone here is right. End of story. Peace. out. If that’s all we wish to establish, then the conversation is over and we agree.

    You point out, though, that a complete conversation should really encompass BOTH spouses. I agree.

    Your second proposal, that “the healthy spouse should be encouraged by his pastor and loved ones, to date and commit to a companion,” is more problematic. Companionship, apart from marriage, especially if it involves, shall we say, the fulfillment of “needs,” is doubly forbidden. Not only is it adultery, but it is also fornication.

    Still, the concern is real. And here is where I differ with you, tODD, #52, where you say, “. . . since when did love and mercy include doing things for ourselves? Are we commanded to love ourselves? Or are we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?”

    Your point is valid, so far as it goes, but it misses the whole dimension raised by 1 Cor 7, which is the inherent spiritual danger of celibacy for one who has not the “gift.” “Let each of you have his own wife . . . do not deprive each other . . . so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self control.”

    There is a real, scriptural issue that can be raised here. It is uncharitable to think that any needs of the healthy spouse are simply for selfish gratification. Is the temptation they face at the loss of their spouses body of no concern? I mean, the scripture does say ,”do not deprive each other.” And he is deprived. Just sayin’.

  • Dan Kempin

    Tom, #50,

    “1st Corinthians 7 says to marry, Frank. How can the healthy spouse do that if he or she is already married?”

    At least someone understands my theoretical question now.

  • Dan Kempin

    Tom, #50,

    “1st Corinthians 7 says to marry, Frank. How can the healthy spouse do that if he or she is already married?”

    At least someone understands my theoretical question now.

  • Stephen

    Okay, I have to chime in. This disease has come to my family. My father died last year after 10 years with it. His actual passing was peaceful, unlike many in the same place where he lived whose deaths dragged on and on throught the kind sof things Dennis mentioned. There were a couple times we thought we would lose him but he pulled through. Anyway. . .

    First, let me say that I am so sad for you Dennis, and I hope for you comfort at this time. One thing our family found during the time of my father’s passing was the incredible bond we all share, largely because of my dad. My cousin, who lost her mom a few years ago (my dad’s sister), wrote that the power of this time will be with us all for the rest of your life. There is great power in it for exactly the reasons you point to: God has assured us in baptism that suffering and death has been overcome. I’m right there with you brother. Pray for Dennis everyone. Peace be with you.

    I’d also like to address the issue that FWS and Dan raise. Watching my mom in her loneliness AND faithfulness was an incredible witness. This is a very tough one. However, I would not have begrudged my mom some companionship. To what exent, I can’t really say. But as a pastor who spoke at my dad’s funeral said, the people with Alzheimer’s are doing okay. They will be cared for. It’s the people who care for them that suffer the most. I think you will find this to be true across the board. Unless someone is completely abandoned ina sub-standard nursing home, it’s the scaretaker who needs a great deal of support. I can imagine someone, perhaps without a large family, feeling the need to reach out and hold on to someone.

    My dad was incredibly frugal and left my mom in very good stead. I also know for sure that he did that precisely because he did not want my mom to suffer. He watched his own mother left without a dime and having to go back to school in her old age to make a living. So he made sure my mom would be cared for. I think he would want here to be comforted. Now, mind you, my mom would never think of such a thing. She went to be with him every day. She also suffered a great deal and still is. But we all encouraged her to take time for herself and get way, essentially to do whatever she needed to do so she could be around for her grandkids and take care of what needed to be done for my dad.

    I think the further question is at what point is our sense of morals projected onto the needs of others? She was a pastor’s wife. Imagine the pressure of that to put on a good front. Where is the mercy for her. I would not agree that divorce is appropriate is such an easy out. I do think the spouse has a responsibility to see to the care of their spouse right up until (and perhaps beyond to some extent) their death.

    Maybe that is wanting to have it both ways, but for someone from the outside to suggest that in every instance the spouse ought to be deprived of comfort, companionship and maybe even intimacy is unmerciful. For what it’s worth.

    Blessings Dennis

  • Stephen

    Okay, I have to chime in. This disease has come to my family. My father died last year after 10 years with it. His actual passing was peaceful, unlike many in the same place where he lived whose deaths dragged on and on throught the kind sof things Dennis mentioned. There were a couple times we thought we would lose him but he pulled through. Anyway. . .

    First, let me say that I am so sad for you Dennis, and I hope for you comfort at this time. One thing our family found during the time of my father’s passing was the incredible bond we all share, largely because of my dad. My cousin, who lost her mom a few years ago (my dad’s sister), wrote that the power of this time will be with us all for the rest of your life. There is great power in it for exactly the reasons you point to: God has assured us in baptism that suffering and death has been overcome. I’m right there with you brother. Pray for Dennis everyone. Peace be with you.

    I’d also like to address the issue that FWS and Dan raise. Watching my mom in her loneliness AND faithfulness was an incredible witness. This is a very tough one. However, I would not have begrudged my mom some companionship. To what exent, I can’t really say. But as a pastor who spoke at my dad’s funeral said, the people with Alzheimer’s are doing okay. They will be cared for. It’s the people who care for them that suffer the most. I think you will find this to be true across the board. Unless someone is completely abandoned ina sub-standard nursing home, it’s the scaretaker who needs a great deal of support. I can imagine someone, perhaps without a large family, feeling the need to reach out and hold on to someone.

    My dad was incredibly frugal and left my mom in very good stead. I also know for sure that he did that precisely because he did not want my mom to suffer. He watched his own mother left without a dime and having to go back to school in her old age to make a living. So he made sure my mom would be cared for. I think he would want here to be comforted. Now, mind you, my mom would never think of such a thing. She went to be with him every day. She also suffered a great deal and still is. But we all encouraged her to take time for herself and get way, essentially to do whatever she needed to do so she could be around for her grandkids and take care of what needed to be done for my dad.

    I think the further question is at what point is our sense of morals projected onto the needs of others? She was a pastor’s wife. Imagine the pressure of that to put on a good front. Where is the mercy for her. I would not agree that divorce is appropriate is such an easy out. I do think the spouse has a responsibility to see to the care of their spouse right up until (and perhaps beyond to some extent) their death.

    Maybe that is wanting to have it both ways, but for someone from the outside to suggest that in every instance the spouse ought to be deprived of comfort, companionship and maybe even intimacy is unmerciful. For what it’s worth.

    Blessings Dennis

  • Stephen

    Sorry for the typos

  • Stephen

    Sorry for the typos

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@57), don’t envy FWS. Sometimes, it’s all in the choice of words. You’ll have your melee-spawning comment yet, you will. Though, really, if that’s what you’re angling for, would it kill you to be less reasonable and pleasant? Have you no sense of overstatement? ;)

    And I appreciate what I think you’re getting at here. Yes, the “concern is real” that is raised by 1 Cor. 7. Yes, we cannot blithely ignore a man’s urges. But I have two concerns here.

    The first, and perhaps the reason FWs got me to comment where you did not, is that FWS appears to file “attending to your own urges” under “goodness and mercy”, or even “love”. Sorry, can’t agree. I mean, love for whom? Mercy shown to whom? Myself? Where would one find that in Scripture?

    The second problem is apparent to me in this sentence of yours:

    I mean, the scripture does say ,”do not deprive each other.” And he is deprived.

    “He is deprived” … by whom? The scripture says to a husband and wife that they should not deprive each other. The solution to these felt urges, therefore, will not be found outside of that man and that woman.

    That is to say, 1 Cor. 7 does not teach us, “Get it where and from whom you may, because there’s no way you’re keeping it in your pants.” So I don’t see how it would point us to polygamy as a (hypothetical) option, much less adultery. And if those aren’t options…

    It is uncharitable to think that any needs of the healthy spouse are simply for selfish gratification.

    Is it? Then whose needs, other than his own, is he considering as he seeks to gratify his “needs”? His wife’s?

    I’m not denying that this puts the man in a difficult spot. But he has not chosen that spot in order to demonstrate his sacrifice to God. Rather, God has allowed him to be in that difficult spot.

    Life is hard. We face temptations all day long. Should we give in to them and call it love, in order to avoid looking legalistic?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dan (@57), don’t envy FWS. Sometimes, it’s all in the choice of words. You’ll have your melee-spawning comment yet, you will. Though, really, if that’s what you’re angling for, would it kill you to be less reasonable and pleasant? Have you no sense of overstatement? ;)

    And I appreciate what I think you’re getting at here. Yes, the “concern is real” that is raised by 1 Cor. 7. Yes, we cannot blithely ignore a man’s urges. But I have two concerns here.

    The first, and perhaps the reason FWs got me to comment where you did not, is that FWS appears to file “attending to your own urges” under “goodness and mercy”, or even “love”. Sorry, can’t agree. I mean, love for whom? Mercy shown to whom? Myself? Where would one find that in Scripture?

    The second problem is apparent to me in this sentence of yours:

    I mean, the scripture does say ,”do not deprive each other.” And he is deprived.

    “He is deprived” … by whom? The scripture says to a husband and wife that they should not deprive each other. The solution to these felt urges, therefore, will not be found outside of that man and that woman.

    That is to say, 1 Cor. 7 does not teach us, “Get it where and from whom you may, because there’s no way you’re keeping it in your pants.” So I don’t see how it would point us to polygamy as a (hypothetical) option, much less adultery. And if those aren’t options…

    It is uncharitable to think that any needs of the healthy spouse are simply for selfish gratification.

    Is it? Then whose needs, other than his own, is he considering as he seeks to gratify his “needs”? His wife’s?

    I’m not denying that this puts the man in a difficult spot. But he has not chosen that spot in order to demonstrate his sacrifice to God. Rather, God has allowed him to be in that difficult spot.

    Life is hard. We face temptations all day long. Should we give in to them and call it love, in order to avoid looking legalistic?

  • trotk

    Thanks, tODD.

  • trotk

    Thanks, tODD.

  • Stephen

    Dennis, just so we’re clear, I think from what you describe about your stepfather, I’d want to track him down and beat him with a chain. My mom’s situation sounds very different. Please don’t take it the wrong way or as an outright refutation of what you’ve said so well.

    I think some people obviously run from suffering and others are better at dealing with it, bearing up to it and accepting it. Even fewer seem to miraculously be able to actually dive in to it and take it on willingly. Good pastors are good at that last one.

    But in any of those cases, forgiveness and mercy are warranted, even in the most “cowardly” of situations. My mom needed a lot of it. She was constantly worried that she wasn’t doing enough. We all felt horrible when we first put my dad In a home even though it was a very nice place dedicated specifically to Alzheimer’s patients.

