Sister Wives & Biblical Roles: Traditional vs. TV

Aug 23, 10:15 PM | By Chris

Polygamy has a long and complex history that spans cultures, religions, and societies. One avenue through which this practice has been explored is the TV show "Sister Wives," which gained popularity for its portrayal of a modern polygamous family. However, this show, while attempting to showcase polygamy, has often strayed from the traditional context, particularly in relation to Biblical gender roles. In this article, we will delve into the concept of sister wives, examine the influence of Biblical gender roles on traditional polygamy, and analyze where the TV show "Sister Wives" may have gone astray from these traditional ideals.

Sister Wives: A Historical Perspective

The term "sister wives" refers to a group of women in a polygamous marriage who consider themselves to be co-wives and companions rather than rivals. This practice has its roots in various cultures, including ancient Mesopotamia, Africa, and the Middle East. Within the context of many religious traditions, such as Islam and certain sects of Christianity, polygamy was accepted and regulated to varying extents. However, the concept of sister wives is most prominently associated with the Latter-day Saint movement, commonly known as Mormonism.

Biblical Gender Roles and Traditional Polygamy

For those who practice polygamy within the framework of religious beliefs, particularly Christianity, the Bible plays a significant role in shaping their understanding of gender roles and marriage dynamics. In traditional polygamous arrangements, men often cite examples from the Old Testament, where figures like Abraham, Jacob, and David had multiple wives. However, it's important to note that the Bible also portrays instances of strife and conflict resulting from such arrangements.

Biblical gender roles play a pivotal role in shaping the dynamics of traditional polygamous marriages. The interpretation of these roles can vary, but some proponents of polygamy argue that the husband's role is to provide for and protect his wives and children, while the wives are expected to be submissive and supportive. Proponents of this view often point to passages such as Ephesians 5:22-24, which emphasizes the wife's submission to her husband. In this traditional framework, sister wives are expected to cooperate, support one another, and foster a sense of unity within the family unit.

The TV Show "Sister Wives" and Departure from Tradition

The TV show "Sister Wives," which debuted in 2010, aimed to shed light on the lives of a modern polygamous family. However, over the years, the show has often deviated from traditional polygamous ideals and Biblical gender roles in pursuit of entertainment and dramatic storytelling. One of the notable departures from tradition is the emphasis on conflict and rivalry among the wives, which contradicts the idea of sister wives being companions rather than competitors.

The show's focus on sensationalism, drama, and personal conflicts often overshadows the representation of genuine familial unity that is advocated for in traditional polygamous arrangements. Additionally, the portrayal of the husband exercising an unequal degree of control over his wives contradicts the mutual respect and cooperation that should ideally characterize sister wives relationships.

Where the TV Show Went Wrong

The TV show "Sister Wives" went wrong in several key areas when it comes to depicting traditional polygamy:

1. Misrepresentation of Sister Wives Dynamics: The show's tendency to sensationalize conflicts among the wives detracts from the concept of sister wives as a supportive and united network. Instead of showcasing cooperation, the show highlights jealousy and rivalry, perpetuating a negative stereotype that undermines the essence of sister wives relationships.

2. Skewed Power Dynamics: Traditional polygamy often emphasizes a balanced distribution of power among the husband and his wives. However, the show occasionally portrays the husband as having disproportionate control over his wives, leading to an inaccurate representation of the power dynamics inherent in sister wives relationships.

3. Neglecting Spiritual and Religious Aspects: For many who practice polygamy, religious and spiritual beliefs are central to their lifestyle. The TV show often downplays or omits these aspects, leading to an incomplete and potentially misleading portrayal of the motivations and values that underpin traditional polygamous families.


"Sister Wives," as a TV show, has the potential to educate and inform viewers about the complexities of polygamous relationships and the influence of Biblical gender roles. However, the show's departure from traditional polygamous ideals, such as sister wives' supportive dynamics and balanced power structures, has led to a skewed representation. While entertainment value is important, it's crucial to remember that the real lives of those in polygamous relationships are often shaped by deep-rooted beliefs, unity, and cooperation among the wives. By understanding and respecting these principles, a more accurate and respectful representation of sister wives and traditional polygamy can be achieved.

Published By: Sister Wives 

Matchmakers Inc


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