This just in from Mockingbird friend Brendan Sorem:
I’m not sure how many reality TV junkies we have out there in the blogosphere. I myself am in recovery; but whether you watch reality shows religiously or not, almost everyone by this point has heard of Jon & Kate Plus 8. The TLC show documented a young couple who, through the help of fertility drugs, had a set of twins followed by a set of sextuplets. Walk up to the counter of any grocery store in America and you’ll see their dirty laundry displayed on the front page of every tabloid. Sadly, the couple filed for divorce this past week.
What many don’t know (including myself before reading this Christianity Today article: The Gospel and the Gosselins) is that Jon & Kate are professing Christians who regularly attend church. Early on, many in the “evangelical base” rallied around this picture perfect couple, praising their family values and their staunch pro-life stance when they learned they were pregnant with sextuplets. The couple spoke at churches and conferences, wore Christian t-shirts and used their new-found fame to market everything they could (and make a lot of money in the process). However, when viewers began to see their marriage fall apart on a weekly basis and allegations of infidelity arose, many of those who had supported them were aghast that something like this could happen to a Christian couple who seemed to “have it all together.”
The article makes some interesting points and is well worth the read, but if you don’t have time to read it, here are a few takeaways:
1.) Relationships between people are very messy. For anyone (especially Christians) to assume that Christian couples will be immune to common relational pitfalls is to ignore the brokenness of this world and the sinfulness of our human condition. Reports have now surfaced that many in their Christian community are now shunning them.
2.) The pursuit of wealth, fame and power invariably leads to self (and familial) destruction (Michael Jackson anyone?). It is clear that the wealth and notoriety that the show generated was a catalyst (though not the root cause) of their divorce. Jon and Kate have become estranged from many close family members due to financial disputes, and days after their divorce, they announced they would continue to do another 40 episodes (at $75,000 an episode) while “taking turns” with the children on camera… As the article points out, 1 Timothy 6:9-10 apparently still rings true:
But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. (NRSV)
“As such, the breakdown of Jon and Kate’s marriage is but a symptom of the larger weaknesses of ethics in the evangelical community. We are easily seduced by wealth and fame. We are easily contented by the shallow rhetoric of hot-button issues. In short, we are easily deceived by cultural values painted in Christian veneers (or clothed in Isaiah 40:31 T-shirts).”
3.) The Christian gospel can never be pigeon-holed into left or right, black or white, or relegated to a political talking point or sound bite. Though the gospel certainly gives us a lens through which to examine the many complex issues that life confronts us with, we must not forget that the gospel is ultimately about the King of Kings coming to earth and becoming sin for us, dying in our place in order to lift us out of the ashes in the midst of our sin and suffering.
It is this gospel – what I would call the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ – that I hope and pray Jon & Kate (and their children) encounter through this period of intense suffering.