8 Ways to Rationalize Sin From “The Bachelorette”

By Julie Roys
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When I was in graduate school, I participated in a Bible study with three other women in my journalism program. We were the lone Christians in a very secular environment. And having their support and encouragement was extremely important to me.

Yet my relationship with one of them ended in an instant.

I discovered that this woman was sleeping with her boyfriend. And I remember wanting to just ignore the issue. But I felt compelled to confront her sin because of Scriptures like Galatians 6:1, which says, “. . . (I)f someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”

I can’t remember what I said to this friend or how I said it. But I remember vividly her response. Her face turned red and angry and she accused me of judging her. She also said she thought our Bible study was a “welcoming” environment, but clearly it was only for “perfect” Christians. She then cut off our relationship and never returned to our Bible study.

That stung. A lot. And I remember wrestling with guilt, rejection, and feelings of failure afterwards.

But over the past three decades, I’ve found that anger, condemnation, and blame-shifting is a typical response when a believer confronts another believer (or even a Christian institution) about his or her sin. Yet, I’ve never seen this dynamic played out on national TV—until this week.

The interaction happened on “The Bachelorette” TV show on Monday night and involved two contestants—Luke Parker and Hannah Brown, both of whom profess to be Christians. And though I dislike this show for its voyeurism and immorality, I found the two contestants’ interaction, which I saw in the clip below, to be incredibly revealing.

In the clip, Parker confronts Brown for sleeping with other contestants. And in less than eight minutes, Brown rattles off no less than eight deceptive defenses to rationalize her sin.

Unfortunately, these rationalizations are extremely common. I know, because sadly, I’ve used them before to justify my own sin. Yet I list them here because I think recognizing and naming these deceptions is step one toward facing our sin, rather than excusing it.

1. Say another believer has no right to confront you.

When Parker first confronts Brown, she responds, “I’m kind of mad because . . . Why do you have the right to do that because you’re not my husband?”

Nowhere in Scripture does it say only husbands or wives, or those with an especially close relationship, have license to confront someone who’s sinning. The only qualification Scripture gives is that one must be living by the Spirit (Galatians 6:1)—in other words, not gratifying the desires of the sinful flesh.

2. Mislabel godly confrontation as sinful judgment.

Next, Brown turns to the classic, “You’re judging me.”

This defense is so common, I wrote an entire article about it. But in short, the argument that Christians aren’t supposed to judge is based on one verse taken out of context. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus says, “Do not judge or you too will be judged.” But He goes on the say, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

In other words, don’t apply a double-standard and judge someone for a sin you’re equally, or even more guilty, of committing. Instead, Jesus says, “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” So the solution isn’t to refrain from judging; it’s to fix yourself so you can help fix others.

3. Turn the tables and start accusing the other person.

Brown then shifts from the defensive to the offensive, and argues, “You know what? Sex might be a sin outside of marriage, but pride is a sin too. And I feel like this is a pride thing.” A bit later she says, “You’re holding (me) to a standard you don’t even live by. Maybe because you abstain from sex—but there’s a lot of things that you struggle with.”

This defense kind of throws Parker. After all, who isn’t guilty of pride on at least some level? Parker backs down and says, “You’re right. I didn’t have the right to do that.” But he does have the right. Scripture doesn’t say one has to be sinless to confront someone else. One just has to be living by the Spirit and with integrity when it comes to the sin he or she is confronting.

4. Appeal to feminist ideology to rationalize your sinful decisions.

“I’m a grown woman and can make my own decisions. And I’m not strapped to a man right now.”

Here Brown sounds a lot like Gloria Steinem—“a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” (I suppose if she were a man, she’d justify her sin as “boys will be boys.”) On one level, Brown is right. She doesn’t belong to Parker. However,  she’s missing that she belongs to God. In 1 Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul writes, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”

5. Paint yourself as a victim.

“You’ve already broken my heart through this, like truly. And I’ve broken my own heart because I’ve allowed everything. . . . And to have you say this about me. And make me feel like, I, you would look at me any differently, and judge me, or make me feel like you would not think of me as a woman of faith like I am, and that we weren’t on the same page. . . . That’s a big, like *** you!”

After a brief moment of feminist empowerment, Brown jumps to the other end of the spectrum and portrays herself as a victim. Here, she’s slept with another contestant, which clearly hurt Parker. But she’s the victim because Parker is calling her out on her sin.

The assumption is that Parker is hurting or victimizing Brown by speaking the truth. But he’s not. He’s actually doing the most loving thing. James 5:19 says, “. . . (I)f anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

6. Get mad at the other person and break off the relationship.

“I do not want you to be my husband. . . . My husband would never say what you’ve said to me.”

Brown boots Parker off the show and actually gives him the finger for having the audacity to confront her immorality. Sadly, this is all-too-common too. Staying in relationship with someone who’s living in sin is incredibly hard, and sometimes impossible. As John 3:20 says, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

As believers, we represent the light. And those who love their sin will hate us. When this happens, it’s hard not to take it personally. But Jesus warned us in John 15 that people hated Him, and they would likewise hate us.

