The sanctity of marriage and family has once again come under attack, but this time it comes in an unusual form.
Married at First Sight is a television show airing on A&E’s FYI Network that has six complete strangers legally marry one another within the first few moments of meeting. Cameras follow the three newly wedded couples relationship for six weeks as they begin to learn about one another’s likes and dislikes while deciding if they want to continue the marriage or seek a divorce at the end of the trial run.
Couples are created by a sexologist, psychologist, sociologist, and spiritual advisor who use their respective skills to determine the best matches from a series of questionnaires potential contestants take. If they choose to separate at the conclusion of the six-week test, the network will then pay for their divorce.
Here’s the trailer to the show, in which Dr. Pepper Schwartz claims, “I believe it’s time to change the way we approach marriage.”
The notion that marrying a stranger based off of four people’s ideas of what qualities will make the best spouse gives the impression that marriage is not the ‘til death do us part’ vow but instead an experiment to entertain viewers with the safety net of a paid divorce by the network if a couple decides to forgo their legal union. People who believe they can go on a reality show to have a trial marriage without there being any repercussions to live with if the relationship sours degrades the commitment that God created for a man and woman to raise children together in a stable and supportive environment. This show creates a mockery of marriage by showcasing how easy a decision it is to get a divorce without knowing the harrowing psychological effects the dismantling of a union can bring.
Ryan T. Anderson (The Heritage Foundation – and one of our speakers at City on the Hill) is adamant about the need for traditional marriage in society:
“At its most basic level, marriage is about attaching a man and a woman to each other as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their sexual union produces… Marriage, rightly understood, brings together the two halves of humanity (male and female) in a monogamous relationship. Husband and wife pledge to each other to be faithful by vows of permanence and exclusivity. Marriage provides children with a relationship with the man and the woman who made them.”
For the A&E reality show, are the couples really considering the needs of any children they could have when engaging in sexual behavior and divorce could be as little as six weeks away? The men and women on the show do not believe there is anything uniquely different about their new roles of husband and wife and how they could potentially impact someone’s life as a mother and father. The approach to marriage by Married at First Sight is one not built on the importance of faithfulness and caring best for children and society, but instead is built on convenience and notoriety.
As a culture there is a need for a different approach to marriage but the answer is not a reality show; rather, as Gary Thomas writes in his best-selling Sacred Marriage:
“We have to stop asking of marriage what God never designed it to give- perfect happiness, conflict-free living, and idolatrous obsession. The problem with looking to another human to complete us is that, spiritually speaking, it’s idolatry. We are to find our fulfillment and purpose in God.”
The second season of the show recently aired its finale where one couple decided to divorce while the other two remained married. Six months later, a reunion special and a recent report unveiled that death threats and a restraining order led to a second couple’s divorce while the last remaining marriage was also over due to a lack of commitment and dedication to the marriage.
This recent experiment of Married at First Sight was a complete failure and should show young singles that marriage is not meant for a reality show to experiment with but rather an institution devoted to the commitment to each other and to their family.