Have you seen the HBO original series, “Big Love?” If not, you’re missing something. This is likely the show that Mormons, most especially Mormons running for national office, would prefer to disappear down the memory hole.
The show’s premise? An ostensibly normal and successful businessman, Bill Henrickson (played superbly by Bill Paxton), attempts to balance his polygamous life with the demands of his community that he at least give lip service to not committing bigamy.
Bill fails at this task, and the dramatic tension among and between his three “sister wives” makes the show worth watching. Not to mention Bill’s dealings with a cult-like compound of polygamists headed by a seriously power-mad creature named Roman Grant (played, also superbly, by Harry Dean Stanton).
So, why would this show be the show that Mitt Romney loves to hate? Simple. Because it shows how thin the veneer is between Mormons who sign on, in public, to be monogamous. In private, the sense is, hey, we’re Mormons. We can have more than one wife — it’s biblical, you know. As in, the Hebrew prophets had multiple wives, didn’t they?
Well, Mormons (or anyone else for that matter) may believe anything they want, but that does not make it so. Or moral. Why one wife, if there is clear evidence that ancient Israelites had multiple wives? Two things.
One, we are not living in the Near East of three thousand years ago. Different time and place; different cultural norms. Two, most important, Genesis, chapter 2. God created a woman, that’s a, as in one, woman, Eve, to be Adam’s wife:
2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This is clearly the template for humanity; one man, one woman, with a charge, in Genesis 1:28, to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
Is this an oversimplification of God’s plan? Perhaps. But God’s power is made manifest in the first two chapters of Genesis. It’s creation, after all…and I have to assume that if God intended us to have more than one wife, He’d have made some mention of this to Adam.
That Mormons, and Muslims, and others, don’t adhere to this basic tenet is no reason to ignore what appears to be God’s clear direction to us: one man; one woman. Complementing each other, both needed to fulfill God’s plan for us. My close reading of Genesis reveals nothing as to whether God, somehow, believes men should dominate women. Or vice versa.
And, common sense dictates that when a man has more than one wife, they’re all going to be short-changed. Treated, in a word, as inferiors. Polygamy is, simply, wrong. It denies the equality of men and women. Not that we are the same. That we are equal in human dignity in the eyes of God.
For mere men to make rules that denigrates the dignity of women is, also, simply wrong. In the case of having more than one wife, since it violates God’s first template for our kind, it is also properly called an abomination.