Friday, March 19, 2010
I finished watching the current series of Big Love last night. It is a show that both enthralls me and makes me feel uneasy. I faithfully watched the first series, fell away for the second and then I've become a devotee again this time.
If you have never watched the show it is the story of a polygamous Mormon family in Salt Lake City. Bill (who grew up on a cult compaound outside Salt Lake City, complete with its own corrupt prophet) has three wives and eight children. Barb is his first wife, a position that has seniority and allows her to lead her two, younger sister-wives. Nicky, wife number two, is the prophet's daughter and she has been gradually unravelling a troubled past. Margene, number three, is younger, not raised in the church, but has been emerging as an asset in Bill's recent business ventures.
There is a degree of 'soap-opera' about Big Love, but somehow the family are likeable, caring and fun. Bill strives to lead and care for his family, with the aim of ushering them into eternity. His wives love each other and serve each other as much as they love and depend on him. They love God and want to live lives that honour him and 'the Principle'.
The Principle, or the call to polygamy, is seen as a high calling, although perhaps not for everyone. The purpose of polygamy is to bring more children into a family, to bring them to an honoured place in eternity. The family must be secretive, to avoid public notice or scrutiny. It is fascinating that a man can honourably, faithfully and lovingly interract with all of his three wives and contemplate having another one join their family. The marital relationship is portrayed as complicated but respectful and caring.
I am actually uneasy because it makes me question whether polygamy might be an acceptable life choice. I want to say NO! but is that just my modern, Western, individualistic viewpoint? I look at this family and they have something about their faith and unity that I aspire to.
Of course polygamy is illegal, and my husband has openly stated that he has enough wives already. It is not a lifestyle choice I am exploring, but what is it that makes this family wrong? When I watch Big Love I become so involved in the drama of their lives that I cannot fully, rationally understand the objections to it.
I am attracted too, to the portrayal of a family of faith. A family who share a lot of my 'Christian Values'. They have a stronger emphasis on faith in the Principle, than faith in Jesus most of the time. They are not a typical evangelical Christian family, but they are not very different. I am fascinated by them. But I am very glad I am not them.