    I also think Christians identify more easily with the stoic virtues and have a hard time with the weaknesses of others. We can be pretty unmerciful in both these cases, expecting people to gut it out and also faulting them when it is all too much. That is not always the case certainly, and the church is sometimes the only refuge for people in distress. But I have to say, even if the church is there, unless the congregation takers and active role in reaching out, almost insisting on being helpful even when someone says they are okay, I think a lot of Christians will suffer in silence. It is sort of what we are taught.

  • Stephen

    Dennis, just so we’re clear, I think from what you describe about your stepfather, I’d want to track him down and beat him with a chain. My mom’s situation sounds very different. Please don’t take it the wrong way or as an outright refutation of what you’ve said so well.

    I think some people obviously run from suffering and others are better at dealing with it, bearing up to it and accepting it. Even fewer seem to miraculously be able to actually dive in to it and take it on willingly. Good pastors are good at that last one.

    But in any of those cases, forgiveness and mercy are warranted, even in the most “cowardly” of situations. My mom needed a lot of it. She was constantly worried that she wasn’t doing enough. We all felt horrible when we first put my dad In a home even though it was a very nice place dedicated specifically to Alzheimer’s patients.

    I also think Christians identify more easily with the stoic virtues and have a hard time with the weaknesses of others. We can be pretty unmerciful in both these cases, expecting people to gut it out and also faulting them when it is all too much. That is not always the case certainly, and the church is sometimes the only refuge for people in distress. But I have to say, even if the church is there, unless the congregation takers and active role in reaching out, almost insisting on being helpful even when someone says they are okay, I think a lot of Christians will suffer in silence. It is sort of what we are taught.

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    It sounds to me like the focus of your argument is purely on the sex act rather than on the relationship(s) that surrounds it. I agree that there is a place for celibacy and being faithful, faithful until it is unbearable you might say. Where that line is (physical death?) is exactly what moralizing and legalism try to do – one standard for everyone, in keeping with the written law, but at some point having little or nothing to do with why we have the law in the first place. Demanding that someone who is suffering meet a moral standard that only increases their suffering is not merciful. Yet that is what happens from religion. The strongest message becomes “do!” which is exactly what their whole existence is about and they simply cannot do enough. They are helpless. No wonder some people hide from it when they are miserable.

    What a spouse of someone with Alzheimer’s (that subject here – very particular) “ought” to do in every case, saying “buck up. Grin and bear it” is not in keeping with the purpose of the law. That is what I get from what Frank is saying. Yet often that is all that people are left from religion – merciless law-keeping. It seems to me that in a situation where things have changed so dramatically that it is, in fact, legalistic to insist upon a moral standard – man was made for the law, in other words. “Do it or else” becomes the only interpretation possible. That is the only choice, which is no choice at all. This is not pleasing to God. Believing that it is is most certainly the definition of legalism – our works are something more than filthy rags. They actually keep the law. But they don’t.

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    It sounds to me like the focus of your argument is purely on the sex act rather than on the relationship(s) that surrounds it. I agree that there is a place for celibacy and being faithful, faithful until it is unbearable you might say. Where that line is (physical death?) is exactly what moralizing and legalism try to do – one standard for everyone, in keeping with the written law, but at some point having little or nothing to do with why we have the law in the first place. Demanding that someone who is suffering meet a moral standard that only increases their suffering is not merciful. Yet that is what happens from religion. The strongest message becomes “do!” which is exactly what their whole existence is about and they simply cannot do enough. They are helpless. No wonder some people hide from it when they are miserable.

    What a spouse of someone with Alzheimer’s (that subject here – very particular) “ought” to do in every case, saying “buck up. Grin and bear it” is not in keeping with the purpose of the law. That is what I get from what Frank is saying. Yet often that is all that people are left from religion – merciless law-keeping. It seems to me that in a situation where things have changed so dramatically that it is, in fact, legalistic to insist upon a moral standard – man was made for the law, in other words. “Do it or else” becomes the only interpretation possible. That is the only choice, which is no choice at all. This is not pleasing to God. Believing that it is is most certainly the definition of legalism – our works are something more than filthy rags. They actually keep the law. But they don’t.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@64),

    It sounds to me like the focus of your argument is purely on the sex act rather than on the relationship(s) that surrounds it.

    Yes. That’s because I’m cutting to the chase.

    Is anyone here arguing that the husband of a woman with Alzheimer’s should seek no human companionship in his difficulties? Heck, it’s my hope that both husband and wife already had many human friends before they came to be in this situation. So the “relationship(s) that surrounds it” is hardly an issue. Where the disagreements arise is when it comes to sex — whether sex outside of the marriage, or in a second marriage.

    Demanding that someone who is suffering meet a moral standard that only increases their suffering is not merciful.

    Is there anyone who is not suffering? Is there any moral standard that could not be argued as increasing suffering? If not, then doesn’t that statement just boil down to: “demanding moral standards is not merciful”? And yet it’s moral standards that eke mercy and love out of me, causing me to get off my lazy butt and help my wife clean the dishes, or to put down my iPhone and spend time with my son. Am I wrong to do these things? Should I instead just do whatever I want to do, call it love, and pat myself on the back for how good I’m being by avoiding legalism?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen (@64),

    It sounds to me like the focus of your argument is purely on the sex act rather than on the relationship(s) that surrounds it.

    Yes. That’s because I’m cutting to the chase.

    Is anyone here arguing that the husband of a woman with Alzheimer’s should seek no human companionship in his difficulties? Heck, it’s my hope that both husband and wife already had many human friends before they came to be in this situation. So the “relationship(s) that surrounds it” is hardly an issue. Where the disagreements arise is when it comes to sex — whether sex outside of the marriage, or in a second marriage.

    Demanding that someone who is suffering meet a moral standard that only increases their suffering is not merciful.

    Is there anyone who is not suffering? Is there any moral standard that could not be argued as increasing suffering? If not, then doesn’t that statement just boil down to: “demanding moral standards is not merciful”? And yet it’s moral standards that eke mercy and love out of me, causing me to get off my lazy butt and help my wife clean the dishes, or to put down my iPhone and spend time with my son. Am I wrong to do these things? Should I instead just do whatever I want to do, call it love, and pat myself on the back for how good I’m being by avoiding legalism?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    At some point, Stephen, I thought that your arguments against legalism were intended to point out what true love is. That, by focusing so much on rules, we forget how to love others. Now, I’m not so sure.

    Demanding that someone who is suffering meet a moral standard that only increases their suffering is not merciful.

    Let’s try applying that:

    Demanding that a husband suffering in a marriage he considers sexually unfulfilling meet the moral standard of faithfulness to his wife is not merciful.

    Demanding that a man who is suffering the burdens of government taxation meet the moral standard of using what money he has left to help the poor is not merciful.

    Demanding that a woman who is suffering from being poor and afraid of the future meet the moral standard of protecting her child’s life and providing for him is not merciful.

    What’s missing in all those? Concern for the neighbor, the other person. What about the man’s wife? The poor? The child?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    At some point, Stephen, I thought that your arguments against legalism were intended to point out what true love is. That, by focusing so much on rules, we forget how to love others. Now, I’m not so sure.

    Demanding that someone who is suffering meet a moral standard that only increases their suffering is not merciful.

    Let’s try applying that:

    Demanding that a husband suffering in a marriage he considers sexually unfulfilling meet the moral standard of faithfulness to his wife is not merciful.

    Demanding that a man who is suffering the burdens of government taxation meet the moral standard of using what money he has left to help the poor is not merciful.

    Demanding that a woman who is suffering from being poor and afraid of the future meet the moral standard of protecting her child’s life and providing for him is not merciful.

    What’s missing in all those? Concern for the neighbor, the other person. What about the man’s wife? The poor? The child?

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #61,

    “He is deprived” … by whom?”

    Don’t misunderstand. That somewhat flippant remark at the end of my comment was not an argument, but a statement. I am not saying that he (or she or anybody) has a right to gratification (since we are cutting to the chase) because they are deprived. Such gratification is only allowable in marriage, according to scripture, and scripture cannot be denied, however sophisticated our theology.

    I am saying that for a person accustomed to the comforts of married life to be deprived of them is potentially perilous for the person deprived. (Emphasis on the last four words.) The scriptures, I believe, acknowledge this. That is an entirely different issue from a persons obligation to a sick spouse, and while sinful desires and lusts cannot be entirely filtered, I think it is something more than just selfish gratification.

    I understand and accept your argument that this is a burden placed by God. I had thought of that also. It is a very difficult and heart rending burden to consider, and there are no easy ways out. But the MANNER in which this is being reasoned seems wrong, somehow. It seems judgmental. You know, “That guy ought to keep it in his pants. What a jerk to even bring up such a thing. That is the obligation of love. (Gosh, I thought Christians were supposed to be free of that kind of yucky stuff.)”

    There’s my stab at overstatement, of course, but Stephen’s posts were particularly poignant. We should be merciful to the weak–in our attitude, at least, even if we cannot remove the burden that God has placed on them. We give up our freedoms around a recovering addict so that they will not be tempted, right? We don’t say, “Hey, they should have the self control to refrain if the rest of us want a drink.” I think it is similar situation here, at least in some respects. This Christian spouse is unusually vulnerable to temptation to sin against God.

    Is there ever an excuse to sin against God? No. What about divorce? Nope. Not an option. “A man must not divorce his wife.” I don’t see any wiggle room there. What if we display our compassion by approving of “companionship” apart from marriage? Sorry. I understand, but we cannot do that. Scripture precludes it.

    And so back to my original post. Suppose–and we are back to the theoretical here–that a person was sorely tempted and was genuinely afraid that in their weakness they might sin against God. No really, that is their concern. If that person, while faithfully caring for their incapacitated spouse, were to marry another believer, would they sin? (Bear in mind that if you say yes, I will expect you to show me in the scripture.)

    As a related question, while polygamy is clearly demonstrable in the scripture as unwise, and not the intent of a marriage union, is a bigamous marriage a marriage, or is it an illicit adultery?

    (Please, Dr. Veith, remove this or let me know if you find it too far afield.)

  • Dan Kempin

    tODD, #61,

    “He is deprived” … by whom?”

