I watched about 15 minutes of the Royal Wedding. Afterwards, I felt like I needed a shower. There was something about it that just made me feel dirty. Let me apologize up front to those of you who loved watching it. If it is your thing, then fine. I know, respect, and love lots of people who watched.
I had trouble putting my finger on exactly what it was that bothered me so much. At first I kept thinking of this Eleanor Roosevelt quote:
Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.
I think there is something to this. Celebrity news makes my skin crawl. I like to watch the Oscars because I like movies. I don’t like the red carpet. I like American Idol. I do not care if Paula Abdul is in rehab or not. I love to watch sports. I’m not interested in Giselle and Tom. But I realized that there is something more real that is bothering me about the adoration of the Royal Wedding. To me, it just seems like materialistic pornography.
Think of all the things that are wrong about pornography. It creates a false sense of reality. It perpetuates the subjugation of women. It objectifies bodies in an overtly graphic way. It manipulates reality and gives people fantastic images that real life cannot live up to. It draws men in with a point-of-view image that creates a false sense of invitation to sexual elation. It poisons other real-life relationships. It is a multi-billion dollar industry based on defiling sexuality – which is a God-given gift.
Those are all the things I found distasteful about the Royal Wedding. The whole thing is based on this fairy-tale image of what a perfect life can be, and it is wrapped in pomp, circumstance, and over-the-top luxury. It presents an image of happiness that is beyond the imagination of anyone. Think of the opulence, extravagance and expense that went into the wedding. It drew people in with the false sense of invitation. It was a voyeuristic look at what it is like to be enormously wealthy. Watching this sort of event sets up an ideal for life that is unrealistic and antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was a multi-million dollar affair based on taking God’s gift – a marriage – and turning into a celebration of worldly luxury. Oh, and they all get great big fancy titles to boot.
Why don’t more people recognize this for what it is? Few have trouble seeing pornography for what it is – a relationship-destroying temptation. Why don’t we see this sort of luxury in the same way? Americans use and consume and waste and strive to acquire more and more status, money and power. Materialism is a part of the American Dream. It is what we are all supposed to be striving for. So we gather around this orgy of opulence. We are fascinated by this graphic display of luxury and wealth, and I can’t help but wonder, “Would Jesus be at the Royal Wedding? ”
And if you think this Royal Wedding doesn’t affect real people – that it’s just entertainment and no one really takes it seriously, consider this:
- Kate and William’s wedding is estimated to come in at $35 million.
- The median US household income is $52,000 (in 2008, according to US census bureau)
- 13% of Americans live under the poverty level. (in 2008, according to US census bureau)
- The average cost of a wedding in the US is $24,000. This does not include engagement ring of honeymoon (according to costofwedding.com)
- The average age for a woman at her first marriage is 25.9 years in 2009, according to psychology today)
- The median income for a woman at 25 years old is $19,000 (in 2003, according to US Census bureau)
Why do people spend so much on weddings? Because they have these images for what they want. We wrap little girls in images of princesses and tiaras, horse-drawn carriages and flowing white veils. They are engrossed in materialistic pornography for their entire life and then grow up to spend half their income or more on a ceremony that is supposed to be about love. Watch an episode of Bridezillas or Say Yes to the Dress and tell me people don’t have an over-inflated image of what a wedding is supposed to be (and it has little to do with God).
To be fair, I am writing this with my own wedding in my rear-view mirror. It was an extravagant wedding. It was an amazing day, and it was a gift from parents that wanted the best for me and my wife. I also write this with my daughters’ weddings in front of me. Who knows what I will want or be willing to pay when my girls are married.
My point is simply this: things like the Royal Wedding create a standard – an image – that is impossible to reach. It creates a model of happiness that is based on little more than material wealth. Jesus calls us to more.