Recently, a woman called televangelist Pat Robertson looking for advice on how to forgive her husband who had cheated on her. One of his comments to her was, “He cheated on you, well, he’s a man.” REALLY??? That’s all Mr. Robertson could come up with? And then he went on to tell her that if women made their homes ‘wonderful,’ men wouldn’t stray. To my dismay, he also told her not to focus on the cheating and to be thankful if the husband was a good provider.
With all due respect, Mr. Robertson, you do not understand the nature of marriage and your comments sell both men and women terribly short.
First off, no one drives anyone to break their marriage vows. Marriage is a covenant with God. You either take it seriously or you don’t. Those who cheat, don’t. When a man cheats on his wife, he does not understand the covenantal relationship he has with her. All he is focused on is pleasure, both physical and emotional. By narrowing his focus to the sensual, he cuts the spiritual aspect out of his life and is unable to think or live like a true Christian. Christians are called to see others as Christ and treat them accordingly. When we live focused only on our sensual experiences, we lose the selflessness that we are called to as Christians and become what a priest friend of mine calls ‘spiritually cross-eyed.’ We focus in on ourselves instead of out on others and derive joy only from those things that are sensual. Men (and women) who behave this way are infants, both emotionally and spiritually. That said, this is a reason, NOT an excuse. Just because you say that men “have a tendency to wander,” doesn’t mean they should. We are, after all, above the animals in the order of creation and do have a measure of self control.
Scripture says, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her, to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
How does cheating on her or using pornography sanctify a wife?
Men are supposed to die for their wives, just as Christ died for His Church. Maybe they won’t be called to die an actual physical death, but they are called to ‘die to self,’ to put their own needs aside and sacrifice for their wives. This call, in Ephesians 5, is much bigger than merely being a good provider. Men shouldn’t be patting themselves on the back if they are making lots of money, paying the mortgage on a big house, driving a brand new car, but cheating on their wives. That is not upholding the covenant they made with their wives and with God.
As a spiritual leader to many, Mr. Robertson has fallen short in the advice He has given to this women and failed the men and women who have heard this advice. It is not God’s plan for men and women to merely settle for being comfortable in a marriage in which vows are being broken. When we read scripture, we see that Jesus called people out on their sins, sometimes harshly. And He certainly didn’t say to the adulteress, “Well, if you make great meals and get the laundry done, but have a tendency to sleep with the neighbor once in awhile, that’s okay.” No. He told her to stop.
I think Mr. Robertson would greatly benefit from reading Bl. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and also Love and Responsibility, both of which emphasize the sacrificial nature of the husband-wife relationship.
In Finding Rita, the novel I am currently writing, I address the issues of marital infidelity, pornography addiction and sexual abuse as it affects a marriage. I have spoken to many women whose lives, and the lives of their children, have been impacted by their husband’s ‘tendencies.’
Men aren’t merely providers and women aren’t merely housekeepers. God made us to be so much more, and I am saddened by the fact that Pat Robertson has failed to recognize that.