    Don’t misunderstand. That somewhat flippant remark at the end of my comment was not an argument, but a statement. I am not saying that he (or she or anybody) has a right to gratification (since we are cutting to the chase) because they are deprived. Such gratification is only allowable in marriage, according to scripture, and scripture cannot be denied, however sophisticated our theology.

    I am saying that for a person accustomed to the comforts of married life to be deprived of them is potentially perilous for the person deprived. (Emphasis on the last four words.) The scriptures, I believe, acknowledge this. That is an entirely different issue from a persons obligation to a sick spouse, and while sinful desires and lusts cannot be entirely filtered, I think it is something more than just selfish gratification.

    I understand and accept your argument that this is a burden placed by God. I had thought of that also. It is a very difficult and heart rending burden to consider, and there are no easy ways out. But the MANNER in which this is being reasoned seems wrong, somehow. It seems judgmental. You know, “That guy ought to keep it in his pants. What a jerk to even bring up such a thing. That is the obligation of love. (Gosh, I thought Christians were supposed to be free of that kind of yucky stuff.)”

    There’s my stab at overstatement, of course, but Stephen’s posts were particularly poignant. We should be merciful to the weak–in our attitude, at least, even if we cannot remove the burden that God has placed on them. We give up our freedoms around a recovering addict so that they will not be tempted, right? We don’t say, “Hey, they should have the self control to refrain if the rest of us want a drink.” I think it is similar situation here, at least in some respects. This Christian spouse is unusually vulnerable to temptation to sin against God.

    Is there ever an excuse to sin against God? No. What about divorce? Nope. Not an option. “A man must not divorce his wife.” I don’t see any wiggle room there. What if we display our compassion by approving of “companionship” apart from marriage? Sorry. I understand, but we cannot do that. Scripture precludes it.

    And so back to my original post. Suppose–and we are back to the theoretical here–that a person was sorely tempted and was genuinely afraid that in their weakness they might sin against God. No really, that is their concern. If that person, while faithfully caring for their incapacitated spouse, were to marry another believer, would they sin? (Bear in mind that if you say yes, I will expect you to show me in the scripture.)

    As a related question, while polygamy is clearly demonstrable in the scripture as unwise, and not the intent of a marriage union, is a bigamous marriage a marriage, or is it an illicit adultery?

    (Please, Dr. Veith, remove this or let me know if you find it too far afield.)

  • Dan Kempin

    And perhaps I should clarify, lest anyone think I am championing polygamy . . .

    On Sunday, our high school youth began a bible study on 1 Samuel. It begins with a guy named Elkanah, who had, you know, two wives. A discussion of polygamy ensued, and so it was fresh in my mind when I saw this blog post. I am not interested in arguing for polygamy in this instance, but I think the argument itself can sharpen our understanding of marriage.

    You know I like me somy hypothetical debate . . .

    So, really, I hope this hasn’t been offensive.

  • Dan Kempin

    And perhaps I should clarify, lest anyone think I am championing polygamy . . .

    On Sunday, our high school youth began a bible study on 1 Samuel. It begins with a guy named Elkanah, who had, you know, two wives. A discussion of polygamy ensued, and so it was fresh in my mind when I saw this blog post. I am not interested in arguing for polygamy in this instance, but I think the argument itself can sharpen our understanding of marriage.

    You know I like me somy hypothetical debate . . .

    So, really, I hope this hasn’t been offensive.

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    I think you are missing my point by cutting to the chase. Sex always happens in relationship to others. The institution of marriage is there precisely because this is understood. Conscience (the divine law written in the mind which is exactly the same as the written one) urges us to do what is right, which is to love our neighbor. Marriage helps us do that. Not always easy, I admit. In itself it requires self-sacrifice, even death to self. The law asks us to die in fact. But that is something we cannot do. We all need mercy. Maybe I should have said that demanding a particular moral standard is not merciful to someone who is already suffering from a particular circumstance IF that standard increases that same suffering. You missed the word “only” in what I said. If it “only” meets a moral standard of keeping a rule on a list, leaving people flapping in the breeze without help, then yes, that is legalistic. If, however, it gets love and mercy to be done, then yes, we ought to do what the law commands.

    I think the question that is still out there is how celibacy in this particular instance actually accomplishes the love and mercy God desires. I’m saying I can’t say in every case. It might. It might mean that someone remains faithful in the sense that they do not abandon their responsibilities to their spouse. And I’m not talking about everything, just this. Is one of those of marriage responsibilities to stay celibate for the purpose of being celibate, as if it accomplishes something on its own? That is the question. What does it actually do in that case? What service does it provide for anyone. It may and it may not given the circumstances. Keeping it for the sake of keeping it is not the purpose of the law.

    So, is the conscience relieved when one “gets off their butt” to do what the law requires? I doubt it. My sense is that it is only disturbed in another way such as “I should have done this all along and I’m such a loser for not already doing what I should do.” There is always more we could have done. We need to be forgiven either way. How many times does your spouse forgive you for being a slacker? Mine sure does.

    I’m not advocating for a particular standard either way. That is my point. I do think the relationships around it matter. That is exactly why demanding it for everyone is not merciful. If someone does have support of family, friends and church then it is less likely that they will need a companion in another way. But that is often not the case. With Alzheimer’s, the big problem for caregivers is that they are often abandoned to their lot, even by their family and church, and sometimes most especially by those two things rather than close friends. Go figure. Hoping they have the relationships they need to support them isn’t good enough when they actually don’t have them. Otherwise, encouraging them to seek out relationships is merciful.

    The other problem, as I see it, is the way we have constructed our institutions in an age of individuality. When I read the Large Catechism on the 6th commandment and listen for how it might speak to this situation, I am not certain celibacy is as high and holy as we want to make it out to be purely for the sake of being celibate, which seems to be the legalistic argument that is problematic. Why do we have marriage? In the first place, it is not good to be alone. There’s buckets of loneliness in being married to someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Second, so that we can be fruitful, and third, so we are not led into abuse of the neighbor, but rather to encourage them to be “chaste.” Is that the same as being celibate? Sometimes, but, if you read the Large Catechism, it may also mean not being wanton, lewd or abusive of the neighbor and avoiding envy and animosity. How is any of that last thing happening in every case when it comes to being married to someone with Alzheimer’s and seeking the support of another, and yes, intimacy with them? Maybe it does encourage animosity towards the spouse who is ill, I’m not sure. Or maybe it is helpful in surviving it. Why is polygamy to be avoided and discouraged? I think for the reasons I listed, especially envy. Is that possible in such a lopsided situation? What does chastity mean in this case? All of these prohibitions are for the purpose that actual love and mercy happen, not so that the law is kept for its own sake.

  • Stephen

    tODD,

    I think you are missing my point by cutting to the chase. Sex always happens in relationship to others. The institution of marriage is there precisely because this is understood. Conscience (the divine law written in the mind which is exactly the same as the written one) urges us to do what is right, which is to love our neighbor. Marriage helps us do that. Not always easy, I admit. In itself it requires self-sacrifice, even death to self. The law asks us to die in fact. But that is something we cannot do. We all need mercy. Maybe I should have said that demanding a particular moral standard is not merciful to someone who is already suffering from a particular circumstance IF that standard increases that same suffering. You missed the word “only” in what I said. If it “only” meets a moral standard of keeping a rule on a list, leaving people flapping in the breeze without help, then yes, that is legalistic. If, however, it gets love and mercy to be done, then yes, we ought to do what the law commands.

    I think the question that is still out there is how celibacy in this particular instance actually accomplishes the love and mercy God desires. I’m saying I can’t say in every case. It might. It might mean that someone remains faithful in the sense that they do not abandon their responsibilities to their spouse. And I’m not talking about everything, just this. Is one of those of marriage responsibilities to stay celibate for the purpose of being celibate, as if it accomplishes something on its own? That is the question. What does it actually do in that case? What service does it provide for anyone. It may and it may not given the circumstances. Keeping it for the sake of keeping it is not the purpose of the law.

    So, is the conscience relieved when one “gets off their butt” to do what the law requires? I doubt it. My sense is that it is only disturbed in another way such as “I should have done this all along and I’m such a loser for not already doing what I should do.” There is always more we could have done. We need to be forgiven either way. How many times does your spouse forgive you for being a slacker? Mine sure does.

    I’m not advocating for a particular standard either way. That is my point. I do think the relationships around it matter. That is exactly why demanding it for everyone is not merciful. If someone does have support of family, friends and church then it is less likely that they will need a companion in another way. But that is often not the case. With Alzheimer’s, the big problem for caregivers is that they are often abandoned to their lot, even by their family and church, and sometimes most especially by those two things rather than close friends. Go figure. Hoping they have the relationships they need to support them isn’t good enough when they actually don’t have them. Otherwise, encouraging them to seek out relationships is merciful.

    The other problem, as I see it, is the way we have constructed our institutions in an age of individuality. When I read the Large Catechism on the 6th commandment and listen for how it might speak to this situation, I am not certain celibacy is as high and holy as we want to make it out to be purely for the sake of being celibate, which seems to be the legalistic argument that is problematic. Why do we have marriage? In the first place, it is not good to be alone. There’s buckets of loneliness in being married to someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Second, so that we can be fruitful, and third, so we are not led into abuse of the neighbor, but rather to encourage them to be “chaste.” Is that the same as being celibate? Sometimes, but, if you read the Large Catechism, it may also mean not being wanton, lewd or abusive of the neighbor and avoiding envy and animosity. How is any of that last thing happening in every case when it comes to being married to someone with Alzheimer’s and seeking the support of another, and yes, intimacy with them? Maybe it does encourage animosity towards the spouse who is ill, I’m not sure. Or maybe it is helpful in surviving it. Why is polygamy to be avoided and discouraged? I think for the reasons I listed, especially envy. Is that possible in such a lopsided situation? What does chastity mean in this case? All of these prohibitions are for the purpose that actual love and mercy happen, not so that the law is kept for its own sake.

  • Stephen

    Dan,

    Thanks for your comment. I can feel the pastor in you coming through. It makes me so happy to be Lutheran.

    I think that the marriage/divorce problem is something to discuss in terms of how they function. What does it mean to be married? St. Paul has some descriptions of that which would not fit my parent’s situation when my dad got sick. I think there may be, in our age, a way to distinguish between legal divorce and the kind of chastity that the commandment requires. Again, not sure. Maybe.

