What a great episode! So many deeper issues came up — now we are talking!
First of all, the teenagers seemed to be getting happier, which was heartwarming. It was so wonderful to see how relieved and happy Janelle was, in particular, when Hunter decided to go out for football, signaling the beginning of a break in his long and painful funk. Madison got her hair lightened and looked very cute, telling her parents that she’d decided not to have a bad attitude anymore. A teary-eyed Christine said that her daughter, Mykelti, was gaining respect for her parents going public with their lifestyle.
The rest of the episode centered around a visit from friends Andy and Nicole, who say that while they have been together monogamously for some time and have six kids together, they’d like to add another woman to their family. In an interview segment, the two talked about growing up in polygamous families and believing that creating a family with multiple sister wives was the “right” way to live.
Andy also had very definite opinions about making sure his wife was OK with courting another woman, rather than him going off and finding someone behind her back. The way he talked about this seemed to indicate that he knew men who do that, which kind of creeped me out to be honest! We would never put up with our husband going behind our backs, and he would never consider pursuing someone new without our complete involvement and whole-hearted approval.
When the question came up for the various spouses of whether each of them would be polygamous if their church did not claim it was a commandment from God, many of them indicated that they would not, Andy among them. Some of the sister wives expressed some mixed feelings here also, while Kody said he’d definitely do it all again because of all the love he felt. I felt that Kody is very genuine in expressing his love for his family. It was clear that he worked very hard to make it all work, and there was some real integrity there… but I also felt that Kody has personal reasons for liking polygamy too, and it bugged me that he didn’t really ever admit that.
We got the feeling that polygamy might not be right for Andy and Nicole and we thought it was great when the Brown sister wives also honed in on their resistance and tried to help them. Andy and Nicole both seemed to feel that adding a sister wife would put the relationship they have at risk, and didn’t seem to have the level of attraction to the lifestyle that would make that risk worth it, or workable.
The visitors brought some truth to the Browns too – Andy’s observation on the Browns’ current living arrangements seemed astute to me, if over-dramatic. He said he felt like the wives all living in separate houses felt to him almost like they had gotten a divorce. The sister wives expressed shock at this, but it frankly felt a bit like that to me, too – they didn’t seem as close as they were when they all lived together. I had to wonder if hearing this from someone they trust would be a positive reality check.
Sunday services the next day were conducted at one of the Brown homes, as usual, with their guests in attendance. As the family patriarch, Kody MC’ed the day.
During the service, Andy spoke about how the Browns being out of hiding had inspired him. He told the family that he felt their courage is brought things into the light and helped open people’s minds to accepting polygamy. Kody and Meri spoke of how much it moved them to have this praise and support, since so many people even in their church had been against them going public.
Kody’s Sunday school lesson was about Warren Jeffs, and the ways in which his leadership was wrong and abusive. He described to his kids the true calling of a leader, to protect and serve his people, but said that Jeffs had preyed on his own community and was allowed to do it because his people didn’t stop him. Kody told a story from the Book of Mormon to illustrate the morality lesson that evil can flourish when good people don’t take action.
The adults talked in more depth about this in an interview segment. They all expressed their despair and disgust over the news they’ve heard about what went on in Jeffs’ compounds. They also said that they felt Jeffs’ followers needed rescuing, and required a safe place to go – Christine pointed out, wisely, that more mainstream polygamists like the Sister Wives family could be such a haven, and that she didn’t like to talk with a lot of hostility about Jeffs’ because she wanted them to feel safe with her.
I think the Browns are very different from the Warren Jeffs cult. However, I have read that the FLDS sect to which the Browns belong have also practiced underage marriage in the past, so I am not sure what to think about that. It is obvious that they do allow the women much more freedom and equality than the compounds do, but I don’t personally understand why the FLDS church would require polygamy. I just don’t believe polygamy is right for everyone, even though my own experience of it has been very positive.