Mar

07

2013

Joe Carter|11:59 AM CT

What You Should Know About 'Monogamish' Relationships

[Note: This is the first in an occasional series explaining popular concepts and trends that affect the Christian community. This inaugural article is very lengthy—much longer than other posts will be, I promise— because the concept is controversial and will come as a surprise to many. In order to preempt some of the criticism this will generate, I decided to provide extensive quotes from supporters of this trend to establish its prevalence. However, I've also included a short version for those who merely want the gist of the article.]

The Concept: Monogamish — A term coined by sex columnist Dan Savage to describe relationships in which a couple is emotionally intimate only with each other yet engages in sexual infidelities or group sexual activity. Monogamish couples can be sexually polyamorous but remain emotionally "monogamous." (Another term used for this phenomena is "San Francisco relationships.") Although the term can be used to describe both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, monogamish coupling is generally considered acceptable, even normative, within homosexual communities.

The Short Version: A study by the Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training, "Alternatives to Monogamy Among Gay Male Couples in a Community Survey: Implications for Mental Health and Sexual Risk", will be published in this February's issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior. The study surveyed over 800 gay and bisexual men in the New York City area. A preview of the report notes:

Dr. Parsons pointed out that "the diversity in types of non-monogamous relationships was interesting, and something that hasn't been explored very much in research studies. Typically gay men have been categorized as monogamous or not, and our data show that it is not so black and white." CHEST's survey indicated that about 60% were single. Of those partnered, about 58% were in monogamous relationships. Of those that were non-monogamous, 53% were in open relationships, and 47% were in "monogamish" relationships (i.e., couples that have sex with others as a couple such as "threeways" or group sex).

What seems apparent from the CHEST study is that same-sex romantic relationships can be healthy and happy, and that gay men can be "committed" to their long-term partners while still being sexual with other people. Dr. Parsons adds, "Our findings suggest that certain types of non-monogamous relationships - especially 'monogamish' ones - are actually beneficial to gay men, contrary to assumptions that monogamous relationships are always somehow inherently better."

In an article for the Huffington Post, gay-rights activist Zach Stafford reports on the study and adds:

Prince Charming may not be charming forever, and we may find ourselves waking up one day wanting to invite Aladdin or Prince Eric or Prince Phillip to join us in our bed, if only a few times a month. And if our relationship is not monogamous but more "monogamish," we can still be happy. Indeed, we may find that monogamy isn't what we wanted all along.

A significant percentage of persons in same-sex sexual partnerships, including those who advocate for the legal recognition of same-sex "marriage", do not view monogamy or sexual exclusivity as part of the meaning of marriage. Despite their use of the term "monogamy," many are referring to "monogamish" relationships. This misleading shift in language leads many Americans to misunderstand what it is they are really supporting when they advocate for same-sex marriage. Marriage is not being redefined in a way that simply includes same-sex couples, but redefined in a way that excludes sexual fidelity as an essential component of the marital relationship.

The Long Version: One of the unspoken assumptions in the debate over same-sex marriage is that monogamy is equally valued by both homosexual and heterosexual couples. While far too many heterosexuals opt for a form of serial monogamy—marriage, divorce, remarriage—it is still generally understood that sexual fidelity is to be expected within the bounds of marriage. The same assumption, however, is not necessarily true within homosexual relations.

Many same-sex marriage advocates will naturally find such a claim shocking, if not scurrilous. The "It's about love" crowd have often been strong on empathy while weak on their understanding of how homosexual relationships tend to differ from those of heterosexuals. (It also seems to have escaped their notice that marriage may not be the only term that homosexual activists want to redefine.) But this isn't a controversial idea—at least it wasn't until recently.

Until a few years ago, most homosexuals and gay-rights activists freely admitted that the traditional view of monogamy was a heterosexual ideal that did not apply to homosexual relationships. Terry Mattingly notes in a Get Religion post:

As a visiting gay theologian once told me during a conference at [Iliff School of Theology], very few gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians have what he called a "twin rocking chairs forever" definition of monogamy. That was just too restricting, he said. Most gays, he said, believe that it is possible to be "faithful" to one partner and, thus, "monogamous," while continuing to have sexual experiences with others.

Mattingly also references a quote from a Scripps Howard column he wrote in 2000:

"Monogamy" isn't such a scary word, once people get the hang of redefining it to fit the realities of modern life, according to gay provocateur Dan Savage.

"The sexual model that straight people have created really doesn't work," said the nationally syndicated columnist, in a New York Times Magazine piece on post-modern sex. "All it does is force people to lie. ... In this society, we view monogamy like we view virginity, one incident and it's over, the relationship is over."