    Is there a sense in which we can say that the caregiver is actually widowed? I kind of thought of my dad as gone a long time ago, even though he wasn’t actually gone physically. But it’s funny, he still kissed my mom right up until the end and liked to have his arm around her even after he couldn’t remember her name. Just when you’d think he had nothing to give, there was that. But that is not everyone’s experience with this disease. Some people become violent and completely lost to their families for a very long time. In my dad’s case, he became more childlike – needy for sure, and sometimes prone to being grouchy and fussy, but also tender at times.

    There is not a good answer as I see it. The whole thing took years off my mom’s life. The disease itself is merciless, in which case some form of mercy is perhaps the only answer.

  • Stephen

    Dan,

    Thanks for your comment. I can feel the pastor in you coming through. It makes me so happy to be Lutheran.

    I think that the marriage/divorce problem is something to discuss in terms of how they function. What does it mean to be married? St. Paul has some descriptions of that which would not fit my parent’s situation when my dad got sick. I think there may be, in our age, a way to distinguish between legal divorce and the kind of chastity that the commandment requires. Again, not sure. Maybe.

    Is there a sense in which we can say that the caregiver is actually widowed? I kind of thought of my dad as gone a long time ago, even though he wasn’t actually gone physically. But it’s funny, he still kissed my mom right up until the end and liked to have his arm around her even after he couldn’t remember her name. Just when you’d think he had nothing to give, there was that. But that is not everyone’s experience with this disease. Some people become violent and completely lost to their families for a very long time. In my dad’s case, he became more childlike – needy for sure, and sometimes prone to being grouchy and fussy, but also tender at times.

    There is not a good answer as I see it. The whole thing took years off my mom’s life. The disease itself is merciless, in which case some form of mercy is perhaps the only answer.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #70,

    Thanks, in turn, for your kind words. Your story has reinforced my instinct to care for the healthy spouse in such a situation. And while I must, unfortunately, agree with your conclusion that “there is not a good answer,” I think that no answer is perhaps the worst.

  • Dan Kempin

    Stephen, #70,

    Thanks, in turn, for your kind words. Your story has reinforced my instinct to care for the healthy spouse in such a situation. And while I must, unfortunately, agree with your conclusion that “there is not a good answer,” I think that no answer is perhaps the worst.

  • Stephen

    By the way, I think Anderson’s response is a lot of high falutin’ stuff that does not address the actual situation people find themselves in. The law, however, does address the situation precisely because it always accuses. It requires that mercy be done as the end goal of the law and it won’t let up to get us to go there.

    I see what Anderson is getting at, but essentially it is a slippery slope argument. I basically think Anderson is sentimentalizing the whole thing, albeit masked with a lot pseudo-philosophical language. There is not an inch of pastoral care that I sense in what he is saying. As much as I distrust and in many ways despise Robertson, I think there actually is a note of pastoral concern in what he says.

    Guess it is my turn to think well of the TV preacher and put the best construction on what he says. God desires mercy, even if he has to use a guy like Pat Robertson.

  • Stephen

    By the way, I think Anderson’s response is a lot of high falutin’ stuff that does not address the actual situation people find themselves in. The law, however, does address the situation precisely because it always accuses. It requires that mercy be done as the end goal of the law and it won’t let up to get us to go there.

    I see what Anderson is getting at, but essentially it is a slippery slope argument. I basically think Anderson is sentimentalizing the whole thing, albeit masked with a lot pseudo-philosophical language. There is not an inch of pastoral care that I sense in what he is saying. As much as I distrust and in many ways despise Robertson, I think there actually is a note of pastoral concern in what he says.

    Guess it is my turn to think well of the TV preacher and put the best construction on what he says. God desires mercy, even if he has to use a guy like Pat Robertson.

  • Stephen

    Dan,

    Mercy is the “best” answer. How about we settle on that?

  • Stephen

    Dan,

    Mercy is the “best” answer. How about we settle on that?

  • fws

    to, @ 50

    I am going along with Dan Kempins scenario. what if polygamy were legal? would it be wrong to do that?

  • fws

    to, @ 50

    I am going along with Dan Kempins scenario. what if polygamy were legal? would it be wrong to do that?

  • fws

    todd @ 52

    I am going along with dan kempins scenario where polygamy is legal.

    So where would there be less goodness and mercy for the alsheimers patient in what I proposed? I suggest there would be none. The spouse would still keep his commitment to care for his wife. what would she lose by his taking another companion? nothing.

    so what is the point of the man not marrying again? to have more goodness and mercy happen? nope? to avoid harming his alsheimers wife? nope? It would be to follow a rule we think is somewhere in the bible for the sole purpose of obedience to God.

  • fws

    todd @ 52

    I am going along with dan kempins scenario where polygamy is legal.

    So where would there be less goodness and mercy for the alsheimers patient in what I proposed? I suggest there would be none. The spouse would still keep his commitment to care for his wife. what would she lose by his taking another companion? nothing.

    so what is the point of the man not marrying again? to have more goodness and mercy happen? nope? to avoid harming his alsheimers wife? nope? It would be to follow a rule we think is somewhere in the bible for the sole purpose of obedience to God.

  • fws

    todd @ 52

    Are we commanded to love ourselves? Or are we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?

    How can we love our neighbors as we love our own selves if we don’t love our own selves.

    So yes, the very passage you quoted commands us to love our neighbors, and it contains an implicit command to love our own selves as well.

  • fws

    todd @ 52

    Are we commanded to love ourselves? Or are we commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves?

    How can we love our neighbors as we love our own selves if we don’t love our own selves.

    So yes, the very passage you quoted commands us to love our neighbors, and it contains an implicit command to love our own selves as well.

  • fws

    dan @ 67

    Link to 67:
    http://www.geneveith.com/2011/09/19/divorce-on-grounds-of-alzheimers/#comment-127656

    Dan you mentioned a couple of times that sex or sexual companionship outside of marriage is forbidden by scriptures and that (I agree) we can’t ignore that.

    Would you please give us a review in scriptures as to where and how the scriptures prohibit sex outside of marriage? I see this stated all the time, but I now realize I have never seen anyone lay out the scriptural case for this assertion.

    Thanks!

  • fws

    dan @ 67

    Link to 67:
    http://www.geneveith.com/2011/09/19/divorce-on-grounds-of-alzheimers/#comment-127656

    Dan you mentioned a couple of times that sex or sexual companionship outside of marriage is forbidden by scriptures and that (I agree) we can’t ignore that.

    Would you please give us a review in scriptures as to where and how the scriptures prohibit sex outside of marriage? I see this stated all the time, but I now realize I have never seen anyone lay out the scriptural case for this assertion.

    Thanks!

  • Grace

    Love ourselves OR, love our neighbors?

    What is sin? Is it:

    Is loving our neighbor mean we trash our marriage vows when our spouse is ill, no matter how long? – and then endulge ourselves with whatever desires we have? Is God unable to give us an escape for sinful lust.

    How twisted can you make, loving ones neighbor? – what I see is ‘SELF GRATIFICATION’ wrapped up, to justify loving oursleves, which in this case, according to this thread means you can dump your spouse and do ‘whatever’ with your neighbor! Whoever that might be.

  • Grace

    Love ourselves OR, love our neighbors?

    What is sin? Is it:

    Is loving our neighbor mean we trash our marriage vows when our spouse is ill, no matter how long? – and then endulge ourselves with whatever desires we have? Is God unable to give us an escape for sinful lust.

    How twisted can you make, loving ones neighbor? – what I see is ‘SELF GRATIFICATION’ wrapped up, to justify loving oursleves, which in this case, according to this thread means you can dump your spouse and do ‘whatever’ with your neighbor! Whoever that might be.

  • Grace

    Post 78

    Should read “indulge” instead of “endulge”

  • Grace

    Post 78

    Should read “indulge” instead of “endulge”

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@76) said:

    How can we love our neighbors as we love our own selves if we don’t love our own selves.

    Sorry, but that is meaningless gibberish to me.

    Care to expand on that statement so I can understand it? Maybe toss in some support from Scripture or the Confessions?

    What, exactly, do you mean by “love our own selves”, and why is it necessary in order to love others?

    I mean, I show love to my wife — well, I try — and I’m not unfamiliar with loathing myself.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@76) said:

    How can we love our neighbors as we love our own selves if we don’t love our own selves.

    Sorry, but that is meaningless gibberish to me.

    Care to expand on that statement so I can understand it? Maybe toss in some support from Scripture or the Confessions?

    What, exactly, do you mean by “love our own selves”, and why is it necessary in order to love others?

    I mean, I show love to my wife — well, I try — and I’m not unfamiliar with loathing myself.

  • Grace

    fws @27

    YOU WROTE:

    Would you please give us a review in scriptures as to where and how the scriptures prohibit sex outside of marriage?

    Do you need fornication/adultery defined for you? OR, do you need someone to point you to the Scripture which tells those who are Believers what fornication and adultery is, or where it is “PROPHITED” ….. you don’t know this? or is it a game for the blog?

  • Grace

    fws @27

    YOU WROTE:

    Would you please give us a review in scriptures as to where and how the scriptures prohibit sex outside of marriage?

    Do you need fornication/adultery defined for you? OR, do you need someone to point you to the Scripture which tells those who are Believers what fornication and adultery is, or where it is “PROPHITED” ….. you don’t know this? or is it a game for the blog?

  • Grace

    Post 81

    Should read: “prohibited” instead of “PROPHITED” –

  • Grace

    Post 81

    Should read: “prohibited” instead of “PROPHITED” –

  • Dan Kempin

    Wow, Grace, you really seem angry.

    tODD, #80,

    Not to intrude on the point you are discussing with fws, but you may be pushing a bit too far. To turn it around, when did Jesus say that loving your neighbor is the same as NOT loving yourself? After all, the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is built entirely on the premise that one does love self. Giving up of self for love is not the same as despising self, and laying down one’s life in love is not the same as despising life. (That would become suicide.) Anyway, it may not really pertain to your point, but I meant to mention it earlier.

    Fws, #77,

    In writing these comments on a person who loses their spouse to alzheimers before they lose them to death, I thought also of the dilemma of a Christian struggling with homosexual desire. It is, in some ways, an equal conversation in that they, also, must face the added danger of temptation without a scriptural recourse. If the options for a married Christian with an incapacitated spouse are limited to only one theoretical, highly questionable, and illegal choice, (therefore no choice) the options for a homosexual are even more limited, since I can’t even come up with a theoretical. It is a heavy and dangerous burden, and I don’t have an answer beyond compassion.

