Monday, October 25, 2010

Sister Wives season finale...and why I'm
blogging about this in the first place

So nine days ago the season finale of Sister Wives was broadcast.  The season wrapped up with Kody and Robyn's wedding.  From all outward appearances this was a joyous occasion as TLC featured footage of people celebrating to their heart's content over this latest hallmark moment for the Browns.

It's taken me this long to mentally process the finale, and settle on what I am going to say about it.  Some may wonder why I watched Sister Wives, and furthermore why I'm writing about it.

TLC among others are endeavoring to soften the public's view of various lifestyle choices and make them seem legitimate.  I also watched the Sister Wives interview on Oprah and noticed that although Oprah didn't shy away from tough questions, there was a vibe of sympathy for the Browns who are being investigated and may face time in jail.  There is an endeavor to put a kinder gentler face on this issue and I believe there is a need for people to speak truth about it in response.

Many have observed that for all the happiness the Sister Wives purport, at least one of them are crying in almost every frame.

Most women claim that this lifestyle of polygamy would never appeal to them as they would never share their husband with another woman.  I do believe however that through the right marketing and public softening on the issue it may become as acceptable as other aberrant lifestyles that used to be publicly taboo not too long ago.

Sister Wives assert that this lifestyle is so worthwhile because they have:
  • Help around the house from the other wives - aren't responsible alone for all of the things that it takes to run a household or mother children.
  • Women living together who understand and are on the scene to help, comfort, talk, share burdens.
  • A greater sense of family  (more people to love, more children, more family activities in general).  Kody Brown often points out, "love should be multiplied, not divided."  (Yet, his time is "divided" between four women.  Something about this equation doesn't add up!)
The price of all of these supposed benefits for the women  (aside from eternal consequences) is sharing one's husband with other women - not having exclusivity.  Before you dismiss this as something "mainstream" women are not willing to do, consider the following:

  • How many women out there know their husband is having an ongoing affair but choose to stay?
  • How many women have a gut feeling there is another woman but choose to stay in denial because it's too painful to deal with reality?  
  • How many women date a man (and have sex with them) for years who is unwilling to make a commitment and want the opportunity to date and be intimate with others if they desire? 
The only difference between the Sister Wives and these women is that the Sister Wives have "married" the man.  A woman we pastored years ago found out her husband was having an affair and chose to stay even though she knew his behavior was ongoing.  He would repent and leave one relationship only to start a new one.  She told my husband and I that, "a piece of a man is better than no man at all -- at least I have him the majority of the time."  She didn't want to lose her home, lifestyle to which she was accustomed and what was familiar to her.  This was a Christian woman who actually believed she was honoring God by this choice of staying, despite her husband's continued dalliances with others.   The only difference between her and "Sister Wives" is that the other woman didn't live under the same roof.

Why might a polygamous lifestyle appeal to some women or at least give them pause for thought?  A lot of them are overwhelmed with the work of their households.  The majority of them do the lion's share of the housework even with a spouse who "helps out" - the women bear the greater burden for keeping things going.  One of my dear women friends who is a successful business woman but also has to bear most of the responsibility of keeping her home going (her husband helps out but it's minor compared to what she does)  often quips, "all I'd need to succeed even more is a wife!!" Many wives also feel that they aren't heard or understood as much as they would like to be.  Although they love their husband, a lot of them lament that no one hears them out for hours on end or really "listens to their heart" like a woman friend.  Now, keeping those two things in mind, do you  understand why TLC putting a fresh face on this issue may actually entice women who are not even Mormon or living in Utah to think about this lifestyle as a viable option?  With the way many so called  "Christians" twist the scriptures, you might even have some who will manipulate the Bible to try to justify this lifestyle. 

Like quite a number of my blog readers, I'm a pastor who works up close and personal with people every week who are hurting in real life.  A few months ago a young woman who attends our church came to me and shared that she's been selling cocaine to take care of her child.  She claims she doesn't do cocaine, she just sells it.  I love this woman just as I do all of the people who walk in the doors at CC, however you can imagine that I had a serious talk with her about why this is an unacceptable choice for her to make.  I told her, "we have a food bank right here at Celebration that will completely take care of that need.  You don't need to sell drugs in order to eat."   She said, "no, you don't understand, Pastor Deanna...I can make in one day selling cocaine what it would take me a week to make as a waitress, and I can pay all my bills that way and stay home with the baby and not have to work."

So basically this is a lifestyle choice that she is making that is more convenient.
It's easier.
It makes her happier to do this than to waitress.
It's more comforting for her to work one day a week from home rather than be on her feet all day serving food.
It enables her to stay home with her baby rather than put the child in daycare.

It's also illegal, and immoral.

Does the end justify the means?  No.

It's the issue of happiness that I want to zero in on in today.  People put great emphasis on happiness in their lives.  We even say, "Whatever makes you happy!"  Really?

Happiness can be an idol.  We Americans are addicted to what makes us happier, what is easier, what brings us more comfort.  

This is one of my greatest concerns with the way TLC is spinning polygamy.  They are trying desperately to make the Browns seem "just like us"...people who are searching for family, fulfillment and happiness in life.  Although I hate what these ladies are doing, I don't hate them as people.  I must admit, I could see myself sitting down and having coffee with Christine!  She's the sister wife that I like the most, for whatever reason.   But I can also tell you that I would not for a second agree with what she is doing.  How many impressionable people who lack discernment might be swayed, however, into going down the slippery slope that, "well maybe what they are doing isn't so bad..."???   We tend to go soft on issues when there is a familiar face/name that goes with them.  It's like this with any sin, really.  I know people who have been vehemently opposed to various things UNTIL their child or friend gets involved, and then suddenly it doesn't seem so evil anymore.  