Heterosexual couples, he said, should relax and learn from homosexuals. Relationships must grow and evolve. "I know gay couples who have been together for 35 years. They have separate bedrooms. Sometimes they sleep together and sometimes they sleep with other people, but they're a great couple," he said.

Of course that was a decade ago, when homosexual activists were more once open about this redefinition of monogamy. Back then journalist and blogger Andrew Sullivan felt safe to admit in his book Virtually Normal:

There is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman. . . .The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness.

And in a 1998 issue of The Advocate we find this full-length article titled, "Monogamy: Is it for us?", and subtitled "The Advocate examines the controversial subject of monogamy from many angles":

One of the hottest debates in today's gay world involves the m word. Is it for us, we wonder, or is it just aping straight society? Is it a basic human drive or a dumb social construct? And, of course, each of us wonders, Is it for me?

But this m word is not marriage. It's monogamy. Etymologically, the word means "one marriage." So how can it possibly apply to a group of people who are not legally allowed to wed?

[. . .]

"A commitment is something made by two people, not by a minister or license," Carmichael says.

But, in fact, two men or two women making a commitment is different from a man and a woman doing it. Evolutionary scientists say males and females set different standards for sexual partners. They argue that since sperm is cheap, males instinctively want to spread their seed among many partners, but eggs are precious, so females seek copulation with one mate who will be a good provider. Socially, that results in compromises--marriage and adultery--but what happens when two people of the same gender don't have to meet in the middle?

One result might be the old joke: What do two lesbians take on their second date? A U-Haul. What about two gay men? What second date?

Thus, says neuroscientist Simon LeVay, gays and straights can be seen as biologically similar: The males share an interest in casual sex, while the females want to settle down. He cites studies from San Francisco in the pre-AIDS 1970s showing that the average gay male had had 500 partners up to the time of the survey interview; the average lesbian, fewer than ten.

[. . .]

Michael Cohen, a psychotherapist in Hartford, Conn., thinks monogamy is a social construct derived from religion and may or may not be natural.

[. . .]

Others disagree. Frances Donovan, who has "experience on both sides of the monogamy fence" and conducts workshops on that topic at educator and youth conferences, believes nonmonogamy is a negative definition. She prefers polyamory—the ability to love more than one person at a time—and says the key to successful polyamory is open, honest communication. At one workshop, participants listed several benefits of polyamory, including freedom, love, happiness, and trust.

Which brings us to two specific types of polyamory: threesomes and open relationships. Perhaps surprisingly, some of the strongest advocates for monogamy view threesomes with equanimity.

"They can be shared experiences that couples go through together," Berzon says. "The key is that it has to be both partners' choice. If it is, my job becomes helping them think about the best ways to make it work."

"There's a difference between emotional monogamy; and sexual monogamy," argues Cohen. "If a couple have threesomes occasionally and are still committed to each other, they can usually separate the two."

[. . .]

Most people draw the line at cheating--that is, having outside relationships without the knowledge or consent of one's partner. "The rules are simple: If you are in a monogamous relationship, you don't cheat," says Jeffrey Denke, 26, a video producer. "It is a matter of self-control and will." The best way to combat the desire to cheat, he says, is to "explore a variety of sexual encounters together. Third partners and other couples are a great way to add variety to sex."

Yet Ann Northrop, a lesbian activist and coanchor of the Gay USA cable TV news show, sees the debate about monogamy as "a window of opportunity" for gays to be honest about our behavior--far more honest, in fact, than straights, who from U.S. presidents on down have never been paragons of monogamy.

"We don't have the hypocritical, hierarchical heterosexual system of rewards" that flow to folks in monogamous, committed relationships, she says. "However, we also have not talked openly about what we want from a relationship, where sex and intimacy fit in, and what may or may not work for us." Now, Northrop believes, is the time.

If you're wondering why the media didn't mention this concept of "monogamish" relationships until the same-sex marriage gained popular acceptance, the New York Times has the answer:

As the trial phase of the constitutional battle to overturn the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage concludes in federal court, gay nuptials are portrayed by opponents as an effort to rewrite the traditional rules of matrimony. Quietly, outside of the news media and courtroom spotlight, many gay couples are doing just that, according to groundbreaking new research.

A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.

New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.

That consent is key. "With straight people, it's called affairs or cheating," said Colleen Hoff, the study's principal investigator, "but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations."