    Anyway, the scriptures that limit our choices are, briefly: “Do not commit adultery,” and “flee fornication.” They cover the limits for the married and the unmarried. I believe that those two statements effectively prohibit all but a marriage relationship.

    There are secondary questions that could be raised, of course, but I am content to keep it in the big picture.

  • Dan Kempin

    Wow, Grace, you really seem angry.

    tODD, #80,

    Not to intrude on the point you are discussing with fws, but you may be pushing a bit too far. To turn it around, when did Jesus say that loving your neighbor is the same as NOT loving yourself? After all, the command to “love your neighbor as yourself” is built entirely on the premise that one does love self. Giving up of self for love is not the same as despising self, and laying down one’s life in love is not the same as despising life. (That would become suicide.) Anyway, it may not really pertain to your point, but I meant to mention it earlier.

    Fws, #77,

    In writing these comments on a person who loses their spouse to alzheimers before they lose them to death, I thought also of the dilemma of a Christian struggling with homosexual desire. It is, in some ways, an equal conversation in that they, also, must face the added danger of temptation without a scriptural recourse. If the options for a married Christian with an incapacitated spouse are limited to only one theoretical, highly questionable, and illegal choice, (therefore no choice) the options for a homosexual are even more limited, since I can’t even come up with a theoretical. It is a heavy and dangerous burden, and I don’t have an answer beyond compassion.

    Anyway, the scriptures that limit our choices are, briefly: “Do not commit adultery,” and “flee fornication.” They cover the limits for the married and the unmarried. I believe that those two statements effectively prohibit all but a marriage relationship.

    There are secondary questions that could be raised, of course, but I am content to keep it in the big picture.

  • fws

    Todd @ 80

    I will go to the Scriptures and then, as is my practice here, I will go to our Lutheran Confessions. I hope that what I write in answer to your very urgent question will comfort you. That is my aim ok? I have come to love you by getting to know you here brother.

    So let’s go ok? Here is our text in context:

    Luke 25
    And behold, a lawyer stood up (to put him to the test) saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

    Jesus said to him:

    “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

    And the Lawyer answered,

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and…
    you should love your neighbor just like you love your own self.”

    And Jesus said to him,

    “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

    But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    So the Lawyer isn’t asking the question you are asking of this text, which is this:

    ” What, exactly, do[ the Lawyer and Jesus mean] by “love our own selves”, and why is it necessary in order to love others?”

    But I think we can still answer your specific question with this text, especially if you read the story Jesus tells which I won’t review here since it is very well known.

    And then you say you think you know what love is by how you love your wife, but as for yourself you sadly dear brother tell me this : ” I’m not unfamiliar with loathing myself.”
    I, Todd, mostly live in self-loathing is what I am hearing.
    I am certain God does not will this for you Todd. Further, I am going to suggest that you will never really be able to keep the second table of the Law if you do not learn to love Todd. And I am suggesting that precisely means you will not be able to love your wife then as things are in the full way God commands you to do that! Let’s go on and see if I am right.

    So this is a passage of scripture Todd that we are discussing because it is the one you quoted to me. What does it mean?

    I would like you to note that Jesus reacts to the Lawyer’s summary of the Law with this “Do that and you will [be given eternal life].

    Todd: I believe that this passage means this:

    First I am going to ask your permission to substitute the phrase “Fatherly Goodness and Mercy ” for the word “love” exactly in the context as
    it appears in the First Article of the Apostles Creed as explained in Dr Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. I would ask you to ponder exactly why I am suggesting this. It will automatically clarify in your mind precisely what the Holy Scriptures, and I, are meaning by that word “love”. For those not familiar with the Small Catechism you can find it here:

    http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#creed
    Here Love is defined in this way:

    I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil;

    and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me;

    for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

    First I would also add that in other places in that same Small Catechism, this Goodness and Mercy full includes “spiritual” stuff like love, romantic love, a good reputation, good and faithful friends “and the like”. So it includes all that stuff that makes us want to get up in the morning and puts a spring in our step and has us humming a happy tune or curling our toes in pleasure. I am saying or suggesting this is not a utilitarian list. It is a list of Goodness and Mercy that is about our happiness. God’s will is for us to be happy! And that does fully include feelings. It would be hard to avoid that fact from reading the Scriptures. But we Lutherans treat feelings as dangerous. I suggest they are dangerous precisely because they are so important and crucial for God’s Will to be done. But that is maybe another discussion. It is that elephant in the room for most Lutherans I would suggest.

    I would note that the lists here are in groups of 7! God does all this, as Fatherly Goodness and Mercy perfectly and completely is what this business of lists of seven things is telegraphing to us.

    Next, and most importantly, I would note that Mercy sounds like the Holy Gospel that is treated in the Second and Third Article. Why? By definition, Mercy is always undeserved! Doesn’t that sound like the Holy Gospel?! But it is not! God’s Mercy is NOT the Holy Gospel, yet the Gospel IS God’s Mercy.

    The Gospel is the result of, and is the final and full revelation and Incarnation of Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that has always existed even before the Gospel. God literally IS Goodness and Mercy and Love. That is why that is. The Father’s Goodness and Mercy are the Tree of Life if you will and the Gospel is the Fruit of that Tree for us to eat and to drink. And we are commanded to love ourselves by eating this Goodness and Mercy that we most certainly do not deserve. Imagine that my dear, dear Todd.

    So now one last thing. How does God perfectly and completely provide this Fatherly Mercy and Goodness we often call Love? He provides this to me by sending his Holy Spirit with his Law to come knocking at the door of your Old Adam heart. And what does that Law do? It knocks, and knocks, and knocks, and….. well you get the idea here…… at your conscience. It nags you. It makes you do Goodness and Mercy for … um… ME for example… until it literally kills you to do it! So the Law directed at you looks like your death. Because it is that. So where is the Love for Todd in that? It is in that same Law killing me in order to render FOR YOU, Todd, the Fatherly Goodness and Mercy you are to receive from God,” in , with and under” sinful me.

    I would urge you to read the Parable of the Lawless Lawgiver nagged by a conscience that is dead to love to see exactly what this looks like. You will find this in Luke 18. At the end this parable asks if the Son will find faith in all this when he returns. Consider what that is asking.

    I would suggest that the point is this: Goodness and Mercy does not depend on us either in the Gospel OR here on earth! God’s intent is to provide the SAME identical Goodness and Mercy in two different ways. He drives it out of us with the Law in ALL we can see and do here in the Earthly Kingdom. Then, he restores this same Goodness and Mercy in his love-ly Son in that Heavenly Kingdom that is everywhere “in, with and under” all that other Earthly Kingdom Old Adam stuff that is ALL about the Law and death, and this Heavenly Kingdom can only be found in that Earthly and Law-driven government called the Holy Catholic Church, in, with and under those Commands and Ordinances of our dear lord Jesus that we know as Holy Baptism, Holy Word, Holy Sacrament of the Altar and Holy Absolution.

    Bless you dear Todd in finding this Goodness and Mercy that God wants you to have not just in Christ but also here in your creaturely life that will perish along with your Old Adam and mine by that death that the Law works in us that is full of Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that only faith can apprehend as being just that.

    You are commanded, by God almighty to give yourself the Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that your heart longs to receive from others. Further: you are commanded to do this commanded task perfectly. By God. God, in addition, commands you to FEAR God and at the same time Love God and also Trust him to be the ONLY Author of ANY Goodness and Mercy you will ever hope to receive or know, and then also provide that same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy to anyone else that crosses your path that needs it and that you are able to provide this for him perfectly, then God promises you nothing less then Eternal Life by doing those things.

    I would further suggest that the Lawyer is saying that precisely the way we are to know that we are loving others in a way that God wills is to evaluate whether we are giving others Fatherly Goodness and Mercy in the same way that we desire, in our deepest longings, to receive Fatherly Goodness and Mercy from others for our own selves.

    So my questions back to you are as follows:

    1) What in this text would suggest to you or any other text of scripture that my reading of this text is wrong?

    God commands us to love our neighbor.
    How are we to love our neighbor?

    May I suggest that this means that we are commanded to love everyone else in the same way, for the same reasons, for the same purposes, for the same whatever, that we love ourselves.

    I am suggesting to that there is an implicit command in this second part as well. It is that we we are to love ourselves.

  • fws

    Todd @ 80

    I will go to the Scriptures and then, as is my practice here, I will go to our Lutheran Confessions. I hope that what I write in answer to your very urgent question will comfort you. That is my aim ok? I have come to love you by getting to know you here brother.

    So let’s go ok? Here is our text in context:

    Luke 25
    And behold, a lawyer stood up (to put him to the test) saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

    Jesus said to him:

    “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

    And the Lawyer answered,

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and…
    you should love your neighbor just like you love your own self.”

    And Jesus said to him,

    “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

    But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    So the Lawyer isn’t asking the question you are asking of this text, which is this:

    ” What, exactly, do[ the Lawyer and Jesus mean] by “love our own selves”, and why is it necessary in order to love others?”

    But I think we can still answer your specific question with this text, especially if you read the story Jesus tells which I won’t review here since it is very well known.

    And then you say you think you know what love is by how you love your wife, but as for yourself you sadly dear brother tell me this : ” I’m not unfamiliar with loathing myself.”
    I, Todd, mostly live in self-loathing is what I am hearing.
    I am certain God does not will this for you Todd. Further, I am going to suggest that you will never really be able to keep the second table of the Law if you do not learn to love Todd. And I am suggesting that precisely means you will not be able to love your wife then as things are in the full way God commands you to do that! Let’s go on and see if I am right.

    So this is a passage of scripture Todd that we are discussing because it is the one you quoted to me. What does it mean?

    I would like you to note that Jesus reacts to the Lawyer’s summary of the Law with this “Do that and you will [be given eternal life].

    Todd: I believe that this passage means this:

    First I am going to ask your permission to substitute the phrase “Fatherly Goodness and Mercy ” for the word “love” exactly in the context as
    it appears in the First Article of the Apostles Creed as explained in Dr Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. I would ask you to ponder exactly why I am suggesting this. It will automatically clarify in your mind precisely what the Holy Scriptures, and I, are meaning by that word “love”. For those not familiar with the Small Catechism you can find it here:

    http://bookofconcord.org/smallcatechism.php#creed
    Here Love is defined in this way:

    I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil;

    and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me;

    for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

    First I would also add that in other places in that same Small Catechism, this Goodness and Mercy full includes “spiritual” stuff like love, romantic love, a good reputation, good and faithful friends “and the like”. So it includes all that stuff that makes us want to get up in the morning and puts a spring in our step and has us humming a happy tune or curling our toes in pleasure. I am saying or suggesting this is not a utilitarian list. It is a list of Goodness and Mercy that is about our happiness. God’s will is for us to be happy! And that does fully include feelings. It would be hard to avoid that fact from reading the Scriptures. But we Lutherans treat feelings as dangerous. I suggest they are dangerous precisely because they are so important and crucial for God’s Will to be done. But that is maybe another discussion. It is that elephant in the room for most Lutherans I would suggest.

