The Australian version of a Danish experiment is set to hit screens this year, and it seems not many people are happy about it.
Married at First Sight is set to push the limits of what is considered ludicrous in reality TV, such as The Bachelor. Instead of a man (or woman) forcing a group of women (or men) to jump through hoops to gain good favour (or a grope), MAFS sees a couple, matched by relationship “experts”, meet for the first time – you guessed it – at the alter. The show then follows the wedding, honeymoon, and the “forever after” as audiences weigh the question: who will stick together and who will divorce?
Hold on, let’s just get that straight for a minute. In a country where same-sex marriage is still illegal, we’re about to get a show where two strangers can marry, live together for three months, and just walk away at the end of it – like nothing happened?
Surely this premise is more deserving of public outrage than a man marrying another man?
The show, filmed in 2014, is the equivalent of OKCupid on crack, disguised as an experiment. Four couples have been “carefully matched“, using “the science of matchmaking” (I’d love to see the lab for that). The audition clearly states: “this is not a competition and there is no cash prize. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to find LOVE.” Yes, and marry them two minutes after seeing their face for the first time. Never mind the people who have been in committed relationships for years who lack the legal opportunity to do the same.
“I think it’s going to create some noise and controversy and it’s a good thing for us to have people talking about the show,” Nine‘s head of programming, Andrew Backwell, said. “I think we’ll be criticised that we’re playing with the sanctity of marriage and people will have an opinion one way or the other. But I’m hoping people will come and see the reaction of each couple as they see each other at the altar for the first time. That moment is priceless.”
I’m sure same-sex couples around Australia would definitely cherish that exchange at the alter – if they were allowed the chance.
Backlash over Nine‘s announcement came thick and fast… and then disappeared without a trace. Apparently it’s hard to keep a sustained amount of outrage over the course of a few weeks. The issue remains: why should we be celebrating (in however half-arsed a fashion) the legal marriage of two strangers on a TV show when homosexual couples are stuck with de-facto status and public hostility? How does the premise of this show hold up the “sanctity of marriage” – a favoured argument of the anti-gay establishment? Can the law really permit such a travesty of solemn vows?
If the protecters of martial virtue were paying attention, they could actually put their favourite bible verses to good use:
“So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” – Matthew 19:6.
Matthew 19:4-6 is the most quoted verse when it comes to objections over gay marriage; specifically the beginning, which states: “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female'”. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, apparently. Surely the emphasis should be on divorce being the sin here? And surely, the suggestion that these couples can opt out of the marriage after three months is a fairly offensive one. The marriage may last longer than a Kardashian union, but still – the bible is fairly clear on the divorce issue – more so than being anti-gay.
“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” – 1 Corinthians 7-10-12.
Personally, I’m not trying to argue against divorce – just the reasons used to oppose same sex marriage and the hypocrisy it presents in this situation. On that point, the bible also condemns domestic violence: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” – Colossians 3:19.
The premise of the show is disgusting – yet there is still less outrage over the idea of two strangers marrying for entertainment than there is for two people in a committed relationship, who happen to be of the same sex. To my mind, if you want to use the bible to back your claims in one argument, then you shouldn’t ignore a situation where it is more applicable.
If you want to quote the bible to explain away your prejudice, why stop solely with gay marriage; why not include the following:
Tattoos: “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.” – Leviticus 19:28.
Palm readers: “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them.” – Leviticus 19:31.
Fashion, crops and designer pets: “You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” – Leviticus 19:19.
Eunuchs (sorry, Grey Worm) or testicular cancer survivor: “A man whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off may never join the assembly of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 23:1.
Families with illegitimate children: “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 23:2. Well, that damns more of the First Fleet descendants then.
Braids, gold or shopping at David Jones: “I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments.” – 1 Timothy 2:9.
Although enlightened minds have, in the past, attempted to accommodate same-sex relationships, the “guardians of public virtue” come out of the woodwork to campaign against “sinful acts”. Why so silent, good messieurs? Surely you’d consider this new show even worse, and a greater perversion of Christian values, than two members of the same sex who care about each other?
Perhaps your objection is simply an irrational phobia, rather than a deeply held spiritual value.
Top photo from Yelp’s Flickr photostream.