Laura and I have six kids. It is not eight, and it is not multiples, but it is a bunch. So we have watched Jon & Kate since its inception. We don't watch it religiously, but fairly often - we enjoy seeing the Gosselins facing their ups and downs. They are a refreshing family to watch, in many ways, unplagued with the disease of so many believers thinking they must appear to be what they are not. Of course, they have their own problems. We love seeing them take their family places and into situations where we fear to tread with our own. And, frankly, it is fun watching someone else dealing with a truckload of kids. It has helped me remember that I am not alone. It is cathartic, and it has become a cautionary tale.
This is reality television. It is the good and the ugly together. It is finding inspiration and it is making a spectacle of dissolution. It is making a family part of your family without any of the "messy" obligations and responsibilities that friendship brings: prayer, support, loyalty. (It's a lot like Facebook.) It depersonalizes persons. And yet it has gotten me to think quite a bit about personhood.
I am sad for the Gosselins. I pray for them and hurt with them. I wish they understood that their marriage is their vocation. I wish they understood that they are being deceived, fed platitudes that enable divorce and empower self. I wish they wouldn't have bitten. I wish, even though they have filed for divorce, that they understood that it is not too late. That they realized the best thing for their children is not the "peace" that comes from no longer being with the other person, but for them to humbly bear up under this part of their journey - together, no matter how separate they feel. To be humble and obedient - this is often the task set before a marriage when feelings and people change, when time passes. But don't quit. Learn to love in the suffering, through the suffering. Pour out yourself for the other person. Autonomy is still the forbidden fruit.
Marriage is hard. It is not made easier by having a television crew follow you around, I imagine. So pray for Jon and Kate and their children.