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‘I have a fiancé, a girlfriend and two boyfriends’

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Adultery concept - a young man with his arm around one woman while holding hands with another woman, all walking down a brick path (Credit: Michael Jung via Fotolia)

So states the headline of an article now on the CNN website.  The story profiles Miju Han, a resident of the Bay Area who lives with her fiancé.  She has also been seeing a woman romantically for two years, and dates two other men.  She calls her relationship status “polyamorous,” meaning “many loves.”

If you’re shocked by her story, know that soon you won’t be.  Polyamory is the next step in the continued movement of our culture from traditional marriage into whatever people want to do.

Last year I wrote a paper responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the Defense of Marriage Act.  In that paper I offered the following observations:

Is the slippery slope argument from same-sex marriage to polygamy a genuine worry?  
Absolutely.  Feminist activist Gloria Steinem, Princeton professor Cornel West, and hundreds of co-signers have already demanded “recognition of diverse kinds of partnerships, households, kinship relationships and families.”  Included among them are multiple-partner relationships.

Slate author Jillian Keenan recently claimed that “legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice.  More importantly, it would actually help protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.”  She concludes: “The definition of marriage is plastic.  Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not inherently more or less ‘correct’ than marriage among three (or four, or six) consenting adults.”

As many as 50,000 to 100,000 Muslims in the United States already live in polygamous families.  A man marries one wife in a civil ceremony that is recognized by the state, then two or three others in religious ceremonies that are not recognized by the state. Will their numbers (and voting power) continue to grow?

According to a recent study, “young adults’ attitudes toward polygamous marriage were neutral.” Will society’s shifting views on marriage soon include acceptance of polygamy?  If so, why would legal definitions of marriage not follow suit?

“Polyamory” is “the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.”  According to the “Polyamory Society,” it is “the nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously.”

As many as five percent of Americans are currently living in relationships that involve “consensual nonmonogamy” or “permission to go outside the couple looking for love or sex.” Polyamory advocate Lee Stranahan notes, “There’s no argument you can make against a poly marriage that wouldn’t work just as well as an argument against gay marriage.”

Here’s the point: Once we begin permitting anyone to marry, where do we end?  If those in love are entitled to marriage, why not fathers and daughters (or sons)?  Why not adults and children?  Why not three or more marriage partners?  As we have seen, advocates are already working to advance these agendas.

If federal and state marriage benefits are owed to anyone who marries, why would a young man not marry his grandfather so as to secure medical care and inheritance rights?  And what impact will same-sex marriages have on children, the future of our society?

In fact, why have “marriage” at all?  According to lesbian activist Masha Gessen,

The institution of marriage should not exist. . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we’re going to do with marriage when we get there.  Because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change.  And that is a lie.  The institution of marriage is going to change and it should change.  And again, I don’t think it should exist.

While no one has polled homosexuals regarding their support for same-sex marriage, some have made public their opposition to the entire institution. Philosopher Auguste Comte noted that the only safe way to destroy something is to replace it.

In light of stories like that of Miju Han, what is the future for Christians?

We in the West are living in a culture which is less aligned with the biblical worldview than ever before.  We have become a marginalized minority, and are typically viewed as irrelevant if not dangerous to society.

So were first-century Christians.  But they met felt need to meet spiritual need, earning the right to preach the gospel by showing God’s love in theirs.  When Peter’s readers were facing increased persecution, he taught them to respond to their adversaries “. . . with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:16-17).

Paul counseled, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).  John added, “Do not be surprised that the world hates you.  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:13, 18).  And Jesus taught us: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16); “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).

As we stand for truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), explaining our faith and applying it to our lives, we show a skeptical culture that Jesus is our Lord.  And that he can be theirs.

By Acts 17:6, the first Christians had “turned the world upside down.”  So can we.