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'The Bachelor' nation: A cultural destruction viewing party

'The Bachelor' nation: A cultural destruction viewing party

Madison Prewett and Peter Weber talk during a date on "The Bachelor." | ABC

It is that time again when people across the nation gather together, pick their favorites, and celebrate with viewing parties, the phenomena that is The Bachelor[1].  The Bachelor has an incredible reach and impact on the culture worldwide. The original series, the Bachelor, has aired for twenty-three seasons. To put in perspective, the three main U.S. shows[2] averages ten million viewers per episode. That is 360 MILLION viewers each season, and over the 23 seasons of the Bachelor alone, over 2.7 Billion viewers. Sadly, this single show, simply by virtue of its reach and its normalization of sin, has done more to speed the destruction of healthy relationships and marriage in the culture than anything in history.

The Norm

God designed man to live in fellowship and community. God specifically designed male and female as reflective of his nature and image (Gen 1:26-27 NASB).  Because it was “not good for man to be alone...[God made] a helper suitable for him” (Gen 2:18).  Woman was taken out of man to be the ezer neged; [3] a corresponding other to man. Marriage and sexual relations is idealized as the reunion of male and female counterparts; “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23), culminating in marriage and sexual union;

For this reason, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Gen 2:24)

Man and women were created and designed to be and work together, as helpmates and partners in reflecting the image of God, living in intimate relationship with him as stewards of his creation.

Twisted Reality

So, what is so wrong with this show that purports to be dedicated to helping people find this love. The problems are multiple, but the first is that rather than being fulfilled and made whole through relationship with God, these people are on a misguided quest to be fulfilled by another person, a role unintended, and a hope that will end in frustration. Whether the Bachelor or one of the 25 contestants vying for his affection, each is lost and looking for that soul mate to complete them. Because of the fall and man’s brokenness, each person has that god shaped hole [4] that only God can fill. These people (with a couple of outliers for dramatic effect) are the beautiful people who seemingly have it all together, but that inside are really “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev 3:17). They lack the shalom[5] of intimate relationship with God. They can never find or be that truly fulfilling soulmate until they are themselves complete in Christ.

Further, their pursuit of that life partner in this show is fraught with IED’s planted by the producers that all but guarantee good television but bad and short-lived relationships. Whether living in a Hollywood mansion, jet-setting around the world to exotic locations, or living in a Mexican resort paradise, the producers have designed a life Edenic in nature, with no toil and no cares for those selected for Bachelor Nation. Contrary to the Edenic norm; however, the Bachelor sets up and enables hedonistic and narcissistic relationships that are destined (designed) to fail.  Whether the bachelor himself or the contestants amongst each other, the producers promote a priority of ego – I need to do what I want to do. Whether in the house culture or the group date dynamic, people are pitted against each other for dramatic effect. Regardless of the oft-reported creative editing [6] and scripting [7], the show is crafted to inject people into highly emotional and high-pressure situations, pit them against each other and then televise the results.

Further, the show designs intimate ‘dates’ to facilitate bonding[8] with multiple people, with the design of forcing the breaking of the relationship and thus injury[9] to all parties involved. This culminates in the ‘Fantasy Suite’ episode where ‘sexual compatibility’ is voyeuristically promoted and facilitated.  The damage done by multiple and continual physiological bonding and then breaking of those bonds is hurtful and long term.[10]

This highlights the destructive sexual practices that are normalized on the show. The Bachelor promotes and profits from the counterproductive practices of free sex and me first in the world of dating, destroying any chance for a healthy, fruitful, and fulfilling marriage in all but the rarest of cases, while inculcating that same destructive norm in the culture at large. After inflicting the negative emotional, spiritual and, potentially, physical damage, the show turns to its goal and design toward that heartbroken rejection captured on film as they are whisked away questioning what is wrong with them and why ‘they are always rejected.’ It is tragic how a typical season mirrors the fall of man in the Garden; broken man is enticed by the promise of a blissful future, but left instead with a broken and damaged relationship and life.  This is ABC as the serpent profiting from destruction dressed up as love and enlightenment.

