Rich was the producer of many of the reality TV shows that you've heard of. But on the verge of pitching a new show for the coming season, he knew something had to change.
He was mostly known for his reality "Bachelor"-style dating shows and this new one had to feed that audience. But after seeing dozens of hearts broken and many relationships explode within a year after their season, he wanted to teach his audience something other than salesman-style matchups. Matching people up merely by worldly success and charm just was not the best recipe for lasting love.
So he decided what he would add to this new show was this: Integrity. Rich would personally pick him and invite him to the show, but no one would realize he was any different until he started to show himself different than the rest.
The man that Rich found to match the bill was a good ole boy from Kansas. He was fit and beautiful, with a heart made strong in heartland country.
And sure enough, the audience saw within the first couple episodes that Cliff was different. He didn't consume the luxurious lobster dinners or the free alcohol. He stuck to his diet of beats, broccoli, and a hearty helping of simple spaghetti because he said it kept his body and soul healthy.
And then it started to come out by how he treated the bachelorette. He was the only one who would not kiss her when she wanted him to. He said it confused things and he wanted her to love him for what she saw in him. He was also the only one who held her to a higher standard. When the others laughed off her heavy drinking, he smiled, held her hand and said, "I think you can be stronger than that." Lindsey, the bachelorette, was caught off guard, but after her initial moment of defense, she really liked it.
Not only did the producer, Rich hope to see an amazing display of integrity, but the whole audience started to get a glimpse of how beautiful it could be as well. But most surprising of all, Lindsey wanted to see it, whether she knew it or not. She had not had a stellar example of a father, and had dated a bunch of sleazy fast-talkers who got her into bed pretty quickly. And on the show it was inferred that she encouraged it. The bachelor's reported with a hidden smile, "she's a wild one."
But whenever she tried to make a move on Cliff, he gently said, "Lindsey, we can enjoy that in the right timing. I want to honor you by winning your heart and mind before we share our bodies."
And this made her heart go crazy for him. He quickly became the one she hoped to end up with as she narrowed down her other choices.
While the others were being narrowed down, Cliff was being worn down. He hung out with the other guys when he had to in the dressing rooms, and the ones who were already booted were allowed to stay in the same hotel until the show was over. So he heard them sharing stories over beers of what moves they knew Lindsey liked in bed. He began to think he would miss out on this aspect of winning her heart, because everyone, absolutely everyone made physicality such an integral element. What if he wasn't giving her something she needed. Was he the one with blinders on?
But producer Rich, Lindsey and the rest of the country wanted to see a man who operated by a different standard. This was an opportunity for a beauty to be seen that this culture rarely saw.
And it came down to the last night, between the last two men. And now the cameras watched Rich and Lindsey outside her door, her arms wrapped around him, begging in whining tones for him to come in, just for a while. They both knew it meant more than a while. The prattle of so many other cool urban men rattled in Cliff's ear as Lindsey hung on him, begging.
The cameras saw him lean slowly into her lips. Then the door opened and they disappeared inside.
Producer Rich came to work the next day and his jaw dropped as he saw the footage. He had thought Cliff was going to make it. It was not as much about Cliff sinning, if Rich's catholic friends were watching. It was that the beautiful vision of integrity that the world needed modeled so badly had been defeated by lesser desires.
What sins could we see as missed opportunities to show beauty, instead of seeing them as something we've been prohibited from by a judgmental God?