There’s much commotion over the upcoming episode of HBO’s Big Love which is to contain a scene depicting the Temple Endowment ceremony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [aka the Mormons].
I wanted to weigh in with my thoughts; both as a former Mormon who’s been to the temple numerous times as well as a fan of Big Love. For a long time I’ve been asked about what actually goes on in Mormon Temples but I never engage in any discussions about it since I took blood oaths not to. However, various websites feature both text versions and video re-enactments of parts of this ceremony thus the information is readily available and amazingly accurate. Although I can understand why Mormons are upset over a television show’s depiction of their ceremony, it is hard to sympathize. It seems when they hold something sacred they expect the world to take heed yet when the shoe is on the other foot there is no accountability for their actions. They seem to feel justified in the name of their religion and beliefs. (Some example are: Jewish Holocaust Victims being baptized, Proposition 8 eliminating the right for same-sex couples to marry who'd already been given the right, even their own member’s who are “unworthy” to attend the weddings of their own family). Being offended works both ways.
My wife and I have been fans of Big Love since the beginning. As former Mormons, it’s intriguing to us as well as just plain good entertainment. The show has been featuring mainstream Mormon characters (not just the offshoot Polygamy-practicing characters) as well as actual mainstream Mormon issues and we’ve been pleased with how spot on the portrayals have been. The show has tackled some tough issues, such as the Mormon’s treatment of African Americans and Indians (thought to have been cursed by God with dark skin). There was also an accurate portrayal of a mainstream Mormon couple wishing to adopt. The couple consisted of a wife and her husband who is admittedly gay, yet encouraged [by his church] to marry a woman anyway and work to get over “Same Sex Attraction” [as the Mormons call it]. The irony is that the polygamist characters on Big Love are actually living the original teachings of the Mormon church; what they consider the truth based on the teachings of Joseph Smith (who was the founder of the Mormon church, first prophet and practice polygamy) as opposed to “mainstream” Mormons who discontinued the practice as a condition of gaining statehood. Of course, I don’t agree with “original” polygamist Mormonism any more than “mainstream” Mormonism. Although after watching an episode of Big Love when I jokingly asked my wife if I could take another wife, she replied: “If she’ll help cook and clean then bring her on over!”