Using the Kardashian Trainwreck to Teach Teens About Marraige
Disclaimer: I am in no way meaning to make light of or exploit the collapse of the short marraige of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. I honestly am trying to extract some good life lessons from the intimate and raw look at a what is truly a painful, real disappointment. Furthermore, I acknowledge that all we know of the situation is what producers allowed viewers to see.
If you have suffered through Kim and Courtney Take New York like I have for the past season, you have seen the makings of marital disaster. Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries had a seventy-two day marriage, all of which was televised on their reality show. I do not encourage my students to watch reality television, but I also recognize that most of them do. If your high schoolers have watched the Kardashian / Humphries tragedy (or debacle, depending on your perspective), here are some biblical concepts and lessons that can be taught to help kids better understand biblical marriage.
1.) Marriage is a covenant and decision, not an emotion.
Early in the marriage, Kim and Kris fell on rocky times. As the difficulty increased, the possibility of divorce quickly entered the equation. When they (Kim in particular) analyzed the relationship, talk of “feelings” dominated discernment about the marriage. Kim often said, “my heart is telling me that I got into this too fast.” Kids need to understand that love is a decision and commitment first. Emotion is a part of marriage but not what drives the decision making. Everyone has times in their marriage when they are not into it, or when they question whether they made a mistake. It does not matter how you feel. Marriage governed by feeling, instead of covenant, almost always will end in divorce.
2.) Marriage means surrendering all of your rights and independence to another person.
From the beginning, Kris seemed determined to protect his independence and rights to go to parties, make appearances, and have friends over to the Kardashian suite. Kris fixated on not appearing “whipped” and on showing Kim “who’s boss.” A good husband and wife are both “whipped.” They deny their desires and rights for the service and comfort of their spouse. For Kris, if Kim did not want him to have a party at the suite or for him to go to Toronto, then that meant joyfully complying with his wife’s wishes, not obstinately protecting his rights.
3.) Surrendering all of your rights to another person gives you life, freedom, and joy. Worldly independence does not.
The idea which neither Kris nor Kim understood is that the way to experience life to the fullest is to sacrifice your own desires in service of another. While both Kris and Kim identify themselves as Christians, the teaching of Christ they never seemed to understand was that Jesus said that “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Mt. 10:39). Christ tells us that the best that life has to offer comes through washing the feet of and serving others.
4.) Leave and cleave, baby.
The Humphries / Kardashian experiment faced many challenges from the beginning when the couple lived with Kim’s sister and brother-in-law (sort of), Kourtney and Scott. Meanwhile, Kim’s mother serves as her business manager and close confidant. When you get married, especially in the early days, you physically and emotionally leave your father and mother (and extended family) and become one. Genesis prescribes this and Jesus reiterates it in the Gospels. Kris and Kim lived under the scrutiny of her siblings every day. The two never had an independent identity as a couple by moving away and living by themselves. Failure to separate from families in marriage- both physically and emotionally- creates great strain on a marriage.
5.) Marriage is not a priority, it is the priority.
In the last episode, Kris admitted to spending too much time conditioning for his NBA career, to the point of neglecting time with Kim. Kris said, “You are a priority to me.” What both Kim and Kris did not seem to understand is that your wife and marriage are THE priority, not just one of many. If an NBA career or a job as an international reality star infringes on your marriage, you make major adjustments or your drop them altogether. Yes, I said that. If the NBA gets in the way of being a good husband, then drop the career as a basketball star, get another job, and focus on your wife. If flying to Dubai, LA, etc. every week for hundreds of thousands of dollars prevents you from dedicating sufficient time to your husband, then drop the career. Marriage is far more important than career satisfaction and monetary gains. Biblically speaking, everything in your life, including your kids and career, subordinates to your marriage. God comes first, then marriage, then other matters.
6.) You really become one through marriage and sex.
You would think after a short courtship and 72 day marriage, that getting divorced would be no biggie. Surely, such a short and seemingly casual relationship would mean that getting divorced would not be too painful, as compared to a long term marriage. Watching this marriage erode and ultimately split was excruciating. Both Kim and Kris suffered mightily. The reason for this revolves around the biblical description of the oneness sealed by marriage and sex. As cavalier and short as their marriage may have been, Kim and Kris became one through marriage and consummation, as scripture describes. This is why divorce is so painful and creates such a life-altering wound. Kids need to understand that marital oneness is powerful and, consequently, divorce has deeply painful results.
Above all, the most important lesson one can derive from the Kardashian / Humphreys reality marriage is the difficulty of marriage. Many students have Hollywood-based view of marriage as a blissful escape and perfect entrance into love and acceptance. Like all things the world has to offer, marriage does not solve the problems of humanity and cannot satisfy our deepest desires. Only Christ can make us content. Furthermore, marriage is incredibly hard and shows us our selfishness and sinfulness. Before entering into marriage, kids need to be reminded of the rhythm of the Christian life: God breaks us by showing our sin, and we cling to Christ and depend on him for everything.