7.  Brag about sin & become defiant.

“You know what, I didn’t just go to the fantasy suite. I **** in the windmill. And guess what? I did it a second time (winks).”

Hannah Brown morphs in this scene from being soft and sweet to being edgy and defiant. This hardening is inevitable when we quench the Spirit and persist in sin. As Romans 1 warns, God gives those who persist in sin “over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. . . . Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

This is Brown’s dangerous spiritual condition by the end of the show. Self-deception and sin have consequences. She would do well to read  Philippians 3 to see what happens to those who persist in their rebellion. It’s not a pretty picture: “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame.”

8. Malign Jesus by attributing abhorrent thoughts and attitudes to him.  

“Time and time again, Jesus loved and ate with ‘sinners’ who laughed. And time and time again he rebuked ‘saints’ that judged. Where do you fall Luke?”

After the program, Brown and Parker exchanged tweets in which Brown insinuates that Jesus would be pleased with sinners like her and would condemn self-righteous people like Luke. This is perhaps the most sinister thing Brown does. At this point, she’s not really maligning Parker; she’s maligning God.

Yes, Jesus associated with sinners, but He never condoned their sin. To the woman caught in adultery, He said, “Go and sin no more.” And to His followers, Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly father is perfect.”

Here, I think Parker is spot-on that Brown’s tweets make a mockery of the cross:

In another comment, Parker says to Brown, “I’m weeping at (my sin) and you’re laughing at yours. All sin stings. My heart hurts for both of us.”

My heart hurts for these two young adults too. Yet I am quite sure that both of them, if they trust in the Lord, will heal from this sad chapter. But currently, Brown is headed for disaster. As Isaiah 5 describes, she is “wise in (her) own eyes and clever in (her) own sight.” She calls “evil good and good evil” and puts “darkness for light and light for darkness.” I pray she turns from her sin before the damage is too severe. And I pray we’ll learn from her example, and not fall into the same trap.

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27 thoughts on “8 Ways to Rationalize Sin From “The Bachelorette””

  1. It’s clear you did not watch the entire season. Luke Parker behaved awfully for the majority of this season. Lying, deliberately sabotaging other men, etc. He also excused his own sin when confronted.

    He is no saint and has some serious sin issues of his own to work through.

    1. You’re correct. I’ve only seen the clip posted online and am quite sure I couldn’t stomach an entire episode. The entire set-up of the show is immoral.

      1. Hi, Julie. If you didn’t watch even the whole episode, let alone the whole season, do you think it’s irresponsible to post this? Luke had not earned the right to be heard by Hannah regarding her sin because of the way he had treated her and everyone else for two months. He duped you with his Christianese just like he duped Hannah until this very scene. Her response to him seemed borne more from that than anything else.

        Luke’s behavior has been textbook narcissistic and dangerous. He has seemed like a wolf in sheep’s clothing and all in the name of Jesus, which is horrifying. He is no victim nor has he displayed any sort of righteousness. That is why Hannah got so furious. She had spent two months trying to overlook his abusive behavior and defend him to everyone else.

        There is always context, and it seems dangerous to disregard it.

    2. Susan Vonder Heide

      Good point about removing the plank from one’s own eye first. People rarely do this perfectly but there needs to be a reasonable effort to do this or any admonition to another rings hollow and invites pushback.

      1. Probably what we should do is (1) look for our own planks, (2) confront the other person, and then (3) remove the plank. Otherwise, the plank just becomes an excuse not to do the hard job of confrontation, and (2) and (3) both never get done.

  2. This is sad and this attitude about sin is much too common from professing Christians in 2019. Pray that we would understand how our sin is offensive to a Holy God.

  3. Praying for both Luke & Hannah, for both to repent and honor God with their moves. I’ve never watched the show, but this makes me truly sad that this is how professing Christians are representing Christ to the world.

  4. I never watch that show. It is truly a trap for unreal relationships and immoral behavior, egged on by society’s luring of what is of value in life. That clip was difficult to watch. She was so ridiculous! He should have ran to that limo when she started down her tirade of justifying her behavior! Honorable, young Christian men are sadly hard to find. This guy is putting himself in the wrong places, like this show, if he’s truly looking for a Christian wife. My guess is, it’s all a marketing ploy to get more people to watch the show, and those that like to jump on the “Christian-bashing” bandwagon. It’s TV and they’re all out to make a dollar and be hot on social media. Sad.

  5. So many who profess to be Christians will not tolerate truth or correction. They’ve created a God of their liking. Recently I confronted a Christian associate who has fell prey to a cult. She became angry and told me I was putting God in a box. All we can do is confront in love and pray for people caught in sin, Christian or otherwise.

    I appreciate this post. It reminds me to receive correction from other Christians in humility and prayer.

