I read an interesting article today about the Strictly ‘curse’. This is a curse which applies to contestants on the TV show Strictly Come Dancing:

As the years have passed, there have been so many relationship break-ups among the show’s contestants, that the phenomenon has become known as the “Strictly curse”. And the latest scandal has been grabbing headlines all week as professional dancer Katya Jones and Comedian Seann Walsh have had their private lives made excruciatingly public.

I hadn’t realised this before now, but apparently there have now been ten couples who have broken up as a result of Strictly. In some ways it’s not surprising:

Jeremy Vine, who himself has a Christian faith and has been married for 16 years said he had feelings he couldn’t explain towards his partner when he was on Strictly: “Suddenly I’m seeing someone who is like a goddess – super human. The power and the strength and grace of that person, and then you are spending eight, nine hours a day within two inches of them.”

I’m not really a fan of Strictly – I’ve watched it on occasion. But I have always wondered how it’s possible for a man and a woman to partner so closely together in such a physical way without there being a sexual element. However, since starting up Friend Zone, it has made me wonder whether I’ve been a bit short sighted.

I think most people would cite the ‘Strictly’ curse as powerful evidence for believing if you get ‘too close’ to a member of the opposite sex, you’ll end up having an affair. There are plenty of examples of this happening, not just on Strictly! But, as discussed on this site, the solution is not simply to avoid those relationships. I often think of Aimee Byrd’s book and its subtitle: Avoidance is not purity.

I wonder whether part of the problem for those dancers on Strictly is that when it comes to relationships between men and women, the only ‘box’ they have to put things in is that of sexual attraction. If you start to have ‘feelings’ for someone else, then it clearly must be sexual. So the only two options are: (1) deny it, and keep the relationship at a superficial level; (2) give in to it.

But, as discussed here before, attraction is not one-dimensional. I think too often attraction is assumed to be sexual because that’s just about the only thing our society knows. It’s easy to confuse them, and of course Christians should expect nothing less given that sin is disordered desire. I explored recently on the blog whether we have lost our ability to see beauty – and I think you can see something of that in Jeremy Vine’s comment. It’s one thing to admire beauty, it’s something else to want that beauty in a sexual way.  But that’s not to say that it’s impossible for a man and a woman to be involved in dancing together, have a close relationship, and yet for it to be pure.

I’m not sure I’d like to be a contestant on Strictly, to be honest. I think it would be a lot of pressure – and, of course, the times when we are weakest are often times when we are under the most pressure. That said, I think there are a couple of things to say: (1) I wonder if the outcome for those couples would have been different if they had a better understanding of friendship between the sexes. Sometimes a different way of viewing the world makes all the difference. (2) Christians understand that sin does not spring for our external circumstances but from our hearts. We do not sin because we are tempted, we sin because our hearts give in to the temptation. The solution to the Strictly curse is not taking people out of those circumstances, but by changing hearts – something which, ultimately, only Jesus can do.