A Christian critique of The Bachelor

Zac VanderLey—Staff Writer 

The hometowns episode of The Bachelor— filled with fall leaves, ornate couches, and a myriad of dates—effectively illustrated the more wholesome appeal of the show. It also raked in 5.4 million views two Mondays ago, the second most for this season.

Everybody wants to rest, sit back, and laugh at the mistakes of others. It’s quite natural and entertaining, which is why sitcoms and reality TV shows have become king in the entertainment business. Even shows or movies that are neither reality nor sitcom-based include aspects of the shows to maintain viewers. But for a Christian, resting cannot coincide with the neglection of morals.

No, I do not believe I have to spend that much time convincing people that The Bachelor is trashy. The episode after hometowns will give you all you need; or just start thinking of your significant other dating other people, making out with them, and pretending to be in love with multiple people. All the gossip, overt objectification of both men and women, and scripted business-interview dates prove my point. The problem exists in Christians, specifically Bible Belt, contemporary-focused Christians who are not only members of the audience, but the members of the audience , according to an article by Bustle.

Matt James, the bachelor, began the season by praying, asking the Lord to deliver him a wife through the show, and I think he genuinely believes the show’s formula can coincide with Christian values. This is where the show is quite dangerous. Sometimes, when we are at our most fatigued and oblivious, we encounter the most danger. A seemingly inoffensive show can portray a glaringly distinct problem in the culture of the world and Christianity.

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette promote an idealized form of love—the type of love that is concerned with physical attraction, dramatic opposition, and pride. This type of love states that “I should be seeking my well-being in a partner who meets all my needs” while failing to think critically about the other person in the relationship. 

Christians should not support a show that portrays conflict within relationships as a melodramatic form of entertainment. 

The Bachelor should be a deeply serious show chronicling the difficulties of forming strong relationships with people who are different than you. If Christians are to watch it religiously, then the show should seek to reveal the difficulties of matrimonial unity rather than stage marriage as a theatrical joke. 

Maybe you think I’m taking this show too seriously; you think that your fantasy league or communal-watching party of the show is just fun and games. I would ask you to think about how the entertainment business works.

The shows that receive the most eyeballs are copied. So even if you aren’t really engaging with the show, by watching it, you are telling Hollywood to make more shows like The Bachelor, with Bachelor morals.

There are, in fact, shows that are on par with the repulsiveness of The Bachelor; and some shows even surpass it (I think of the return of Temptation Island and Too Hot to Handle). It is safe to say that the portrayal of explicit sexual references has increased in shows since the beginning of The Bachelor (2002). 

While I understand the appeal of laughing with your friends at the insanity of others (even though those people are also image-bearers of Christ), it saddens me to watch my fellow students, friends, and acquaintances continually support such an anti-Christian show. We talk about redeeming culture almost every day, yet, during the nights, we sit back and consume filth that completely opposes our discussions in class. 

The Bachelor is just one show in a culture that has lost sight of its values. No, I’m not talking about popular culture. It’s expected that the world engages with secular values, but Christians are supposed to be the ones entering the world but refraining from becoming the world. And no, I don’t believe the Hallmark-bow-wrapped-supposed-Christian entertainment is Christian either. Exposing the brokenness of humanity—and thus truth—requires shows about sex, divorce, and many other complex ideas. But those ideas should never be presented the way The Bachelor presents them. 

Admittedly, I could be wrong. It’s possible Jesus doesn’t care what we are watching as long as it is within community. But I feel a moral calling to abstain from ever again watching The Bachelor—I feel a moral calling to speak out against a show that is passively accepted by the new wave of contemporary Christianity.

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