Is anyone else taking up space on the DVR with Sister Wives? I'm addicted to it. Not sure why...fascinated by another TLC reality show I guess, except this reality is a little too close to home and it raises the hair on the back of my neck sometimes. I first started watching because it was about a family from Lehi, Utah where I grew up. I recognized the neighbors yard and called my sister who lives in the same part of town. She said "Yes - it's being filmed down the street and their kids are in my kids classes at school." I was hooked instantly, waiting for it to be the next TLC train wreck.
When Big Love came out, the HBO series about a man with three wives, I followed the news about it, including the episode where one of the characters wore her sacred temple clothes and enacted portions of the endowment ordinance. I can't speak for all Mormons but the Utah crowd cried out in vain. (Even though it wasn't about their religion. Not sure why everyone got so uptight about it.) However, I think if you know that a religion would rather not expose their most sacred ordinances to the public... out of respect, you might think twice about airing that information. Out of respect. But ratings are ratings. Tom Hanks (the producer) disappointed me. That was lazy T.V. Quick to entertain, quick to raise some eyebrows, big ratings, but sad for those that consider those ordinances sacred. Kudos to Cody Brown for not televising his last marriage ceremony on TV. He said "we consider that a sacred ceremony not to be put before public scrutiny." Brilliant! Not only did they get to hold the ceremony in private, but the entire nation of viewers got to fill in the blanks with their sick and twisted imaginations. Even better. Great for ratings, TLC.
Apostolic United Brethren (the religion of the Sister Wives) is not affiliated with the Mormons, though they believe in the Book of Mormon. Just as any religion that was ever created has also spawned disgruntled sects of that religion, the Book of Mormon is a powerful testament of Jesus Christ and has it's fair share of believers that don't call themselves "Mormon." Last week we were in Nauvoo, Illinois, and we learned that in the 1840's, 8 religious groups branched off of the original LDS church. The polygamists believe that John Taylor, the third President of the Mormon church kept a small group of men ordained to carry on the principle of polygamy. I mean...great... if you love stress and multiple "Honey-do" lists. Do you think Cody Brown runs to the store for tampons, bread and milk several times a day? Do you think he loves doing yard work on 4 homes or going to 20+ kids piano recitals? NO! I think he's too busy running back and forth between homes. I think Cody is a raving lunatic to take all that upon himself and still feel like he can be available to all of those people ever day when they need him. But it's a sacred tenet of their religion and he appears to be doing his best to uphold it. I'm happy to watch his show like an addict and he's happy to let TLC pay for his culdesac.
Confession! I have come to really like their family! Jeanelle is definitely my favorite wife. You go girl! I'm really proud of the Browns for always pointing out (for what its worth) that they are not mainstream Mormons. They obviously don't want to be mainstream because in the mainstream Mormon church you can only have one wife at a time. Now, there was a time...but that's a crazy can of sour gummy worms that can be opened by someone who cares more than I do. However, when I see similar artwork in their house and mine, pictures of Joseph Smith and hear them reading from the Book of Mormon, it makes me nervous that people group all of us with a Joseph Smith background into one goofy group. (Through a TLC filter, no less!) None of us are crazy. We're just abiding by the tenets of our faith. Though after a week on Facebook after the new ruling on same-sex marriage, I can honestly say that some of us are pious pinheads.
Andy and I have had the amazing opportunity to work together, in the same school, for our entire married life. I see him all morning, we eat lunch together every day and we go home together...every day. Now for some, this might seem like torture. But not to us. As I write this Andy is coming over to my dorm room at the National Theatre Conference just to see me because he had to judge a competition this morning and hasn't seen me since breakfast. It's sickeningly sweet isn't it? I am so lucky and I know it.
Could I share Andy with someone else? Could I sit on a couch with other women and Andy in the middle without being next to him, holding his hand?
I never have been good at sharing my stuff. I'm an oldest child of eight. If it has my name on it, leave it alone. I just can't imagine sharing my husbands secrets, insecurities, body fluids... with three or four other women. And that's okay. I don't have too. And because I feel like I am a mainstream Mormon with a modern sensibility of sorts, I'm truly okay with those that have multiple wives. It's true. I don't really care. Be married to four men too if you want! Or someone of your own sex. The sanctity of my marriage will not be determined by the Browns or by the gays or by anyone but me, my husband and God. What denigrates marriage is people like Brittany Spears or the Kardashians 17 week/minute marriages that make a mockery of committed love. Cody Brown seems ultimately committed to all of his wives and his children. He runs from house to house; he's not walking. In my book that is committed love and a big family usually equals...pardon the pun, BIG LOVE. Kids need a family bunker in today's war against them no matter how many siblings they have to share their dad with (at least they have and know their dad.) I can't imagine my life without my seven siblings. They are, collectively, my support system and safety net.
I admit that I am only seeing the family through the lens of the TLC camera, but I wish the Browns every success. It looks like its working. That's that key for me. Does a relationship promote peace, love and the welfare of the community? If causing extra gossip and judgement in the neighborhood is the only detriment to having a polygamous, same-sex or unmarried couple next door, then shame on us.
It's been an interesting couple of weeks in the marriage department for the United States as a whole, hasn't it? Allowing same-sex marriages as a constitutional right has gotten half of my Facebook friends projecting their profile pics through a rainbow filter and the other half crying all kinds of apocalyptic doom and gloom...it was heartbreaking see some of my Uber-religious Facebook friends (Mormon and not) and acquaintances post such vitriol. Then to see the backlash from the gay community in ugly expletives and stinky in-your-face sarcasm...GAH!!!! I finally just had to shut it down. Ironically, we spent the same week studying the history of the LDS church as they were pushed out of town after town, then building the second largest city in Illinois at the time - the City Beautiful (Nauvoo), only to watch their prophet be murdered, and witness their temple burn as they walked away to cross the plains to escape more torture. I watched so many people quickly forget what it is like to be the oppressed.
We need to remember that Facebook is an international site. While it is our right as a people to fight for what we believe in, we must respect both sides of the fight on behalf of peace in the community and for our children. It will all work out. I don't believe that the expanded rights that were given to all citizens of this country will affect my marriage. I hope it will positively affect my cake decorating business, ;-) and my gay friends are enjoying a new level of social acceptance that, I pray, will decrease the bullying, the discrimination and the suicides over time. Remember Mormons - what we asking our gay brothers and sisters is an awful lot. That One Blog about Mormons and Homosexuality
The definition of marriage in my world is a religious ceremony called "a sealing." It's specific to my church and my worthiness to participate in it. There are enough words in the ceremony to appease the civil requirements, but the rest of the ceremony is as expansive as all eternity and as simple as the word "Yes." In addition to connecting us together civilly for all those worldly benefits, Mormons believe that this ceremony "seal" us spiritually, to our spouse forever. I mean...today and an infinity of tomorrows. I will be bugged that Andy lets our dogs chew up his black socks from now to endless nows.
If I had a sister-wife, there might be less black socks on the floor. If I had a sister-wife at home during the day, I could relax at night and not worry about laundry or if we have clean underwear or what needs to be ironed for the next day. Our dogs might not be feral. Our garden might have less weeds. Our mail pile might magically disappear. I might be able to come home to a cooked meal instead of standing in front of the open freezer...crying.
I guess I'll just have to cry. I'm always going to work, there will always be black socks and I'm not willing to share Andy. But now is the time for us to show what we are really made of and stop the ugly judgments and the passive aggressive posts about how the "Mormons are squirming now!" or "Satan's army is getting a grip on us!" What we don't see is Satan smiling as we both piously push "post."