The study also found open gay couples just as happy in their relationships as pairs in sexually exclusive unions, Dr. Hoff said. A different study, published in 1985, concluded that open gay relationships actually lasted longer.

None of this is news in the gay community, but few will speak publicly about it. Of the dozen people in open relationships contacted for this column, no one would agree to use his or her full name, citing privacy concerns. They also worried that discussing the subject could undermine the legal fight for same-sex marriage.

Unlike the mainstream media, when it comes to admitting the true agenda of the gay rights movement, The Advocate can be refreshingly honest. "We often protest when homophobes insist that same sex marriage will change marriage for straight people too," says the magazine in a 2011 article. "But in some ways, they're right. Here's how gay relationships will change the institution—but for the better." (Note: The article itself contains some crude language, though I don't include those in the following excrpts.)

Anti-equality right-wingers have long insisted that allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of "traditional marriage," and, of course, the logical, liberal party-line response has long been "No, it won't." But what if—for once—the sanctimonious crazies are right? Could the gay male tradition of open relationships actually alter marriage as we know it? And would that be such a bad thing? With divorce rates at an all-time high and news reports full of famous marriages crumbling at the hand of flagrant infidelities (see: Schwarzenegger, Arnold), perhaps now is the perfect time for the gays to conduct a little marriage makeover.

Welcome to Queer (Roving) Eye for the Monogamous Straight Couple Lie, brought to you in part by writer Dan Savage, who coined the term monogamish to signify committed relationships in which the partners are, he explains, "mostly monogamous, but there's a little allowance for the reality of desire for others and a variety of experiences and adventure and possibility."

The typical response by straight same-sex marriage supporters is that while such "monogmish" relationships may be common, their committed gay friends would never dream of engaging in such infidelity. Or so they may think:

Even many gay male couples, who Savage describes as having "perfected nonmonogamy," fear disclosing that their relationship is anything but one-on-one. Gary (not his real name) is out in every area of his life, and his family is completely supportive. "But I don't tell my family, even my brother—who I'm incredibly close with—that I have sex outside of the relationship with Ben," his partner of 14 years, he says. "I have never said that to him."

Gary and Ben, who live in Los Angeles, won't reveal their real names because Ben has a high-profile career in television. "We have too much to lose," Gary says. "But we also don't want people passing judgment on us." Which is why they don't even tell most of their friends.

Sex therapist Timaree Schmit says she can understand gay couples' desire to conform—at least outwardly—to the kind of conventional relationship that society deems "deserving" of marriage rights. "It's been a big part of campaigning for marriage equality to repeatedly prove the 'normalcy' and stability of same-sex couples. People may feel pressure to make their relationship fit into a more acceptable box."

If only heterosexual society wasn't so prudish and didn't defined "normalcy" so narrowly, then gay men could truly be themselves:

Schmit says that the sexual context in which many gay men initiate relationships can smooth the way to normalizing nonmonogamy, and that's not frequently how straight relationships kick off. "Plus, the steam room clause," she says, referring to the one among some men in which sex at the gym does not count, "doesn't really apply too well to straight people."

[. . .]

This is where gay male couples and Savage's outspoken role come in. "More than anything, gay marriage creates opportunities to broaden the conversation about marriage," says Sitron. "I don't think gay men are [necessarily] going to bring something [new] to marriage, but they are going to change the conversation about marriage."

"I really enjoy sex, and I like looking at porn, and I like sexy guys, and I love Ben," declares the happily committed and nonmonogamous Gary. "When [it became clear that] we could figure out a way to have all of these things together, without hurting each other, I thought, That's a good goal." [emphasis in original]

"A way to have all of these things together." Sure, why not? Why shouldn't they be able to have a marriage license that includes a steam room clause? If that is the "good goal"—the gay man's eudemonic objective—then who are we to say that they shouldn't have it all—even if the "all" includes porn, a partner, and polyamorous playmates?

We've finally reached the point in the debate where it is no longer possible to be self-deluding about what same-sex marriage advocacy requires: If you support same-sex marriage you are tacitly endorsing non-monogamous marital relationships.

For years, heterosexual supporters of the cause were able to fool themselves into thinking that what gay rights activists wanted was parity with straight relationships. Then, when it became obvious that many homosexuals reject the "heteronormative restriction" of monogamy in marriage, the advocates proposed a two-track compromise: straight marriage would still be expected to be monogamous while gay marriage could be as polyamorous as they wanted.

But it doesn't work that way.

