Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Five reasons I choose to write about families.

1. Protestant churches minister to and with single folks badly. Very badly. I honestly have no idea where I could or should start if I were to try to separate out "welcome and include single folks who identify as polyamorous" from "welcome and include single folks in general."

2. Polyamorous folks who are single or casually dating don't necessarily present that much differently from folks who prefer monogamy. They can make themselves known, if they want. But they are less likely to face questions or conversations that force them to decide if they are going to tell the whole truth, part of the truth, or none of the truth.

3. Protestant churches frequently proclaim that their reason for existence is so people have a place they can hear the Word preached and, depending on the tradition, receive the Sacraments. But the times when specific individuals are lifted up for public celebration and blessing are commonly family times: a baby is born, people are joined in marriage, someone has died and must be remembered--the proverbial "marry, bury and baptize." It may be a stretch to say that lay people see these things as what church is really for, but it's difficult to imagine church without them. Polyamorous folks? Mostly have to live without them. Or, you know. Lie.

4. Of all the metaphors and theological lenses through which we explain God's love for us and the love we are called to have for each other, kinship is the one that speaks to me the most. I experience my faith most richly in terms of loyalty, sacrifice, mutual obligation and bonds that go beyond sentimentality. Claiming the right to include families like mine in that metaphor, and to examine it through that lens, matters to me.

5. If polyamorous families are categorically unacceptable, as the overwhelming majority of Protestant churches insist they are, then the only solution to the problem of the existence of people in polyamorous families is for them to shatter those families into more acceptable arrangements. It is a vile and, to me, incomprehensible thing that so many people view the destruction of families as a lesser sin than the living out of fruitful, covenantal love between more than two people. People understandably get uncomfortable with this characterization--who wants to be a homewrecker? In practice, though, that's what they advocate when they make monogamy or celibacy an unconditional prerequisite for participating fully in the life of a Christian community.


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