Apr 142011

Meri, Robyn, Kody, Janelle and Christine

So the Sister Wives are under investigation. I know what you’re thinking: “You watch ‘Sister Wives?'” I watch it in the same way I watch “Glee”- I sit on the couch while it’s on and it occasionally sucks me in. That’s as far as it goes. When I heard in the fall that they were under investigation, I wasn’t surprised. As Fletch famously said “It’s bigamy. Even in Utah.”  So it took a moment of utter boredom on vacation last week to get me to check on their case. I thought the fact that it was a ‘spiritual’ but not legal ceremony might make a difference. I was wrong. In Utah, cohabitating for long enough to be a common law marriage counts as polygamy. I shouldn’t have been surprised I got it wrong. Our laws regarding sexuality are completely screwy (pun intended). And that it’s not so much the Sister Wives who are screwed up. Instead, it’s us.

Think about it: it’s illegal for Kody Brown, the husband, to have two wives. It’s illegal for him to cohabitate with two women long enough for a common law marriage. But he could be having affairs with a dozen women and it’s legal. Two dozen. Musicians have travelled for years with groupies. Snoop Dogg called them his ‘stable,’ and others have followed. No one has ever been prosecuted for having one groupie, never mind a stable of them. Being committed to four people is illegal, but having sex with a tour bus full of groupies is fine? How’s that make sense? And he could be having affairs with a dozen men, but he can’t marry one of them? That doesn’t make much sense either.

I’ve been thinking about it a bit lately, and here’s what I’ve figured out: I don’t care.

“But pastor!” you might say. “Kody Brown is a bad influence! He’s leading people down the path to immorality!” You could think that if I’m not condemning something, that it’s the same as supporting it. You could think that, but I find that dualistic way of thinking to be a logic train to nowhere. Not speaking against something is not the same as supporting it. But that’s not why I don’t care. I don’t care because for too long in this country, Christians have been known for what they’re against.  Just as anyone who’s not a Christian. They’ll tell you we’re against all sorts of things: drinking, gambling, NYPD Blue, the list goes on and on. All kinds of things. At some point, probably everything.

But who knows what we’re for? Not very many. Not even us. We’re supposed to be generous, caring, loving giving. We’re supposed to be sharing and sacrificing and giving so much it hurts, then giving more. That’s what the early church did. They were know for their positives. We’ve become defined by negatives. They grew like wildfire, and we’re shrinking. Is it any surprise? Who wants to be part of something negative?

At first, I thought this was a brand identity problem. That’s when people have misperceptions about who an organization is. But I don’t think that’s it. I see few Christians who care enough to give even a mitten on a mitten tree. We can barely be bothered to give the poor our old crappy microwave we were going to throw out anyway. But when something offends us, we’ll move heaven and earth to let people know about it. We don’t have a brand identity problem.

It’s just an identity problem.

Christianity needs to rediscover who we are. To focus on what we’re for, not what we’re against. To put grace, love and service above everything else. That’s why I don’t care how many wives some dude in Utah (or Nevada) has. Because I’m too busy being for grace, love and service to waste my time being against this. Or anything else.