Friday, June 8, 2012

What You and I Can Learn From Sister Wives

That's right. There's something to be learned from Sister Wives, the TLC show about a Polygamist family (they call themselves Plygs), currently in it's third season.

After giving up cable for nearly three months, my husband decided last week that it was time to call Direct TV. He was a victim of marketing when he subscribed during a trial period that now allows us (him) to watch every single NFL game of the season.

While I wasn't very (at all) excited about this primo NFL package, I was supremely happy this morning when my own voyeuristic side was re-awakened by the oddity that is reality tv. The mild headache I'd had last night got out of bed this morning as a full-on migraine and so I plopped on the couch and begged the boys to keep it down. And then I reached for the remote and plunged back into the world of Sister Wives (3 episodes in a row!). Ah, how I'd missed it!

I think my fascination with all reality tv is, at core, the same reason I chose to minor in Sociology. I like to see how people live. This desire is what had me perched at my mom's side during play dates instead of playing with my friends. I preferred to listen to mom and her friends chat about the life I would eventually take as my own (that of a Stay at Home Mom). I like personal details and specifics. From the mundane stuff like how often a person vacuums to the bigger issues like raising kids, 401ks, and in-law relationships.

If you haven't seen Sister Wives, you'll just have to trust me that it is a fascinating look into the lives of oh, about 17 kids, one dad, and four wives. And in the vein of searching for truth, I should say that these people not only claim a love for Jesus Christ and his teachings (they are a part of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints or FLDS) but also say that their preferred form of marriage actually makes them better people, closer to God.

After getting caught up on the current season, I'm convinced The Sister Wives have at least two lessons to teach us, mainstream Christians:

1. They whole-heartedly believe that the Bible promotes Polygamy. Which is, to put it mildly, not something I find when I read the Bible. Keeping in mind that they read from The Book of Mormon, too, what I've learned from this well-intentioned family is to always question my reasons for my own beliefs. There's a lot of talk in my generation of the Church lately. Talk about our "Grandfather's religion." The idea is that adopting your Grandpa or Grandma or neighbor's religion as fact without examining it is not good enough. Do you believe what you believe because you've looked into it, prayed about it, and researched it? Or do you believe things are this way or that way simply because, well, someone you trust said so.

Psalm 119:130 says, "The unfolding of your word gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." In other words, reading the Bible will shine light on the answers we seek. There are many concepts and ideas expressed in the Bible that can require a lot of reading and praying to understand. But this verse tells us that the understanding will eventually come.

There's no verse that says "Thou shalt not enter into a polygamous relationship."Yet, our reading of the Bible should shed light on the issue. When God taught us about marriage by creating the very first one, He gave us one man and one wife and declared that together they were one. One. Implying whole. Not two-thirds or .75 with a little room to spare should you desire to seek another wife. One. Complete.

Do you know what the Bible says about marriage? Salvation? Baptism? Do you really know or are you adopting and espousing someone else's convictions?

2. There is one trait in particular that I truly admire about the four wives who make up the Brown Family. If you watch the opening credits for the show, Meri, the first wife, says she believes in this lifestyle because it makes everyone better. It is my own opinion, after watching the shows, that each wife feels that this is the case. That by sharing a husband they become more selfless. While I don't agree with their methods of gaining this selflessness, I think we can all learn from their intense motivation to learn to put themselves last and others first. They also use their marriage as a means to work on their jealousy (which was magnified big time when the last wife joined the family).

I don't know of any other reality television show that has so piqued my interest. (Unless maybe it's that other Christian group from Great Britain. The gypsies in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding who have an interesting interpretation of modesty.) But I do know that I can't depend on a video crew to film my every move and point out my own sin or misinterpretations of scripture. That's something that will have to be between me and the Holy Spirit. "Sinless and Selfless" is the goal. I'll never attain perfection, but with some introspective channel surfing, maybe I can get a little closer!

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