His post yesterday, responding to a Washington Post human interest story about a woman who supposedly "learns the true meaning of 'in sickness and in health'" by divorcing her now-disabled husband in order to remarry (while promising to continue to care for the disabled husband), is a great example of this.
Playing on the heart-strings does not always (or even usually) produce a good or proper melody. Such is the case of a recently published Washington Post Article entitled: A Family Learns the True Meaning of the Vow: ‘In Sickness and in Health.’ Actually, they do not. In fact they demonstrate the exact antithesis of what that vow means.The rest is here.
I want to be careful here, since this is a story about real human beings who have lived through a tragic situation. And while they have made decisions that I think are wrong from a biblical and faith perspective, I do not lack sympathy for them. There’s is a human struggle here and not all of us hold up perfectly in such struggles.
Yet, they themselves have decided to go public, in a national newspaper about their decision and, as a pastor of many, I am thus compelled to speak in a public way as well, lest others be misguided as to what a true Catholic and biblical response to this tragedy is.
The article and story is a very lengthy one. The full article is available above by click there in the title. I have also produced a summary here: A Story of Misguided Marital Vows. But the basic facts are these:
OK, a heart-wrencher to be sure. And the article is surely written to obtain our heartfelt consent by tugging at our heart-strings.
- Robert and Page Melton were married in 1995 and had two children.
- In 2003 Robert had a severe heart attack that left him with brain injuries. His motor skills were unimpaired but his memory was devastated. He remembered nothing of his wife and children and almost nothing of his earlier life.
- His behavior was also child-like and erratic which meant he needed to live in a nursing care facility.
- His wife visited him several times weekly and they developed a new sort of relationship. Though he came to know that he was her husband and the father of their daughters, he was not able to resume this role in any sort of substantial way.
- His wife Page was resigned to this, and still loved and cared for him as best as she was able.
- But then Page met an old friend, Allan who was divorced, and they fell in love.
- Allan also befriended Robert even as he was romancing Robert’s wife.
- Allan proposed marriage to Page.
- Page felt guilty, but wanted this new life. So she asked Robert.
- Robert said she should marry Allan, but wondered what would happen to himself.
- Page promised to continuing caring for Robert, but divorced him and married Allan.
- Robert continues today in her care and she is his legal guardian, but no longer his wife.
- The Post article assures us that everyone is blissfully happy, and will live happily ever after.
But be careful here, emotionally based reasoning is usually very blurry, and often quite wrong. And this is no exception. Lets look at some of the issues....