Since I don't have cable, I have not seen this show very much. In case you don't know, Jon meets Kate. Kate has PCOS. Jon and Kate gets fertility treatment. Jon and Kate have a set of twins and a set of six. (Go to Stuff Christians Like for a good funny recap EDIT: and the Soup for the new show title - HT to my Twin).
The first time I saw it, I didn't like it. I thought Jon was bullied by Kate, Jon was passive and it was just about Jon and Kate get this thing or that thing. Also, when I found out they were Christians, I got even more upset because it hit too close to home (meaning it is a good look at how Christians families are run today- too focused on the kids). Being a multiple from a divorced family, I can understand the stress being parents of multiples can cause on a marriage.
What I find curious is that Christians didn't start questioning the show until the questions of cheating arose. Christianity Today points out: "We evangelicals tend to be easily impressed. We cheered on Jon and Kate's decision to carry all six babies to term but rarely considered the prior question: Was it right for them to undergo risky fertility treatments in the first place?" (see CT for whole article). We don't like looking at things critically through the lens of the Bible as it is (especially when we slap the word s christian on it. Matt Johnson offered a good guide today at the Resurgence).
My first thoughts was that the reasons for much of the problems in the home today are Men just aren't leading their homes. We have been seduced by the myth of egalitarianism that says that men and women are 100% equal and should share in the decision making process.
In every organization, someone practically rises to the top to make decision and be the major influencer (see any leadership book). Usually, it is the more charismatic or the one that has the asset that is most demanded. Charisma could be found in either sex, so there is no "natural" advantage but does one have a resource advantage by nature (if we assume men aren't head by birth)?
When money and sex are concern, is there really equality? We are sinful and like to rule our own roost. That CAN'T be denied by anyone.
In most homes today, it is joked about that the woman is really in charge. Why? They'll jokingly say in most homes that she will "turn off the faucet" as I've heard it put. In the past, men been able to counter balance it because they were the "bread-winners" but now that is not the case. Women are working and don't need men to bring home the bacon. Men don't want to either because we have simple needs. All we want is sex and something to excel in (like video games, sports, business, etc.). We have then have no need to be at home for fulfillment. Because 99% of sex will beat money, women by nature (as in past) can and will always have an advantage in the home if A) Men aren't using their brute force to intimidate (historic way) or B) if it is a same sex couple. Plus, the children are always closers to Mom (since she birth them) so there is another check on the power side for the XXs. It is a nice though but in reality egalitarian though is a just fancy way of saying that the wife rules the home practically.
Why do I say all of this in relation to Jon and Kate? I think Luke MacDonald says it best:
The show became more about the parents and the kids having these great adventures than about pure survival. It didn’t take a pop-culture genius to see the problems in the Gosslein’s marriage slowly seeping in. It was obvious that John didn’t like having to take a backseat and let his wife be (in essence) the sole provider. I could write in-depth about a myriad of different problems that were predictors of future problems. It is interesting to note that as tensions rose in the home, the public pushing of the family as Christian role models increased. (Ht to Harvest)But the problem arises when two parties are fighting over this role because they can't agree who has the final word. So unless both agree (or some outside force like the Bible) appoints one, it will be at best unhealthy and at worst a failure (see current marriage stats). The Bible appoints men simply because it does even the playing field more and it reflects Christ's love for his Church.
I have argued before that "egalitarian" relationship/marriage are more like joint ventures then a covenantal relationship Ephesians 5 talks about. Seth Godin today describes why they fail. He writes "Because there isn’t one boss, one deliverable, one person pushing the project relentlessly, [the venture] stalls" (HT to Seth). Not only are they not clear on success (what the venture hopes to obtain - which is another reason why marriage fail/unclear goals) but they have not one to drive the relation towards that goal.
While talking about businesses, he says the answer is "One side buys the right to use an asset that belongs to the other." The two remain separate but the venture "belongs to one party" for the use they determine. The man agrees to a venture involving low commitment and sex and the woman allows the man his freedom to whatever he wants. He then works "hard" to make sure that this venture is a success. When time to upgrade, he will then move on to find another asset to meet his business model. Woman will do this with the idea of having kids. Enter into a relationship with guy in order to get a father and then when kids come, forget about him. Oversimplification? Maybe.
When two people who aren't married live together (especially for financial reason), aren't they just doing the same thing? Isn't that the scenario that just play out above and in most homes today. Man wants sex so man gives money to an apartment/home for use of woman (asset). He will let woman do whatever she wants if he A) still gets sex and B) has success outlet. Take away one, partnership dissolves and the woman is hurt. However, if man is told he is responsible for the marriage and the home, watch him laid down his life and watch it succeed.
Objectors will say, "marriage isn't a business and shouldn't be run like one." But who says marriage is a democracy? Obviously, we can see how good some democracies work. My response, if it is good enough for a healthy business how much more should it be in a marriage/family which is FAR more important. This may sound cold and harsh but when people talk about the marriage/dating decisions in terms of money/sex/children/job alone, aren't they ignoring the spiritual/relational/social consequences of these decisions? When people reduce marriage to simply sex (of which I was guilty as a single man) or something else and call it love, we are ignoring the ramifications of any poor decision could have on other aspects of a relationship or life. At that point, we are simply using others for our "business" needs rather than using the Gospel example to transform relationships.
I don't want to vilify Jon and Kate. My heart breaks for them. I wish they would stop the show, travel to CCEF in Philly and get help. I wish Jon would man up and fall on the sword and stop bar hopping. I think they forgot what is true success.
As a whole, regarding all of this, I would rather see two people be honest about their decisions then try to vale it in "Christianize" or politeness to downplay the other possible effects it could have. While living together before you get married might lead to higher divorce rates, could the reason for that be because bad habits are being set up where money and sex dominate decision making rather than Christ's glory in the home? While women working outside of the home is good, could it be a problem because man/woman still see each other as man + woman rather than one unit? Finally, while equality is good, could the reason for pushing a certain theology be due to our desire to take an easier road than what the Bible has called for?
The Bible says that one man gave up his life, took the responsibility for his bride (the church) so that the two could be joined as one forever. Why don't our families look like this.
(Sorry if this seems unorganized: i had to get a lot off my chest).