Rubble of Relationships

When we observe these shows, we see the devasting effects of sin on mankind and, therefore, on creation itself. The enemy has twisted God’s design.  Ultimately the seed is man’s loss of relationship with God.  Culture is less and less interested in, much less invested in, belief in God. The bachelor is not simply set on normalizing destructive sexual relations but also invested in targeting anyone who would champion traditional biblical sexual values. 

The show routinely parodies, and lampoon’s the Christian virgin on the show for their ignorance and backwardness. The current season features ‘Mr. Windmill’, Peter, who famously slept with the last Christian Bachelorette 4 times during their fantasy suite. He is wooing Madison, the Christian virgin, committed to saving herself for marriage.  She told him before ‘fantasy week’ that him sleeping with other women “6 days before getting engaged” would be a deal breaker. His reaction was mostly confusion, and irritation. Of course, he went ahead, despite his stated unease, to sleep with the other two women and then is shocked and upset that Madison is “going to walk away from all they have.”  This is just like recent Bachelor, Colton, who was also virgin.  Most of the season was dedicated to dismissing his aberrant behavior (virginity) as a fluke of opportunity rather than any values-based or biblical decision.  There is a concerted effort to disconnect ‘Christianity’ from sexual purity and the recent focus has been to normalize sexual promiscuity with sincere Christianity. Luke P. was famously ostracized and vilified as a slut-shaming, dangerous Neanderthal for daring to suggest sexual fidelity and exclusivity should be maintained, despite the upcoming ‘Fantasy Suites.’ In the quintessential theological non-sequitur, the Bachelorette famously responded that ‘She’s had sex and Jesus still loves me.’[11]  Perhaps she ought to read Romans 6, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom 6:1-2 NASB). Of course, the show is no longer limiting itself to destroying normative heterosexual relationships.  It has now ventured into normalizing homosexual relationships.

The latest Bachelor in Paradise featured fan favorite and adorable girl next door ‘Demi’ as a key figure.  In a blatant manipulation right out of the pro-homosexual propaganda handbook[12], the show spent an entire two seasons getting you to love Demi and then brought her into Paradise to shockingly reveal her as a lost and confused bi-sexual lesbian. In a textbook display of “desensitivity, jamming, and conversion,”[13] Demi sympathetically “came out” to everyone with unanimous affirmation.  They even went so far as to upend the entire premise of the show to bring her older lesbian lover onto the show as a sort of third wheel drama while the show continued.  This is neuropsychological manipulation at its finest with people like Demi and the rest of the cast and their relationships the cultural agenda and ratings’ collateral damage.

 Sadly, this comes right back down to being deceived, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen 3:13). Being prideful and independent, we question ‘did God say,’ and we doubt that God’s design is best. God’s prized creation, man, chooses self-centered and self-destructive rebellious behavior because we want to be ‘like God’ and want to do what we want to do.  While the enemy offers love and happiness and fulfillment (the shalom of God’s creation and design), it is a bait and switch and man instead, by his selfish delusion, reaps more loneliness, sadness and futility.  The cultural impact of its normalization of relationship and sexual intimacy practices that are sinful, self-destructive, and counterproductive to the goal of a fruitful marriage is seen daily in our circle of friends. The depravity of the show is demonstrated by the shipwreck that is their own results – 23 seasons and two marriages.

Brokenness of the Human Condition

The sad reality is that the Bachelor is the epitome of the brokenness of humanity and its misguided and deceived attempt to find the elusive shalom of creation and relationship with God.  In the fall, man rebelled against God and set himself up in his place, believing the lie of the enemy and mirroring the sin of the Serpent as he was cast down from heaven as Lucifer; ‘I will be like the Most High” (Is 14:14).  Since that fateful moment, man has searched to fill that emptiness left void in the loss of intimate relationship with God. The Bachelor presents the desperate need and desire to be ‘whole’; to find peace. It televises the futile attempt to achieve that peace of God, apart from his design; “this design naturally includes not only the proper relation of people to people and of people to nature and of nature to God but also the proper relation of people to God.”[14]

The enemy, not content to destroy the relationship with God, seeks to destroy our relationship with each other, and at the root of that is the male/female relationship in godly marriage. Here the Bachelor producers purposefully depict, promote, and idealize normative relational and sexual behavior that is contrary to God’s design and perfect will, distorting; “God’s design for creation and redemption”[15] and promoting sin and evil.

