The Religion of The Bachelorette and Reality TV: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Over at Her.meneutics, Nancy French offers the following take on this season’s finale of The Bachelorette:

Normally strong Christians might consider ambiguous religious affiliation and premarital cohabitation as deal breakers. They also consider being “equally yoked” to another person of the same faith as a necessary biblical goal. But the moralistic therapeutic deism of reality TV – and America – isn’t restrictive.

As Albert Mohler has observed the God of moralistic therapeutic deism “does not challenge the most basic self-centered assumptions of our postmodern age. Particularly when it comes to so-called ‘lifestyle’ issues, this God is exceedingly tolerant and this religion is radically undemanding.”

He is also very popular. Social scientists have said moralistic therapeutic deism is akin to a civil religion followed by mainstream culture. Perhaps this is why reality television is full of religious themes (for example, Brad Womack’s second season called The Bachelor: Redemption) yet almost always empty of religious principles (for example, when Ben Flajnik’s so-called traditional values included cohabitation before marriage). In fact, most of the contestants on these shows end up living together before their heavily televised wedding ceremonies.

Reality TV’s moralistic therapeutic deism is easy, comfortable, and expendable. Though it might make for better TV, it is not traditional Christianity. I wouldn’t mind seeing MTD being told “you’re fired,” be voted off the island, or be given the “limo ride of shame.”

After all, true redemption comes at a cost and is, actually, the most beautiful love story ever told.


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