“Married at First Sight” — The end of Western civilization?

By Quint Randle
It’s back. The third season of A&E networks’ “Married At First Sight.” If you’re unaware of the premise, the reality show is where four relationship/life experts review and match six applicants — 2,500 this season — to be married sight unseen. With cameras rolling, viewers watch the three couples go through the wedding, the honeymoon, moving in together, etc., — a six week “experiment.” (BTW: The vast majority of couples wait a while before consummating their marriage.)

At the end of the show, the couples decide whether to stay married or divorce. From what I can tell, while some couples from season one remain married all of the couples from last season are now divorced.

With the institution of marriage in such rough shape lately, I don’t know whether to strangle the participants and producers because they are treating a sacred institution so casually, or whether to cheer them on a bit for helping these poor singles who are so clueless they can’t figure out how to find a decent mate – because the dating scene is so bad.

In a New York Post article, Season 3 participant Vanessa Nelson said, “It’s difficult to find a guy who’s somewhere in your age range who’s really ready for a serious relationship.”

Is that an excuse for a show like this? Do we enjoy watching a train wreck that much?

And yes, it is outrageous, but even today, arranged marriage – where the bride and groom are matched by a third party — are common in countries such as Pakistan, Japan, and Israel. Some have even mentioned this as a reason for not being put off by the concept of the show in the first place. One of the participants comes from Indian grandparents who were in an arranged marriage – 53 years. So for him, he was kind of “So what’s the big deal?”

mormons into media _experts-married-first-sight
The four experts who make the matches, including Harvard University Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein, lower left.

And maybe there’s some truth to that. Maybe it’s all about the commitment and not about the magic and romance of it all. And these couples are saying all the dating and romance is an illusion. Maybe they are accepting the fact that it’s about the work?

In an Ensign article, LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball said, “’Soul mates’” are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

Any good man. Any good woman. And I guess in the end that’s the question. Where religiosity is sort of an afterthought, (the show’s religious counselor is a Humanist Chaplain/Rabbi, whatever the heck that is) do these couples have the “goodness,” maturity and attention span to “pay the price.” I think not. Or at least it can’t be done in six weeks.

What do you think? Is a show like this the end of Western civilization, as we know it, or should it be applauded a bit for taking a different approach when dating and romance in the secular world are in such a shambles in the first place?

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