'These Messages Are Not Okay': Colton Underwood Strikes Back at Christian Critics

Tuesday December 28, 2021
Originally published on December 28, 2021

When Colton Underwood appeared as "The Bachelor," his virginity became a meme, in part because ABC chose to stress the fact. In a trailer to the 23rd season in 2019 promoting Underwood and the show, the word "virgin" is said four times in the first 40 seconds.

"Underwood was raised Catholic and is a devout Christian, which he said has weighed heavily on his struggles to accept his sexuality, as has his identity as a football player," reports Vox. "I literally remember praying to God the morning I found out I was the Bachelor and thanking him for making me straight," he told Robin Roberts when he came out on "Good Morning America" last April.

Part of the reason for the campaign was to appeal to the show's Christian audience, largely in the South. And while he considered himself a devout Christian, Underwood wasn't waiting for any religious reason. Rather, he was waiting for the right person. He also said that discussing his virginity in public was "hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life."

Underwood, who documents his coming out experience on the Netflix reality series "Coming Out Colton," discussed the pushback he has received from some Christians who know him from "The Bachelor" in an IG post. He accompanied his thoughts with two examples of such messages that he found offensive.

"for those of you who saw my show you know I'm still on my faith journey. while I've had a ton of support from the Christan community I've also heard 'well it's got a lot better over the years' and while that might be true I can't help but to think if these messages still get sent to me...what is being said to closeted men and women who want to remain in their faith?

"These messages are not okay. They do not represent Christians. They do not represent our God," Underwood wrote.

On the second page, he posted a graphic of one message, that read in part: "Men are supposed to want women and women are supposed to want men. Please Colton. Don't get stuck in this lie. Look at our bodies. The reproduction system. Regardless though Jesus does love you. I don't wanna be 'that christian'. I have gay friends. It's hard. I don't want to come across the wrong way. Maybe I'm wrong. But there is something so special about a man and a woman and all the things Jesus said about marriage. I guess seeing you with the girls on the bachelor just hurt."

Underwood recently discussed his faith issues with Religious News Services. "You know, I was really scared of losing two communities that I belong to," he told RNS. "The LGBTQ+ community is one that hasn't always understood religion, and our religious community is one that has not always understood the LGBTQ+ community."†

Underwood said that he received pushback from his pastor, who on "Coming Out Colton" extends Colton an invitation to continue to be a member of the congregation, but with a caveat: "I would just have a different opinion than you about your story."

Underwood later told RNS, "I think it was important for me to sort of say, 'That's not fair, that's what's gotten me into this position and has honestly crippled my coming out for a long time.' "

Among those who responded to Underwood's IG comment was out actor Johnny Sibilly, who wrote: "Wow these people really cracked the code!!"

Influencer Jeremy Fall wrote: "some people shouldn't have the right to speak, they are oxygen thieves."

And ESPN newscaster Ashley Brewer wrote: "God loves you and I love you!" (followed by a heart emoji).