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Moralistic Therapeutic Bachelorette

'I didn't just go to the Fantasy Suite. I f--ked in a windmill," says celebrity Christian Hannah Brown (Bachelorette screengrab)

A reader writes on another thread, about our debased popular culture:

A perfect example of this is occurring right now in pop culture. On The Bachelorette, the popular dating forced elimination reality show, they are down to the last four contestants. The Bachelorette, Hannah, is an outspoken Christian as is one of the final four, Luke. The are at the “fantasy suites” in which the Bachelorette and each of the male contestants spend the night together presumably to road test their sexual organs. At one point, Luke tells Hannah that it would be a dealbreaker if she has had sex with any of the other three contestants and explains that such conduct would be against his own Christian values. (Apparently he has not watched the previous seasons.)

Hannah is outraged and basically kicks Luke off the show.

Hannah sees absolutely nothing wrong with her strong Christian belief and extramarital sex. This apparent contradiction goes unexplained, but I suspect that her views are the majority of Christian views in America today. I’m not accusing her of hypocrisy. Most Americans tend to espouse political and religious views are are opposed to how they lead their daily lives.

I didn’t know anything about this show, so I looked it up online. Here’s a Daily Beast piece from earlier this week:

On a recent episode of The Bachelorette, lead Hannah Brown tells suitor and contestant Luke Parker, “I have had sex, and, honestly, Jesus still loves me.” (Jesus was not available for comment.)

Each season has a major turning point. Colton Underwood jumping the fence. Arie Luyendyk Jr. dumping his winner for his runner-up. Ben Higgins telling two women he loves them. And Brown’s signature moment—the thing fans will likely repeat back to her for years to come—seems to be her sex and Jesus declaration.

What she said is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from The Bachelor franchise. In years past, the show has danced around the topic of religion—or lack thereof—which is odd, considering that when picking a spouse in a matter of a few weeks, it’s sure to come up.

So why now? Brown certainly isn’t the first Christian to appear on the show. But she seems to be the first person the show has allowed to have religion as a main character trait on the show. During the first episode, cameras showed Brown praying, “Lord, bring me your goodness and your love… Help me feel worthy. Help me feel smart.”

More:

It all seems to be contrived in a way, considering how during a recent episode Parker—a devout Christian who took Brown to a Sunday school class on his hometown date—and three other men will head into the fantasy suites (where the lead has time with the contestants with no cameras around). Typically, only three men make it to that point in the season. Carbone says he believes this was intentional on the producers’ part.

“(The producers) probably set it up that way and were hoping for some sort of fireworks and they got it,” Carbone says. “I’m sure they had a reason to believe that if we put him fourth and the conversation of sex in the overnight comes up, he’s going to lose it if he finds out about her.”

Brown gave Parker the first impression rose on the first night and during Parker’s hometown date, he took her to Sunday school. But it seems the two view Christianity slightly different. Brown seems to be more liberal with her faith—choosing to have sex before marriage, and even “fucking in a windmill”—while Parker seems to be more traditional. He explained in his opening package that in college, he chased sex until one day while he was in the shower, he heard God speaking to him. No word on what God said.

She really did describe what she did as “fucking in a windmill.” See this People magazine account, in which they praise her for speaking “her truth.” Turns out that Hannah got poked in the windmill by one of the other contestants.

Here’s a CBN story on the two of them arguing on social media.

OK, look. If you’re a serious Christian who goes on a reality show hoping to find a wife, you have no reason to complain that the object of your pursuit turns out to fall short of orthodox Christian moral standards. That said, my guess is that the reader is right, and that Hannah’s views — that there is no contradiction between her easy sexual morals and her Christianity — are pretty mainstream today. Gallup’s recent poll of all Americans (not just Christians) shows that almost three out of four see nothing morally problematic with sex between unmarried people. This is not surprising. We are a post-Christian nation.

There has never been a time when Christians lived perfectly by the sexual teachings of the faith. What’s happening now is that Christians are flat-out denying those teachings. The relationship between sex and the body is not incidental to Christianity; it is close to the center. It is only in the past 60 years or so — since the arrival of the Sexual Revolution — that this has been disputed within Christian churches.

Since then, generations of Christians have been catechized not by their churches, but by the culture. Many churches — not all, but very many — prefer to ignore the entire issue of sexual morality, finding it too controversial and embarrassing to discuss. You end up with people like Hannah Brown, a Gen Z Alabamian whose Christianity appears to be garden-variety Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Of course Jesus still loves her if she has had sex. Who denies that? That’s beside the point. The point is that from any remotely orthodox Christian viewpoint, those sexual acts were serious sins. That’s what she denies. From this exchange, she seems to think that they are at worst peccadilloes:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V67eThktnMw]

She is indignant that the poor sap Luke questions the integrity of her faith because she slept with other men, and doesn’t regret it. I’d say from watching that clip, he dodged a bullet — but again, what did he expect, going on a reality show to look for a wife?

The reader who brought this to my attention — and he is a liberal! — is correct to observe that this massive contradiction between what Christianity teaches, and the ethic Hannah affirms, is not explained. You don’t expect a reality TV show to be the Council of Trent, but that her only response is “how dare you!” probably makes a lot of sense to many self-professed Christians of her age (she’s 24). That’s just a guess; does anybody have any hard data on that?

Again, the point is not that Christians are always faithful to Christian sexual teaching. Plainly we are not. What’s at issue here is that Hannah has made her Christianity central to her identity:

But on the show, she presents herself as the kind of Christian who is not about to sacrifice her sex life for the sake of Christ. The kind of Christian Hollywood loves, naturally. She’s a Southern good-time gal, as this tweet about her windmill lover “bringing the wood” indicates. She and Luke argued this week on social media:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Hannah is apparently the kind of person who uses Christianity as a cultural and psychological support for herself. It happens. But it’s not Christian by any Scriptural or historical standard — and it’s important. All of us Christians are hypocrites in some way, but La Rochefoucauld was right: hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. Dealing with your hypocrisy by denying moral truth is spiritual death. In the clip above, Luke says that a “slip up” is something he can deal with — meaning that if she fell short of Christian sexual virtue, and is repentant, that’s fine. But that’s not how Hannah rolls. She feels that she has nothing to repent of — that receiving the “wood” brought by Pilot Pete in the windmill’s fantasy suite was kosher by J.C.

Here’s where the standoff is today:

Hannah is mad at the people who are trying to make her feel bad about the windmill sex romp:

As an aside, a reader passed this billboard today, and sent me a photo:

Right. You’re carrying a fatal sexually-transmitted disease, one that will require a lifetime of drug cocktails to survive, but the important thing to know is that you can continue to “love without limits.” Welcome to American culture.

Anyway, if Hannah is determined to live by sexually revolutionized pseudo-Christianity, then I’ve got a spiritual advisor for her — the freakazoid liberal Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber, who here holds an idol of a vulva, made out of “purity rings” sent to her by deconverted Evangelicals:

UPDATE: If the sexes were reversed, and a woman was being the chaste Christian, while the man was being a sex mo-sheen, would it change the way you viewed this dispute? Not me.

By the way, I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: sexually permissive Christianity is the Prosperity Gospel for liberals.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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