The cultural impact of the Bachelor is vast. The normalization of sin, and its promotion as spectator sport is tragic.  Ben Shapiro accidentally summed up The Bachelor ethos perfectly in a recent YAF speech; “the feminist movement was not wrong when they said men were acting like pigs, they were wrong when they said that women also ought to act like pigs and that this is the solution to our problem.”[16] Perhaps this season, it’s time for people to speak up and for someone to interrupt the parade with the reality that “he hasn’t got anything on.”[17] Only a return to the God-designed concept of one man and one woman, in relationship with God, reunited in marital commitment and the neurochemically enhanced bonding of the marriage bed can stay the course toward destruction. Meanwhile, more marriages fail, and families implode, as the masses applaud and cheer personal and cultural destruction over pizza and beer viewing parties.


[1] For purposes of this paper, rather than detail each distinct show in particular, references to ‘the Bachelor’ is meant to include all the derivative shows in general.

[2] In the U.S. The Bachelor is balanced by its counterpart, The Bachelorette and the catch all, Bachelor in Paradise.

[3] Daniel Kim , “Is ‘Suitable Helper’ a Suitable Translation?,” The Good Book Blog - Biola University Blogs, November 11, 2015, accessed 12/18/2019  https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2015/is-suitable-helper-a-suitable-translation. Grammatically speaking, the Hebrew phrase ‘ēzer kenegdô is actually a very heavily loaded clause. The word ‘ezer is the noun “help,” or “helper” (when used to describe a person), and kenegdô is a tripartite construction of two prepositions and a pronominal suffix (ke = “like” or “as”; neged = “opposite” or “in front of” – a “counterpart”; and the suffix ô = him). A terse and wooden, but literal translation might be “a help as one standing opposite him,” or “a help as his counterpart.”

[4] “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.” – Blaise Pascal

[5] Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: a Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 10. “In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight… .Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.”

[6] Steve Carbone,  (Feb 26, 2009). "My Interview with Megan Parris". Archived from the original on March 1, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2012. “I don't think [the producers] showed any real conversation I had with anyone ... The viewers fail to realize that editing is what makes the show ... You'll hear someone make one comment and then they'll show a clip of somebody's face to make it look like that is their facial reaction to that statement, but really, somebody made that face the day before to something else. It's just piecing things together to make a story”

[7] Andy Dehnart, (March 29, 2009). "Megan Parris says Bachelor producers "berate," "curse at" contestants". Reality Blurred. Archived from the original on September 17, 2012. Retrieved July 16, 2012.On March 26, 2009, Megan Parris argued that not only was the show scripted, but that producers bullied contestants into saying things to the camera that contestants did not want to say

[8] Joe S. McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush, Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2008). The impact of even seemingly benign romantic behavior (holding hands, hugging) leads to physiological pair bonding with the release of powerful chemicals within the brain. These sexual actions release a dopamine ‘reward’ in the brain building new neurological pathways and strengthening those attractions. In women, the neurochemical ocytocin is released during ‘romantic’ encounters which is the same chemical released in women’s brain during childbirth and nursing, which is what builds the BOND between mother/child. In boys, a similar ‘bonding’ chemical is released – vasopressin. The more intense the sexual contact, the more impactful the chemical release, and intense the desire to repeat and escalate behavior.

[9] Ed Vitagliano, “Bonded in the Brain,” AFA Journal, October 2010, https://afajournal.org/past-issues/2010/october/bonded-in-the-brain/). Each time a bond is broken, they are breaking an [oxytocin and vasopressin] bond that has formed,” “This severing of the bond explains the incredibly painful emotions people often feel when they break up, real pain is experienced. The more these bonds are created and then broken, the lesser the ability to properly bond in the future with your spouse. The article likens it to tape that is applied and torn off repeatedly, each time it lessens its ability to stick and ultimately can’t any longer.

