Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kate Plus 8 Minus Jon

I am sure that the blogging world (especially the Christian blogging world) is a buzz with the seemingly inevitable news last night of Jon and Kate's impending divorce. All day long I have seen Tweets and Facebook updates regarding people's feeling about the decision to dissolve this 10-year marriage. Most of the updates expressed people's sadness over the end result here. There has been genuine sympathy and heartfelt emotion poured out online for this family.

My first initial thoughts as the "rag sheets" were continually following this story in recent weeks was "what did they expect?" I recounted to my wife the track record of couples who had allowed cameras to come into their homes and invade their privacy: Nick and Jessica, Hulk and Linda, and now Jon and Kate. Let's face it, the other two couples' celebrity status prior to their show rendered them poor comparisons. Jon and Kate were ordinary people who happened to have a chance to tell their story. Through the telling of their story, they made lots of money and Kate even launched a speaking and writing career through it.

How could a marriage sustain everything that they had been through in having two sets of multiples and then the allowed infiltration of their home by camera crews? While some may blame TLC for pushing the envelope, did they not know what they were getting into prior to this? It's like watching "Wife Swap" and seeing the look of surprise on the faces of the husbands who are being told that they are going to have to live by their "wife's" rules for a few days. Come on people, did you not read the fine print?

Kate's words on the show last night are still ringing in my ears, "My children are going to be another statistic." Sort of interesting that that was how she verbalized this whole sadness. Her sadness wasn't that a covenant had been broken or that the testimony of the commitment of marriage had been severely marred in her children's eyes, but that they were going to become a statistic.

I will curiously watch how the Christian community reacts to this news in upcoming weeks. Kate's book was published by Zondervan Publishing Company and the couple expressed their faith on various occasions. But where has the faith community been throughout the process leading up to this decision? Did they abandon the family? Did their past involvement with a church warrant concern from people who began to see the writing on the wall......or at least the writing in the National Enquirer?

As I think through what this means for me and the lessons that I can take with me, there are a few:

1) There, But For the Grace of God, Goes I

While I would like to think that my marriage is safe, I am not so foolish to believe that anyone is above this outcome as a possibility. That is why I rely so heavily on my faith in Christ. Marriage is hard, no matter how you look at it. It is full of compromises, give-and-takes, tears, joys, frustrations, and celebrations. In and of myself, I am incapable of being the husband and father that I need to be. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit manifesting the life-giving grace in me am I able to begin the process of transformation within me, making me more and more like Christ. Should anyone express their disappointment and disagreement with what has happened in their relationship and say that they would never be guilty of the same, they had better get out the salt and pepper because they might be eating their words in the future.

2) Our World Is Marred By Sin

Jon and Kate are humans who have been marred by sin, just like the rest of us. While divorce is mentioned in the Bible as a sin, God does not rank sin. They should not be villefied because the sin that has been committed is more public than the sins that the rest of us commit. Our responsibility is not to cause them to repent, that's the Holy Spirit's job. Our responsibility is to love them as Christ loves them. Yes, we may at times be called to confront sin in people, but unless you have a personal relationship with either of them, you have not earned the right to be heard. Plus, we don't really know what happened behind the scenes. There are Biblical grounds for divorce that may have been met, without a relationship with them, we can't know what happened other than what we see on TV or read in the media.

One comment that I had heard from people is "Why did they not cancel the show a year ago?" My first thought would be "Would you stop if you were making lots of money and were now able to provide for the family of multiples that you have?" I recently watched "Revolutionary Road" and the theme of that movie seems to ring true in this real-life situation playing out before our eyes: people will put up with a lot in order to make decent money (watch "The Deadliest Catch" some time). I want to be careful that I don't speculate too much, because that can be dangerous, but I wonder how much the thought of losing the income from the show prompted them to sweep their problems under the rug.

3) Use This As An Opportunity

Some of the saddest Tweets that I saw throughout the day were ones from parents who had watched this show with their children. They now had to explain what had happened between Jon and Kate to their own children. While it isn't ideal, is it the worst thing in the world?

I am convinced that children today are facing more serious issues far sooner than I, and my generation, ever did. Maturity is almost being forced on children prior to their being completely ready. But do we fight this or do we embrace this? If we fight it, our culture will not stop addressing these issues with our children. If we embrace it, we can have the opportunity to promote our worldview on certain issues to our children to give them a more balanced viewpoint. Life is hard and sometimes it hurts and wounds people, our children will have to face that fact eventually. Why not be the ones to express to them our viewpoint of why that is?

I personally don't know how I would broach this subject with my kids and how I would make them understand. I don't think that I will have to discuss it with my own kids right now though, as their maturity level isn't even close to grasping these issues. I think the important thing is that all of us who have been saddened by this begin to assess our own marriages and take some time to make sure that we are doing all right. Jon and Kate are two people on TV who could be storybook characters for all your children know. They are not the living, breathing flesh and blood that you and your spouse are, being observed on a regular basis, interacting with each other, and being an example to your children. How are you doing as that example?

The other way that I think that we can use this opportunity is as we talk to the people that we interact with on a regular basis. This whole situation is an example of why I support the idea of Christians being familiar with and engaged in pop culture......but that's for another blog post. Our society has taken to the story of the Gosselins, they are interested in it. Sometimes the best inroads to speaking with people who are seemingly different from us is through opportunities that the culture presents to us. Find out what people who you spend time with daily are thinking about this, especially the ones who don't hold to the same worldview and faith values that you do, if for no other reason than to do some research of your own into the human spirit.

I am a firm believer that no one is beyond the grace of God, redemption is possible in anyone. I would hope and pray that this situation can be reversed. Anything is possible. In the mean time, I can assess my own life, take advantage of the teaching moments that have been presented through this, and lift the Gosselin family up in prayer. While no one is beyond grace or redemption, only the intervention of the Triune God can make it happen.

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