Thank you for continuing your advice column on your page—I really appreciate it! I am an “unfundamentalist” reader with a question for you about faith and sexual choices.
About three years back, my husband of over a decade and I decided to become non-monogamous. Our initial reasons had to do with lack of sexual compatibility—we both love each other and want to stay married, but in some ways are not ideal sexual partners. He has a higher sex drive and more diverse sexual interests than me, and I had just begun to come to terms with my bisexuality, and wanted to experiment with a woman.
We have always been a very non-jealous couple who has had no problems with each other having close friends of the opposite sex, so we wondered if our non-jealousy could extend to our sexuality. We chose to remain one another’s sole romantic partners, and also committed to strong communication between us, as well as to using protection with anyone outside of the two of us.
Our journey has had a few hiccups, but it has been mostly successful. We have been forced to grow in our communication and in boundary setting, and we have both had some very positive (and fun) experiences. The struggles that we have had did not at all stem from jealousy.
I feel like this choice has brought us closer as a couple. But there is one thing that makes me uneasy. When we first made this decision, I still identified as a Christian, though I no longer attended church. I justified our decision to structure our marriage as we did on the idea that the seventh commandment [“Thou shall not commit adultery”] is about a breach of trust between partners; since we had decided this together, I felt that we were not committing adultery. However I was well aware that our decision would be looked down upon by almost all Christians, so we kept it a secret.
Since that time I have stopped calling myself a Christian, mainly due to the fact that I no longer agree with certain major Christian doctrines. I do still love God though, and I still believe that Jesus was God with skin on. And I’d be open to reclaiming the Christian label in the future, if some of my doctrinal issues were resolved. However, I know that a part of why I dropped the Christian label was due to feeling like I am not living like a Christian, given my sexual choices. I would hate to call myself a Christian, have someone discover my lifestyle, and be their reason for claiming that Christians are hypocrites.
Do you think that so long as I am choosing to live a non-monogamous lifestyle, I should avoid using that label? Do you think one can be a Christian, and also have extramarital sex in the context I’ve described? Tell me your thoughts!
If you were God looking down upon the world, and you saw all of the trouble and strife and war and horrendous suffering and injustice that’s constantly happening everywhere in the world—and that has happened ever since one of the first cavemen club to death another caveman for having the unmitigated gall to have two eyebrows—and then you saw, off in one tiny little corner of the world, a married couple trusting and loving themselves and others as you and your husband are doing, would you, be, like, “Heaven forfend! A pox upon the egregiousness of what mine eyes are beholding! Just look at those two, giggling and having all that fun. I won’t have them making the world a funner place to be! Michael! Fetch me my bucket of lightening bolts! I’ve got some smotin’ to do!”?
No. You wouldn’t think that. Instead, you’d be all, “Ah. That’s so sweet! I just love it when happy people get happily laid. Look at those two. They love and trust each other so much they’re willing to bring others into the sacred space of that love and trust. Those are my kind of mortals, right there. Now, what’s this about Jared Kushner being in charge of peace in the Middle East? Seriously, am I going to have to flood that whole freakin’ planet again?”
I personally feel that the only God I could possibly be on board with is one who wants more love in the world, not less. Why in the world would I be interested in a God who cares more about whether or not I’m following some arcane set of rules for being a good person than they (because if God has a gender then I’m a caterpillar about to morph into a giant hairy yak) care about whether or not I actually am a good person?
Here’s the deal: It’s no one’s business whether or not you’re a Christian—or if you’re the right kind of Christian, or what kind of Christian you are, or any of that nonsense. That’s all just stuff people like to muck around in so they don’t have to deal with cleaning their own shoes.
If someone feels like they need to know where exactly you fall on the great big spectrum that is Being a Christian, then they can ask you about that after they’ve developed with you the kind of close relationship wherein such a conversation has a healthly and natural place. Until then, they need to keep to themselves their interest in judging you based on whatever moral code it is that they’ve accepted as their own.
Call yourself what you want, when you want, how you want, and to whom you want. It’s all your business, and nobody else’s. If somebody, for whatever reason, feels it incumbent upon them to call you a hypocrite, then . . . okay. Sucks to be them.
For what it’s worth, you just told me that you’re a Christian, and I have zero reason to think you’re anything but a good and honorable representation of everything that’s best about Christianity. I don’t know. But I do know that if having an honest, loving, and mutually respectful open marriage gets you kicked out of the Good Christians Club, then how is that a club worth belonging to in the first place?