It Has to Stop
I want to be very careful about what I say and share here. I don’t want to offend or hurt people’s feelings, nor do I want anyone to think I am belittling a fellow believer. I just know it’s time for us to speak up. We are being embarrassed by the actions of one among us. I believe it’s time for him to quietly pass off the scene before he does any more damage.
I’ve met the man. I’ve been on his program. I want to show no disrespect, but I would want someone to do this for me if I were in his position. Apparently when you are the boss, no one can speak into your life.
I’m referring to Pat Robertson of the 700 Club. Pat has a chased a number of tangents in his day and made wild and even preposterous claims, like chasing a hurricane away (I’m sure the folks who got nailed by that storm really appreciated his prayers).
Pat has become dangerous to himself, to his ministry, and to the cause of Christ. Why? Because he doesn’t think before he speaks. He answers questions on air, and they come out the wrong way—often interpreted as arrogant, mean-spirited, and un-Christlike.
Case in point: the most recent blunder to be picked up by major media was his comment on what should happen to a woman who won’t respect her husband. On the broadcast, according to Huff Post Religion, he answered a question from a viewer named Michael (not me!) about how to repair his marriage to a woman who “has no respect for me as the head of the house.”
Robertson’s answers could have been:
- Seek biblical counseling
- Begin a season of prayer and fasting, asking God to heal your marriage
- Repent of any attitude or actions that have caused your wife to lose respect for you
- Rent Fireproof (Sorry, that was a shameless plug for a movie by Sherwood Pictures with my daughter Erin Bethea as the female lead!)
- Read The Love Dare (Another shameless plug for my staff members, Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick, who wrote the book…and thousands of marriages have been restored as a result.)
But that’s not what he did. Robertson opened his mouth and inserted his foot: “Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her.” He didn’t stop there! “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days, but something has got to be done to make her.”
I’m hoping we can’t conclude by his statement that Pat Robertson beats his wife. His response even seems to imply force if necessary. Hardly the response of a Christian. He called the woman a “rebellious child” who doesn’t want to “submit to any authority.” Of course, he’s only getting one side of the story and has no clue if the caller is being factual. According to the report, he even suggested the husband “move to Saudi Arabia” where beating women would be permissible. This response is shameful, embarrassing, un-Christlike, and pitiful.
Pat has lost the right to be respected. This isn’t his first blunder or first time to jump the Scriptural ship. He recently rejected the idea of adopting babies from overseas and implied there was something wrong with them. Again, a heartless, callous response from a man who is living in some kind of isolation tent.
From my perspective, he has to go NOW! Every day he is on the air, he makes the rest of us look like heartless morons. He is losing it or has already lost it. Age or lack of being in touch with the real world has caused him to lose his ability to influence for good.
Someone needs to have a talk with him. Someone needs to shoot him straight. He may be the boss, he may write the checks, but surely his family or his board has the courage to stand up to him. If not, he shouldn’t get our support. His bad is starting to outweigh his good. This isn’t one random slip up. This is an increasingly frequent occurrence of embarrassing behavior.
I know how hard this will be. I’ve had to confront people who were starting to lose their capacity to lead and tell them it was time to step aside. I lost a friend over it. But what matters most is the Kingdom. If we don’t, all people will remember is the constant stumbles toward the finish line. We should finish well, not finish apologizing for not being at our best. We should finish with a “Well done!” not a “He said WHAT?!”
I’m grateful for men I know who have stepped aside when their time of traveling was done. While still effective, they know their limitations. Time catches up with all of us. We would be wise to follow the example of men like Warren Wiersbe and Billy Graham who have stepped out of the limelight gracefully and been very selective in what they say and who they say it to. We could learn a lot from men like that.
Unfortunately, men like Pat Robertson don’t seem to know when it’s time to ride off into the sunset. I pray that when the day comes for me to pass the baton, I won’t have to be told by anyone else. I pray God will give me the wisdom and discernment to know when my days of public ministry are over. I don’t want to be a worthless worker in a world of work. Nor do I want to be a stumbling block to a generation still in the battle.