Opinion: “The Bachelor” Does Not Set A Good Standard For Love
On January 4, 2021, the 25th season of The Bachelor aired on ABC. Young, eligible Matt James set out to find love amongst thirty-two women, a record-breaking number of participants on the show.
The show has been going on for almost 20 years and has gained a massive following; the majority of which are young women amused by the drama of the show. Within minutes of the first episode of the new season airing, “The Bachelor, Airing on ABC” became the top trending topic on Twitter.
The Bachelor is a staple of American reality entertainment for many. Having watched the first episode along with millions of other viewers, I think there are three lessons we can learn from The Bachelor, and one warning to take heed of.
Standards for women are misguided, not virtuous.
One of the most evident problems that Christians face are the standards set for women who participate in this show. It may not be evident to most when watching a regular episode, but the first thing that came to mind when I watched the limo entrances was that all of the women looked like models. An underlying message is sent, saying, “you have to be this skinny or beautiful to date a man like that.”
That may sound critical, but it seems to be true.
Perfect body image is sought after and, as Matt showed in the first episode, a contributor to each woman’s advancement. The virtues of a spouse are listed in Proverbs 31 as trustworthy (31:11), a doer of good, not harm (31:12), clothed in strength and dignity (31:25), wise and well-spoken (31:26), and most importantly, a worshiper and fearer of the Lord (31:30).
Titus 2:4-5 notes that an older woman is to be a teacher of good, and to train young women in the virtues of being a godly wife. It is no surprise that a show like this promotes things that are not Biblically virtuous. Know, young romantic, that true beauty is found in God and the worship of His glory, not in high standards for body image or physical attraction.
Romance is deeply sexualized.
One of the most-used tactics of women on The Bachelor (and men on The Bachelorette) is the abuse of sexuality. Exposing oneself and making moves for physical fulfillment are riddled in many of their encounters. Later in the show, one of the popular questions among the women will be, “did you make out with him?” or, “did you have sex with him?”
Yet another facet of consideration, Matt could (as others have) allow this question to influence his decision of who will stay on the show or leave. The fact that sex is weaponized for personal gain is nothing new to American culture or even human history. Time and time again, men and women alike have not heeded Solomon’s proverbial warning, that they do not know it will cost them their lives (Prov. 7:23).
One lesson from the often sexualized TV show is this: true love is not merely physical. The beauty of a Biblical marriage is that the bond reflects the Church’s being bound to Christ in salvation.
What the Bachelor is looking for, he can only find in Jesus.
A few of the many attributes sought after in the Bachelor’s potential wife are vulnerability, trust, and harmony. While these are important values of a relationship (even a Biblical one), they are not original to the natural man or woman. Before man could ever be vulnerable to woman, God’s Son humbled himself by coming to earth to live the life we do (Heb. 4:15-16). God showed us an example of sacrificial love that could be felt between a wife and her husband when he sent his son, Jesus, to die for their sins (Rom. 5:8).
Before trust could occur between two sinful beings, God proved Himself infinitely trustworthy (Isa. 12:2). Before two could live together in matrimony, God made it possible for us to dwell with Him from now until eternity (Rom. 8:38-39). The characteristics that the Bachelor is looking for in a woman relate closely to the God that created her.
There have been several men and women on the show that claim to be Christians. In fact, Matt opened the first night with a prayer to God. What you and I must realize, and what we pray everyone on the show realizes, is that God is the one who first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19). The culmination of and perfected fullness of the virtues of marriage are found first in Christ loving His Bride, the Church.
Proceed with (holy) caution.
These short lessons only graze the surface of understanding Biblical relationships, but they are virtues that must be fought for in this present age. Let me be clear, I am not arguing that it is a sin to watch The Bachelor. If I was, every other TV show and movie would qualify for the same judgment.
I do think, though, that Christians must see through the muddy waters of a “reality” show that rarely displays reality. So, my urge to you is this: proceed with holy caution. Determine whether your conscience allows for you to peacefully watch this show, or any other that may be put into question.
If you decide to watch, determine to see through the mire; glean from this show, as with any, a bit of entertainment and laughter. Holiness and clarity are the great mediators between Christlike character and worldly living, and this area of critique should not be excluded from that.
Justin Bower is a Guest Writer.