God never told us to "Go forth and be happy."  Furthermore, true happiness is only found in Him.  We have elevated the world's standard of happiness to a human's reason for being and the truth is that our reason for being is to live as a son or daughter of God, enjoy fellowship with Him and fulfill His purposes.  There will be times along that road we may not feel happy and in fact we may not be living in comfort.  One of the least popular topics to teach on is that of sharing in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.

Whether a lifestyle "makes sense" [to our carnal mind] or "brings greater happiness" or "provides comfort" is not a reason for any of us to choose it. 

I have spoken out about this concerning divorce as well.   The "idol of happiness" is the biggest thing negatively affecting marriages.  The idol of happiness is otherwise known as selfishness.  Did you know that 85% of all divorces are for "non-severe" reasons?  This means there was no affair involved, or anything of great significance.  Rather, at least one spouse was just unhappy and decided it was all about them.   

And that is why I am interested in what this show is putting out there for public consumption, and why I speak to the issue and stand by my words.   I believe especially as pastors we should be aware, and remind others of what God says in His Word on these issues.  Like the men of Issachar, may we, "understand the times, and know what to do."  (I Chronicles 12:32)

As a side note, I never wrote about Sister Wives for the purpose of increased blog traffic, but I will say that my stats shot through the roof as soon as I did, with new readers who had simply Googled, "Sister Wives" and landed here.  To those of you who are among that crowd, welcome.  I'm glad you're here and I hope you received a unique perspective on this show that you may not have received had you simply relied on TMZ, Perez Hilton or the Huffington Post to give you insight about Sister Wives.

7 comments:

Tina Blount said...

Good word, Deanna! Good word!

Melissa said...

I agree with Tina. This was a great word today! I too have seen many people in my life who were adamantly against a set topic or lifestyle and as soon as a friend/loved one chose that their perspective totally changed and soften. Thank you for stating the truth and what the Word says!

pastorleanne said...

I agree...somewhat.

I have been accused of being "soft" on homosexuality, and being "liberal" because I refuse to crack gay jokes or make derogatory comments about gay people. I am the first to point out that they are people that Jesus died on the cross for just like us, and they don't need our lame jokes and hurtful comments [and that those comments are counter-productive to sharing Christ with them, anyway!].

The reason I changed my outlook on this issue is because just as I was graduating from college, a friend of mine came out to me. This completely rocked my world, and all of my previous, pre-conceived ideas of "what kind of person would do this?"

I am still solidly in the camp of "the Bible says it's wrong," but seeing several people close to me struggle with this sin [some who have given in to it; others who have sought counseling] has caused me to have more compassion for the gay subculture as a whole. Perhaps to the outside world it looks like I have changed my stance simply because now I know people who are involved in it.

I know that's not what you are referring to here - I just wanted to point out that sometimes God does use people in our lives who are involved in a particular behavior to help us see their struggles "up close and personal," and have compassion for them...whether it's homosexuality, polygamy, or whatever...

Done rambling now :o).

Deanna said...

I agree with you that no one should ever be mistreated. There is never any excuse for that.

I also believe there is a difference between love and compassion vs. agreement and participation. You will recall my story of the 7 Christmas trees here on the blog, and my bf in high school who I led to Jesus who was gay. That came after 13 years of love and compassion...buckets full...but never my agreement or participation. By participation I mean -- he would have never asked me to go march in a parade with him. :) He already knew what the answer would be, yet he never doubted my love for him. Otherwise we wouldn't have remained bff's for 13 years! For those who might be reading this who don't know...the only reason we are not still bff's and hanging out is...he's dead. He died of AIDS, but thankfully he's in heaven. I had the privilege of leading him in the prayer to receive Jesus into his life and also ministering at his funeral. I will see him again.

We will win the world by our love and compassion -- on that, you and I do agree. :)

Deanna said...

Here's the link with the story about my friend and the Christmas trees, in case any new readers missed it. :)

http://www.deannashrodes.com/2009/01/why-i-have-several-christmas-trees.html

pastorleanne said...

I remember that story - I bawled when I read it, and then I tried to tell my husband about it and started sobbing just in relaying the story to him...I totally know that you feel the same way I do about this and other hard topics.

I guess along the same vein, my husband and I should stop cracking jokes about sister wives ;o). It is just so unbelievable to us that any woman would put up with that - but you're right - women DO put up with that on all kinds of levels! [He watched the Brown family on Oprah and his response was, "That guy's facial expression says, 'Yup - I got four wives and I get to have sex every night. Go me!'"]

Deanna said...

I agree Pastor Leanne. I don't say this jokingly AT ALL, but the man literally wants his cake and eat it too. I am not sure if you saw the finale, but he went with all four ladies to sample wedding cakes and they voted on his and Robyn's cake. He wanted one that was whipped cream and strawberries. When the "secret vote" was taken and his won he stood up and did this little victory dance...and it just sickened me. A friend of mine from church was talking to me about this the other night and said, "Did you notice that stupid dance he did when he got the kind of cake he wanted? That just make me so mad! It sickened me!" And I said, "Yes, me too. Kody gets what Kody wants, is the theme of this show."

Maybe that was what made me sick, not the dance...well no, it was the dance too...