“I got sucked into watching “Sister Wives,” I’ll admit it. Having deliberately avoided it for the entire first season, I fell prey one cloudy Sunday when TLC was running a marathon in the lead-up to the second season. It’s compelling stuff to watch as Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn deal with dramas ranging from sibling squabbles (inevitable in a family with seventeen children), to adding a fourth wife into the mix, to fleeing from Utah officials into a life in Las Vegas. Maybe the following thoughts are simply a way to justify my interest in the show. Besides being compelling human drama, I think “Sister Wives” is part of a long continued discussion within American popular culture about the proper structure of the family and how much the state should intervene in regulating this family structure. On the surface, “Sister Wives” is a deflected part of the national conversation about whether or not gay marriage should be legalized. Yet I think, even more basically, it gives viewers a vehicle to get at the most fundamental questions that we as humans, as American humans, are struggling with as our culture shifts away from the traditional nuclear family: How much can we change family structures and still create a moral, ordered, functioning society? How much are these cultural and family norms derived from religion, specifically Christianity? How much should they be derived from Christianity—and what form of Christianity? How much should the state enforce these religiously-derived norms and standards in order to assure an ordered society for the generations to come? And who gets to decide all of these vital questions in a pluralistic society ostensibly dedicated to democracy and the separation of church and state?”
I recommend the entire article be read here to finish the authors insightful commentary. I certainly feel plural marriage has a fascinating aspect because it is reflective of our changing culture so much. Our family is a family that lives a structure that is one of the oldest and most traditional of families, but one that has not historically fit into America’s perception of family. As not just the definition of families, but the values by which we raise them is challenged with the rapid rate of change and technology I think it is incumbent on all families to choose those principles which are timeless and be able to adapt to that which needs adjusting.
Families like ours or the Brown’s are not perfect, for that is one of those timeless definitions of families. But as we fight over left versus right and traditional values versus liberal values, let us remember that families should be about love. The Brown’s are a family built upon love for one another, and I think at the end of the day what draws us to them is that they are a family.