"Big Love" Has Big Consequences that Hinder Family Restoration

Read this insightful piece from Guest Blogger Justin Coretti, current Family Law student, Regent 2012, on his perpective on pop-culture and family breakdown, particularly as it relates to requirements for marriage entry:
Just when you thought television couldn't get any worse with shows such as "$#*! My Dad Says" (the title says it all), "Weeds" (promotes habitual drug use among minors and adults alike), and "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila" (a bisexual's quest for "love"), network television decides to throw in another attempt to alter the worldviews of their audience. HBO's "Big Love" is a fictional show concerning a polygamist family in Utah; it has had four successful seasons and was just renewed for a fifth season. Similarly, TLC is ready to air a reality show called "Sister Wives" which follows the lifestyle of a polygamist family with 1 husband, 3 wives, and numerous children. Although polygamy is currently illegal in the United States, there is a startling trend moving toward the acceptance of this adulterous form of marriage in both the United States and Canada. Polygamy refers to a marriage in which there is more than one spouse; more specifically, polygyny involves one man with multiple wives while polyandry involves one woman with multiple husbands.
On November 22, a Canadian court will be determining the constitutionality of Canada's anti-polygamy law. The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) filed affidavits on behalf of numerous polyamory families whose familial practices have previously been called into question by the authorities. The anti-polygamy law forbids any conjugal union between multiple partners. This court case could have a drastic effect on marriage - not only in Canada, but in the rest of the world as well. If the court determines that the polygamy law is unconstitutional, marriage itself will be redefined. No longer will marriage be between one man and one woman, but it could potentially be between one man and two, three, or even ten women as in one of the cases. Marriage could even be defined as being between multiple men, women, or the transgendered as homosexual marriage is currently legal in Canada.
Polygamist marriages and relationships have varying effects on the family; the varying degrees often depend on the reason for the polygamist marriage, whether it be for religious purposes or because the consenting adults simply wish to fulfill their selfish desires. Child neglect can be a problem in polygamist relationships. The father figure has numerous wives which often results in numerous children; consequently, the father does not have the time required to have a personal relationship with each of his children. Furthermore, jealousy can, and does, arise between the multiple wives of one man - in spite of the fact that television portrayals of these families tend not to depict this, or depict it only as one of many subplots to retain the interest of the viewer. In reality, jealousy amongst the wives leads to the "sub-families" competing for the attention of the husband.
Polygamist marriages have been around since Biblical times - and were not pleasing to God then - long before modern technology made our culture aware of the dangers of multiple sexual partners. Completely ignoring potentially dangerous health risks and dysfunctional families, polygamists wish to oblige their view that a marriage with multiple partners is perfectly acceptable and legitimate. Forget the facts that the civilized world outlawed polygamy centuries ago and that any practicing polygamists in the United States are doing so illegally, a polygamist wants society to believe that his or her marriage to multiple persons is a genuine display of affection and love. In all fairness, marriage to multiple persons is a genuine display of emotion - mostly lust. The legalization of polygamous marriage is just another stepping stone in our culture to the complete de-humanization of the notion of marriage - a step that our society should take all precautions to avoid.


  1. I agree with Justin's article. I wonder how much more the family and can stretched. As Justin stated, polygamy is nothing new, but it seems as if our society continues to stretch the limits. I wonder if a show like Sister Wives would have even been aired years or decades ago, most likely not. So why does our society see this as entertaining? Intrigued by something different? Desiring a new thrill?

    Frankly, I feel pity for the women, and especially the children, of those polygamous families. The wives clearly convince themselves that this awkward situation has benefits. One clip even revealed that their "sisters" are there for them in times of needs, but that leads me to wonder why they must rely on a “sister” for this help? Is there no one else that can be support to them that they desire this family structure? I believe they are simply fooling themselves into believing that this situation is ideal or beneficial.

  2. Great article, Justin. The first time I heard about polygamy being glorified in the media was a couple months ago when “Sister Wives” came onto HBO. Understanding that the media is always trying to find a new hook for their viewers (and sex being always the ultimate grabber), I find glorifying an illegal action upsetting and concerning. What message is this sending? Our society is already plagued with sex outside of marriage being a freedom, a right and in some cases a status. Marriage is supposed to be the start of a couple’s eternal commitment to each other and only each other. Polygamy, by its very definition, opens the door for unfaithfulness between and husband and wife, but not only that… it is encouraged unfaithfulness. This can in no way be stable. Furthermore, most people have a hard enough time taking care of one intimate relationship. I cannot imagine what it would be like to take care of two, three, or ten relationships at the same time.

  3. When I read about polygamist relationships, such as the one depicted in "Sister Wives," I can't help but feel pity for the children in these relationships. The children have no stability, and the relationship of the parents are certainly not in the best interests of the children. I have often wondered what long-term polygamy has on the children of polygamous relationships. It is a shame to see relationships that go completely against public policy be depicted as an acceptable relationship.

  4. Thanks for the article, Justin! I especially appreciated the reference to polygamy during biblical times. It was Solomon who sinned and displeased God with his many relationships and also wrote in Ecclesiastes "there's nothing new under the sun." Shows like Sister Wives and the public growing fascination and acceptance of polygamy remind me that despite what the mainstream culture says our world is not improving or growing. We are simply repeating past mistakes and not looking back at history or what is best for the stability of families!