Monday, May 26, 2014

"Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another?"

(Post title from Romans 14, a passage that I return to again and again, for reasons that are probably pretty obvious.)

Back when my wife was blogging pseudonymously, some of her readers were curious about how I reconcile being Christian with being polyamorous. So I wrote a guest post. It went through a lot of editing--Amy said I had to take as much theology and history out of my answer as possible, so that it wouldn't be incomprehensible. Sigh. I did my best.


The central promise of Christianity is that if we trust in God, we will experience new life. This new life starts right here, right now; we’re not just twiddling our thumbs while we wait for some future heaven. The signs of this new life are known as “the fruit of the Spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. If we show growth in these ways, and the people around us also show growth in these ways, then it’s a pretty good sign that we are experiencing the new life promised to us in Christ.

For me, I am less “fruitful” when I am monogamous or celibate. I am crankier, more restless, more impatient, more self-centered, rougher, more impulsive. In Amy and Dave, I have found the family that allows me to bear fruit, and they also report that they are happier for having me around. I understand myself to be called to be part of this family.

Doesn’t Christianity have rules against our kind of family? Yes. Scripture doesn’t defend it, and historical tradition has consistently spoken against it. But Jesus spoke very clearly and firmly on the nature of rules. They exist for the purpose of making people’s lives better. They do not exist for the purpose of proving people’s obedience. Rules were, in fact, the very first thing the early Church had a crisis over: the question of whether people had to become Jewish first, before they could become Christian. And the answer the early Church settled on was, no, they don’t. God is too important to place barriers in front of people who have decided they want to try to trust in God. Do they show the fruit of the Spirit? Okay, then, they’re in, rules or no rules.

Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice. The same is true of theology. Christianity has bent towards freedom for people of all races, towards greater equality for women, towards acceptance of monogamous loving relationships among people of any gender. Christianity will bend towards acceptance of polyamory. I just happen to be out on the farthest edge of that curve, at the moment. It’s not where I would prefer to be, but it appears to be where I am called to be. I trust in God. I am polyamorous; I am Christian; I couldn’t give up my family without destroying my faith, and I couldn’t give up my faith without destroying my ability to be a good husband and father and partner. There’s really not much to reconcile, in the end.