Here’s an arresting headline for you: “Mormon sisters share a husband.”
That was courtesy of the London Telegraph last week, and it accompanied one of the strangest stories I’ve read in a long time. Here’s the opening:
The pair live with their husband and eight children in a large house in Salt Lake City in the American state of Utah and insist they are very happy with their choice.
They have three cars, a big garden, wardrobes full of stylish clothes and a mountain of toys for all their offspring.
“People might think it’s weird to share your husband with your sister, but it’s not to us,” said Katie, 28.
“It makes Travis a better husband — he’s more patient.
“He’s had to learn how to cope with two different women with different personalities, and to remember how to make each of us feel special and loved.
“While he’s got to check in with both of us, I’ve got more freedom to see my friends and there’s always someone to help with the childcare.”
Where this story succeeds is in providing a rare window into a polygamist household. But the story raises some serious questions that it neglects to answer.
While the article isn’t apologetic in its tone, the reporter doesn’t do much more than make passing mention at the fact that, you know, polygamy is sort of a taboo and that the younger sister isn’t technically “married” to Travis, but was unofficially wed in an “unofficially church ceremony.”
Church ceremony … excuse me, but I’m not aware of any churches that provide these unofficial ceremonies.
And what about that headline?
Mormon sisters … well, the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints banned polygamy more than 100 years ago. The FLDS, the cloistered sect that was led by Warren Jeffs before he was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison for forcing young girls into marriage, still practices polygamy, but it’s not clear that Travis and Katie and Priscilla are members of the FLDS. We’re told they “came from Fundamentalist Mormon families where polygamy was the norm,” but given nothing more.
“We’d always wondered whether polygamy could work for us, because I’d loved having so many brothers and sisters when I was young and wanted the same for my kids,” Katie explained.
You know, I had some friends growing up that were brothers and sisters. There were eight of them in all. And, get this, all came from the same mother. One womb can make it happen.
But that’s not the point of this blog post. While the Telegraph delivered a surprising story here, the reporter for this un-bylined article does a poor job of including the religious context needed for this story. In fact, we’re never even told in this story that the Mormon Church has banned polygamy, only that it is banned in the United States and, apparently, that “Fundamentalist Mormon families” favor polygamy.
A wedding cake for HBO’s “Big Love.”