Fair warning: I don’t write to make sure everyone is happy; I’ve never been a good people-pleaser.
I remember the first time I watched The Bachelorette. It was 2012, summertime in Northern Michigan ( ~Kid Rock), and I was surrounded by the show’s biggest fans.
The way our nation does TV in general is something I struggle with due to… well, that can be for another time. But these shows… The Bachelor and The Bachelorette… they did an exceptional job of rubbing me the wrong way. But you know, I had to follow through on a commitment of mine: not judging something I’ve never actually tasted. So, I attended the first night of gathering and viewing. That was also my last night.
Can I tell you what I witnessed? Great.
I saw us women gossiping about other women,
drooling over men whom are not ours,
judging others merely upon appearance and what we see,
lusting upon the hopes of false love,
laughing at the expense of someone else,
and the worst part is that it was all justified because there was a screen between us.
News flash: These are still real people.
Yes, yes these individuals did willfully choose to be publicly loved, hated, humored, and humiliated.
But that still doesn’t make it okay to treat them as fictitious beings whom aren’t impacted by the way we treat them.
Can I tell you what it wasn’t an example of, in my humble opinion?
Something I’d ever want to teach young, malleable viewers to see, mimic, and do.
Something I’d ever want to teach my children to see, mimic, and do.
What are we setting an example for?
And more recently, I hear of these Fantasy Leagues? Are you kidding me? You’ve got to be, right?
What if this is the way you and your path to finding love was displayed? Just a big laughable game and your name is but one of many innocuous players. People making your personal (and most important) decision into… their decision. And their form of cheap entertainment. Would you do this to a friend? Then why would you do this to a stranger?
Yeah, I was assumed by a good portion of the individuals during that time of my life as someone who doesn’t do community, someone who can’t have fun, someone with a misguided sense of priorities. But at least I didn’t have to watch one more second of some girl telling some other girl she has no value and then tweet about it because Lord knows these are important things to share.
Guys, gals… Every new season, I observe my rather diverse spectrum of friends via social media get so excited to watch people “fall in love” on national TV. (I also think there is something to be said about why we all crave seeing “authentic” emotions such as “love” come from “real” people, I do. I think it’s because we have a void in our hearts for something as such. But this is not the way to go about it, folks.) And I’m really feeling convicted here because some (a lot, actually) of these people are my best friends, my mentors, my co-workers, and people whom I ultimately respect and look up to.
But I have to be real and I have to be straight: if you are someone (and I am speaking only to this group of people right now) who calls yourself a follower of Jesus, I have a very difficult time understanding how you would find joy in consuming this fad.
Now, before all the claws and fangs come at me (which I anticipate fully with an open heart), I want someone to give me one solid reason why and how watching and supporting these shows is life-giving. Not “life-giving” as in… full of energy or jazz. You know what I mean. LIFE-GIVING, as in it produces good to further good in this world.
I understand that we, as Christians, need to find a healthy balance in being well aware of our moving culture and lovingly understand it. Because to be in our own unrealistic bubbles of safe content and good nature is ridiculous. Obviously. But there is an important and often ignored difference between acknowledging our culture and partaking in it.
We are in this world. This does not mean we are of it.
Romans 12:2, may I remind us, reads:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT)
When I hear that excuse of wanting to become aware and knowledgable of the culture that we are in (in order to watch this show feeling dignified), I have to roll my eyes because you can do this without consuming it. See, I am well aware that things like football games and giant truck shows exist. I don’t have to binge every game, every match, every exhibition to know full well that they are real in this world and that they bring about certain vocabulary and dialogue in our lives. And I mean, even if that were to be your excuse on watching The Bachelor(ette), what is it really doing for you as far as meeting people where they are and bettering yourself in the midst of it?
It is like a man who claims that his heart is for those who are trafficked into prostitution regardless of their will (all while latently knowing he still falls into temptation of looking at women sexually himself, even if his intent isn’t to rape them or use them), going into a whore house in hopes to reach out to these women and help them as well as find those who are behind this mess, then instead get wrapped up in the culture of it, find it sexually tantalizing and not wise up to the truth that he is just as human as the next person and without accountability or the right and prayerful mindset, it is all too easy to be consumed by the flesh and what it desires.
It is so easy for us to get caught up in cultural mess.
It is wild, it is entertaining, it is widely accepted and it is a great place to not feel alone.
It it also a very dangerous place to be when you’re doing it without a second thought.
Without having seen any of the episodes, seasons, clips, or previews since that summer of 2012, I can — in full confidence — tell you what I am missing out on:
Sloth: People settling with becoming famous to gain the hopes they wish upon their lives,
Envy: Girls and guys getting jealous and acting out of emotion rather than thought,
Greed: People betraying one another for the prosperity of their own endeavors,
Lust: Girls and guys changing the deepest parts of who they are to be the perfect “one” for someone they just met,
Gluttony: The endless consumption of mass-produced mansions and cars for the sake of more and more,
Pride: The assumption of contestants thinking it’s in their clever control to win love instead of being transformed by it,
Wrath: The never ceasing gossip and trash-talk of others, leading to regretful behavior and sharing lifeless words.
Yes. I did just align The Bachelor(ette) nation with the seven deadly sins.
Here are more spoilers for the content to come:
Blatant lying and disregard of self-control, self-respect, and self-confidence,
A culture accepting the fact that being entitled to relationships is okay,
Giving attention to unfortunate and insecure behavior that should not be applauded,
People heavily blinded by money making even the roughest situations look nice,
One person giving their body away to thirty people on television and you being okay with it,
Unfaithfulness, disloyalty, and unashamed disregard for their future wife/husband (assuming they don’t win),
An unrealistic expectation for what real, raw, worthy love looks like.
You are giving power to this lifestyle, this culture, this show and all that it stands for. Don’t swallow the lie that your viewing doesn’t make a difference; it does. You are choosing to accept and agree with it by turning it on and consuming its waste.
When I think about my little sister being exposed to this show, it literally makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t ever want her to believe the lie that this is how to find love and this is what you have to do to achieve a sense of wholeness. Love is not a competition. Love is not bought with fancy boats and a trip to Finland. Love is not the dress you wear, what he thinks of you in it, how he kisses you on your first date. Love is not something that whines for attention. A man does not define your happiness. Neither does a woman. Marriage is not the end goal for life here, you guys. If that is your ultimate dream and finish line, you really will be in for a wake-up call. The cat fights, the comparisons, the ugly cries and the shameful one night stands are not the way to invest our society in, our children in, your Monday nights in. C’mon, friends. You are better than this. Your time is more valuable than this. Your intellect is more valuable than this. Your life is more valuable than this.
Look, if this is so fun and entertaining for you to watch with your galpals with wine and cheese, go ahead. I don’t think of you any less. I just really wish that you take a moment to fully acknowledge what you are doing with your time. A memorable pastor in my life would tell us time and time again, “If you want to know what’s important to you, just look at your planner and checkbook.” What is your time investing in during that hour and a half every Monday night? Yes, investing. Are you excited for what type of “fruit” that sowing will reap unto you and yours?