A dating website has started a promotion where users can submit bids to win a date with "The Virgin Mary" and "Joseph," in an effort to raise funds for charity.
BeautifulPeople.com will allow members and non-members to place bids on the individuals playing the parts of these two Bible figures. The person with the winning bid will get the chance to spend one evening with the person they bid on, and the winning bid will be announced Jan. 5 with a date arranged in early 2012.
Funds from this contest will be donated to Christian Aid, an international charity fighting poverty and injustice.
The website displays several attractive individuals in a re-imagining of the Bible's nativity scene. Heather, a 25-year-old female model, will be playing the part of the Virgin Mary, while Dorian, a 23-year-old male actor, will be playing the role of Joseph.
"It was so fun to play Mary, and I couldn't have been happier to be part of it! It was beautiful and so well done too. If I can help to raise money for a good cause by going on a date, that is an honor for me. If he also turns out to be my prince charming, then that's something even more wonderful!," said Heather in a press release for the company.
"I was delighted when they asked me to be Joseph. I can't wait to see who wins. It's going to take a pretty special kind of girl to step up and date Jesus' step-dad," said Dorian in the same press release.
BeautifulPeople.com is looking to aid Christians this holiday season through charity. The website is also looking to promote its artistic values through its own interpretation of important Bible figures. However, some people find this promotion unjust and offensive.
"I just think its tasteless," said Facebook user Christa Aiken. "And anyone who participated in this stupidity is obviously screwed up in the head...or an atheist."
Others find it non-offensive, but still a mockery of God. Facebook user Grace Broughton said it was "non-offensive. But God's going to remember this when they get to the gates."
In an interview conducted with The Christian Post, BeautifulPeople.com's managing director Greg Hodge had something to say to those who think negatively of this promotion. "At this time of year, this scene is instantly recognizable whether you are a Christian or not. Our artistic interpretation shines a spotlight on how beautiful it is to have different backgrounds and beliefs. BeautifulPeople.com has members from every cultural background and from many different faiths. This isn’t about religion; it’s about art and what it means to be a beautiful human."
Hodge believes his website's interpretation of the Virgin Mary and Joseph is more artistic than offensive. "Throughout history, the most inspired thinkers and artists have re-interpreted religious iconography purely for artistic purposes," he said to CP. "Madonna is a living example. It was either the nativity scene or Santa and his reindeer.
"When your members are as gorgeous as ours, the choice was clear. If all the historical characters featured were members of BeautifulPeople we believe this is how the nativity would have looked," Hodge stated.
Hodge also told CP that this promotion will give to a worthy cause: "Auctioning off a date with the leads in our nativity image for charity is I believe a noble cause. Our goal in this charitable outreach is to raise as much money as possible. Our nativity image is an artistic representation of the nativity, that fits our brand and concept, naturally not everyone is going to like it – as with any artistic depiction."
Hodge went on to say that "charitable outreach and a celebration of beauty representing people from all over the world using an instantly recognizable relevant framework" inspired this new promotion for the dating website. The money raised from the bids will all be donated to Christian Aid.
The bids seem to be gaining some traction thus far. In the promotion's press release, Hodge noted that the bids "are doing very well with Heather, our Virgin Mary, and Dorian, our Joseph, receiving 579 and 429 individual bids so far respectively."
"We believe in giving back," Hodge stated. "We've chosen Christian Aid because it helps everyone, no matter what their religion. BeautifulPeople.com celebrates beauty in every culture, every ethnic group and from all walks of life. Beauty is apolitical – it's a perfect fit."
Whether this promotion is offensive or not is up for discussion. But the fact that the funds raised from it will go towards charitable means should not be ignored.