    I would note that the lists here are in groups of 7! God does all this, as Fatherly Goodness and Mercy perfectly and completely is what this business of lists of seven things is telegraphing to us.

    Next, and most importantly, I would note that Mercy sounds like the Holy Gospel that is treated in the Second and Third Article. Why? By definition, Mercy is always undeserved! Doesn’t that sound like the Holy Gospel?! But it is not! God’s Mercy is NOT the Holy Gospel, yet the Gospel IS God’s Mercy.

    The Gospel is the result of, and is the final and full revelation and Incarnation of Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that has always existed even before the Gospel. God literally IS Goodness and Mercy and Love. That is why that is. The Father’s Goodness and Mercy are the Tree of Life if you will and the Gospel is the Fruit of that Tree for us to eat and to drink. And we are commanded to love ourselves by eating this Goodness and Mercy that we most certainly do not deserve. Imagine that my dear, dear Todd.

    So now one last thing. How does God perfectly and completely provide this Fatherly Mercy and Goodness we often call Love? He provides this to me by sending his Holy Spirit with his Law to come knocking at the door of your Old Adam heart. And what does that Law do? It knocks, and knocks, and knocks, and….. well you get the idea here…… at your conscience. It nags you. It makes you do Goodness and Mercy for … um… ME for example… until it literally kills you to do it! So the Law directed at you looks like your death. Because it is that. So where is the Love for Todd in that? It is in that same Law killing me in order to render FOR YOU, Todd, the Fatherly Goodness and Mercy you are to receive from God,” in , with and under” sinful me.

    I would urge you to read the Parable of the Lawless Lawgiver nagged by a conscience that is dead to love to see exactly what this looks like. You will find this in Luke 18. At the end this parable asks if the Son will find faith in all this when he returns. Consider what that is asking.

    I would suggest that the point is this: Goodness and Mercy does not depend on us either in the Gospel OR here on earth! God’s intent is to provide the SAME identical Goodness and Mercy in two different ways. He drives it out of us with the Law in ALL we can see and do here in the Earthly Kingdom. Then, he restores this same Goodness and Mercy in his love-ly Son in that Heavenly Kingdom that is everywhere “in, with and under” all that other Earthly Kingdom Old Adam stuff that is ALL about the Law and death, and this Heavenly Kingdom can only be found in that Earthly and Law-driven government called the Holy Catholic Church, in, with and under those Commands and Ordinances of our dear lord Jesus that we know as Holy Baptism, Holy Word, Holy Sacrament of the Altar and Holy Absolution.

    Bless you dear Todd in finding this Goodness and Mercy that God wants you to have not just in Christ but also here in your creaturely life that will perish along with your Old Adam and mine by that death that the Law works in us that is full of Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that only faith can apprehend as being just that.

    You are commanded, by God almighty to give yourself the Fatherly Goodness and Mercy that your heart longs to receive from others. Further: you are commanded to do this commanded task perfectly. By God. God, in addition, commands you to FEAR God and at the same time Love God and also Trust him to be the ONLY Author of ANY Goodness and Mercy you will ever hope to receive or know, and then also provide that same Fatherly Goodness and Mercy to anyone else that crosses your path that needs it and that you are able to provide this for him perfectly, then God promises you nothing less then Eternal Life by doing those things.

    I would further suggest that the Lawyer is saying that precisely the way we are to know that we are loving others in a way that God wills is to evaluate whether we are giving others Fatherly Goodness and Mercy in the same way that we desire, in our deepest longings, to receive Fatherly Goodness and Mercy from others for our own selves.

    So my questions back to you are as follows:

    1) What in this text would suggest to you or any other text of scripture that my reading of this text is wrong?

    God commands us to love our neighbor.
    How are we to love our neighbor?

    May I suggest that this means that we are commanded to love everyone else in the same way, for the same reasons, for the same purposes, for the same whatever, that we love ourselves.

    I am suggesting to that there is an implicit command in this second part as well. It is that we we are to love ourselves.

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @ 83

    Indeed, my response to this post does indeed reflect the fact that I am a homosexual faced with a very similar issue. I appreciate the way you contextualized that word “dangerous”. I know from that you understand why I increasingly pray the 23rd Psalm.

    Then you say this:

    Anyway, the scriptures that limit our choices are, briefly: “Do not commit adultery,” and “flee fornication.” They cover the limits for the married and the unmarried. I believe that those two statements effectively prohibit all but a marriage relationship.

    There are secondary questions that could be raised, of course, but I am content to keep it in the big picture.

    Ok. Let’s return to that big picture.

    Jesus broke the sabbath. And Jesus also broke the Law about marriage by sanctioning divorce in the Old Testament.

    The statement of Jesus on divorce and God’s original intent must be understood exactly in this context yes? As in “My original intent for marriage was that it be for life, but because of the hardness of hearts of male jews, I make provision for divorce. And why did I do that? So that women and children would at least have a minimum serving of Goodness and Mercy when it happens.

    And divorce WOULD have happened whether Jesus had wrapped a structure around it or not. Laws do not prevent sin. Law can only at best provide a structure that minimizes the damage of sin. This I say could look like the state providing marriage for gays and lesbians. Should they get married or even be gay in a perfect world? Threefold Answer: we don’t live in that world. and … mercy is always undeserved… and what looks like the maximum amount of Goodness and Mercy for all is what we are to do. Dan Reason is the same Law as the Decalog (rom 2:15) (apology IV). This is why Luther could correctly write what he did about the Law of Moses here:

    http://www.wordofhisgrace.org/LutherMoses.htm

    I agree with him Dan, and I think that the Confessions do too. And so I don’t agree with what you say even though I at the same time would not simply disregard what the Holy Scripture says about Divorce. Context matters however. And besides. Tell me what “fornication” means? Does it simply mean “sex outside of marriage”? It is from the same word pornography is from. Do we really know what it means apart from knowing that it means sexually sinning with no clear definition beyond exactly that?

    Finally , that fact that men will do what they want whether there are laws or not is precisely what that “hardness of heart” business exactly means. This may not seem like such a big deal now, but consider: men could not commit adultery generally, they would just marry and be polygamous. Rape was about sexually using someone elses PROPERTY that they bought and paid for. Women were literally property. And we are told in Genesis 3 , that women were EQUAL to men before the fall. So Jesus’ original intent is far far far from what he is addressing isnt it?

    Of course I could be wrong here. As you say, we must all make our reason captive to the Word of God.

    Penny for your thoughts.

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @ 83

    Indeed, my response to this post does indeed reflect the fact that I am a homosexual faced with a very similar issue. I appreciate the way you contextualized that word “dangerous”. I know from that you understand why I increasingly pray the 23rd Psalm.

    Then you say this:

    Anyway, the scriptures that limit our choices are, briefly: “Do not commit adultery,” and “flee fornication.” They cover the limits for the married and the unmarried. I believe that those two statements effectively prohibit all but a marriage relationship.

    There are secondary questions that could be raised, of course, but I am content to keep it in the big picture.

    Ok. Let’s return to that big picture.

    Jesus broke the sabbath. And Jesus also broke the Law about marriage by sanctioning divorce in the Old Testament.

    The statement of Jesus on divorce and God’s original intent must be understood exactly in this context yes? As in “My original intent for marriage was that it be for life, but because of the hardness of hearts of male jews, I make provision for divorce. And why did I do that? So that women and children would at least have a minimum serving of Goodness and Mercy when it happens.

    And divorce WOULD have happened whether Jesus had wrapped a structure around it or not. Laws do not prevent sin. Law can only at best provide a structure that minimizes the damage of sin. This I say could look like the state providing marriage for gays and lesbians. Should they get married or even be gay in a perfect world? Threefold Answer: we don’t live in that world. and … mercy is always undeserved… and what looks like the maximum amount of Goodness and Mercy for all is what we are to do. Dan Reason is the same Law as the Decalog (rom 2:15) (apology IV). This is why Luther could correctly write what he did about the Law of Moses here:

    http://www.wordofhisgrace.org/LutherMoses.htm

    I agree with him Dan, and I think that the Confessions do too. And so I don’t agree with what you say even though I at the same time would not simply disregard what the Holy Scripture says about Divorce. Context matters however. And besides. Tell me what “fornication” means? Does it simply mean “sex outside of marriage”? It is from the same word pornography is from. Do we really know what it means apart from knowing that it means sexually sinning with no clear definition beyond exactly that?

    Finally , that fact that men will do what they want whether there are laws or not is precisely what that “hardness of heart” business exactly means. This may not seem like such a big deal now, but consider: men could not commit adultery generally, they would just marry and be polygamous. Rape was about sexually using someone elses PROPERTY that they bought and paid for. Women were literally property. And we are told in Genesis 3 , that women were EQUAL to men before the fall. So Jesus’ original intent is far far far from what he is addressing isnt it?

    Of course I could be wrong here. As you say, we must all make our reason captive to the Word of God.

    Penny for your thoughts.

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws, #85,

    “Penny for your thoughts.”

    Hmm. This is a deep one and I don’t mind admitting that it is beyond me. There is much insight in your analysis of love and the law. The rule that must be remembered as well as the stumbling block is that the law cannot be negotiated into blessing. It is always law and only cruel. There is forgiveness. There is understanding. But permissiveness cannot stand. We can only stand acquitted.

    What is fornication? Good question. Again, I don’t know that I am really equipped to answer that. I think it is worthy of more discussion than the simplistic, but I don’t know that ths is the place for it.

    And for the record, I would maintain that Jesus did not break the sabbath.

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws, #85,

    “Penny for your thoughts.”

    Hmm. This is a deep one and I don’t mind admitting that it is beyond me. There is much insight in your analysis of love and the law. The rule that must be remembered as well as the stumbling block is that the law cannot be negotiated into blessing. It is always law and only cruel. There is forgiveness. There is understanding. But permissiveness cannot stand. We can only stand acquitted.

