Is it okay for a Christian to affirm polyamory?

Earlier this week, a Patheos blogger ran an interview titled “Southern Baptist Preacher Affirms Polyamory.” The title actually turns out to be a misnomer. The “preacher” in question is not in fact a Southern Baptist, although his bio says that he was ordained in a Southern Baptist Church ten years ago. Whatever his background, he has fallen a long way from anything Southern Baptist and is not now the pastor of a Southern Baptist Church. Indeed, the article reveals that he has fallen away from the faith altogether and is in no sense even recognizably Christian. For the article to call him a Southern Baptist, therefore, is at best misleading.

But Hood does illustrate what is happening right now among many “Christians” in our culture. There is an attempt by false teachers to revise and repress what scripture teaches about male, female, sex, and marriage. And in doing so, they are attempting to revise and repress the nature of Christianity itself. This is not a renewal of the faith but a declaration of war upon it.

Advocating for polyamory may seem outlandish now, but Christians have to ask themselves why? Bible-believing Christians have an answer to that question ready at hand. The Bible’s clear teaching and the entire 2,000-year tradition of the church has spoken with one voice against such immoral relationships.

But on what basis would so-called “affirming Christians” preclude such immorality? Because they have already rejected God’s revelation about homosexual immorality, they really have no basis for opposition to polyamorous immorality. Indeed, they have no basis for raising moral objections to any sexual relationship between consenting adults. The logical endpoint of their revisions is not Christian integrity but sexual anarchy.

That is why it is so astonishing that some self-identified evangelicals are beginning to give a hearing to such subversive revisions to the Christian faith. In the name of tolerance and of acceptance, they are redefining love as unconditional affirmation of whatever someone wants to do with their bodies sexually. Such revisionists may call themselves Christian, but they are Christian in name only (Titus 1:16).

One of the most important features of The Nashville Statement is the clarity it provides concerning the definition of marriage and sexual purity. And that clarity begins in the first two articles:

Article 1
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.
WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made before God.

Article 2
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

These articles reflect the biblical truth that marriage is not a choose-your-own-adventure story. God designed marriage as a part of his original good creation, and he explicitly designed it to be covenantal (Mal. 2:14), sexual (Gen. 2:24), procreative (Gen. 1:28), lifelong (Matt. 19:6) union of a man and a woman. And God has designed this relationship to be an icon of the gospel itself (Eph. 5:32). No sexual relationship outside of that covenant—homosexual, heterosexual, or otherwise—can ever be pleasing or honoring to God. Such relationships are in fact “an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness” (The Nashville Statement, Article X).

Since the release of The Nashville Statement, I have heard reports about how pastors and church leaders are using the statement to teach their people. One of the ways is simply to read through the articles with the congregation, explain them, and show how the articles reflect the truth of scripture (there are now scripture references posted on The Nashville Statement website). This is the kind of basic discipleship that is so sorely needed today when it comes to the Bible’s teaching about sexuality and gender. And it is exactly the need that the statement was designed to meet.

Our day calls for clarity on these matters because there is so much confusion around us—even among those who claim the name “Christian.” That only makes the task more urgent for authentic disciples of Jesus to bear witness to the truth:

We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us (The Nashville Statement, Preamble).

To deny this truth is to deny Christianity altogether. To deny these truths is to lead people away from Jesus and not to him. There is so much at stake—more than the polyamory-affirming false teachers would have you believe.