Jon & Kate Gosselin: A Family Tragedy Times Eight
- Richard Abanes
- 2009 6 Jun
Last night I watched one of the most heart-breaking television programs I’d ever seen: Jon & Kate Plus 8 (TLC). The reality show — molded out of the daily lives of the Gosselin family (Mom, Dad, a set of twins, and sextuplets) — had for many seasons been one of my favorite escapes from the oft-nauseating TV menu comprised of Nightly News (depressing), profanity-filled sit-coms (disgusting), and a multitude of other reality shows (dumb).
Jon & Kate seemed to have it all. But the illusion quickly began to crumble around us all when, a few months ago, it was reported that Jon was having an extra-marital affair. Then came the troubling eyewitness testimony from friends and family about how Jon and Kate were barely hanging on to the idyllic image that Hollywood had created for them.
The true reality of Jon & Kate Plus 8 was that Mommy and Daddy were not getting along, the marriage was floundering, the family was rife with tension, and wealth/fame had reportedly become the prime motivator (to some degree) for remaining in the spotlight no matter what the cost. The show, in other words, was a sham.
Finally, last night, after months of speculation, rumors, and gossip, we tuned in to hear the tragic truth straight from the Mom and Dad Gosselin. Yes, they were getting a divorce per an on-screen caption that was about as cold and direct as it gets: "On Monday June 22, 2009, legal proceedings were initiated in Pennsylvania to dissolve the ten-year marriage of Jon and Kate Gosselin.”
Especially disturbing were some of the comments made by both Jon & Kate, which indicated that far from seeking to make things work with each other, they were simply giving up and moving on — despite their “Christian” faith and their professed desire to live godly lives according to scripture which, in addition to giving a plethora of advice/truth about how to live as Christians, also condemns divorce:
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matt. 19:9).
“Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mk. 10:9).
“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-12).
“Are you married? Do not seek a divorce” (1 Cor. 7:27).
Keep in mind that with regard to Jon and Kate, we are not talking here about anything extreme
that would necessitate either Jon or Kate leaving. Jon is not beating
Kate. Nor is Kate having multiple affairs or abusing the children. This
is a common issue of a man and woman who, ten years after getting
married, are now two VERY different people than the ones they were when
they first met and fell in love — due in part to circumstances that
thrust them into the public’s eye, which in turn brought them wealth
and fame. They are also people who, like everyone else, has issues they
But rather than working, working, working, and working even more at the marriage — they've quit. Rather than fighting with every fiber of their being for the godly/biblical way to handle their conflict and differences — they've given up. Rather than scratching and clawing and tenaciously holding on to each other no matter how much pain it causes — they've let it all go. Rather than seeking God’s help to go God’s way — they've opted for escape so there will be, as Kate put it, “peace.”
Jon, although he said that he was sad about it all, actually stated that he was also “excited” about starting a new life away from Kate, who apparently had belittled/berated him one too many times.
And Kate, although she admitted that this was a place she never intended to be, made it very clear that she was more than ready to turn the page on this section of her life move on. Snip-snap; that’s that; time for another book deal; time for another speaking tour. She did admit, however, to actually crying for a whole half day. A entire half day! Then, it was time to wake up the next morning and shoot another episode.
Through it all we were told repeatedly by both Jon and Kate that it
was all “for the kids.” They were really just splitting up “for the
children.” These two adults were choosing divorce because that was
supposedly the best solution they could come up with to provide a
stable home for the little ones. Tragic. My heart continues to break.
- What about marriage counseling?
- What about trying to find out where the problems lie, then working like crazy for at least a dedicated year away from the cameras to make the marriage succeed?
- What about flat-out declaring that divorce is not an option and turning to God, prayer, scripture, family, and friends for wisdom and insight into how/where everything went so wrong — and finding a solution?
- What about the commitments made to God and to each other?
- What about “for better” or “for worse”? (They burned through the better. But are only now getting to the worse — i.e., where the rubber meets the road.)