There cannot be a "separate but equal" basis for "marital" relationships, with heterosexuals expected to adhere to a standard of sexual fidelity while gay couples are allowed to redefine monogamy to include polyamourous sexual escapades. The lower standard will eventually prevail, with the stricter "sex with spouse only" being a valid option, but not an ideal—and certainly not the norm. A significant percentage of heterosexual men will follow the example of their gay brethren and simply refuse to "marry" if it comes with an expectation of sexual exclusivity. After all, why shouldn't they have the same marriage rights as gay men?

Since women have the most to lose from such arrangements, they may prefer to retain the one-man/one-woman rule. But it doesn't matter what they want. In every struggle for expansion of man-made rights, some people win and some people lose. Straight women will simply have to accept the loss for the greater good of normalizing homosexual conduct and preferences. If monogamy is not considered a necessary component of same-sex marriage, then it will only be a matter of time before the leavening effect of language reduces the cultural significance of monogamy in all marriages. Refusing to allow a husband to take a lover will be viewed as backward and old-fashioned as refusing to allow a wife to work outside the home.

This is the future that many advocates of same-sex marriage are, whether the realize it or not, are fighting for. But is this really what they want. Are they really ready to redefine marriage in a way that leaves out monogamy?

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

  • http://theepiscopalian.blogspot.com/ William Birch

    Joe,

    This article is fantastic. Thank you for the hard work put into it!

    This is very telling: Marriage is not being redefined in a way that simply includes same-sex couples, but redefined in a way that excludes sexual fidelity as an essential component of the marital relationship.

    As a practicing gay man in the late 80s, early 90s, prior to receiving Christ, I held to a romanticized monogamous view of homosexual relationships -- that is, until I realized by my friends' experiences, as well as my own, that such did not exist.

    As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago, I asked about the monogamy of a same-sex couple in my area who have been together for over 20 years. They are very faithful to each other: they only have sex with another partner together. (Eeesh!) I thought to myself, What if my mom and dad held to these same values? If I had grown up in such an "open" environment, I'm not sure how stable I would be today in all my relationships.

    I also agree with this statement: If monogamy is not considered a necessary component of same-sex marriage, then it will only be a matter of time before the leavening effect of language reduces the cultural significance of monogamy in all marriages.

    I understand that adultery is rampant in heterosexual marriages. But does that make it right? Do two wrongs make a right? Is that fact a license for same-sex couples to redefine boundaries in relationships? Monogamish is a degrading and insulting concept, in my opinion, and is certainly far, far to the left of any semblance of biblical standards.

    • Lois

      William brought up an interesting point:

      "I thought to myself, What if my mom and dad held to these same values? If I had grown up in such an "open" environment, I'm not sure how stable I would be today in all my relationships."

      It brought up another question for me (not directed at William, but just a general wondering). Whether one is straight or gay, many dream of getting married or at least of finding that one "right" person who will stay committed to them forever. And I believe that most of us have this desire because 1) we were created to have that relationship with God and thus have that void until it is filled, but also because 2) we see it in healthy, faithful relationships around us in our families and friends and even in media (fictional or not), and seeing it allows us to dream that we too can have it one day.

      But if the norm for marriage or any romantic relationship for both straight and gay is eventually redefined to exclude sexual monogamy, how will that affect what future generations think about relationships in general? Will this go so far as to remove any aspect of fidelity (not just sexual) that young generations can see and aim to find? The question is, if they don't see it, will they know it exists and look for a committed relationship? If not, then marriage and commitment become irrelevant, and will cease to exist.

      I know this is a very drastic speculation, but it does makes me wonder.

      • Paul Bryce

        Lois, you have connected dots for me as to how Sodom & Gomorah got to the sexually deviant level they were at. How could Lot offer his daughter to other men without even seeming to bat an eye? It will become culturally acceptable to have sex with anyone anytime and this article is showing how the wickedness of man is leading that way in our generation.

        God Bless

      • mariad

        that is precisely why we have a young generation of folks who can easily support gay or any marrige or not--They are the result of children without committed together parents-no fault/easy divorce and move on---therefore they dont see what difference any of it makes. they have multiple christmases in multiple homes the grandchildren can hardly figure out who belongs to who or what and how they are related. i have adult sons who can barely find young ladies to date due to there being little values at all or desire for such value in the potential ladies

        • Wolter

          I have to respectfully disagree with your statement that the young generation easily supporting gay marriage is the result of children growing up with non-committed parents and a non-chalant attitude towards divorce. I am a part of the young generation in support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples and I am not alone; however, I am not a part of the children of divorced parents group you call out,mi am far from it. I come from a home with parents who have provided an example of wht a strong happy lasting marriage looks like; they been married without indiscretion for over 35 years. I helped celebrate my grandparent's long thriving 50 years of marriage with a renewal of their vows in our family's church---that was 12 years ago and they are still going strong. My maternal grandparents were also happily married for 40+ years until cancer killed my grandmother. My point is there have been no shortage of strong examples of faith filled lasting marriages in my life and yet I still support marriage equality. I am young, intelligent, faith filled, and was raised with strong moral values--- and I am not alone.

