One Woman, Two Husbands

ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired a story this week on a different kind of “modern family.” This family is composed of one woman, two men, and a young boy. The story is about a woman named Gia who, in her words, gave up searching for “the one” so that she could have “the one and the one and the one and the one.” They are a polyamorous “throuple” (as George Stephanopoulos called them).

The difference between polyamory and polygamy revolves around marriage. While polygamy refers to multiple marriages and most typically has in mind one man with multiple wives, polyamory does not require marriage and can include any combination of men and women in a “committed relationship.”

The story of Gia, Ian, and John is quite interesting. The son in the family is the biological child of Gia and Ian. Gia describes her relationship with Ian as one of passionate romance. She describes her relationship with John through an analogy of an old pair of favorite shoes.

As the “family” is interviewed together, everyone puts on his/her best face. However, in a separate interview by himself, John admits to bouts of jealousy because he is the one who plays the role of domestic servant more than husband or lover. John quit his job, takes care of the son who is not his, and does most of the chores around the house. Even his body language screams, “I am the third wheel.”

If this relationship were not unusual enough already, the “throuple” admits that they are allowed to date outside of their relationship and could even bring another person into the “family.” They claim this would bring a “jolt of relationship energy” into their lives. The story reveals that Ian is currently dating someone else, and there is always the possibility of one of the other members of this relationship to bring another person into the mix.

So what should we make of this? First, we need to recognize that polyamory is most likely not going away. Research shows that polyamorous relationships are growing.

Second, the next step along the way for polyamory will be legal recognition as a “marriage-like” relationship. As the government and courts continue the quest for a redefinition of marriage, polyamory will ultimately be included. If the battle for legal recognition of homosexual marriage clears the courts, polygamy and polyamory are just another step down the road.

Third, we need to recognize that polyamory is a distortion of God’s design for marriage and relationships in general. In Genesis 2:24, we read, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” From the beginning, God designed marriage to be monogamous. God designed for the sexual relationship to be contained within the bounds of a lifetime, monogamous marriage (Hebrews 13:4).

Fourth, we need to continue the fight for defining marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. Our society is embarking on a slippery slope with a possible redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples and polygamous relationships. Opening the door on one of these distortions of marriage will open the floodgates for the others, including polyamory and incestuous marriage. We cannot simply turn a blind eye to this lifestyle and say that our society will never buy into it. The fact that it was presented on “Good Morning America” in such a positive light demonstrates the attempted normalization of this lifestyle.

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Good Morning America, “Modern Families: 2 Dads, 1 Mom and a Baby,” January 4, 2012.

2 comments

  1. Evan,

    Could you provide a biblical defense for the involvement of government with marriage? I realize you might have to touch on grand concepts such as the meaning of law and the role of government within society, but most Christian defenses of marriage assume that everyone expects government to play a role. However, libertarians might disagree with the necessity of government involvement in marriage; arguing, instead, that civil society and the church should play the primary role with marriage (i.e., to each his own [religion/worldview]).

    Additionally, many of the current legal arguments in favor of expanding the definition of marriage and offering other legal unions among households bypass the moral argument entirely and focus on the constitutionality the matter at hand.

    Most democracies legally embody the cultural characteristics of the society at large. Sadly, although the U.S. retains characteristics of a Christian society, truthfully, we do live in a post-Christian culture. If Christians are going to win the legal argument, they’ll have to win the culture war first and right now, they’re not.

    It seem like most of the Christian arguments in defense of traditional marriage are arguments to other Christians where there is an expectation of agreement along common moral principles.

    Anyway, I’d love to see your thoughts on the matter.

  2. Josh,
    Thanks for the questions. The closest thing to a biblical defense for government involvement in marriage comes from Rom 13:1-7. While the text does not directly address the marriage question, it does talk about being in subjection to the government and that the government is a minister for good to those who obey.

    Of course, marriage existed before government, but it also existed before the church. Therefore, it is neither a civil ordinance nor a church ordinance. Instead, it is a creation ordinance. Since it is a creation ordinance given to all people (and not just limited to those in the church), the government has stepped in and historically regulated some things related to marriage (e.g., tax codes, inheritance rights, ownership laws, etc). Government has chosen to adopt a traditional understanding of marriage to apply such laws within its society. Only recently has government attempted to provide a definition of marriage. It is here that we have a problem. It is not government’s role to define marriage, which is a creation ordinance. An argument from natural law would then draw a conclusion that marriage has always been the most stable and beneficial to societies where it has been understood as between one man and one woman. This does not mean that all cultures have viewed it this way, but the most stable cultures have.

    As for the libertarian perspective, you could go down that road, but it is not in the best interest of society. For example, what do you do with couples who divorce? Who gets custody of the children? Who retains ownership rights to property? While those with libertarian sentiments may say, “Let those people figure it out for themselves,” that will only create disorder in society. Limited government involvement helps all people (although I would never argue for the level of involvement that we have reached now in many areas).

    I agree that Christians are losing the culture war, and we need to do a better job of that. A few examples of works on this topic that might be of interest to you and better answer your questions include:

    Love and Economics by Jennifer Roback Morse (book)
    The Meaning of Marriage edited by Robert George and Jean Bethke Elshtain (book)
    “Advocating Same-Sex Marriage: Consistency Is Another Victim” by Matthew J. Franck available at http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/12/4451
    “Making Business Moral,” by Robert George available at http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/09/002-making-business-moral-9

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