The sole Christian in a three-way relationship

The sole Christian in a three-way relationship December 30, 2013

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Recently received the letter below. My response follows it.

Hi John,

I remember seeing “1 Man, 2 Women in a Polyamorous Relationship” on your website last year. I and my two partners (longtime friends of mine, and married to each other) started a tentative relationship a few months ago — my now-boyfriend wanted to understand what poly relationships looked like, and said the only thing he found online that sounded like what we were exploring was this article/interview of yours.

He and I both needed that account to have a framework for what we were getting involved wit, and for the hope that we could all be happy together. (My best friend/girlfriend/his wife didn’t need any reading — everything felt right to her from the beginning, and we’ve all always been close.)

We have an extremely affectionate, caring, harmonious relationship. We’re in our late 20s/early 30s and put a lot of work into communication, and a lot of our shared time isn’t about sex — it’s about shared meals and cuddles and enjoying movies and sharing life — just like any other healthy relationship. We’re also fine with being intimate and open in any one-on-one configuration.

My biggest struggle is being the only Christian in the relationship — not because of a lack of shared faith, but because it can be hard to articulate why I’m in so much pain when it comes to not being out (and my need not to be). We also live in the deep South, but in a mid-sized city, so they’re comfortable being out to most of our mutual friends and their own families. (None of us are out at work because it seems likely to cause problems and invite judgment.)

It hurts me deeply that I feel I can’t talk about my partners with my family (tried it with my mom, the most liberal, and she was sickened and horrified), or at work, or (biggest deal of all) at any church I can think of. I’ve been out as queer for years now, but this seems like a hurdle society can’t handle. I love my faith and I don’t know how to be in a faith community while hiding some of the most essential details of my life. I still believe God loves me, but sometimes it’s a struggle.

I’m active on a popular polyamory forum and have a non-faith-based therapist that supports my choices as valid, but no one to discuss the faith angle with. Any support or advice you could offer would be really great — I became a Christian in my late teens and cannot imagine a world where I didn’t want to feel close to my God. I also can’t imagine a world where many other Christians would want anything to do with me.

Thanks for reading,

[anonymous]

Gosh, your last sentence—about Christians not wanting anything to do with you—is so painful. How awful that you have to feel that way.

🙁

Well, the (Unfundamentalist and NALT) Christians here are happy to know you. We understand that God is perfectly fine with people being LGBT, in whatever combination or configuration enhances their capacity for loving and being loved. We know that what anguishes God is when people hurt one another, not love one another.

So. You are a Christian bisexual lesbian in a three-way relationship living in the deep South.

Man. That is one full backpack.

My first chunk o’ advice is: Move! You guys should move to San Francisco!

Wait. Unless you’re not all zillionaires. Then don’t. And if you are a zillionaire, then, on second thought, stay where you are, buy a church, and hire me to move there and be your full-time pastor.

Proof, once again, that money solves all problems.

Har!

But enough about me.

It’s a true crying shame that in order to feel safe and secure in the world you have to consistently lie about some of the most important aspects of who you are and how you live. You don’t have anything to be ashamed of. There’s nothing inherently immoral about polyamorous relationships—and nobody can find anything in the Bible that says it is. (And trolling fundie Bible-twisters can start quoting scripture … now!) Living and loving in the way you currently are isn’t the norm, obviously. But so what? Since when does the norm deserve automatic adulation?

You’re in a tough spot. And it doesn’t sound like that spot is going to get a whole lot softer in the near future. So what can you do but buckle down and understand that you’re essentially a victim of history and culture? In another time and another place, you’d be free to live however you want to. But in this time, in your place, that’s not an option for you. You’ve got to live your life close to your chest.

Which can be kind of fun. It’s fun to have a secret about yourself and your life that is known to only your true and close friends.

Bottom line, of course, is that you’re extremely fortunate to have in your life the two people with whom you’ve joined your life. How awesome is it that you have them? How painful to be Christian, bi, polyamorous, and actually all alone.

Yikes. So. You’re not that. Thank God.

Speaking of God. If I’m hearing you, you’re saying that your main pain is that you’ve no church to attend, no community of fellow believers to commune with. That is a problem.

First of all, make sure that’s the case. Find out for sure whether or not there are any LGBT or LGBT-affirming Christians living near you. I’m betting there are. The trick is finding them. One good and easy way to do that is via an anonymous Craigslist posting asking if there are living near you any Christians like you. If there are, and they meet anywhere, then whoo to the hoo!: you just found your new church. If like-minded Christians are out there, but no one’s ever gotten them together, maybe you’ll do that. Maybe you’ll start the community of Christians that you’ve been looking for. Why not? Seems like a rewarding endeavor. (Just don’t make the meeting place your house, in case it goes … well, south.)

One thing I would suggest is that you ask your partners if they would be kind enough to serve with you as your spiritual partners. They don’t have to become Christian, of course. But experiencing spiritual communion with others is something good that you need and/or desire. And because of the way you live you can’t have that as readily as others can. So you have to turn to your partners for help with that. If your two partners love you and care about your well-being, they should be happy to sit with you for, say, one-half hour every Sunday morning, and just … be with you as you maybe read the Bible, or share a prayer with them, or simply sit with them holding hands and meditating and/or praying. I’m sure they don’t object to the kind of Christianity that is so near and dear to your heart. The Bible is a beautiful book no matter how you feel about Christianity; there’s plenty in it for anyone to appreciate and resonate with. And I’m sure your partners have their own spiritual or meditative / contemplative needs and interests. Ask them to share and develop those with you, in communion with you, as you explore and deepen your own personal faith.

You read some spiritual literature together; you pray for or send out love to people that you know are hurting; you sit together and silently meditate or pray. And you do it with the people who mean the most to you in the world. That kind of joint sharing of core human spirituality is a beautiful thing. It can only bring you guys closer. And it should provide you with enough spiritual connectedness to keep you feeling balanced and healthy.

So try that! Let me know how it goes, for both you and your friends. God bless you.


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