It's a general truth that a majority of the Bachelor Franchise's contestants are Christian.
There have been virgin contestants, a born-again virgin Bachelor, and then a straight-up virgin Bachelor. Yet, over the past two decades, the show has refrained from airing discussions of touchy topics like religion or sex. Participants on the show have disclosed that many deep conversations regarding such matters go unaired.
Then, last season, one contestant, Caelynn Miller-Keyes, disclosed her sexual assault to the Bachelor, Colton Underwood. The heart-stopping moment became a revelatory scene in reality television. Viewers everywhere could hear, relate, and connect to the moving story. Powerful moments like those are more common now that participants are breaking away from the show's traditional boundaries, storylines, and rules. In turn, production has begun to re-shape the show; while the series has become more sex positive, religion has remained a taboo subject—until last night.
Throughout this season, Bachelor Nation has witnessed an emotional abuser remain on their TVs for far too long—even by the standards of reality TV, it's been alarming. Luke P.'s concerning behavior, from aggression to excessive lying, has prompted viewers to question, "What in the hell are we not seeing?" Hannah Brown and Luke P. have had a connection that viewers cannot not wrap their heads around, but it turns out that viewers were missing half the story. While Luke P. has stirred the pot by repeatedly disrespecting Hannah and his fellow contestants, viewers have questioned if an inexplicable spiritual connection has been drawing the two together.
Finally, the other half of the story was unveiled during Fantasy Suite week. After the two made-out during their day touring Santorini, Luke P. began their dinner by gaslighting Hannah:
"I am very confident that we're on the same page with our morals, and I just want to hear it from your mouth. I've heard people proclaim their faith, but yet they've said things like, 'I'm excited for Fantasy Suites. I want to explore this relationship on a sexually intimate level, and that's what I'm looking forward to.' And to me, that's like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa excuse me? What? There's something I'm missing here. Like I don't believe that's something you should be doing, and I just want to make sure that you're not going to be sexually intimate with the other relationships here. Like, I totally have all the trust in the world for you, but at the same time I just want to make sure we're on the same page. Like, if you told me you're going to have sex or you had sex with one or multiple of these guys, I would be wanting to go home 100 percent."
Hannah Sends Luke P Home After Fantasy Suite Warning! | The Bachelorette US www.youtube.com
If delivered differently and with more tact, his concerns could've been reasonable. Instead, he began by aligning the other contestants against him and weaponizing his connection with Hannah to make assumptions about how she should act. Then, he backtracked by asserting that he had faith in her and finally threatened their relationship if she didn't live up to his standards. The loaded speech demonstrates his continued pattern of emotional manipulation. When Hannah disagreed with what he said, he continued to backtrack by claiming that he would work with her through anything, even a "slip-up." Similarly, earlier in the season, he informed Hannah that he would stick by her even if she made a "boneheaded mistake."
Time and time again, Luke P. has utilized gaslighting as a way to maintain control in his relationship with Hannah. Whenever he's felt confident in their relationship, he's directly addressed his concerns with Hannah, but when he's felt their relationship was in jeopardy, he's used manipulation tactics to assert what he wants out of the relationship. However, whenever he's "slipped up," the responsibility hasn't fallen on him because he's protested that he was just "misunderstood"—after lying straight to Hannah's face.
Overall, every time Luke P. has been in the wrong, he's asserted his needs, manipulated the truth, and then backtracked whenever Hannah responded poorly. In their blowout last night, he fell back on the same pattern: confront, manipulate to gain power (occasionally lying), and then backtrack to save face.
Whatever good Hannah saw in Luke P. prior to Fantasy Suite week has been washed away. When Luke P. tried to wield religion against Hannah to shame her, she called him out on it. The Bachelorette proved that she had her Biblical receipts, retorting, "You know the story in the Bible when the woman was called out for adultery, and she was stoned in the village, and Jesus said, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. You're holding your stone up at me and asking me what I've done."
Unfortunately, gaslighting in the Christian community isn't anything new. Too many self-righteous believers still condemn, shame, and utilize their beliefs to shame sinners and preach a narrow way of life. Hannah aptly addressed Luke P.'s hypocrisy by informing him, "Sex might be a sin out of marriage, but pride is a sin too." She continued, "It's like you're holding other people to a standard that you don't even live by."
Faith is meant to spread love and light. Like Hannah said, "I know that I have God in my heart, so I know that everything I do and who I am is light. I am light. Do I make mistakes? I'm not Jesus." Her commentary shed light on the stark contrast between more progressive, inclusive Christians who have embraced the modern world and others who stick to their outdated, hypocritical agendas (like those who are pro-life but don't care about keeping children in cages).
For the formerly apolitical show to air their conversation is a sign that the genre of "reality" TV is still expanding its social consciousness; in particular, it displays that the Bachelor Franchise has solid potential (even after 17 years) to spark new conversations and highlight important narratives. Unfortunately, as portrayed in the previews for next week, the producers seem to allow Luke P. to come back, undoubtedly to exasperate Hannah and continue the toxic drama that is Luke P.'s existence.
ABC's production seems to take a positive step forward by airing their candid conversation, but they still kept around an emotional abuser and then brought him back to let him try to manipulate his way back into Hannah's heart. At least Hannah Brown finally gained clarity and found her way out of a controlling relationship (for now). Hopefully, like other leads who have been forced to endure harmful, disruptive, racist, and misogynistic contestants, Hannah can come out on top, with continued love and respect for herself and her relationship with God.