7 Takes on the Christian Response to Polyamory

7 Takes on the Christian Response to Polyamory February 28, 2020

I’m over at Stand Firm this morning, go check it out!


I finally went and had a look at that CT Polyamory article that’s been making its way around twitter the last week. In spite of its spawning a lot of pretty funny jokes, I didn’t think it would be that objectionable, and so didn’t actually read past the first paragraph. I mean, technically I don’t even have time to be on the internet at all, so sue me. But then I finally did read it, and now I feel sad. On the whole, the thing is absolutely unobjectionable until you get to these two paragraphs:

How would you respond to Tyler, Amanda, and Jon? How would you counsel Tyler’s parents to respond? Tyler’s parents’ pastor advised them to first listen to their son rather than trying to preach at him, so after Tyler came out to them, they set up a time to simply connect and listen. Though they were clear they did not affirm Tyler’s choice, they did affirm their love for Tyler, Amanda, and their grandkids. They made a point to keep their weekly Thursday afternoon “dates” with their grandkids and stay a part of their lives. Because of this, Tyler has maintained his relationship with his parents, and though his relationship choices are unbiblical, they have been able to communicate their love and care for him and his family. Amanda’s mother responded differently. Decades earlier, her relationship with Amanda’s father had ended when he had proposed a polyamorous relationship and then left when she wasn’t open to it. Amanda’s choice reopened her mother’s unhealed wounds. Feeling angry and betrayed, Amanda’s mother effectively broke off the relationship with her daughter. When children choose less than God’s best for their relationships, affirming both grace and truth is a difficult but necessary balance for parents to maintain.

Another important pastoral step is to distinguish elements of polyamory that are in violation of God’s will from elements that are simply culturally unfamiliar to us. When we want to lovingly call people to repentance, we should be precise about what needs repentance and what relationships or elements can and should be sanctified in Christ. For example, the notion of kinship in polyamory is a secular echo of the way Scripture calls the church to function as a new family. In cultures that idolize individualism (but actually isolate individuals), polyamory’s focus on relationship, care, and affection can have a powerful pull. And in churches that idolize marriage and the nuclear family, polyamory’s focus on hospitality and community can be an attractive alternative. We can acknowledge that many of the elements that draw people to polyamory—deep relationships, care for others, hospitality, and community—are good things.

How ‘bout seven thoughts, because it is Friday after all.


Anxiety about the “pastoral response” is how you get a lot of bad stuff in through the door of ordinary, but often very badly catechized, kind Christian churchgoers. Way back in the day, when the Episcopal church was rolling down the broad, wide road of destruction, lots of people said, “Oh yes, that life-style/behavior isn’t really accepted by the scripture, but we need a pastoral response for people struggling with that sin.” The issues that someone with same-sex proclivities faces, in other words, are outside the regular boundaries of sin, and they need something else, something more, though usually something rather less and sub-biblical, than everyone else who is just mucking around with lying, greed, drug addiction, porn addiction, envy, and slander. Turned out that the thing they ended up needing was “acceptance” and that if you wanted to go back to what the Bible really said about it, you were the bigot. I don’t think the two authors of this piece are trying to go down that road, but other people are.


The “pastoral response” for people of a polyamorous “lifestyle” who want to come into the church is the same as for everyone else: Repent and Believe the gospel. You can’t do that. Sex is for one single man married to one single woman within the covenant and bond of marriage. Full stop.


The authors’ categorizing of the two parents’ responses is similarly off-kilter. They adopt the very a la mode assumption that relationships should never be broken. Therefore, the parents who were able to keep the “connection” and keep “open communication” are better than the mother who was so hurt that she became completely alienated from her daughter.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not about to posit a one-size-fits-all way of coping with this very grievous circumstance. If one of my children came to me and said he or she was going to be polyamorous, I don’t know how I would respond….read the rest here!

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