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lindagray

Behind the Reality of Reality TV 2

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Real Love?
In a past season of The Bachelorette, Trista Rehn met and hung out with 25 handsome men before choosing between the final two, Ryan and Charlie. But when Charlie found out Trista picked Ryan, he didn't talk about how much he loved her or how much he'd miss her. Instead, he talked as if he just came in second place in a track meet.

This illustrates one of the biggest false realities of matchmaker TV shows. If we believe what they present, we'll start to think dating is a contest. A contest where only the best-looking, funniest or most aggressive person will "win" a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The Bible doesn't tell us specifically how to date. But we know from Jesus' example that love is not a contest, and it's not something we reserve for those who are attractive enough by TV standards. He looks at our hearts, not external things like our appearance or how much money we have. And while we do want to date people we're attracted to, we need to be very careful that we don't base attraction just on looks. We must look at a person's character—a trait that rarely shows up on dating shows.

Another big problem is that romantic reality shows can make us believe that it's okay to have sex without being married. But we cannot fall into the trap of these shows that assume that premarital sex is okay. It's not. The Bible tells us clearly that our bodies are not our own. They belong to God. Because of this, we should flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). And that may mean fleeing from many of these shows!

Real Recognition
American Idol became one the biggest reality TV show on the air. The Voice, MasterChef, America's Next Top Model and several other programs have made this type of program the fastest-growing kind of reality show on television. It's exciting to watch people try to make their big break into music or modeling, and it's fun to try to guess who will make the final cut.

But it's important to remember that success doesn't usually come overnight. Most of the time it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work, practice, patience and hardships before people get recognized for their gifts. And while there are artists who are just "discovered," most of them—including the ones who go on reality shows—have been working to break into the entertainment business for a while.

Another problem: With the focus on "making it big," we can start to think that recognition defines our self-worth. Without fame, we might start to think we are somehow less of a person. But fame or stardom won't make our lives more valuable. The Bible tells us that God knew each of us in the womb; he created us and made us unique (Psalm 139:13-14). So how can we not be valuable? We know that our worth comes from God, rather than good looks, fame or even the talents he's given us.

The Real Way
If you decide to tune into reality TV, I think it's important to watch carefully. When I watch, I try to evaluate these shows by asking questions like:

How is this different from the reality I face every day?
Are the relationships portrayed in this show healthy? How could a biblical worldview make them healthier?
What's true or admirable in these lives, attitudes and decisions? What is false or not worth copying?
What assumptions are made about love, recognition, relationships or happiness?
By remembering that reality TV isn't always so real, we arm ourselves against the misconceptions and myths these shows can present. And our best defense is to look to Jesus Christ. After all, he is the ultimate reality.

christianitytoday.com

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