Every season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” has its token villain: Chad Johnson from Season 12, Justin Rego from season 7 and Juan Pablo, who was actually on season 18 of “The Bachelor,” but his name is never referenced to in a positive way on any show in the franchise.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the manipulative character producers have cleverly created by splicing together hours of filmed content, it is important to remember that not everything on reality television shows is exactly how it played out in real life.
Villains and heroes on the show were created by those incredibly talented producers in order to evoke emotional responses from the audience because, let’s be real, what is reality TV without a little drama?
Season 15 of “The Bachelorette” has not lacked its fair share of dramatic, tear-filled moments with former-Miss Alabama, Hannah Brown.
Hannah ending her relationship with this season’s biggest villain, however, has lead to a large conversation on social media about the biblical view of sin, grace and judgment.
Some, like ABC, have celebrated Hannah’s stance for love without judgment, while others have praised Luke P. for upholding a biblical view of premarital sex, but the truth is that neither Hannah nor Luke Parker deserves to put on a pedestal as the ideal picture of a Christian.
Only Jesus can rightly stand on that pedestal.
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It hurt my heart that @alabamahannah felt I was shaming her. In our conversation my heart was never to judge or condemn Hannah. I was simply making a decision for myself on what I expected in our relationship, our conversations and our beliefs led me to believe we were on the same page about sex. For me it was never about getting a rose, it was always about finding a wife who would choose me everyday just as I would choose her everyday. As for my time on the show I made mistakes and no I’m not perfect (crazy right) I didn’t totally behave as the man I want to be and I did not represent Christ the way I thought I was prepared to and that has broken me. This journey has taught me so much and for that I am grateful but the greatest gift I have received is a compassion for those who love the world and it’s ways. My desire is to put the Father first above all things and share the truth that he has given to us all. Thank you everyone for the prayers always remember speak truth and rid yourself of all hate, let compassion drive your words. Stay tuned. #faithfuloverfamous
Reality Television and Its Portrayal of Christianity
Reality television is meant to showcase dramatic versions of everyday life that spark debate and conversation around the events of the show. This season of “The Bachelorette” has definitely achieved that goal but has championed a version of Christianity that does not match up with what is in the Bible.
When Luke said, “Sex is only for marriage,” Hannah said, “I have had sex and Jesus still loves me.”
Luke was portrayed as a Christian who believed what the Bible has said to be true but was also naive, manipulative, prideful and controlling.
He even admitted that he was weeping over his sin on social media so those aspects of him cannot be discounted, but because of those negative attributes, the Biblical truths that he (again clumsily) spoke were discounted and labeled as judgmental and “slut-shamming.”
@AlabamaHannah The difference in how we view sin is seen in the response, I’m weeping at mine and you’re laughing at yours. All sin stings. My heart hurts for both of us.
— Luke Parker (@luke_parker777) July 16, 2019
Hannah, on the other hand, rebutted Luke’s questions by accusing him of ignoring his own sin and not following Jesus’ model of love and acceptance — so much so to the point that she didn’t want to hear any criticism.
Conversations about sin are always messy. No one likes to be told that they are doing something wrong, but God the Father, in a much more perfect way than our earthly fathers, corrects our wrongdoings and invites us into righteousness through Christ.
Considering that reality television shows are a heavily edited version of the truth makes it hard to say that Luke is the obvious villain and that Hannah obviously is the heroine, as the shows predict, or even vice versa.
But it is clear that the picture they have tried to paint goes against the model of righteous living that the Bible has laid out.
The Events That Lead Up to the Dramatic Breakup
Luke has made his Christian faith extremely clear from the beginning of the season, but that wasn’t the only thing he had made clear from the beginning. On the first group date, Hannah invited a group of men to get a glimpse into her world by participating in a mock pageant.
For his talent, Luke walked up to the microphone and professed that he was “genuinely starting to fall in love” with Hannah — only a few hours after he first met her. His premature confession alongside the fact that he won the first impression rose, marked him as a serious threat to the other contestants.