[10] Robert E. Rector,, Kirk Johnson, Lauren Noyes, and Shannan Martin. “Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts.” The Heritage Foundation, June 26, 2003. https://www.heritage.org/education/report/harmful-effects-early-sexual-activity-and-multiple-sexual-partners-among-women. “Early initiation of sexual activity and higher numbers of non-marital sex partners are linked in turn to a wide variety of negative life outcomes, including increased rates of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, increased rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth, increased single parenthood, decreased marital stability, increased maternal and child poverty, increased abortion, increased depression, and decreased happiness.

[11] Li Zhou, Emily Stewart, Lexie Schapitl, and Dylan Scott. “The Bachelorette Takes on Slut-Shaming and Duplicitous Boyfriends in a Riveting Season.” Vox. Vox, July 31, 2019. https://www.vox.com/2019/7/31/20700688/bachelorette-finale-hannah-brown-slut-shaming-luke-jed.

[12] Marshal Kirk, and Hunter Madsen. After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1989.

[13] Kirk and Madsen. After the Ball, New York, NY: Doubleday, 1989, 167-168. “Conversion is more than merely desensitizing straights or jamming their homo hatred: it entails making them actually like and accept homosexuals as a group, enabling straights to identify with them. This becomes possible when a heterosexual learns that someone he already likes and admires…is homosexual. The discovery leads to an internal showdown between the straight's person…the straight's concept of gays is modified for the better, and a favorable conversion takes place.”

[14] Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: a Breviary of Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 16.

[15] Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 16.

[16] Ben Shapiro, YAFTV, “WHY BELIEVE ALL WOMEN? Shapiro defends due process & slams radical feminism”, Apr 26, 2019, accessed December 30, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ggGdFB6A_I&t=5s

[17] Hans Christian Andersen,. “The Emperor's New Clothes.” Translated by Jean Hersholt. H.C. Andersen Center. Accessed January 2, 2020. https://andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

Bibliography

Andersen, Hans Christian. “The Emperor's New Clothes.” Translated by Jean Hersholt. H.C. Andersen Center. Accessed January 2, 2020. https://andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

Kim, Daniel. “Is ‘Suitable Helper’ a Suitable Translation?” The Good Book Blog - Biola University Blogs, November 11, 2015. https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2015/is-suitable-helper-a-suitable-translation.

Kirk Marshal, and Hunter Madsen. After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s. New York, NY: Doubleday, 1989.

McIlhaney, Joe S., and Freda McKissic Bush. Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2008.

Plantinga, Cornelius. Not the Way It's Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.

Rector Robert E., Kirk Johnson, Lauren Noyes, and Shannan Martin. “Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts.” The Heritage Foundation, June 26, 2003. https://www.heritage.org/education/report/harmful-effects-early-sexual-activity-and-multiple-sexual-partners-among-women.

Robert Prescott-Ezickson, "Hamartiology," Topic 7 Overview, Systematic Theology HTH505, Grand Canyon University, 2019.

Shapiro, Ben, YAFTV, “WHY BELIEVE ALL WOMEN? Shapiro defends due process & slams radical feminism”, Apr 26, 2019, accessed December 30, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ggGdFB6A_I&t=5s

Vitagliano, Ed. “Bonded in the Brain.” AFA Journal, October 2010. https://afajournal.org/past-issues/2010/october/bonded-in-the-brain/.

Zhou Li, Emily Stewart, Lexie Schapitl, and Dylan Scott. “The Bachelorette Takes on Slut-Shaming and Duplicitous Boyfriends in a Riveting Season.” Vox. Vox, July 31, 2019. https://www.vox.com/2019/7/31/20700688/bachelorette-finale-hannah-brown-slut-shaming-luke-jed.

Greg Henning is a lay ministry volunteer who has worked in the high-tech field for the last 25 years.  He has a BA in Biblical Studies with extensive post grad work from Vanguard University, and is currently pursing and M.Div in Theology from Grand Canyon University.  

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