The first time I watched The Bachelor was when I went to a bible study during my freshmen year of college. I never watched it beforehand because it all looked so petty, not to mention how the majority of the couples break up within a year after getting engaged. But while watching the show, I began wondering why so many Christians love it. The Bachelor goes against many morals and values Christians hold for themselves. I mean, we would talk about God’s love, sin, forgiveness, all of that, then grab snacks and tune into the show. We would yell at the TV, laugh at the girls, and make theories about which girl he won’t give a rose to… Doing the exact opposite of what we just talked about during our study.
For Christians who typically wait till marriage to have sex and need to be equally yoked in a relationship, The Bachelor probably isn’t the best place to begin a romantic relationship. The seasons are filled with Fantasy Suite dates, hot tub one-on-ones, and constant make-out sessions. Shouldn’t The Bachelor be a model of what Christians don’t want in a relationship? Impurity, deceit, instability, all with a foundation of you fighting for their attention while they’re ‘falling in love’ and being intimate with multiple other contestants. So why do so many Christians chose this show as their form of entertainment?
Fast forward to 2021, the references to religion, specifically Christianity, are much more prelevant in the franchise. In the most recent Bachelor season, Matt James opened up the first cocktail party with a prayer. While controversial, the prayer concluded with Amens, cheers, and even tears from some of the contestants, setting the tone for the rest of his season. Afterward, when giving a speech during a champagne toast, he got distracted by a vibrator left on the table in front of him by one of the contestants; he laughed and made some jokes, but doesn’t that clash with the fact that he just opened with a prayer?
The influx of Christian leads and contestants kicked off after Sean Lowes season, who is known for choosing not to get intimate during his Fantasy Suite dates. According to a study held in 2019, the Bachelor gains the most audience from Southeastern and Midwestern America, specifically Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. Now when we look at the Christian populations of these states, it totals around 79-84% whereas Christianity in the US is 70.6%. It’s clear why Bachelor producers bring in so many Christians- it attracts this large audience. Likewise, it makes sense for there to be a large percentage of Christians on the show, which many of them speak outwardly about, but don’t hold themselves to it.
Hannah Brown, the Bachelorette of season 15, comes to mind. During a one-on-one, Luke Parker, frontrunner and a “born again-virgin”, gave Brown an ultimatum that if she has sex with anyone else then he’ll leave. Brown, who is also a Christian and would have bible studies during filming, argued the infamous line you might have heard, “I’ve had sex and Jesus still loves me”, and proceeded to send him home (you need to watch it.) While Brown wasn’t following the traditional/conservative values of a Christian woman (pure, innocent, and biblical), she held herself high and refused for anyone to shame her. She was a model to others in that you can still have a sex life as a Christian if you aren’t married while staying close to God.
From my own experience, I like to think that so many Christians watch this show because it’s a guilty pleasure and talked about nonstop in media. You can escape from your problems for an hour or two and watch catty drama while you drink wine with your friends, but I think there’s more to it. It’s possible that it attracts so many Christians (audience and contestants) because of the fairytale ending: marriage. For a lot of Christians, this is their end goal. I mean, have you ever gone to a Christian school and heard the phrase “ring by Spring?” They want a partner of faith, to get married, and to have children. This show provides a place for Christians to find contestants they relate to, such as Madison Prewett who was on Peter Weber’s season. Her storyline centered around her religion and how she’s waiting till marriage to have sex- and her partner needs to have these beliefs. The two fell apart after he told her he has been intimate with his contestants and they eventually broke up. Similar to Brown, she stood by her morals and faith and didn’t step down from it for a man. Even though they both had different beliefs surrounding sex, they both inspired Christian women all around.
While it’s great to see many people confident in their sexuality, we also have to look at how the contradictions behind these contestants. The franchise directly contradicts Christian beliefs, even if the show revolves around love. Something in the Christian community that’s popular is soul ties, which is the belief that when you’re intimate with someone, you’re sharing a core part of yourselves with them that they’ll have forever. Preachers, pastors, sermons, Christian books, all somehow profit and bring attention to relationships and sex. There is so much attention to this topic in the Christian community, for reasons that I don’t understand. But when Christians, regardless if they’re an audience member or contestant, participates in the show, then they are complicit in a false narrative. They begin to bring contradictions to Christianity and lead a false narrative that can easily be shown the opposite of.