How you feel about Jon Gosselin is probably going to depend a lot on what you have personally experienced in your own life, or how you value stories of failure and redemption. If you’ve led a morally upright life, and you tend to only value failure if it is soon followed by redemption, you may have little to no sympathy for Jon Gosselin and his bachelor-esque behaviors (while married) over the past several months.
This is especially difficult to swallow for those who revered him as a type of “super-dad” and loving husband who would sacrifice anything for his family. Even if a divorce is a dance for two, he seems to have loaded up the jukebox with many more songs than Kate. Their legal proceeding are becoming increasingly volatile and their relationship is strained to a microscopic level. I’m sure that many may have the desire to remind Jon that he made this bed, and now it is time to sleep in it.
From doting father and submissive husband to jet-setting playboy with a cell phone filled with booty calls, Jon has shown clearly that he has a wild side. But is that all that it is? Is it just one side of his personality? With his behavior over the last year seeming so different than what was known about him up until that time, the question on many people’s minds is: ”Will the real Jon Gosselin please stand up?”
Lisa Respers France from CNN wrote a fantastic piece about Jon’s recent conversations and counseling with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who apparently is something of a celebrity spiritual advisor. In the article, besides dispelling rumors that he was to be starting a new reality series with “Octomom” Nadya Suleman, Jon had some frank comments about his behavoir:
I am well aware that my behavior over the past few months has not always reflected my personal and religious values. I further accept that I have allowed myself to become somewhat severed from my own moral anchor and be carried away by the challenges of fame.
It is my sincere desire to use the fame I have so unexpectedly acquired to highlight mature, responsible behavior as well as the joys of fatherhood and family.
and probably the most honest of them all:
I ask the public to please understand the challenges I face in living under constant public scrutiny, even as I am aware that I have at times courted that scrutiny.
Ok, so a level-headed Jon is issuing a mea culpa, with a promise to change the future in a positive way. But does anyone care? Over 60% of that CNN article’s readers polled believe that Kate should NOT forgive Jon. There is a real belief in the minds of many people that some sort of penance must be undertaken before forgiveness should be entertained. Perhaps those people are right.
But there are many that believe that blanket forgiveness is often undeserved, and punishment (or justice) is the best way to return to a balanced way of life. In my own story, many people advised Kim to “make him (me) pay” and “make him (me) work for your (her) love” during the beginning of our time of healing. Our healing blossomed into a reconciliation, but that is not and should not be the only expected result of healing. Peace is paramount.
Past behaviors, both negative and positive, must be synthesized to arrive a current state of someone’s character appraisal. Jon is neither a knight in shining armor nor a wild, partying, lust-monster. At least, not fully. They are two sides of his personality, and it’s likely not a 50/split. We all act differently in different stages of our lives, and sometimes the pendulum swings wildly.
Human nature is not just about who we wish to be, it’s about who we are, which is evidenced by what we do.
The biblical story of the prodigal son has be retold in many different forms over the centuries. I even participated in a reimagining of the story with cues taken from The Princess Bride while I was in college. In my opinion, it’s a story that highlights three parts of human nature:
- Personally testing the rules put in place by others for one’s own good, only to find out through much pain that they are true. (The prodigal son)
- Having love override all negative behaviors to bring about a restoration of peace, despite a lack of justice. (The father)
- Being frustrated and angry over a lack of justice and wanting a situation of “fairness” to exist. (The brother)
I’ve felt all of these feelings at different times in my life. Is the Gosselin saga an appropriate narrative to apply the principles of this parable?