Thursday, May 28, 2009

God. Spouse. Children.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that one of my favorite television shows to watch over the past year or so has been TLC’s John and Kate Plus Eight. John and Kate Gosselin are famous for having had a set of sextuplets after they had already had a set of twins—thus the name of the show. Stephanie and I have always had a great time watching their adorable kids grow up and we’ve generally respected how the Gosselins parented. They are a self-proclaimed Christian couple, and it seems like they make a genuine effort to teach their children about the Bible and try to instill a love for God in them.

During the past month or two, John and Kate have come under a lot of fire in the media, being plastered across tabloids and accused of having affairs among other things. When their season opener came on a few nights back, we were really interested to see how they were doing. There is clearly tension in their marriage, and there were some awkward moments of discussion between the two of them as they talked about their relationship. The thing that disappointed me the most was their repeated statements that they were “doing everything for their kids.” It seemed like, if it were not for their children, they would be in divorce court tomorrow.

Many Christians would listen to their discussion and praise them for sticking it out “for the sake of the kids.” At least they’re not getting a divorce, right? But I’d challenge you to think about whether this is an acceptable attitude for Christians.

God has ordained an order of priorities for us: God. Spouse. Children.

We're first and foremost to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. We're to serve our Savior and make Him our top priority. Then, if we choose to enter into marriage, we are to place our spouse and his/her needs above all others--even of our own mother and father. Finally, if God chooses to bless us with children, we are to lead them and do our best to nurture, love, and lead them to Christ.

God. Spouse. Children.

Too often, we move children up in the order--often to second priority, but sometimes even to the top. I think we'd all agree that our children must never replace God and become our idol--the one(s) we center our life around. But they also must never replace our spouse's place of priority. The marriage covenant and the commitments we make to our spouses before God are not optional. During the years that we have children in our homes, we are not to put our marriage on hold. We are not to elevate and center our lives around them.

This is clearly what is happening with the Gosselins right now. I pray that they will stay together and that their marriage will thrive. But I hope their church family will help them realize that their love for God--rather than their love for their children--should be what holds them together.

I hope that as Stephanie and I enter into parenthood we keep the order right.

God. Each other. Children.

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