Today’s announcement that TLC will officially pull the plug on Jon & Kate Plus 8 after Monday’s episode was yet another reminder of how real life can spill over even into reality TV. The dissolution of the Jon and Kate Gosselin’s marriage, followed by their prolonged quarrel in the media, brought to the fore the potentially destructive effects of making one’s private life a Truman Show experience for millions of viewers.
With the demise of Jon & Kate, the surreal “Balloon Boy” spectacle, and countless other disastrous examples of ordinary people negatively influenced by the harsh drug of reality TV, some groups are calling on the entertainment industry and the government to establish stricter rules to protect the innocent children who, as the Jon & Kate and Balloon Boy cases demonstrate, are the most vulnerable victims in our voyeuristic culture’s ongoing rush to watch each other’s self-destruction before the cameras.
I’d been intending to write some blog posts on marriage, dating, and other issues related to relationships. But in light of recent events I thought I’d share a few personal thoughts about Jon and Kate Gosselin’s announcement to proceed with divorce and end their marriage.
The Gosselins, of course, are the “stars” of the TLC reality series Jon & Kate Plus 8. The show follows the life of the Gosselin family, which includes Jon and Kate and their eight children — fraternal twins and sextuplets. It is currently the most popular show on TLC. About 9.8 million viewers tuned in to watch the season premiere last month in the wake of constant tabloid rumors that the Jon and Kate’s marriage was on the rocks. And, sure enough, on that show the couple revealed that they were experiencing a rough patch in their relationship.
So when TLC revealed last week that the couple would make a special announcement on Monday’s episode, many people anticipated the worst — and they tuned in to witness the tragedy. Last night’s episode, which was the first full Jon & Kate that I’ve seen, topped the season premiere by 800,000 viewers.
Before last night, I’d only seen snippets of the show here and there. But, for whatever reason, I remember the episode where they were at church, sharing their story in front of their church community with their pastor, and recounting God’s faithfulness in their lives.
And now, it’s come to this … Last night’s announcement had no mention of God, covenant, church, community, or prayer. I wonder what kind of pastoral/spiritual care and counseling they are seeking and receiving. So, let me ask you this:
If you were in Jon & Kate’s community group or were their pastor, how would you advise/counsel them?
I have no personal connection to the Gosselins, but it is indeed sad to see their troubled marriage exposed and exploited in the public arena of reality TV. Let me also say that I really have no idea about all the details and gossip. I just know stuff is going on because of the buzz and all the magazine and tabloid covers. But if I were Jon and Kate’s pastor and were approached by them for counsel, I would share three simple things:
1. “The show must go on …” / No, the show must not go on … the Marriage must go on, but the show is absolutely unessential. This show needed to have ended a season ago. The show may have been a good idea at one point, but it’s no longer a good idea. You’re sharing their pain and drama in front of an audience of people who have no deep soul connection with you. Mercifully, TLC announced today that they were halting production of your show until August to allow your family to adjust to its new reality. But I believe it would be best for you, Jon and Kate, to end the show permanently and spend some quality time with your counselors, pastors, community, and family.
Ending the show should have been the announcement on Monday. Give reconciliation, counseling, and healing a chance without the cameras.
2. Remember your vows. Remember your covenant with God — and with one another. When you’re angry, upset, hurting, and bitter, the marital covenant doesn’t often prevail. Rather, it’s those feelings that dictate your actions. What you are feeling — anger, bitterness, betrayal, etc. — are all legitimate. You are experiencing every one of them.
But our feelings can also betray us, which is why we make and honor these vows and submit — joyfully, respectfully, and, at times, painfully — to our covenant.
Because of our covenant with one another and with God, we seek to live by Grace. We strive to listen to the other person, understand, seek counsel, ask for forgiveness and forgive, pray, communicate our feelings, pray some more… If you believe God brought you together, God can sustain your relationship if you confess, repent, and receive and extend grace to one another.
3. Repent … for God loves you. It’s as short, honest, and real as possible: Repent. Apologize. Forgive. And start the healing process. God has never stopped loving you both and your entire family.
Above all, despite their televised announcement last night, I’d tell Jon and Kate: Reconciliation is possible. Do you believe?