Reality TV romances – The spiritual perspective

By Jackie Georgiou

The camera zooms in on Sarah…just as the Bachelor calls for Jessica. Sarah’s face falls and the tears build as she is forced to explain to the camera how rejected she feels…In the background the Bachelor toasts to the next romantic date with the 19 remaining women.
Sound like a bizarre fairytale? Well, it’s not – in fact this is top rated, award winning reality TV. America, and in fact audiences world wide, are soaking up this type of ‘instant romance’ and even Christians are being sucked into this fantasy of love at first sight followed by a millionaire’s happily ever after life.
Although we know these shows are ‘competitions’ rather than real life, many of us are subconsciously influenced by the message that reality TV preaches: “To be loved you must be the best, only the beautiful are chosen, rich men rule the world and romance is all that counts.” As women (and men) we need to have a Scriptural understanding of love, marriage and relationships. As children of God, we live by the Kingdom example and not by the world’s morals. Whereas sexuality, beauty, money and power are prioritised in worldly relationships, we have been called to a higher standard – one of purity, respect, Godliness and unconditional love.
Lisa McMinn, Associate Professor of Sociology at Wheaton (Christian) College, explains, “These shows paint a warped image about love. The women claim to be in love after spending a few moments with someone. It’s such a Hollywood notion – love (lust) at first sight. What a misconception! In reality, love is not based only on attraction, but on choice and commitment. Healthy relationships take time to grow and deepen.” These shows give a shallow model of love and rarely show the long term challenges and blessings of marriage.
So, as a single Christian girl what is the alternative? We live in a superficial culture swamped with messages of inadequacy and the need for self-improvement. Married women live in fear that if they gain weight, or have a bad day, their husbands will simply ‘dump’ them for a better model – especially as it seems there is a lack of strong, dependable leading men. Christ is our hope! He is the perfect example of unconditional love and submission to the Will of the Father. If we as singles submit our lives to God, He will bring the right person, in His timing, across our path. It is not in our own striving that we will ever achieve the ‘perfect’ relationship. If we as married couples follow the Bible’s teachings on how to be a good wife and a Godly husband (see 1 Pet 3 and Eph 5), we will endure the trials and tribulations of life far better than if we do things out of selfish desires and competitive gain (as many of these reality shows advocate).

How then do we practically walk through our singleness without falling prey to false hopes of being “rescued by a knight in shining armour”?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul…” Deut 6:5
We can’t love anyone else adequately, until we love the Lord and receive His love in our lives. It is only when we are complete as individuals that we are ready to marry and love another.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you” Matt 6:33
If we pursue fleshy or sinful desires, we will always be disappointed. No person or thing can ever fill the void that God has placed inside you – a void only He can fill. If we expect our family/friends or spouse to fill that void, we will never be satisfied. Place the Lord’s will and His Word first in your life, and then everything else will be blessed.

“Do not awaken love before its time”
Song of Sol 2:7b
As single ladies, we tend to run ahead of ourselves (and even the Lord) with our romantic plans, dream holidays, fantasy wedding and glowing groom. So often, we “fall in love” with any man who shows us a bit of attention. We need to have discernment and guard our hearts – and this can only come from the help of the Holy Spirit. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Prov 4:23
As single men, lust and sexual temptation is a huge stumbling block, especially as the media drives men to value outward beauty. As Christians we need to prioritise according to God’s standard, and as men, to encourage Godliness in others.