Ever since Married at First Sight's twelfth season premiered i2n early January on Lifetime, viewers have expressed outrage over Pepper and her fellow experts Pastor Calvin Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles casting Chris on the show and matching him with a sweet, religious woman like Paige.
Many Married at First Sight fans are also upset the show continued filming Paige and Chris' trainwreck relationship after Chris admitted he wasn't attracted to Paige -- and then had sex with her twice -- and apparently proceeded to learn during his honeymoon that his ex-fiancee Mercedes was about six weeks pregnant.
While many people assume Paige was stuck in her relationship for contractual obligations, both Pepper and Pastor Cal have said Paige was definitely given the option to leave her marriage and film the rest of Season 12 as a single woman while the show was filming last year.
In fact, based on a statement Pepper posted and then quickly deleted on Instagram late last week, it appears the experts had actually urged Paige not to continue with her marriage to Chris.
"We give honest feedback but not everyone can listen and use our insights and critiques to be a better person. It's also true that we can tell Paige what we think is in her best interests (i.e. cut all interaction) but that doesn't mean that she agrees with us and wants to end the relationship," Pepper wrote, according to screenshots captured and reposted by @mafsfan Instagram account.
"She is an adult, a person determined to see this experiment through, and she considers what we say, but she does what she wants to do."
Pepper continued, "But does a lot of it break my heart, as much of it has broken yours? Do I understand your disgust? Of course I do. We must take responsibility for this match -- but I assure you the Chris we all see now, is not the Chris we met and married to Paige."
"It's miserable to watch in the beginning but [Jephte] turns around -- breaks down, changes the way he approaches his wife and his life, and the changes are both life changing and inspirational. They are happily married now with a beautiful child. Granted this is exceptional -- but it does happen, and so we watch things play out," Pepper explained.
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"Even if the couple doesn't get together -- at least one person can grow and gain strength and know more about who she or he is and what they want in a partner. More time in the experiment also gives us experts more time to counsel, to try and help them work through tough experiences."
The Married at First Sight season has shown Chris repeatedly boasting about himself and his accomplishments, making offensive and sexist remarks about Paige, discussing his high expectations of a woman's physical looks, constantly talking about sex, and marrying a stranger only three months after ending his engagement to Mercedes, whom he still continued hooking up with after their split.
In the caption of her post, Pepper said Chris' behavior turned out to be "disappointing" and "offensive."
She said allowing Chris to participate in this experiment was "a bad call" and there are simply "no excuses" for casting him on the show.
Pepper also acknowledged it doesn't seem possible to obtain a perfect record in matching pairs of strangers for matrimony on a reality TV show, although she insisted the experts do the absolute best job they can.
"This is a high-risk endeavor, even with three trained professionals matching the couples and giving them support all along the way," Pepper wrote.
"But we are not relationship wizards; there will be some failures. However, we think the many life enhancing successes we have created justify the continuation of Married at First Sight."
Shortly after Pepper posted her statement, Chris slammed her on Facebook and said "maybe it's time to retire."
During a conversation with fellow Married at First Sight groom Vincent Morales in a recent Season 12 episode, Chris clarified of his ex-fiancee, "We've been broken up since May 2020, but that wasn't the last time we had sex, for sure."
Chris said Mercedes had known about her pregnancy "for a few weeks" but didn't tell him right away.
During a nice dinner out in Las Vegas with Paige, Chris revealed that he had been intimate with his ex-fiancee when they reunited for her father's funeral arrangements -- even though they were broken up and not on good terms at the time.
Paige admitted if that day was "Decision Day," she would walk away from her marriage, but Chris promised his wife that he was "in it for the long haul" and she would remain his No. 1 priority going forward.
Chris suggested to Paige they get to know each other on a deeper level, and Paige said she liked that idea because "God doesn't give you anything that you can't handle."
But Chris as the honeymoon progressed, Chris confessed to Paige that he and his ex-fiancee had briefly discussed reconciling so they could co-parent their child in the same home.
Chris admitted that he still loved his ex-fiancee but preferred to work things out with Paige since they were legally and spiritually married.
Chris told Paige that he could envision them lasting beyond seven weeks, and Paige subsequently shared with the cameras how she believed in fighting for love.
"I believe in the possibility of love... and I pray that Chris is my person for the rest of my life. I believe in us," Paige said in a confessional in the latest episode. "This could potentially be a beautiful story for the both of us."