    What is fornication? Good question. Again, I don’t know that I am really equipped to answer that. I think it is worthy of more discussion than the simplistic, but I don’t know that ths is the place for it.

    And for the record, I would maintain that Jesus did not break the sabbath.

  • Grace

    83 Dan

    YOU WROTE: “Wow, Grace, you really seem angry.”

    No, not angry – shocked at how ignorant those who tout self gratification, then mixing it up with ‘loving your neighbor and loving yoursefl. Any looop hole will do, when one wants to dump their spouse.

  • Grace

    83 Dan

    YOU WROTE: “Wow, Grace, you really seem angry.”

    No, not angry – shocked at how ignorant those who tout self gratification, then mixing it up with ‘loving your neighbor and loving yoursefl. Any looop hole will do, when one wants to dump their spouse.

  • Dan Kempin

    Grace, #87,

    I haven’t heard anyone here talk about dumping a spouse, though I am sometimes shocked at my own ignorance. That’s why I am so thankful for those who will correct me, when necessary, from the Word of God. (With gentleness and respect, of course.)

  • Dan Kempin

    Grace, #87,

    I haven’t heard anyone here talk about dumping a spouse, though I am sometimes shocked at my own ignorance. That’s why I am so thankful for those who will correct me, when necessary, from the Word of God. (With gentleness and respect, of course.)

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @ 86

    The rule that must be remembered as well as the stumbling block is that the law cannot be negotiated into blessing.

    I believe I agree pastor with what you are saying, but there is a much better and clearer way to say this.

    And we would find that in the Small Catechism where Dr Luther explains the 10 commandments. But it is structural, so one needs to read the Apology art III and then overlay that onto the Catechism to see it clearly. See if you agree with what I am going to present to you:

    Luther teaches us that here in the Earthly Kingdom that is ALL Old Adam in ALL we can see and do, God works his Fatherly Goodness and Mercy, insofar as we can see it, by extorting it from us with the Law. So what does that mechanism look like? The recipe or formula for Goodness and Mercy is this:

    Old Adam Goodness and Mercy = Mortification + Love.

    So in every commandment we have Goodness and Mercy = shalt not + shall, ie G&M=mortification (this is latinate for “deathing”) + love.

    This is to say that Love simply cannot happen in sinful man without the Law killing him. There is NO love possible without , as you put it, that “stumbling block” of the Law that says “No!” , or that withholds permission to do what Old Adam would rather do in his heart if there was no Law accusing him in his Reason or conscience.
    Aristotle and St Paul both call this discipline. Morality which is Love or Goodness and Mercy can’t happen without it in Old Adam.

    There is only ONE commandment where Goodness and Mercy = Shall (note no shalt not). This is G&M=Love. Note that No Mortification or discipline is in that one commandment’s explanation. There is no “thou shalt not”! I will get to why that is remarkable last.

    Now then. We can note two things from this: Mortification, aka self denial, aka sacrifice, aka self discipline , aka Virtue, aka self sacrifice is demanded by God. Yet… it is NOT the righeousness demanded by God on Earth out of Old Adam. That righeousness is alone the Goodness and Mercy or Love.

    While it is true that no Love can happen without Mortification, it is also true that Mortification without Love IS virtue, it is true that in God’s eyes, virtue is not it’s own reward. Virtue must ALWAYS serve to provide God’s Will, which is ONLY that Fatherly Goodness and Mercy be done among men.

    Side trip: This is why the Law is not Goodness and Mercy, but it IS Good and it IS for our Good and Mercy. In this exact way the curses in Genesis 3 ARE curses, but they are Good and for our Good and for Mercy to us.

    Only faith can see this in thorns, thistles, work as odious, children as a source of pain for their parents, and women under the thumb of men and as an obsessive focus of females.

    God’s original unfallen Order of Creation referred to by St Paul for example is for women to be equal to men! So we need to read St Paul’s invocation of that Order in the same way we morally classify thorns and thistles, work being a chore, and labor pain. And we then are free to consider women as pastors just as we are cool with roundup for weeds, labor saving devices and demerol and prozac to deal with the pain of having kids. And none of this threatens God’s Order in any way at all nor is it immoral to overcome any of these curses in Gen 3 in a certain form.

    Dr Luther says this in his Genesis Commentary on this topic, just to show that I am not being radical in this view at all:

    “Now there is also added to those sorrows of gestation and birth that Eve has been placed under the power of her husband, she who previously was very free and, as the sharer of all the gifts of God, was in no respect inferior to her husband. … If Eve had persisted in the truth, she would not only not have been subjected to the rule of her husband, but she herself would also have been a partner in the rule which is now entirely the concern of males.” Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, (Gen 3:16), I Luther’s Works, (Concordia, St. Louis), pp. 202-03.

    But now back to the topic of the necessity of the extorting Law for Love to happen in Old Adam:

    This is why Mortification without Love is called “useless” in our Confessions. (apology art IV and III). In this category the Confessions place the acts of mandatory celebacy, the Lord’s Supper, praying and Holy Baptism. Lord’s supper?! praying?! Baptism?! Sexual chastity? yup. Why?

    Goodness and Mercy are two things that God intends to be aimed at man. This should be obvious. Think about it. God does not need either Goodness or Mercy. If you say that word Love, this is not so obvious. God IS Goodness and Mercy AND Love. So he does not need us to give him those things . Not even as a form of Obedience or test of Obedience. That would be a silly idea wouldn’t it? So we can be certain that the Law is aimed at making us give this to other creatures.

    So this is why all those things are called “useless sacrifice” and “idolatry” by our confessions. And surprisingly this list even includes prayer and the blessed sacraments! Why?

    Whenever we do something as a discipline or even for obedience because God commands it (!), and it does not clearly result in Goodness and Mercy being done for another human being, then it is “useless” and worse it is “idolatry.” Why? We are doing those things to present them as Obedience to God.

    Remenber that only the Works of Christ earn Mercy from God. Our works , seen in God’s judgement should terrify us. God calls all our works, even our virtue the moral equivalent of a used tampon. For us to present even the lords supper or baptism then as something we can do as an exercise that is just between us and God and is not to serve others mercy as being God’s Work that gives us Christ, then these things are worse than “useless” in that case.

    Only Christ alone can render any Obedence to God that is not worthy of Hell. And so our works MUST be hidden completely in His when presented to God. But when presented to our neighbor, it is our neighbor that is the judge of whether or not he is receiving from us Goodness and Mercy. And here St James is right! ” tell me your faith, and I will SHOW you my works.

    This is true even after we are regenerated, and it is even still true about our best and most virtuous works even as being truly “sanctificed works”. This is because the works of a Christian are not sanctified because the works are different than any work of Old Adam. They are sanctified, alone, because they are completely hidden inside of the Works of Another.

    Now I promised to get to that one commandment that does not require any Mortification or Law to make us keep it.

    That commandment is the first commandment that requires that we fear love and trust in God or in the Works of Christ alone.

    There is NO amount of Moses or the Law that can make that one commandment happen! THIS commandment is then not about what we can do. This commandment can only be fulfilled by the prophecy in Jeremiah 33 where God says that the Law will not just be written in our Reason (rom 2:15) but as a fruit of regeneration it will be written , once again, in the hearts of men! So in the catechism there is no ‘shalt not’ for this one commandment! no amount of self discipline or sacrifice or our faith or our right emotional response can produce the “new heart movements” this commandment demands of us.

    This is why we confess ” I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him, BUT the Holy Spirit…..

    I hope this makes some sense and is helpful.

    It is always law and only cruel. There is forgiveness. There is understanding. But permissiveness cannot stand. We can only stand acquitted.

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @ 86

    The rule that must be remembered as well as the stumbling block is that the law cannot be negotiated into blessing.

    I believe I agree pastor with what you are saying, but there is a much better and clearer way to say this.

    And we would find that in the Small Catechism where Dr Luther explains the 10 commandments. But it is structural, so one needs to read the Apology art III and then overlay that onto the Catechism to see it clearly. See if you agree with what I am going to present to you:

    Luther teaches us that here in the Earthly Kingdom that is ALL Old Adam in ALL we can see and do, God works his Fatherly Goodness and Mercy, insofar as we can see it, by extorting it from us with the Law. So what does that mechanism look like? The recipe or formula for Goodness and Mercy is this:

    Old Adam Goodness and Mercy = Mortification + Love.

    So in every commandment we have Goodness and Mercy = shalt not + shall, ie G&M=mortification (this is latinate for “deathing”) + love.

    This is to say that Love simply cannot happen in sinful man without the Law killing him. There is NO love possible without , as you put it, that “stumbling block” of the Law that says “No!” , or that withholds permission to do what Old Adam would rather do in his heart if there was no Law accusing him in his Reason or conscience.
    Aristotle and St Paul both call this discipline. Morality which is Love or Goodness and Mercy can’t happen without it in Old Adam.

    There is only ONE commandment where Goodness and Mercy = Shall (note no shalt not). This is G&M=Love. Note that No Mortification or discipline is in that one commandment’s explanation. There is no “thou shalt not”! I will get to why that is remarkable last.

    Now then. We can note two things from this: Mortification, aka self denial, aka sacrifice, aka self discipline , aka Virtue, aka self sacrifice is demanded by God. Yet… it is NOT the righeousness demanded by God on Earth out of Old Adam. That righeousness is alone the Goodness and Mercy or Love.

    While it is true that no Love can happen without Mortification, it is also true that Mortification without Love IS virtue, it is true that in God’s eyes, virtue is not it’s own reward. Virtue must ALWAYS serve to provide God’s Will, which is ONLY that Fatherly Goodness and Mercy be done among men.

    Side trip: This is why the Law is not Goodness and Mercy, but it IS Good and it IS for our Good and Mercy. In this exact way the curses in Genesis 3 ARE curses, but they are Good and for our Good and for Mercy to us.

    Only faith can see this in thorns, thistles, work as odious, children as a source of pain for their parents, and women under the thumb of men and as an obsessive focus of females.

    God’s original unfallen Order of Creation referred to by St Paul for example is for women to be equal to men! So we need to read St Paul’s invocation of that Order in the same way we morally classify thorns and thistles, work being a chore, and labor pain. And we then are free to consider women as pastors just as we are cool with roundup for weeds, labor saving devices and demerol and prozac to deal with the pain of having kids. And none of this threatens God’s Order in any way at all nor is it immoral to overcome any of these curses in Gen 3 in a certain form.

