"Sister Wives"... A Marriage(s)?

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Some of you may have seen the reality show called “Sister Wives” about a guy who has “married” 4 women and they all live happily with their 17 children.

Now they believe that they are all married, however, only one legal document exists with the first wife, all the others are “spiritual” unions.  BUT in this arrangement, all four women have the same wife rights and responsibilities.  From what I saw of this series, Kody Brown, the husband/spiritual partner goes to an undisclosed job each day and the four women wife/spiritual partners do the cooking, cleaning, child rearing and grocery shopping. Two of the women also work outside the home in order to keep this group of people afloat financially.

When I first discovered the program, my initial thought was, “Wow, does this guy have it made!”  Interviews with he and the four women all seem so systematic and content.  Some have been raised in this type of mentality, so it is what they know and expect for their own lives.

But is it truly a marriage?   The secular dictionary definition simply states that it is a union between spouses, the “rite or form used in marrying; any close or intimate union…”  Nothing more

In studying Pope John Paul II’s work on “Theology of the Body”, however, he discusses marriage in a far  deeper and complete way with the first 4 originals in the story of creation, solitude, unity, nakedness, and sin.  God created us and inspired the story of creation in the way that we have it, I firmly believe.  In the story of creation, He creates two original people to be together has partners and helpmates.  God also creates them in a marvelous place providing them with all their needs.  During this time, they are naked, no need for covering themselves in this place.  The symbolism of their being naked is a telling of itself.  In marriage, of which God also created, a couple is soul mates, companions for life, and complete each other, essentially.   A most perfect union of two people, sharing their lives, love, and creation.  They are able to create fruit from their union, thereby making a lasting perpetual testimony of their lives in their children.  Humanity depends upon this union and is carried on as the fruits of their love and cooperation.

There can be some confusion about the Original Nakedness that the late pope speaks of, but that may be due to modern man who seems to think of self rights and privacy pertains to individual freedoms; even within a marriage.  Secrets and unspoken tidbits of ones life not shared but kept in a dark place within the self.  As with Adam and Eve after their encounter with the serpent and the original sin, they found themselves ashamed before God, covering themselves at the sound of His voice.  Now there was something to withhold, keep from and ponder alone, a dark deed.  Their relationship with God has been forever changed; new emotions have been created, anger, disappointment, and a broken heart.

Couples come with their own personal baggage, more so now with the complicated circumstances of modern times.  Both have secrets, good and bad, and as the relationship blossoms, the desire to share intimate facts of their lives becomes more important.  The shedding of their past ‘clothing’ is necessary to  truly be accepted in the relationship, the innate desire to be “naked” with no secrets and completely open tightens the bonds of the relationship; no secrets, no dark tales or deeds to hide. Each one begins to trust and respect the other as the person of their affection.

Now back to the Sister Wives situation, how can Kody do this with all four women?  What he holds dear and private with Meri, his first and only legal wife, is not the same as his private details with Robyn, or Christine, or Janelle.  There are secrets and private things that are naturally not shared with the other three “wives” so Kody can never be totally “naked” with any of these women.  The bonds are not totally fulfilled and complete, the line of trust can never be wide open no matter what they may say.  Oh I know, there are no perfect relationships in this imperfect world, but this situation makes it all that more complicated, to say the least.

As far as the children of this (these) relationships are concerned, what examples are being transmitted to them?  I suppose that is another topic all together.

Copyright 2012 Ebeth Weidner

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About Author

Ebeth Weidner, a Master Catechist and cradle Catholic who considers herself a Catholic information junkie, writes from her heart about the faith and hope she finds in the Catholic Church. She is the author of “A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars” blog. She is the wife of a research science Professor and mom to 3 great young people living on the coastal side of North Carolina.

2 Comments

  1. Growing up as a Mormon I was always bothered by the teaching of polygamy. Even though the mainstream Mormon church doesn’t practice polygamy any longer it is still a very real belief in their ideology. The FLDS Church broke away mainly to practice polygamy. They truly believe it is essential to their Salvation. I find the show fascinating (probably bc it is not such a foreign concept to me) but I know I could never have done had I been asked. It’s always felt wrong and demeaning to me (especially since it’s only acceptable for the men to have multiple wives but not acceptable the other way around.)

  2. I’m just curious as to what our Church’s official stance on polygamy is. Most of the old testament prophets had 2 or more wives (Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon) so do we believe that plural marriage is part of the old law that was no longer necessary when Christ came? I’m not trying to be argumentative, I’m just honestly curious as to when the concept of marriage as one man/one woman came into play.

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