- What about using just a separation for some time to think (and some space), rather than running off to file for divorce?
From watching the show there seems to be some obvious issues.
First, we have the young, impetuous, fun-loving, care-free, passive Jon, who was thrown into a situation he never expected — i.e., being 26-years old/27-years old and having 8 kids! Okay, that’s tough. But now, instead of running, he needs to grow up. He needs to adjust to life as it is— lean on God; be willing to change; accept the fact that letting go of one’s freedom is part of being married and having children. Changing our preconceived ideas of what we THOUGHT our life would be is often NOT fun and NOT what we want — but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change our outlook. If Jon remains unwilling to accept Kate’s flaws/weaknesses and stays unwilling to step up the plate for his marriage, it'll cost him his family.
Second, we have the controlling, rather harsh-toned, and disrespectful-to-her-husband Kate who is also in a situation she never expected — i.e., fame, wealth, notoriety, celebrity status, book deals, speaking tours, a glamor make-over, and a bright future promising more of the same. Okay, that’s incredibly enticing, I’ll agree. But there is NOTHING the world can offer that’s better than what God offers if we are obedient and if we seek to live according to the priorities that he has set up: 1. Our relationship with God. 2. Our relationship with our spouse. 3. Our relationship to our kids. 4. Our relationship to our ministry/career. Kate has these priorities, it seems, out of whack. And now it’s costing her God’s best.
Jon & Kate were given an open highway to life and handed virtually everything on a silver platter: love, health, adorable kids, wealth, fame, influence...and even, so we have been told by Jon and Kate, a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. And they've let it all slip through their fingers, while simultaneously claiming that their ongoing bad choices are being made for the kids, for the kids, for the kids....like a mantra to convince us (and perhaps even themselves) that their divorce isn’t really just FOR THEM.
A divorce, you see, will indeed be easier FOR THEM. Less painful FOR
THEM. Less demanding FOR THEM. Less time consuming FOR THEM. Less of a
personal hassle (especially as celebrities) FOR THEM. Less threatening
to THEIR egos and THEIR self-images and personal plans/goals.
With tears in her eyes, Kate said, “I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to do this alone.” Well, to you, Kate, if you ever read this little blurb of mine, please know that you don’t have to to be alone. You don’t have to do it alone. You and Jon have everything you need (and more) in order to “do it” together. But you need to be willing to change and become something more than what you are now. Falling out of love is not a good enough reason to quit. No longer being able to communicate well is not a good enough reason to quit. Feeling trapped and held back from what YOU think is the most fun and fulfilling life for YOU is not a good enough reason to quit. That’s what God says to those who call Jesus their Lord.
And to Jon, I would say: “Bro, I know it’s tough. I know it hurts. I know you feel you are no longer the 'Jon' you always thought you’d be and the 'Jon' you want to be. But if you want God’s best for you and of you want God's best for your kids, then you need to grow up. Break yourself open in humility. Be strong in the Lord and seek what HE desires above all else — i.e., a healthy/growing relationship with Kate that mirrors the loving, compassionate, strong, God-centered relationship between a husband (a picture of Christ) and a wife (a picture of the church): ‘A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church’ (Eph. 5:31-32).”
And again, we have this passage: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.” (Eph. 5:25-30).
To both Jon and Kate, I would say: “Marriages with a lot less to run on have succeeded and have been healed by God through a willingness on the part of husband and wife to do whatever it took to make it work by: growing up, changing, forgiving, being forgiven, letting go of the self, sacrificing for each other, and being obedient to God — no matter how much it hurts.
Why do it? The kids, first of all. There is no way your divorce is "best" for them. You should also stay together because it’s the right thing to do. Moreover, it’s the the godly/biblical thing to do. By sticking it out you both could emerge from this struggle as different/better people — for God, for others, and more importantly, for your children. But if you quit, then you will remain as troubled as you are now; you will hurt your kids (contrary to what you keep saying); and you will ignore the words of the God you profess to believe in and follow.”
Pray for John & Kate plus their little eight. They are all going to need it.