The Bachelorette and Porn: The Truth They Reveal About Romance, Sex and Marriage

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So what is up with The Bachelor and The Bachelorette?  I have to confess that I really don’t get the appeal.  However, I frequently overhear excited interchanges regarding these shows.  I find that I have to back away slowly in order to avoid alienating my friends and family members with an impassioned speech.  And then, after some quiet reflection, realize I need to take a breath and ask, “Why have these shows drawn top ratings for the past 16 years? What can I learn as I observe friends and family who seem inextricably drawn to the stories revealed during this hour?”

In a Time magazine article written March 4, 2018, Samantha Cooney posits, “millions are still riveted by a show characterized by its extravagant dates, abundance of champagne and end goal of getting engaged by the season finale.”  Amy Kaufmann, writer for Time is quoted in the same article, “I think why we’re so obsessed with the show has something to do with our desire to have fantasy and romance in our life!”  Is this a problem?  A culture writer for the Huffington Post comments, in a 2017 article, “It magnifies and enacts the sort of reductive tropes and expectations we face in the real world, especially the real dating world.” (Claire Fallon) All of these statements point to this conclusion: In spite of the stark reality of the inadequacy of romance and marriage as a means to a fulfilling and satisfying life, the undeniable attraction to stories of romance and love persists.

I can imagine that some readers do not resonate with this prevalent longing for romance, love and marriage.  Sometimes our life experiences and our woundedness channel our desires in a different direction.  Recently I read an article sourced from an organization, Fight the New Drug.  It states a statistic from the Huffington Post: “Porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined each month.”  As I continued down the page, reference was then made to some thought provoking posts discovered on Twitter:
•    Porn doesn’t play games, porn doesn’t text back slow, porn gives you exactly what you ask.  I  love porn. 
•    I love the happy endings in porn.

These were just of a few of the posts quoted regarding a love for porn, and if we set aside judgment regarding the morality of porn for a moment, we realize that it exposes human longings and desires closely related to those experienced by viewers of The Bachelor: the longing to grasp the illusion of a relationship that provides connection and happy endings.

Ernest Becker, in his book The Denial of Death, tells us, “We live in an age of apocalyptic romance.  We’ve removed God and his design for marriage and replaced him with unbearable expectations for transcendent relationships.”  Our longings and desires have been misdirected, whether in a quest for romance or a thirst for porn.  The result is that we crush and destroy the very thing we are seeking.

The definition of  “apocalyptic” can be one of catastrophic ending, but also meaning “wildly unrestrained, grandiose or climactic” according to Merriam Webster.  Going back to our last conversation in “The Fate Of Marriage,” we see that Jesus addressed the religious leaders’ erroneous thought regarding marriage when He said, “You are mistaken, not understanding the scripture nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage.”  In the resurrection, or in other words, in the eternal kind of life, earthly marriage will be absent.  Why? Because in that place, we truly will experience an apocalyptic romance. (Ephesians 5:31-32 and many others)  In fact, we are invited to taste of it even now.  C.S. Lewis describes our desires in this way, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.  We are far too easily pleased.” (The Weight of Glory)

Our deepest longings and desires are not for romance, a wedding, marriage or sex.  If we now look back to the Genesis account and our creation in the image of God, we remember that we were created out of the love of the Trinity.  The source of our lives is the union and communion flowing through the Trinitarian relationship.  Clearly our longings originate from this place and all other desires for romance and sex mask the deeper need.  If we are to find life that truly satisfies, we must reinterpret these longings as invitation into love and communion with God.

What then is the meaning of marriage? The marital relationship is a picture of deeper truths about God and ourselves.  This relationship is not our destination in life in spite of all that the culture around us espouses as true.  Earthly marriage and sex can never satisfy us and yet it is a clear picture instituted by God to help us comprehend God’s invitation to perfect love, communion and ecstasy.

How do we introduce these truths to the children in our lives? It is so important to establish foundational thinking that will be the basis of life giving choices in the future.  We can start by helping them to identify and articulate their longings for love and connection, directing them to God as the one who can truly satisfy.  We’ll give you ideas during our workshops and we hope that you will be able to join us. You can also find age appropriate activities and discussion ideas in our curriculum found on our website.

If you haven't had a chance to read our previous blogs, we encourage you to do so as each one contributes to a big picture vision regarding God's design for our bodies, sex and relationships.

Watch for our next blog as we begin to explore Jesus’ teaching and its implications for marriage, sex and weddings!