Just Can’t Get Enough (of Fundamentalist Mormons)

August 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

If you know me (and you do, because the only way people see my blog is if they are dumb enough to check my Facebook feed out of pity) you know that I love me some Mormons. Lately they’re everywhere: The Book of Mormon musical won 11 Tony Awards, Sister Wives was renewed for a fourth season by TLC, and Big Love was on HBO for five seasons and was nominated for an Emmy and three Golden Globes, winning 1. (You should really check it out.  Amanda Seyfried is in one of her first major roles as a rebellious daughter of polygamist – and she runs away with Aaron Paul, as in Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman, an ex-Mormon ten years her senior. It’s television at it’s finest.) For further Mormon viewing, you should watch this cartoon here. Try not to pee your pants laughing.

I never really thought about what brought on my obsession. I just knew I loved listening to songs about God giving you your own planet and giggling at plural families in Utah as they try to coordinate carpooling. Then someone I work with asked me WHY I love Mormons so much, and I had to really think about it.

1. I am both impressed and disgusted by these women that give up so much of themselves in pursuit of eternal life. Watching their lives is like a trainwreck that just keeps playing on repeat.
The Brown family is amazing, in the sense that they can keep four households in decent living conditions and keep seventeen children out of juvie. Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn Brown are all married to one man, Kody, and they literally take turns with him – they have a rotation of four nights. Each spends approximately 8 nights a month with their ‘husband.’ These women are friends – they meet a few times a week to check in, and their kids are in and out of each other’s houses. Fundamentalist Mormons (the ones who still practice polygamy) believe they need to grow their families as much as possible to become a God – the more children and wives the men have, the larger their planet will be. Women in fundamentalist sects are not entitled to a relationship of equals because of a sexist religion borne out of one man’s excuses to hide his infidelity (Google it. That’s how polygamy in the Mormon church started. The founder, Joseph Smith, had the hots for his bestie’s wife.) I can’t believe a woman would subject herself to that, but at the same time, I am impressed that they are so steadfast in their faith – but mostly just disgusted.
2. I am amazed that people let religion destroy their personal happiness because they think it’s what God wants for them.
This is not unique to Mormonism – their actions are just more polarizing because American society as a whole believes polygamy is taboo, regardless of party affiliation or place of birth. People of all walks of faith embrace or stomp out elements of their lives that are not satisfactory to what ‘God’ wants for them. The most obvious example is LGBT Christians who hide from their identity – or even commit suicide – because who they are is not in line with their faith. Organizations like Exodus International even offer therapy to make someone ‘ex-gay.’ It’s repulsive, but it’s even more disturbing that people believe they need to change who they are to be loved by their God, whichever one it may be. Jesus said “let all the little children come to me.” Not, “let the straight, blonde-haired, thin, Ivy-league educated children come to me.” If the way you are living is not hurting anyone else and is fulfilling for you, then that’s how you should live. I realize this is contradictory – one could argue that maybe these women are not hurting anyone else and fulfilling themselves. I do believe, however, that by being plural wives they are hurting each other and their children, especially their daughters – gay or straight, black or white, every woman should be treated equal to a man, and in this religion, they can’t be. A woman needs to marry a man, and bear his children, to attain salvation.
3. It’s a metaphor for my own upbringing.
I was raised in a Lutheran denomination called LCMS, or Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, with my father and paternal grandmother as my primary examples of what living a faith-based life meant. What they have taught me (love everyone, be nice, don’t pee on strangers) is not what I saw in school, especially my middle and high school years – and was probably the reason for much of my dissent. As a student at church school operated by a massive Lutheran church in southeastern Wisconsin, I was frequently outspoken about what I saw as hypocracies in the church’s message when read concurrently with the words of the Bible. Christ HIMSELF (which is VERY different from prophets) says nothing about homosexuality, plural marriage, skin color, or women bringing their men sandwiches. Jesus did say, however, ‘he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ I will not pretend to be any kind of religious authority. I will, however, refuse to acknowledge hatred, bigotry, or decrees on how anyone should live from any person or group on the grounds of ‘religious authority.’ If the Sister Wives want to be polygamists because they think that they are happy that way, good. But to do it regardless of their personal pain because the Angel Moroni told them too? Please. The Book of Mormon is a book. The Bible is a book. They have both been edited and translated hundreds times, yet people use it as the full authority on Christ’s message. Something tells me Christ wouldn’t join Dan Cathy’s church, Joseph Smith’s, or for that matter, even my own.

Thank you to the members of Depeche Mode for their endlessly parody-able song titles.

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