The popular show the Bachelor/Bachelorette is an insight to where we are today in pop culture. I am addressing yet another show because, as a Christian, it reveals just how much current culture has replaced the faith many contestants proclaim to adhere to.
This 2021 season’s Bachelor, Matt James, was not picked—as typically done—from the pool of men dumped on the previous show. Instead, seemingly in response to the aftermath of George Floyd’s death last year the TV team hurried up and found their first black bachelor. They selected Matt James who has a black father and a white mother, and no previous affiliation with the Bachelor franchise.
This season had the usual dramas, make-out sessions, extravagant dates, catfights, and so forth. The bachelor seemed to be an upstanding young man, except for when it came to being intimate with several contestants simultaneously, which is par for the course.
He was open about his scars from having an absent father who deserted him and his mother. At one point his father came on the show so that Matt could talk to him about why he left and how much it affected him. He said he needed to resolve this to be ready for marriage.
His father was rather insensitive to how he had damaged his son, and what he did to his mother. However, after a while his father got a bit choked up, and for the first time he said he was sorry. This was monumental for Matt. He forgave his father, and this appeared to provide what he needed to move on.
Fast forward to the show’s finale. Matt had two women left: Michelle who has a white mother and black father, and Rachael who has a white mother and darker skinned Hispanic father. Both young women were nice, attractive, and madly in love with Matt enough to say yes to an imminent proposal.
However, Matt suddenly found himself in turmoil because his mother had just told him that “love fades.” In an abundance of caution, he did not want to lead anyone into marriage if he was not totally sure. He sent Michelle home, but not because he was not ready for marriage or because he did not love her, but because he was not “in love” with her. It was a painful scene to see how much Matt had misled Michelle.
James was in love with Rachael, but he was not ready to propose yet because of his newfound confusion about how love can fade. Rachael was fine with that. She was just relieved to be the last woman standing.
Before the last show aired Rachael was in a controversy that had erupted a few weeks prior. This changed everything. She had gone to an “ante-bellum” party a few years earlier and someone had found pictures of it on social media. It was deemed “racist.” So, when the “After the Final Rose” episode aired live immediately after the finale (filmed a few months prior) the mood was somber and included a new host since the regular host—Chris Harrison—had stepped down. He had dared to defend Rachael because it was a long time ago, she was young and in doing so he spoke out against cancel-culture. For this sin he got instantly cancelled even after doing a groveling apology.
The new temporary host, Emmanuel Acho, described this as a “painful” show. But it was not painful because of the sensitive topic. It was painful because what transpired was insane.
Michelle got to see James first. After he broke up with her in the finale, she asked, via the TV-team, for a brief private 2-minute talk with him to understand why to get closure. But he said no to her request to talk and without explanation. Now on the “After the Final Rose” show, she now wanted to know why he refused to talk to her back in the fall 2020. He finally said he was sorry, but he gave no explanation which is what she asked for. There was also no sign that he understood the pain he caused by refusing to talk, for just a few minutes, after leading Michelle to believe he might propose to her.
After Michelle left, Rachael came on stage. Matt James’ icy coldness to her was stunning, as if Rachael had committed an evil act that deserved complete condemnation. Even though he had already broken up with her he now proceeded to chastise Rachael and said that she must “work on” what she had done “alone.” Rachael had already said she was sorry repeatedly, continued to say how much she loved him and blamed herself for everything.
The “Antebellum” party Rachael had attended did not celebrate slavery. The word means pre-war, and usually refers to the civil war. It was a thematic masquerade party with a temporal and geographic setting: the American south before the civil war. Various era-themed parties are done all over the world from all eras. But because this was in a period when slavery existed (which qualifies most of human history) Rachael had committed a cardinal sin. She confessed that she had never even thought of that incident and did not know it was an issue. She was also accused of “liking” a photo of a friend with the confederate flag in it. Although this is the flag for the confederacy, which fought to keep slavery legal in the civil war, it also represents Southern pride, not affection for slavery. This made Rachael, if possible, even more unforgivable.
Rachael is clearly not racist and has no malice in her heart. She was ready to marry Matt, carry his children, and could not care less about his skin tone. She is young, 24 years old, and dressed up as a southern belle when she was 20-21 years old. For this perceived depravity Matt declined to even give her a hug on this live display. This man forgave his father in an instant though he had betrayed him his entire life. Yet he treated this young lady, whom he had hoped and planned to marry, as if she had axe-murdered his family.
Matt says he is a Christian and if he is, he should know that we are not forgiven by our heavenly Father if we do not forgive others (Mt 6:14). Why does he even think that Rachael needs forgiveness from him for dressing up in pre-civil war clothing? If this is the standard he places as a Christian on Rachael, what about his sins? What is his standard for himself as a man of faith?
Matt was intimate with several other women during their entire courtship on the Bachelor. In the real world that would be a deal breaker to end a romance, especially one that is supposed to lead to marriage. No bachelor or bachelorette on the show is forced to be that cheap and hurtful towards the contestants who are competing for their hearts. They choose to be, revealing a moral compass dictated by circumstances and opportunities instead of what is right and honorable. Rachael was understandably tormented to know he spent nights with other women during the show. How can anyone do that to someone they love? But Matt gave himself a free pass to hurt her this way without hesitation or concern.
And where does Matt draw the line for what is unacceptable behavior? Is it racist to wear clothes in 50s style Rock ‘n’ Roll dresses since the Jim Crow laws existed then? This logic leads to total absurdity which we can see on full display now, for example, when music professors at Oxford have condemned musical sheet notes because they were invented in the colonial era.