    Dr Luther says this in his Genesis Commentary on this topic, just to show that I am not being radical in this view at all:

    “Now there is also added to those sorrows of gestation and birth that Eve has been placed under the power of her husband, she who previously was very free and, as the sharer of all the gifts of God, was in no respect inferior to her husband. … If Eve had persisted in the truth, she would not only not have been subjected to the rule of her husband, but she herself would also have been a partner in the rule which is now entirely the concern of males.” Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, (Gen 3:16), I Luther’s Works, (Concordia, St. Louis), pp. 202-03.

    But now back to the topic of the necessity of the extorting Law for Love to happen in Old Adam:

    This is why Mortification without Love is called “useless” in our Confessions. (apology art IV and III). In this category the Confessions place the acts of mandatory celebacy, the Lord’s Supper, praying and Holy Baptism. Lord’s supper?! praying?! Baptism?! Sexual chastity? yup. Why?

    Goodness and Mercy are two things that God intends to be aimed at man. This should be obvious. Think about it. God does not need either Goodness or Mercy. If you say that word Love, this is not so obvious. God IS Goodness and Mercy AND Love. So he does not need us to give him those things . Not even as a form of Obedience or test of Obedience. That would be a silly idea wouldn’t it? So we can be certain that the Law is aimed at making us give this to other creatures.

    So this is why all those things are called “useless sacrifice” and “idolatry” by our confessions. And surprisingly this list even includes prayer and the blessed sacraments! Why?

    Whenever we do something as a discipline or even for obedience because God commands it (!), and it does not clearly result in Goodness and Mercy being done for another human being, then it is “useless” and worse it is “idolatry.” Why? We are doing those things to present them as Obedience to God.

    Remenber that only the Works of Christ earn Mercy from God. Our works , seen in God’s judgement should terrify us. God calls all our works, even our virtue the moral equivalent of a used tampon. For us to present even the lords supper or baptism then as something we can do as an exercise that is just between us and God and is not to serve others mercy as being God’s Work that gives us Christ, then these things are worse than “useless” in that case.

    Only Christ alone can render any Obedence to God that is not worthy of Hell. And so our works MUST be hidden completely in His when presented to God. But when presented to our neighbor, it is our neighbor that is the judge of whether or not he is receiving from us Goodness and Mercy. And here St James is right! ” tell me your faith, and I will SHOW you my works.

    This is true even after we are regenerated, and it is even still true about our best and most virtuous works even as being truly “sanctificed works”. This is because the works of a Christian are not sanctified because the works are different than any work of Old Adam. They are sanctified, alone, because they are completely hidden inside of the Works of Another.

    Now I promised to get to that one commandment that does not require any Mortification or Law to make us keep it.

    That commandment is the first commandment that requires that we fear love and trust in God or in the Works of Christ alone.

    There is NO amount of Moses or the Law that can make that one commandment happen! THIS commandment is then not about what we can do. This commandment can only be fulfilled by the prophecy in Jeremiah 33 where God says that the Law will not just be written in our Reason (rom 2:15) but as a fruit of regeneration it will be written , once again, in the hearts of men! So in the catechism there is no ‘shalt not’ for this one commandment! no amount of self discipline or sacrifice or our faith or our right emotional response can produce the “new heart movements” this commandment demands of us.

    This is why we confess ” I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him, BUT the Holy Spirit…..

    I hope this makes some sense and is helpful.

    It is always law and only cruel. There is forgiveness. There is understanding. But permissiveness cannot stand. We can only stand acquitted.

  • fws

    Dan @ 86

    For the record Jesus did not break the sabbath.

    Of course I need to agree with that. Jesus came and fulfilled the Law he did not come to remove it.

    So what did I mean by what I said so awkwardly and poorly?

    This: The “sum” or “aim” or “fulfillment ” of Law of God is not to be sought by following the letter of the Law, even though I hope I was clear that at the same time the sum of the Law simply can’t happen without that letter driving us.

    But to follow the letter (self restraint,” thou shalt not”) is NOT to keep the Law which ALWAY must bear the evidence of Goodness and Mercy being sense-ibly and evidentially done (think of a court of law and rules of evidence to get the point I am trying to make here).

    The actual keeping of the Law is found in what the Good Samaritan did in that story in the Gospel of St Luke.

    So I would suggest that Jesus DID in fact break the Letter of the Law. But consider: Jesus, as also our New Man, needs no mortification or “shalt not’s ” for Goodness and Mercy to happen in Him is why that is!And Jesus did actually keep the Law because what he did was pure Goodness and Mercy. And it was that especially for the Pharisees who were burdened with the heavy yoke of Law-as-sacrifice and man-made-to-do-law or man’s telos as being conformity to some list of rules to use the Natural Law argument of St Thomas.

    I would be quick to add that just because Jesus here did not follow the letter to make a point, we are not Jesus. Our Old Adam still clings to us. And we need to be very legalistic in dealing with that Old Adam. Old Adam is deeply religious and loves to “spiritualize ” the process of doing love rather than have it be the discipline that it needs to be that is oh so contrary and killing and diminishing of our entire ego.

    I hope this is clear.

  • fws

    Dan @ 86

    For the record Jesus did not break the sabbath.

    Of course I need to agree with that. Jesus came and fulfilled the Law he did not come to remove it.

    So what did I mean by what I said so awkwardly and poorly?

    This: The “sum” or “aim” or “fulfillment ” of Law of God is not to be sought by following the letter of the Law, even though I hope I was clear that at the same time the sum of the Law simply can’t happen without that letter driving us.

    But to follow the letter (self restraint,” thou shalt not”) is NOT to keep the Law which ALWAY must bear the evidence of Goodness and Mercy being sense-ibly and evidentially done (think of a court of law and rules of evidence to get the point I am trying to make here).

    The actual keeping of the Law is found in what the Good Samaritan did in that story in the Gospel of St Luke.

    So I would suggest that Jesus DID in fact break the Letter of the Law. But consider: Jesus, as also our New Man, needs no mortification or “shalt not’s ” for Goodness and Mercy to happen in Him is why that is!And Jesus did actually keep the Law because what he did was pure Goodness and Mercy. And it was that especially for the Pharisees who were burdened with the heavy yoke of Law-as-sacrifice and man-made-to-do-law or man’s telos as being conformity to some list of rules to use the Natural Law argument of St Thomas.

    I would be quick to add that just because Jesus here did not follow the letter to make a point, we are not Jesus. Our Old Adam still clings to us. And we need to be very legalistic in dealing with that Old Adam. Old Adam is deeply religious and loves to “spiritualize ” the process of doing love rather than have it be the discipline that it needs to be that is oh so contrary and killing and diminishing of our entire ego.

    I hope this is clear.

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws, #89,

    What you say about law being mortification plus love is intriguing. It seems to hang together. I will need time to absorb and reflect upon it.

    I was less clear about the side trip, but that is of no matter. I will be reflecting on what you said.

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws, #89,

    What you say about law being mortification plus love is intriguing. It seems to hang together. I will need time to absorb and reflect upon it.

    I was less clear about the side trip, but that is of no matter. I will be reflecting on what you said.

  • Dan Kempin

    Re: #90,

    I don’t know. I think I see what you are trying to get at, but that seems like a very treacherous way of expressing it. Jesus did clear up the misunderstand of what it meant to break the sabbath. He broke his accusers idea of the sabbath. But he did not break the law, either in spirit or in letter.

    Must dash, though, and probably won’t be able to check in again today. Thanks for the conversation.

  • Dan Kempin

    Re: #90,

    I don’t know. I think I see what you are trying to get at, but that seems like a very treacherous way of expressing it. Jesus did clear up the misunderstand of what it meant to break the sabbath. He broke his accusers idea of the sabbath. But he did not break the law, either in spirit or in letter.

    Must dash, though, and probably won’t be able to check in again today. Thanks for the conversation.

  • fws

    dan @ 92

    yes. I should probably retract that. You are right . at the very least my wording is very uncertain and so will not lead to anything sure or useful.

    I will go back to the drawing board on that. treacherous is probably a good word.

  • fws

    dan @ 92

    yes. I should probably retract that. You are right . at the very least my wording is very uncertain and so will not lead to anything sure or useful.

    I will go back to the drawing board on that. treacherous is probably a good word.

  • Joe

    The command to love your neighbor as yourself does not rest on the predicate of self love. The command is not love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself, it is love your neighbor as (i.e. in the place of) yourself. It is a command to get over yourself and get on with serving your neighbor.

  • Joe

    The command to love your neighbor as yourself does not rest on the predicate of self love. The command is not love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself, it is love your neighbor as (i.e. in the place of) yourself. It is a command to get over yourself and get on with serving your neighbor.

  • fws

    joe @ 94

    I agree that the command to love neighbor is not predicated on self love. I don’t see anyone saying that Joe.

    “Love your neighbor as you love your own self”

    You are telling us that this really means “love your neighbor in the place of yourself”.

    Can you explain how you get that out of this passage especially in context?

  • fws

    joe @ 94

    I agree that the command to love neighbor is not predicated on self love. I don’t see anyone saying that Joe.

    “Love your neighbor as you love your own self”

    You are telling us that this really means “love your neighbor in the place of yourself”.

    Can you explain how you get that out of this passage especially in context?

  • Dennis Peskey

    The funeral is over; my mother’s body rests in the grave awaiting the resurrection. While I have not fully digested all comments relative to this post, I did appreciate the numerous expressions of sympathy and condolence. I pray a simple heartfelt thank you to the readers of this blog will suffice.

    I’ve only one passing comment to relate. I believe I made mention of my mother’s last husband abandoning her to escape the torment and financial drain of Alzheimer’s. For those who ever doubt the wisdom of the Lord, Alzheimer’s came knocking on his very door. Please pray for him as well and remember, the wages of sin is death. It will come soon enough for all of us. In the meantime, serve your neighbor as best you can.
    Peace,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    The funeral is over; my mother’s body rests in the grave awaiting the resurrection. While I have not fully digested all comments relative to this post, I did appreciate the numerous expressions of sympathy and condolence. I pray a simple heartfelt thank you to the readers of this blog will suffice.

    I’ve only one passing comment to relate. I believe I made mention of my mother’s last husband abandoning her to escape the torment and financial drain of Alzheimer’s. For those who ever doubt the wisdom of the Lord, Alzheimer’s came knocking on his very door. Please pray for him as well and remember, the wages of sin is death. It will come soon enough for all of us. In the meantime, serve your neighbor as best you can.
    Peace,
    Dennis


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