My wife, her mother, and her sister are all regular consumers of TLC’s various reality programs. Little People, Big World, Bringing Home Baby, What Not to Wear, they enjoy gaining insight into the world in which they live via the various lives of those willing to subject themselves to TV crews. None of these shows, however, was as interesting and lovable as has been Jon and Kate + 8. For those of you unfamiliar with this TV family, Jon and Kate Gosselin are the parents of eight children. Two twins girls and a set of sextuplets comprise their family. They garnered a great deal of attention when the children were born, and TLC proposed turning the drama of their family into a reality show. It has been very successful. The family has been featured on numerous magazine covers, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Kate Gosselin recently wrote a book that has brought her a fair amount of attention.

But recently the Gosselins have been receiving some unwanted attention. First, Jon was seen coming out of a bar late at night with his arms around two college students, then recently was seen in a similar scenario (this time with a single woman, whom he got into a car with). If that weren’t enough to drive fans out of their minds, recently Kate herself has been accused of being a little to close to her bodyguard. The New York Daily News reported, on May 14th, that Kate’s brother revealed that his sister told Jon, “It’s over.” This will, undoubtedly, be upsetting to many fans, but there is something I think that pastors can learn from this event.

Jon and Kate have, from the beginning of their show, confessed to be Christians and even spoken, if somewhat shallowly, of their faith at various points. They go to church regularly, and sing Christian songs at home. But what can divorce and affairs mean for a Christian couple? Well, before we are too quick to call them “damned”, we must recognize they are human beings who struggle with sin like us all. Failed marriages and affairs do not send people to hell. Not loving Jesus does. So we must be very very careful to judge what we cannot know. Besides, divorce is hardly uncommon to the church. In fact some recent statistics even suggest that the divorce rate is higher in the church than in the secular world! And that is partly where I think pastors can use this reality television program as a good reminder of their role in the marriages of their members.

It is not that a pastor is somehow responsible for seeing that every married couple in his church does exactly what they are suppose to, that they don’t cheat on one another, or that each member is rightly fulfilling their role in the marriage. That would preoccupy a pastor every second of every day. But nonetheless pastors do have responsibilities to the marriages in their church. That means they are to instruct men on how to be faithful husbands, women on how to be faithful and Biblical wives. They should try and set up accountability for men and women in the church, provide opportunities for married couples to grow together and be challenged and nurtured. Sometimes pastors assume that if people are Christians they will just have good marriages, and that is sadly not the truth. Pastors must work with them to help create an environment that supports, encourages, challenges, and protects marriages.

I don’t know whether the allegations concerning the Gosselins are true, nor do I really care. And I don’t know anything about the church they go to. It is certainly not their pastor’s fault if their marriage does fall apart. But in this whole ordeal that seems to be flashing all around the Internet I see a good lesson for a young pastor like myself: aim to help marriages in your church. It may seem kind of funny but this event has truly served me well (even if I am not actually a fan of the show). I guess I just never really knew reality TV could have so much to do with, well, reality.