Last week I watched a little of the television show, “Jon & Kate plus 8.” They’re all over the tabloids right now so there’s no need to rehash in detail what’s going on, but if you’ve never seen the show, here’s a summary:
A few years ago, a young Christian couple with two kids had sextuplets. They invited TLC to tape their lives as they raised 8 kids, renewed their vows in a marriage special in Hawaii last season and last week addressed some painful marital issues that have become paparazzi fodder.
I wasn’t going to write about the whole situation. A million people already have and reality TV tends to be a great hiding place to avoid dealing with our own lives. But in watching the swirl of conversation online about Jon and Kate I realized two things I think are true regardless of if you’ve ever seen the show.
1. When we say, “They got what they deserved” we forget that we didn’t.
Did Jon and Kate introduce new risks and rewards into the structure of their family when they invited television cameras and millions of viewers into their home? Without a doubt. Does fame and celebrity come with consequences that are often toxic? Without a doubt. Did Jon and Kate get what they deserve? I don’t know. I’ve seen other Christians express this opinion but I don’t know Jon and Kate. I know me. And I didn’t get what I deserved. I got grace. I got forgiveness. I got Christ. I got rescued from the ruins of a life that seemed beyond redemption. I got a second chance and a 10th chance and a 300th chance. I didn’t get what I deserved. And when we say that someone, “Got what they deserved,” whether we’re talking about a reality TV couple, our relatives or our neighbors, we lose sight of grace, which is the undercurrent of our entire faith and a gift we do not deserve.
2. “That could never happen to me” is a dangerous sentence.
I don’t know the devil, but I have to assume that when he hears a Christian judgmentally proclaim, “That could never happen to me,” he does what I do when I hear the Black Eyed Peas song, “Boom, Boom, Pow,” and that is the robot. He absolutely loves when we say that. It’s not inherently a bad thought, it’s just that often when we say “That could never happen to me” we don’t take the time to answer the question, “Why?” Why wouldn’t that emotional affair you’re writing off as just “your flirtatious personality” multiply what’s already poisonous and turn into a physical affair? Why wouldn’t a week of late nights at the office turn into a month of late nights at the office turn into a year of late nights at the office turn into you knowing your kids as little as your dad knew you? Why wouldn’t a small compromise on your dream turn into a bigger compromise on your dream turn into you being an accountant when you’ve always felt called to paint? Life is littered with moms and dads, pastors and CEOs that believed in the fake comfort of “that could never happen to me” and woke up one day to find a surprisingly broken life on their doorsteps.
I don’t really want to analyze Jon and Kate today or discuss where things went wrong or pick apart things they said on the show. I don’t really even have a good wrap up that kind of ties things together. All I can really say is that we are not immune to the woes we see in pop culture.
You don’t need a million dollar house or flock of paparazzi to hurt yourself and your marriage. I didn’t anyway. At times, my marriage has been able to be wounded without the aid of a reality show. But whether you’re name is Jon and Kate Gosselin or Jon and Jenny Acuff, God loves love, and His ability to repair it will forever exceed our ability to deserve it.