          • Melody

            Wolter

            Then what is your reasoning for it being okay?

            Do you not believe the bible is inerrant?

            Do you prefer a liberal point of view politically?

            Do your parents support same sex marriage?

        • Lois

          Mariad-

          I would have to agree with Wolter on his point. There is more to the reason why younger generations easily support same-sex marriage, but that point is not at all what I was going toward.

          I was thinking in the very opposite direction, actually. My comment is perhaps better reworded to ask this question: If same-sex marriage in the future eventually is the cause of normalizing ALL (gay and straight) "faithful" relationships to include sexual infidelity, what is to stop the norm from also including emotional fidelity between two people further down the road? There have been cases of trios being wedded together, couldn't that be considered a step toward that direction?

          And if it continues in this direction, will future generations not see or be able to comprehend what "faithfulness" in relationships look like? I am imagining a child (straight or gay) growing up in a household where "faithfulness" is an abstract concept. If they don't see it, why would they want it?

          • Lois

            typo in previous comment:

            "... from also including emotional INfidelity"

        • Melody

          My children are of the kind of brokenness you are talking about. I am divorced. Sometimes faith comes later but God heals. I will not remarry.

          My children do not date. Dating is just sampling people. When they meet someone that loves God in the same way that they do and looks like someone that looks like someone that they could be committed to then they will pursue that kind of relationship. Some people call it courting.

          If you are involved in an everyday walk with God and involved with His church then you meet lots of people. You don't meet them at bars.

          None of my children support same sex marriage and they come from a broken home.

  • Lori

    Perhaps "monogamish" relationships are what develop (in men, in particular) when legal marriage is denied people?

    If we want to look at another example, for instance, I think it would be hard to argue that the low marriage rates, high rates of out-of-wedlock birth, and phenomenon of men having numerous children with different women in some minority communities is unrelated to the generations in which legal marriage was denied to African Americans.

    It seems like, without legal and social pressures to be monogamous, many men won't. And, the loosening of those legal and social pressures is indeed a problem. But, I think it's disingenuous and factually incorrect to lay the blame at the feet of the gay community. Maybe instead of spending so much time railing against homosexuality and gay marriage, we can instead encourage people toward monogamous, Christ-honoring marriages. (And it would be far more effective in terms of impact on the culture as a whole--GLBT people make up about 1-3% of the population, the other 97% or so are straight.)

    Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Perhaps instead of once against condemning gay people, the better Christian response would be to point out the problems with the idea of being "monogamish," praise the ideal that motivates many gay couples and activists to want legal marriage (because they see the devastating effects that infidelity can have and see the beauty in sexual monogamy), and then use that as a way to gently, graciously guide people to a fuller understanding of God's intentions for sex and marriage. We'd lose a convenient scapegoat, but we'd gain brothers and sisters.

    • Nate Sauve

      Lori,
      Your desire to connect homosexuality to race is showing. Marriage rates and out of wedlock births have been increasing in the African American community for a long time with no discernable connection to legal denials of the past. I think that's a very hard argument to make. In fact I know of no one making that argument. Here is a synopsis of arguments that are made. And its a center left article. http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/1996/08/childrenfamilies-akerlof

      I do agree that we need to recognize there are lots of factors for the decline of marriage and monogamy in the straight community and in the church. I agree that blaming homosexual marriage for "ruining" what we have is ridiculous. But I'm not sure that anyone is placing the blame for lower marriage rates, and high divorce and out of wedlock birth rates on the gay marriage agenda. I think they say redefinition will continue to weaken what marriage is intended to be, and I think this is what Joe so clearly identifies in this article.

      I'd also point to the research that shows there are higher instances of socially demonstrable harm that aligns with our gender specific needs and desires. For example, when you consider who would have longer lasting relationships? Gay men or lesbian women? My assumption would be women, but the reality is that it's gay men. Largely because of this monogamish option. Gay Men stay in committed relationships longer because men have lower expectations from a relationship. Some friendship, sex and someone who won't nag are the top priorities. If all of those things can be secured in a friend with benefits commitment, both straight and gay men typically are amenable to such a situation. However its gay men who can get away with it, because there isn't a women with her specific needs and desires involved.

