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Dismay over Korean TV program mocking Christian marriage

The youth-centric program covered worldly experiences of clergy from Catholicism, Protestantism, and Buddhism
A couple pose for a photo after a mass wedding at South Korea's Unification Church in 2016

A couple pose for a photo after a mass wedding at South Korea's Unification Church in 2016. (Photo: AFP)

Published: January 05, 2024 10:40 AM GMT
Updated: January 05, 2024 11:12 AM GMT

South Korean Christians have deplored a recent television broadcast that allegedly mocked Christianity for pursuing chastity before marriage, says a report.

The program titled “Pilgrimage” was aired on private TV channel MBC Every1 on every Tuesday from Oct. 31 to mid-December covering worldly experiences of clergy from various denominations of Catholicism, Protestantism, and Buddhism.

During one of the programs, the host put forth a satiric question to a Catholic priest about Christian teachings on sexuality and marriage, Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation (CPBC) reported on Jan. 3.

“Why Christianity pursues chastity before marriage?” the host reportedly asked.

“In the bioethics of the Catholic Church, life begins right after ejaculation, so in fact, masturbation is not allowed,” the host joked.

While the priest was taken aback by the sudden question, he responded by saying that the Church is against the “instrumentalization of sex.”

The apparent mocking of church teachings on sexuality and marriage did not go down well with Christians. Many posted on social media to express their displeasure and disapproval.

“I fully understand that even priests would have been taken aback by the hosts’ sudden questions,” said Alexander Jeong Gyeong-heon, 22.

“We must be careful about broadcasts making entertainment in a way that sacrifices religion for the public enjoyment. If we are not careful, we may convey incorrect doctrines to believers and non-believers,” he added.

Father Park Eun-ho, director of the Catholic Bioethics Institute, pointed out that the broadcast content was erratic.

“The Church teaches that human life begins from the moment sperm and egg are fertilized,” Park said.

“God created humans as male and female, and the Church views sexual intercourse as an act that expresses the love and unity of a couple in which a man and a woman give themselves completely to each other,” he added.

Church’s teachings on premarital sex and masturbation are based on concerns about sexual impulses consumed for momentary pleasure because it separates human sexuality from love and life,” he explained.

Besides, the program raised eyebrows as it allowed clergy to experience the “worldly world” – exploration of youth culture and the topics of sexual minorities and religious perspectives on childless people and also allowed priests to play tarot cards or enjoy luxury while driving foreign cars.

John Bosco Lee, 28, watched a broadcast that featured priests playing tarot cards, which the church considers a superstitious practice.

“I was suspicious of how much of the details of the program were shared with priests in advance. Although it is a broadcast aimed at the younger generation, I don’t think it was a good example,” he said.

“The broadcast was disappointing that it seemed to undermine trust in religion, contrary to the purpose of the program due to the lack of understanding of religious teachings,” said Gabriel Lee, 29.

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