BY TARA JANE
Roses, dates, romance, rejection. I’m surprised it took me so long to fall for The Bachelor, with my deep passion for trashy television, but nevertheless here I am deeply outraged by the Australian Season 4 finale.
What frustrated me most was not watching Richie chose Alex over Nikki, or watching Nikki sob as she was driven away. For what it’s worth, I hope Richie and Alex are happy together.
What I found most frustrating was the show’s mantra. Especially in the final few episodes, there was the notion of following your heart. If you follow your heart, your heart will always lead you to the right place, and you will make the choice that is truest to yourself.
“Coming on this adventure Alex, I was told to follow my heart. And following my heart has led me to you. I love you, Alex. Alex, you’re the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
Richie Strahan, Bachelor finale 2016
There are serious issues with trying to live your life according to this ideology.
Richie’s desire to ‘follow his heart’ led to a horrid confrontation in the second last episode with Olena (third runner up), where he made the poor girl seem ridiculous for asking sensible questions, such as “How will our relationship work if neither of us want to move across the country?” and “What will this relationship look like in five or six months time? Is it sustainable and realistic?” Go Olena! Ask the hard questions! Yet Richie said to her, “You’re being too logical. You’re thinking too much with your head. Sometimes you just need to follow your heart and things will work out.” Um, excuse me?
Let’s put the fact that Richie made Olena look stupid for being sensible to the side for a moment. As Christians, it’s vital we examine every mantra and life philosophy against what the Bible says. Following your heart sounds lovely and true, but it falls very short of what it promises.
Our hearts are not a good guide
Following your heart assumes that your heart is a good guide for your life, for what you want, for what you need and for what you want to do. It implies that your heart will always make good choices for you. I think we can very quickly think of situations where this is not actually the case. If our hearts and our feelings were always reliable and made good choices for us, we would never need to exercise self-control. Things such as exercise and eating healthy would come without a struggle because we all know that these things are good for us. Surely the sheer number of #fitspiration quotes and posts tells us that we have to fight our hearts sometimes to make good choices. Our bodies and hearts don’t always want to make good choices for us.
Our hearts will deceive us
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
The Bible goes further, saying our hearts are incapable of making any good decision. It’s impossible to follow our hearts because our hearts are corrupt. Every part of our being is impacted and affected by sin, because we have cut ourselves off from God. Our hearts are not beacons of light and goodness, they are dark places with evil desires. Our hearts are a good guide if we want directions in getting what’s best for us, without considering the consequences of our actions towards others or God. Jeremiah 17:9 is a good observation why we cannot trust our hearts to make good decisions – it is a result of the human condition. We are sinful people. Our hearts will mask our evil intentions with good excuses. Our hearts help us to justify why we can do the things that are wrong. Our desires are not always pure and innocent, and if we’re honest with ourselves I’m sure we can all think of personal examples of this. There is nothing we can do that will cure our own hearts.
We need new hearts
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
What we actually need are new hearts. It’s why the Psalmist cries out for God to create a pure heart, because the one he currently has leads him away from God to sin and death. It’s why the promise of God through the prophet Ezekiel is such a beautiful promise. We are helpless to come to God with the hearts we have, because a holy and perfect God cannot be close to sin. Even though we are helpless, God promises to restore us, to give us hearts of flesh that want to seek and obey God, that aren’t hardened towards His Word like stone. Jesus is the ultimate heart-surgeon. He swaps our stone hearts for his flesh heart through his death and resurrection. As he dies, he takes our dead hearts to the grave, and when he rises, he gives us new hearts full of life.
It’s tempting to be swept up in the roses and the romance of The Bachelor, to watch the girls and guys with their pristine outfits, perfect hair (I’m looking at you Osher) and to forget the foolishness of following your heart. Our hearts will fail us. We need a new heart from Jesus to lead us to the right place and to the best relationship of all, a relationship with the living and eternal God.
This is what I need to remember, especially as I now begin watching The Bachelorette.
For some great comic illustrations of what I’m trying to say, check these out: