Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Choice

It's amazing how quickly the news can change. A few days ago, the major story was that Jon & Kate Gosselin, of "Jon & Kate Plus Eight" fame had filed for divorce. Since that time, other events have changed the pop culture news landscape. If I was a more on-top-of-it blogger, maybe this discourse wouldn't already seem outdated. Oh well, you got to work with what you have.

So, as my rambling introduction indicated, I, like much of the nation perhaps, was intrigued my the Jon & Kate news. Not because I'm a fan of the show; I've never seen it. In fact, I hadn't heard hardly anything about the couple until their recent demise. What caught my attention, however, was the statement that Mrs. Gosselin made when she announced her filing for divorce. According to this article on People.com, Kate said "Over the course of this weekend, Jon's activities have left me no choice but to file legal procedures in order to protect myself and our children."

Now, I don't know what happened in this couple's marriage, but I couldn't help but see the disavowal of responsibility in Mrs. Gosselin's statement. No choice? Really? I mean there's almost always more than one choice. As many have suggested, maybe the couple should have let go of their show to save their marriage. Or maybe they could have gone to counseling together. Whatever the reasons behind the split, it seen incongruous to say that filing for divorce was the only option available.

It's the same line of reasoning I use when my students tell me that they had no opportunity to complete their assignment. Rarely is that really the case. Instead, they made a decision about how to use their time, and the assignment didn't rank high on their priority list. Or more specifically, whatever they did decide to do ranked higher. They had a choice, and to destroy the phrase from Spider Man, with that choice comes responsibility...the responsibility to accept the outcomes for that decision before the choice is made.

What amazes me, is that in a world where people increasingly argue that there is no such thing as black and white, that everything is relative, when it comes down to a decision about maintaining our commitments, we think there is only one option available. And that this limitation is often an excuse for fulfilling our responsibilities.

This isn't a discussion that's limited to the 21st century. Years ago, in her book "The Hiding Place", Corrie Ten Boom recounts how her sister, Nollie, who also provided refuge to Jews in Austria facing Nazi persecution, chose to tell the truth when asked by the police state whether there were in fact Jews hiding in the house. Most people think that there is only one option when faced with this hideous decision, but her sister, chose another. She decided that her values didn't change based on the difficulty of the decision; that she would stand for truth even when it seemed ridiculous to do so. And in the end, she and all those to whom her family was providing refuge, were inexplicably quickly released from captivity.

I don't know that the reason for their release was because of the commitment to truth, and I'm not prepare to say that there aren't greater principles at stake in a situation like the one Corrie ten Boom's sister faced. *** However, in the million of everyday occurrences, we tend to limit the hand of God, by only seeing one alternative available - and usually it's the quickest path to that which we think we deserve. However, if we can only see one option and that option doesn't bring God honor, then there must be another alternative. So when Christians are faced with a decision in which they could honor God, or they can do that which best served their own purposes, there really should be no choice. The only choice should be to glorify Him.


***Based on comments that can be read below, I updated this blog to try to make my point clearer. The blog wasn't intended to be about divorce, but was about viewing a decision as only having one alternative. If that alternative doesn't bring God honor, then there must be another option that does.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Lula said...

Completely agree. Especially when they have 8 kids- the only choice for her would to not deal with the problem and get rid of her husband but, what if you ask the children? I bet they can come up with more choices.

Apparently, he was having an affair. But even so, when you have kids, especially (not only) you can at least try counseling like you said.

June 25, 2009 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Danielle Fuller said...

I think life is not always so black and white. Divorce is never great but sometimes it's the best choice. I don't know Jon and Kate but I'm sure this is a really hard time for them. I hope they have people in their life to show them grace and love.

June 25, 2009 at 8:15 PM  
Blogger N.A. Winter said...

Hi Danielle - I'm with you on not knowing their particular situation and attempted to make that caveat clear (but perhaps failed in that attempt). This particular blog, wasn't about the decision to divorce, but was about the idea that it was the only option. My overall point was that people (myself included) are prone to eschew responsibility for all sorts of decisions by stating that there were no other possible alternatives. As you've said, life isn't always just black and white - which means there rarely is just one choice from which to choose. However, regardless of the options, for Christians, our main concern should be choosing that which pleases God.

If the post lacked grace, it wasn't my intention. My heart breaks for them, and their family. I think it's horribly painful regardless of the reasons, and it must be that much worse when going through it in the public eye.

June 25, 2009 at 9:52 PM  
Blogger N.A. Winter said...

Also, let me just add, since both comments brought it up - Scripture is clear that there are limited "legitimate" reasons for divorce. The Bible is also clear that just because something is "permissible" does not make it "beneficial" (I Cor. 10:23). In other words, I think God is grieved when a marriage ends, even when it falls until one of those limited legitimate cases, because I think God is grieved whenever His children hurt. That's why I think divorce should not be the first choice, even if it does end up being the final one.

June 26, 2009 at 12:06 AM  
Blogger Brad and Cheri said...

Obviously I didn't read your first version but I thought that you were very clear about your main point. Maybe it is the teacher thing. We often make excuses by stating that there was no way out, nothing else we could have done. It relieves us of responsibility and that is what we are often after. If we are not responsible then we obviously should not suffer the consequences. Not exactly what the Bible teaches about integrity and accountability.

June 30, 2009 at 6:20 PM  

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