      Gay women on the other hand, have much shorter relationships on average. That's because women have high expectations and demands in relationships. When neither partner can meet the others expectations these relationships on average break up with greater frequency. This is the same reason women tend to initiate the majority of divorces. Men are fine with a less than perfect relationship, especially if there is a low level of obligation and sex involved. Women, fight for what they want in a relationship, and if they don't get it are willing to find something better.

      In heterosexual relationships, these natural proclivities aid monogamous marriage and fidelity. In homosexual ones commitment or fidelity suffer.

      • karolyn

        i'd argue that the very high rates of black male incarceration in the US is the restrictive force on traditional marriage.

        • Melody

          Actually the government's approach to financial help to families in need forced the husband out of the home in 50's, 60's and 70's. If there was a man in home capable of working that was not then the family couldn't receive aid until he left. They would actually do inspections of homes, looking in closets.
          Once men were out of homes it was easy for single parenting to be accepted in many communities.
          That led to unwed mothers protecting the identity of the fathers of their babies so that they wouldn't be garnished for child support.

    • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

      God Himself condemns homosexuals. Read Romans 1:18ff, 1 Cor. 6. No homosexual will enter the Kingdom of God. "Such were some of you", Paul says. But they were washed. If they continue in the sin they will go to hell; they will be condemned. Your encouraging them to do so is, therefore, encouraging them to be damned.

  • Melody

    Lori

    Men in hetro-marriages are not denied anything and given the opportunity for an open marriage they will take it. Or they will find a way to have more wives and call themselves still good.

    Lay the blame where it belongs. On selfish sinful hearts that are more about passions of the flesh than following God. A piece a paper from a minister does not change the heart.

  • Merks

    Thanks Joe, for the elaborate research, and use of primary sources to create an objective analysis.

    I've always thought that "polyamorous" was somewhat synonymous with any relationship outside of God's explicit design. If we love God above all other loves, it follows logically that disobedience simply reveals what (or who) we actually love more. Once someone chooses to pursue a love other than God, who demands nothing less than singularity of our hearts, what more is there to create boundaries? It really is that simple.

    What would even be the rationale for monogamy, unless to mirror the image of God as Trinity? "God is love." So, if "love" is not lived out in the revelation of marriage God has provided, what then would we even expect?

  • Rev. Jim Houchens

    Marriage was redefined long ago. True marriage is a three-way covenant between God and two people. God will not form a covenant with people who are engaging in sexual immorality. The vows exchanged in forming the covenant are not revocable - Numbers 30.

    What we are calling marriage is a two-way covenant between two people, and the vows can be broken through divorce. Hence, a legal marriage performed by a justice of the peace in the presence of witnesses. The presence or agreement of God is not required.

    • http://livingontilt.wordpress.com katherine Harms

      This is a wonderful point. The 3-way covenant with God, a man and a woman. Leave God out, bring in a little semantic gamesmanship, and you have monogamish, which is a poison stew. The covenant marriage and the children who are the result of this marrage make the best environment for the propagation of the human race. Sin has created a lot of other options, but this is still the one with the best prospects for happy families and children who will perpetuate more such families.
      Every time I hear the scorn in the question, "How will it hurt you if two men marry?" I cringe. The question is changing the subject and pretending it doesn't make any difference to the society as a whole when some families aren't actually families. Of course it makes a difference. It always makes a difference whether you include God or shut him out.

  • Stephen Shead

    Jim: With all respect, I do not think there is biblical support for defining marriage as a three-way covenant including God (Eccl. 4:12 notwithstanding). That would, in fact, mean that the only people who can marry are Christians, and "true" ones at that, which would be exceedingly strange, and would remove the marriage institution from the realm of "common grace".

    That is not in any way to diminish the importance of faithfulness to God in marriage for a believer, but as a definition of marriage, I don't agree. In fact, in defending marriage, I think it is imperative that we support and stand up for every marriage performed by a JP as just as valid and binding a covenant as one performed in a church.

    • Paul Bryce

      Leaving God out of marriage? I wonder if that does not have the same result as leaving God out of morals? Eventually we just have the morals and dont remember where they came from so we have no basis for them and they can be discarded or changes at a whim of anyone, anytime. What is the point of marriage without God that should ultimately leads us to us raising the next generation of Christ followers? Marriage for personal, human, selfish reasons that leads to children that do not know God and go to hell seems pointless.
      I understand grace and that we are all sinners but to me the only angle to paly on this is that God defines marriage and it does not exist without him?
      Just thinking out loud as I feel a big theological comeback.

