Julie Vermeer Elliott has a hard-hitting article in Christianity Today on “Evangelicals and the Making of Jon & Kate Plus 8.” She argues that evangelicals have been undiscerning in placing “Jon & Kate” on a spiritual pedestal. Long before marital infidelity was alleged, evangelicals were willing to overlook Jon and Kate’s “materialism, narcissism, and exploitation of children.”
Elliott also questions the propriety of the reproductive technologies that were used to produce the eight children who star in this reality show. She writes:
“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? They had been married only a matter of months when Kate, who was in her mid-20s at the time, took fertility medication to stimulate her ovaries for intrauterine insemination and became pregnant with their twins, Cara and Mady.
Elliott writes that a few years after the twins were born, Kate’s ovaries were “hyper-stimulated” with the result that she became pregnant with seven babies (one of which miscarried a short time later). Elliott writes,
“Six babies were growing in a space designed for one, posing great risks to the life of each baby as well as to the life of their mother. Faced with this unintended but preventable situation, Jon and Kate were right to carry all of the babies to term. But this decision is not enough to warrant their status as models of Christian faithfulness. That most evangelicals were satisfied to celebrate the endâ€”six miraculous livesâ€”rather than assess the morality of the means whereby those lives were created, betrays the thinness of evangelical reflection on reproductive ethics. Too often our ethics have focused so singularly on the question of abortion that we have given comparatively little attention to the morally-significant issues surrounding infertility, reproductive technology, childbirth, and parenting. As such, we have a hard time challenging the assumptions of our consumerist culture or those who, like Jon and Kate, seem to be beholden to it. . .
“The breakdown of Jon and Kate’s marriage is but a symptom of the larger weaknesses of ethics in the evangelical community. We are easily seduced by wealth and fame. We are easily contented by the shallow rhetoric of hot-button issues. In short, we are easily deceived by cultural values painted in Christian veneers.”
This one is a must-read: “The Gospel and the Gosselins: Evangelicals and the making of Jon & Kate Plus Eight.”