This kind of outrage is also highly selective and proves how shallow it is. Examples include people in history who were racists but are celebrated today like Planned Parenthood’s (the U.S. largest provider for abortions) founder Margaret Sanger. She was a eugenicist and pioneer in promoting birth control because she wanted to eradicate “unwanted” people. She worked with people to get “colored” doctors and ministers onboard to accept birth-control and wrote in a letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble in 1939 that she “did not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the negro population” if in case this idea should occur to any of their more “rebellious members” (d6358bc3053c93183295bf2df1c0c931.pdf (smith.edu). Some excuse this by saying that they just did not want black people to think that. However, context suggests otherwise. She spoke at a Ku-Klux Klan rally and, in her book “The Pivot of Civilization” she advocates for “racial health” and champion eugenics to control fertility for the “unfit” which included sterilization. She considered the poor and immigrants to be human weeds who should have never been born. In denouncing motherhood as sacred she defends another man who said that it produces “the dregs of human species, the blind, the deaf-mute, the degenerate…” and more. Her entire mssion was to prevent to “feeble minded” to reproduce in the human quest to “triumph over nature.” She opposed philanthropy because it sought to help such people. Another one is Charles Darwin who believed that black people were more closely related to apes and therefore white people were more highly evolved. He and his theory are not cancelled. And what of the epidemic of women, of all ethnicities, who bleach their hair blonde today? Aren’t they promoting the beauty standard of Nazi Aryan ideals when they artificially try to look white, or whiter, instead of honoring how God created us? Why are those women not cancelled? These are examples of the inherent dishonesty in cancel-culture. Those who advocate for it make up problems and the line they draw for what is acceptable and not depends on if it is something they want or like, not on what is wrong or right.
Injustices have always happened and are always happening all over the world and no skin tone is excluded as a perpetrator or victim. We should always condemn and resist evil. But the metaphorical stone-throwing has now reached bizarre and dangerous levels and is no longer related to injustice or authentic offenses. Things have gone so far in the U.S. that they teach, in schools and other institutions, that all “white” people are racist because they are white which is the definition of racism.
In Christianity, Paul denounced that slaves have less worth because followers of Jesus are all “one in Christ” (Gal. 3:28). We are not divided by superficial things but united in faith which focuses on living right. On judgment day we will be judged by our own words and actions. Other people’s sins do not make us good, or save us, which is the essence of what cancel culture teaches.
Let us put Matt’s reaction into perspective. Slavery has always existed in every part of the world. Most of all, it exists today too. Tens of millions of individuals are enslaved right now that, notably, is not a concern for those who condemn people like Rachael. The NBA earns millions from China despite where, for instance, they keep Uyghurs in concentration camps where they perform mass-sterilizations and torture, they harvest organs from prisoners, and send away political dissidents to labor camps if they are not outright murdered. Multi-billion-dollar companies Nike, Apple, and Coca-Cola use forced labor from the same region. After Obama toppled Khaddaffi in Libya the country unraveled to the point where they had open slave markets. The most horrific form of slavery today is sex-slavery, which is prevalent everywhere, including the U.S. An unsecured southern border is the number one route for sex-trafficking into the U.S. and the porn industry is in bed with sex-traffickers. Has Matt taken a stand on that? The list of actual injustices to fight today is endless and ante-bellum parties is not one of them. It is an invented first world problem and a profound offense to those past and present suffering real evils in the U.S. and world-wide.
What is baffling is the certainty of people who are so easily slighted that they themselves are not products of their time and conditioned to condone various evils. Current culture is not better than previous eras. Some things are better, others are worse. One prime example is abortion which for millions around the world, including me, is a profound injustice and it is the largest genocide in all human history. Because it is legal unborn babies have no human rights and not considered fully human, just as slaves were not either. For this reason, abortion extends into selling artificially created embryos (a form of human trafficking), storing hundreds of thousands of them in freezers awaiting to be sold, donated, or destroyed, harvesting aborted babies’ organs for research, and more which includes genetically modify embryos. No human in the womb can consent to any of this which is why they exploit them. Even abortions based on race, sex and disability are legal now in the U.S. thus advocating for eugenics, sexism, and racism. Still, this is championed by millions because of economic and practical benefits as it caters to adults’ endless wants.
Those who think that racism is found in things like antebellum parties have freed themselves from being complicit with any immorality going on today. If main-stream culture becomes pro-life again, how many people should we cancel then? How many statues should we tear down? And how many people should we demand that they beg for forgiveness for disagreeing with the ruling mob while we still cancel them?
One can only hope that Rachael will wake up and realize that one can not live with anyone who takes themselves that seriously, is that easily offended and so deeply unforgiving, while simultaneously having a blind spot to how he hurts others.
The end of today’s culture’s outright obsession with skin tone seems far off. As of now it is a big business with an entire industry of well-paid people devoted to keeping it alive. Neo-segregation is on the rise in universities and where “micro-aggressions” are invented to police speech. This is regressive, not progressive. False accusations of racism are now constantly used for political purposes and minorities are exploited to achieve them. This is profoundly dangerous and encourages the exact hate those accusers pretend to oppose.
Cancel culture is a cancer focused on virtue signaling for personal attention or political agendas. It obscures and minimizes real injustice of any kind. It is certainly anti-Christian. Moreover, there will be no one left to be able to say or do anything if this continues because no one is free from sin, especially when what is offensive is now so subjective and frivolous.
Jesus said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Mt 7:3). Matt James may want to ponder this.