    • Stand4Good

      Marriage between non-Christ-believers is simply for a legal purpose. For a change of name, or for health benefits or whatnot. If no spiritual government is involved, then it's just for federal purposes.
      But a marriage between Christ-believers is a covenant, a bond held to a higher law- God's law. There is a spiritual marrying of two souls that cannot be had without God's presence and blessing.
      One reason many homosexuals are calling for a redefinition of marriage to include them is for federal reasons, not because they believe it will bond them through a higher law.
      There IS Biblical support for what Rev. Houchens has stated. That is not debatable. But it's whether or not you believe in the Bible that determines how you view marriage.

  • http://www.covenantcaswell.org John Carpenter

    Thank you for providing excellent material like this.

    The following puts it in a nut-shell: " Marriage is not being redefined in a way that simply includes same-sex couples, but redefined in a way that excludes sexual fidelity as an essential component of the marital relationship."
    That is to say, "same-sex marriage" really is an attack on marriage.

  • Dave Clark

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/29/us/29sfmetro.html?_r=0
    "Marriages Share an Open Secret" - NY Times 2010

  • John S

    I find it interesting that some would even want to come up with a term like 'monogamish'. It seems there is some moral undercurrent that would compel this, a grasping attempt to justify one's behavior, but why? Why not just live as the other animals? Why not fully embrace atheistic Darwinism and all the freedom it offers? A shadow of the image of God in men, who are in the process of being given over in the futility of their thinking.

    I think lust is the key term that perhaps is missing here. All the various expressions of sexual infidelity - whether hetero or homo - find their home in selfish desire for pleasure.

    I am for freedom for people to pursue this selfish pleasure, in our secular state, because I also want the freedom to speak of the other option and to say that there is a God who has established the better way to use our good sexuality.

  • Tom H

    Assume for a moment you are comfortable ignoring those parts of The Bible that address marriage and homosexuality. Consider the likelihood homosexuals have probably been with us since the dawn of humankind. But for the last 2500 + years or so, moral philosophers have been teaching and writing about what the good life is and how to build a better society. From Aristotle and Plato, Buddha and Confucius, Aquinas and Hobbs to Kant and Hume, Niebuhr and Gandhi: none suggested society would be fairer , or in any way better, if individuals of the same sex were "married". So what makes us , all of a sudden, so smart and insightful?

    • Merks

      Thanks Tom. Your comment led me to research a bit more about Gandhi's public statements about this topic. I was very surprised! I've seen so many "Be the Change" posters flying at Planned Parenthood or Gay Pride parades, yet Gandhi actually spoke against the "change" being promoted.

  • J. A. Stoopes

    Left to our own devises, we fallen human beings are all arrogant, self-worshiping, fools -- marionettes mouthing the pious platitudes of the evil one, duped into our own dehumanization, insipid pleasure pigs, vapors that drift and are blown into nothingness. Jesus would rescue all of us from this horrible reality ... or should I say "unreality." The blind are leading the blind in our culture -- surprise, surprise! God help us to reflect the divine life, love, and truth into a dark and dying world.

  • http://Anglican-Mainstream.netwebconsultant Lisa Severine Nolland

    Thank you for this honest, insightful article! I have been tracking these trends for decades and am worried because the evangelical church has in the main been fast asleep and unaware of how these developments will impact Christians and anyone else who dares to disagree in public with the LGBT agenda.

    That 'group' or poly marriage demands are now being publicly made by leaders of the Greensparty in Australia and that the Father of SSM in Holland admits that group marriage is on the cards needs to become far more widely known.

    SSM is not the end game, but only one stop along a very long 'progressive' (CS Lewis calls it 'going bad') track.

    And finally, that all of us will need to collude or actively promote these alternative lifestyles cannot be emphasized too strongly. It will not just be a matter of SSM or even group marriage occurring in our communities, but that society --- you and me --- will have to endorse them as equally valid and legitimate in public or keep still. No discrimination allowed!

    Unless we push back very soon, the lyrics from the the Carpenters' 'we've only just begun' will be prophetic. And there will be the devil to pay.

    Lisa Nolland MA MCS PhD (University of Bristol) Ls.n@talktalk.net

  • Stand4Good

    Great article. New idea that I'd not read about previously. Thanks for the clarification and additional defense of true and committed marriage.