  6. Ditto, Julie for not having the stomach to watch a whole episode- it’s mindless TV and an hour one can never take back. Even self professed christians will find ways to twist the truth about the holy scriptures- all too common and all to rationalize behavior that is obviously displeasing to the Lord. I am saddened for both as this show is surely not the avenue to find a partner that God has envisioned for the one who is serious in their walk. A serious christian in their walk with the Lord that genuinely cares will gently confront- it’s called accountability.

    Meantime, this show has been on for waayyy too long and needs to go. Spend your precious time diving in God’s word, and fellowship with other people whose in search of the truth. I find subscribing to podcasts such as dr. Tony evans, Karl and crew mornings, and the Julie Roys report are awesome ways to be encouraged and be inspired with your daily walk!

  7. This is a great example of gaslighting (a term used in psychology when a person questioned about a certain behavior turns the conversation around to the person that is questioning). The person who calls someone out has to live a good life, not perfect. If the desire is to excuse sin, gas lighting works, EVERY TIME! However, if the desire is growth in Christ, this tactic has no power … for after being called out, both sides will come to a place of wanting to be better. I think gaslighting it’s a tactic of the enemy to muzzle the Holy Spirit.

  8. Thank you for addressing issues like this. I am sure that millions of young women viewers are yearning for someone to stand up and speak about “RomCom” issues and soap opera plots. You have the authority and chops to do this. God bless you for speaking out.

  9. Julie, Thanks for the applying God’s truth to current events. The world’s value system has infiltrated the church and broadcast on TV. Those who do not have a solid ground in Scripture may accept Hannah’s comments as gospel truth. 1.) All Christians shouldn’t watch this mindless drivel (include Love Island, Big Brother, etc) and set their minds on things above. Col 1:1-6) 2.) Ironic that both Hannah and Luke have Biblical names yet their testimonies are worlds apart. 3.) Luke should be thanking God that he was booted from the show. This was a blessing from above not to be yoke w/ unbelievers. (2 Corinthian 6:14) May we all learn from this in seeking both godly friends and a dating relationship.

  10. I am glad that you wrote this, Julie, and I very much agree with your analysis. It is highly logical. I have run across these attitudes before and it grieves me because sin causes death. Those who do not repent choose a road that will lead to there own destruction. It is actually a loving thing to do to confront, and I have done that. I have seen people repent, I have seen them dodge the issues politely and stop communicating with me and I have seen the angry defensive response like this young woman used.

    Beyond that it is important to remember what is going on behind the scenes in a show like this. Many times things are scripted for ratings. People fighting get better ratings than them agreeing peacefully with each other. This whole thing is more likely fake than a real exchange. If the ratings are down then the producer will look at how to change things to get it in the news and get ratings up. This has certainly had this affect with this show. Ratings will jump a lot for at least one week with this publicity. I will not be surprised if the producer finds ways to milk this for a few more shows just to keep the ratings up.

    The other reality check on these “reality shows” is that people have to have a lot of narcissistic tendencies just to get past those judging the casting. There is fierce competition for publicity and contestants have to compromise in many ways what we would call good Christian practice or Orthopraxy in order to get on the shows. This would include the Hollywood casting couch which is still a very real thing along with other extreme ways of compromising and being brutal with trying to outdo your competition. This lust for the spotlight is a primary sin not just of the contestants on these shows, but also for the Christian Celebrity Machine that you do investigative reporting on. Lusting for the spotlight is very bad praxis and a very good reason to tune out the whole machine. Do not watch the shows. Do not buy the books. Do not pay for the conferences with celebrity speakers. Instead, develop your own personal relationship with a living God and then let the true adventure begin…

  11. This is a great post, Julie. The Defenses used apply to lots and lots of sins. We even use them inside our own heads when we accuse ourselves. They are also nice examples of classic logical fallacies: “tu quoque” (you too), and so forth.

  12. JULIE-when you stand for the truth, evening “professing” Christians will hate you for it. Thank you for standing in the Name, Power AND Authority of Christ-Whose Name is above EVERY name. (Isaiah 43:2-3) is my prayer for you and your family.

  13. Your comments are right on. Having said that, both people of “faith” have deliberately walked into a pit of sin when they signed up to participate in this show. what are they doing enmeshed in this in the first place. Stay clear.

  14. I am an old Christian, From what I have seen of my youngest children and oldest grandchildren, they do not regard sex before marriage as a huge sin. Many of them have married and have children. Having not watched the TV show except in parts, it seems to me the big issue is him thinking he has a duty to set her straight. A patriarchal duty. He was giving her no free agency and that was not his right. If a conversation needed to be had, and maybe it did, it should not have been done on National TV. If he cared at all about her he should have had a private one on one. Matthew 8. I do t blame her for slamming him. She also probably exaggerated her sexual history because she was so angry with him.

  15. Phil, actually I disagree. Jesus called us to be in the world but not of the world. Look at Sean Lowe. We was a good example of a Christian on this show.

  16. I don’t watch trash like this show, but you have to wonder why someone professing to be a christian like Hannah does, sleeps around on the show. And why would you even appear on this type of program in the first place. And then she throws a fit when confronted about it. Stay away from this woman.

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