“Will You Still Need Me? Will You Still Feed Me?”

September 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

When the song “When I’m Sixty-Four” by Paul McCartney came out, 64 seemed an impossibly old age. I’ve been thinking about the question it asks–“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?”–since hearing Pat Robertson’s comments about Alzheimer’s and divorce. I was surprised to hear him comment, in answer to a viewer’s question, that Alzheimer’s is a kind of death, and, in his opinion, a spouse is free to divorce and go on with their lives if one partner is so affected. The comment made national evening news and made a small splash elsewhere, but even more surprising, hasn’t had staying power on Twitter or Facebook or circulated e-mails. It’s last week’s news and it’s no longer a general topic of discussion.

But, it needs to be a topic of discussion. After forty-eight years of marriage my husband and I occasionally have had lighthearted conversations about how life will be if one of us gets Alzheimer’s. We joke with each other about how we will be at each other’s mercy and how it will be “payback time.” But, the thought of ending the marriage because of debilitating illness has never entered either thought or conversation.

Randy Alcorn, author, minister and head of Eternal Perspectives Ministries, said on his blog, “Pat Robertson has said something so stunning, so at odds with the Word of God and the heart of our Savior, that when I heard he had said it I thought he had been misunderstood or misrepresented.” He went on to call Robertson’s stand “unbiblical, God-dishonoring, and marriage-undermining.” Then he shared the story of Robertson McQuilkin who resigned as president of Columbia Bible College in 1990 to care for his wife, Muriel, who had Altzheimer’s. McQuilkin said, ” I’ve just accepted whatever assignment the Lord gave me.” And added, “I never think about ‘what if.’ I don’t think ‘what if’ is in God’s vocabulary. So, I don’t even think about what I might be doing instead of changing her diaper or what I might be doing instead of spending two hours feeding her. It’s the grace of God, I’m sure.”

That’s the point, isn’t it? There’ll be grace for every season of our lives, even if one spouse has to be fed.

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