  • mariad

    I still don,t beleive the govt or the state can re-define marrige!
    it is an institution, sacrement, covenant or such of the judeo chistian scrptures--from God--the Bible. It is not a construct of man or humanity. The construct is of God-religion. To me it would be the same as the govt or state redefining baptism or communion etc... they just do not have the authority. nor do you or I. we either practice it or not break it or not. we have no authority to redefine it. Savage himself in this article reference admitted it is not a construct of man--although he later contradicts it but then thats nothing new for a progressive--or as i might call them regressives.

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  • dazzlingstar

    It has ALWAYS been the goal of the homosexual agenda to DESTROY the sanctity of marriage. The current surveys PROVE and EXPOSE the TRUE motive behind the same-sex agenda. There is no homosexual gene, but there are ex-homosexuals and lesbians. LGBT have NEVER had to sit in the back of a bus, never segregated, nor denied the right to vote. It is a disgrace in attempting to hijack the Black Civil Rights especially when Dr. Martin Luther King spoke very exact on his stand against homosexuality. There is no homosexual or lesbian gene. Newest surverys show The Concept: "MONOGAMISH" is really what this 2% of individuals wanted all along. CHEST's survey indicates 47% of gay men are in "monogamish"(i.e., couples that have sex with others as a couple such as "threeways" or group sex) relationships. What happened to monogamy? Huffington Post, gay-rights activist Zach Stafford reports on this study and adds: "Prince Charming may not be charming forever, and we may find ourselves waking up one day wanting to invite Aladdin or Prince Eric or Prince Phillip to join us in our bed, if only a few times a month. And if our relationship is not monogamous but more "monoamish", WE can STILL be happy. Indeed, we may find that monogamy isn't what we wanted all along. REALLY? WOW! SURPRISE... SURPRISE... SURPRISE My Fellow Americans. There is no reverance for the absolutes of God's Holy Word the Bible. I tremble for America. God have mercy on the Supreme Court justices if they side on error. I stand in awe how jaded the conscience of America is. The only thing that will save us is divine intervention from Almighty God. Truly gross darkness is covering our land.

  • http://paperfences.wordpress.com Sara F.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This article is so well-researched and "linked." I had just written a post on 5 Reasons to Support Gay Marriage (and why those reasons aren't good enough), and this post helped me as I wrote a follow-up post... Gay marriage advocates don't just want a piece of the pie; they want to throw the pie out and bake a cake instead!! Thank you again.
    http://paperfences.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/applestocandyorangeslices/

  • Dave C.

    From the website below (not for the squimish):
    http://gawker.com/5873476/the-secrets-gay-men-dont-want-straight-people-to-know

    Not All Gay Couples Are Monogamous
    What HRC and other gay rights groups would like to sell the straight public is that gay couples are just like straight married couples. In many cases, they are. They are monogamous and have been together forever and raise their kids behind white picket fences. What they don't want you to know is that many gay couples, though married, civilly unionized, or otherwise commonlaw are inviting guys over for threeways, playing around with other guys on the side, or engaged in all other sorts of sexual hijinks. Yes, straight people have "swingers" but it seems like there is a stronger bent of "non-traditional arrangements" among the gays. It might be because gay men are horny bastards and because we didn't have your fiendish and chaste preset relationship constructs until recently when straight people decided it was time to stop treating us like second class citizens. Yeah, we may be married, but that doesn't mean we're dead or conforming to your rules.

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  • LeeDot

    I realize this is an older article and the longer conversation has long since past but I wanted to make a comment in the hope that it may spark a greater understanding.

    I feel that your article is misleading, or perhaps just misinformed, in the suggestion that various stripes of non-monogamy is unique to homosexual couples because that's simply not the case. I personally know many, many couples who identify as straight who practice various forms of non monogamy but no one questions their right to marry on a legal level.

    If there is any correlation I'd argue that it simply comes as a natural side effect of being part of a marginalized group. When you spend your life being told that your life doesn't fit into the standard societal mold it becomes easier to question which 'rules' of that society you want to follow since you're never going to fit into that mold anyhow.

    Lastly, based on standard definitions there's nothing about what these people are doing that constitutes infidelity. Infidelity occurs when someone violates the terms, trusts, and commitments made by the people in the relationship and if sleeping with other people is what everyone has agreed to than the terms (or fidelity) of the relationship hasn't been violated.

    Now I understand this is a Christian site and such ideas don't go along with the beliefs of your faith but that's ok, no one's asking you to change your beliefs. I just find it important to clarify that not only is what your describing isn't limited to homosexual couples but honesty and integrity isn't exclusive to monogamous relationships.

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