My wife ran into a marathon of Jon and Kate Plus 8 - the ongoing documentary style program of a family with 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets. This family has reached the point of superstardom in the evangelical subculture of North America, and has gained much attention from other media as well. But their lives have been nothing like the last few weeks, with allegations that (both) Jon and Kate were cheating on each other and that their family is a shame and quickly heading to disaster. I have no idea what their family situation is like, I only have seen what the producers want the public to see in thirty minute segments designed to get an audience. And, frankly, that should put a lid on all of the criticism and condemnation - not to mention the acclamation and adoration - which has been thrust upon them.
Julie Vermeer Elliott has posted a very interesting article which provides a similar perspective at Christianity Today. The issues which she raises point more toward the evangelical subculture than the Gosselin family. As well they should. For too long Christians have allowed their morals and values to be shaped by things which are popular and passive rather than spiritual and demanding. Television is the last place where we should be looking for examples of ethics and morality. Yet that is what we have done, and now many people are left scratching their heads, vainly tuning in for comfort, and disillusioned by the inevitable.
One could charge the Gosselins with the axiom: this is what they chose for themselves. Yes, it is. But for evangelicals, this is what we have chosen for ourselves - to allow a televised family to be the shining example of morality rather than asserting the Word of God as the full revelation of redemption. The gospel only fails when God's people fail to live it. So, let the chips fall where they may with the Gosselins - I am not writing this to make judgments about them or their choices. We do not have adequate information to judge their behavior, especially when our information is packaged to appease and attract. Rather, this is an exposé of the condition of the evangelical church . . . a sad reality indeed.