As the season continued, Luke’s devotion to Hannah only deepened and the drama around him continued to rise.
Only a couple of weeks later, in New England, Hannah invited a different group of men to compete for her heart in a friendly rugby match. As Hannah is cheering on the men on the field, Luke P. and another contestant, Luke S., got into an altercation that ended with Luke P. body slamming Luke S. to the ground.
While the details leading up to the body slam were unclear, this one incident and the drama that followed set the course for the rest of the season.
The “Battle of the Lukes” brought out the worst in Luke P.; his anger, his lying and his manipulation all set him up to be the biggest villain on the season — even more than “ABC” Cam.
As the tension between Luke P. and the other men grew, Hannah became increasingly more confused because what the other men were saying about Luke did not match what she saw.
“I see the good in Luke,” she kept saying.
Promotions also began to show Hannah in a heated argument with one of the men where she firmly said, “I have had sex and honestly Jesus still loves me.”
Because no other contestant had been as vocal about his faith as Luke P. had, many fans knew that he must be on the receiving end of those venom-laced words.
What Was Actually Said During the Argument
The show finally aired the fight on the tenth episode of the season: the Fantasy Suite week. During the Fantasy Suite week, the Bachelorette invites the remaining contestants, usually during a candlelight dinner, to spend the night with her in a suite with no cameras.
Anything could happen in the Fantasy Suite and the audience only learns about the activities of the night if the Bachelorette or the contestant reveals what happened, but they often speak of the night in extremely vague terms and leave the rest up to the imagination.
When it was finally time for Luke’s dinner date, he wanted to check-in with the woman he had (clumsily) fallen in love with and ensure that they were both on the same page about pre-marital sex.
Luke referenced the passage in Hebrews 13 that says that the marriage bed should be left “undefiled” and shared that he had abstained from sex for over four years in light of what the Bible has commanded.
As was seen earlier in the season, Luke did not choose his words well, which quickly led to him saying something along the lines of, “If you’ve had sex with any of these other guys, I’m leaving.”
Hannah had been called out and she immediately moved into a defensive place.
She referenced the story of Jesus defending an adulterer in John 8:2-11 and highlighted his pride and anger.
“You don’t own me,” she said. “I have had sex and honestly Jesus still loves me.”
Luke’s judgmental remarks were the last straw for Hannah and she decided that it was time to finally send him home.
The show depicted this moment as the moment of justice; Hannah finally had “clarity” and that clarity was that Luke was a judgmental, hypocritical Christian who was not worthy to be her husband.
An Analysis of the Audience’s Reactions
The overwhelming reaction to Luke and his conversation with Hannah has been to call Luke’s faith hypocritical and manipulative while celebrating Hannah’s faith as tolerant and loving.
In Romans 5:18-5:21, Paul tells the Roman church that just as sin entered into the world by one act of disobedience, grace also entered the world through one act of righteousness — Jesus’ death on the cross — and that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.”
Hannah’s statement holds tightly onto this: that Jesus’ death on the cross covers sin and therefore negates the need for living as the Bible has laid out.
But in the following chapter, Paul raises an important question that speaks directly against her statement.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” Paul wrote. “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
The Bible cautions Christians to not boast in their good works, normally resulting in pride, but instead calls them to boast in the works of Jesus who died on the cross for us.
By championing Hannah’s view on sin and grace and villainizing Luke’s (seriously clumsy) attempts to stand for a Biblical view of sin, ABC has continued to contribute to the narrative that all Christians, who aren’t like Hannah, are hypocritical, judgmental and controlling.
When talking about the most recent episode of “The Bachelorette,” Christians need to recognize that neither Hannah nor Luke deserve the praise they are currently receiving. Neither one is the perfect model of the Christian life.
Only Jesus deserves that glory and we’d all be better if we remember that.
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