Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier
Written by PRESTON SPRINKLE and BRANSON PARLER
This seems like an odd question to ask. Many of us are quick to give a response and others are careful to respond too quickly. Some might respond in a positive way others in a negative way. Yet, which way is the correct pastoral one?
A pastor recently told me (Preston) about Tyler and Amanda (names changed), high-school sweethearts raised in Christian homes, living in the Bible belt. After getting married, they seemed to be living the American dream with a house, good jobs, and two kids. Then Jon, a friend of Tyler’s, began living with their family. Amanda developed a close relationship with him, but their flirtation soon developed into something more, and Jon and Amanda proposed to Tyler that they begin exploring polyamory, with Amanda adding Jon as a significant other. They also encouraged Tyler to develop a relationship with another woman he’d met at the gym. He agreed.‘Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier’ Written by PRESTON SPRINKLE and BRANSON PARLER
Reading this story my heart breaks. You have what starts out as a nice story about a husband and wife raising their two children and then the husband invites his male friend to live with them and we aren’t told why. Soon after, the wife starts to be attracted towards this friend and the doors of adultery are opened. Instead of discussing with her husband her temptations, so that they can come up with a better solution for their friends living arrangement, and save their marriage and protect their children, she proposed an idea of Polyamory, and encouraged her husband to pursue a relationship with another female, so that this relationship now includes four people. Keep in mind neither the husband or wife are discussing what is best for their children.
Making the situation even more complex, Tyler and Amanda sought counseling from a Christian counselor who advocated polyamory. Tyler’s parents were disturbed by what their son and daughter-in-law heard there: “It’s only adultery or cheating if someone is kept in the dark. If you are open and honest, this is a God-honoring relationship. And this is good for the kids! It takes a village to raise a child, so a polyamorous relationship actually brings more support and ‘family’ into your kids’ lives, much like the extended families in the past.”‘Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier’ Written by PRESTON SPRINKLE and BRANSON PARLER
What kind of Christian has such a relaxed view on the sixth commandment? How is having multiple partners God-honoring? What biblical passage tells us that? The answer to these questions is obvious, the Bible doesn’t tell us that multiple partners is God-honoring in fact polygamy never worked out well for anyone in the Old Testament, it only caused problems because it was caused by sin and wasn’t ordained by God.
According to the “Christian” counselor, having more partners in the house is good for the kids because, the more the merrier. Yet, it doesn’t take much to see how this can be damaging to the children. First off mixing mother and father with other partners will create other children to different parents and this not only causes confusion it can also cause animosity between their half-siblings and also between the children and the extra man/woman that their biological parent is involved with. Children do not like seeing their dad being romantic with another woman that is not their mother, and vice versa.
Yet perhaps one of the greatest problems is what happens when one of the parents of the half-siblings decides it’s time to leave this partnership and the half-siblings are then split up from the family of the other children. It causes nothing but disarray and disaster. The children then have no solid foundation to feel safe. They will only grow attached to these other adults and half siblings only to have them leave because the relationship isn’t founded on anything other than lust; and that’s the problem. Real marriage, is one man and one woman, the stable relationship of one mother and one father, that brings forth children out of that one union til death parts them. In summary, the same problems that are present in marriages today with no fault divorce, is only magnified in this type of relationship. Kids will be separated from one parent and also their half-siblings.
Polyamory—from the Greek poly, meaning “many,” and the Latin amor, meaning “love”—refers to “the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.” While these intimate relationships between three or more people are typically sexual, they don’t need to be. And they can take many different forms. For instance, vees (Vs) are poly relationships where one person is sexually engaged with two other people (as in the case of Tyler, Amanda, and Jon), while triads are relationships where all three are sexually involved with each other. Another defining element of polyamorous relationships is that they are honest and consensual—cheating and lying are frowned upon in the poly community.‘Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier’ Written by PRESTON SPRINKLE and BRANSON PARLER
Like I said above, utter confusion. When you step outside of the protected gifts of the ten commandments utter chaos and confusion is what you choose. It isn’t love that holds these relationships together, only consent. Once someone decides to not consent to the relationship, then they are free to leave.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,Romans 1:22
The Confessional Response
Should Jon be welcomed into the church as an addition to Tyler and Amanda’s family?‘Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier’ Written by PRESTON SPRINKLE and BRANSON PARLER
How can pastors and leaders prepare to address questions related to polyamory? Several pastors tell us it’s becoming more common for people who identify as poly to ask about their church’s view on the matter. Will they be accepted and affirmed? The discussion is still young enough that most pastors have some time to construct a robust, compassionate, thoughtful response to the question, “Is your church inclusive of people who are poly?”‘Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier’ Written by PRESTON SPRINKLE and BRANSON PARLER
Short answer, no. Longer answer takes more time and care. Tyler and Amanda would need pastoral care, they would need to discuss their issues with a faithful pastor who would listen and and help guide them to repentant faith using the Word; Law and Gospel. They are breaking the sixth commandment and are abandoning the fourth commandment that God has placed them in for the parental guidance and protection of their children. A caring and faithful pastor would gently help them to see this and try to bring them into repentance.
As confessional lutherans, if they refused repentance we would have to withhold the holy Eucharist from them for their own good so that they do not profane the body and blood of Christ to their judgement (1 Cor. 11:27). They are obviously still welcome and should still come to the Divine Service.
The trouble in the topics of whether the church is inclusive of the trends of the world, but if the church should be inclusive of the sins of the world. The bride of Christ is made up of repentant sanctified sinners, not openly unrepentant sinners who hold their sin as their god, or idol. It isn’t a matter of what should the church do, faithful pastors know what to do, its how can we give them Law and Gospel in a loving way, as Baptized children of God. That is the key, to be faithful to God’s Word, which is Law and Gospel and to rightly handle that double edged sword, in love.
In closing, I will leave a final quote from the article. Keeping in mind that living in unrepentant sin, to continue to forcefully and willfully live against the ten commandments, is to be the same as the unbeliever. The Holy Spirit departs those who force Him out, for more on this check out this article here, and also the follow up article here. Also, that those who do not reject the gift of the Spirit to convict of sin and to bring faith (John 16: 8-11), have forgiveness through Christ crucified for their sins, and are loved by God.
With that, keep this too in mind, that Christ has one bride, not many bride’s, not a bride and a bridegroom, but one Bride and He is the Bridegroom. Who He has given Himself for in His death and ressurection, has redeemed her and washed her clean, and is coming back to take her for eternity. How then would you answer the final quotation? May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. With your sins forgiven, go in peace.
How would you respond to Tyler, Amanda, and Jon? How would you counsel Tyler’s parents to respond?‘Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier’ Written by PRESTON SPRINKLE and BRANSON PARLER