Why Christians should care about the latest step in the sexual revolution

Opposing polyamory for the good of society

July 8, 2020

You probably missed it, but last week The New York Times reported that a city in Massachusetts decided, once again, to broaden the legal definition of marriage. During a recent City Council meeting, elected officials in the city of Somerville opted to expand protections previously reserved for married couples to those participating in polyamorous relationships. In other words, adults engaged in intimate relationships with multiple partners are now able to claim the privileges and benefits of marriage with more than one person.

According to the article, citizens of Somerville participating in “consenting relationships with multiple partners” are now able to do things like share insurance plans, make hospital visits, and take advantage of other benefits granted to married couples in Massachusetts. But make no mistake, this is about much more than expanding certain privileges or creating legal loopholes. In choosing to normalize polyamory, the elected officials in Somerville have once again advanced the effort to fundamentally redefine the nature of marriage and the family in the United States.

This is something that Christians should not only lament but oppose. 

The vital role of marriage

Marriage is a sacred institution. It was God who instituted the first marriage (Gen. 2:18-25), and marriage as an institution is filled with purpose and meaning. Marriage exists for human flourishing. Man and woman coming together in a covenant not only promise to love, sacrifice, and care for one another’s needs, but together they are able to create and nurture children as a result of their union. It is only through marriage that human beings can rightly fulfill the commission God gave to mankind to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). Not only this, but marriage was always meant to be a symbol, something infused with the deepest meaning, that points beyond itself to an even greater union: the union of Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32).

While the spirit of the age says that love comes in all forms, the truth is that sexual libertinism is a false gospel.

Even those outside of the Christian faith are able to recognize the vital role of marriage in society. Healthy marriages yield healthy families. Healthy families yield healthy children. And children represent the future of society. Every society has a critical interest in seeing marriages and families flourish in order to safeguard its future. But ever since the Obergefell ruling in 2015 legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, our society has been locked in a protracted battle over the nature of marriage and human sexuality. 

The devastating implications

The long-held consensus that marriage was defined only as the union of one man and one woman for one lifetime is now gone. But the integrity of marriage in the United States began to erode long before the first court granted same-sex couples the right to marry. Arguably, it can be traced back at least as far as the advent of no-fault divorce laws. Even so, leading up to Obergefell defenders of traditional marriage marshalled their best arguments to keep the integrity of the institution intact, but in the end it was not enough. 

The implications of the ruling were immediately apparent. If marriage is no longer based on its traditional definition, that is, if marriage is no longer understood to be a conjugal, procreative, permanent union, what reason is there to refrain from further expanding its definition? Last week a city council in Massachusetts answered that question. There isn’t one. At least there doesn’t seem to be.

It is deeply regrettable that our society has forfeited the integrity of the institution of marriage. But it would be even worse to further erode its significance in American life. Our society is ill-prepared to deal with the cavalcade of questions and confusion that would follow the legal sanction of polyamory, especially the innumerable consequences these relationships will bear upon our nation’s children. How are courts to determine what happens to the children as a result of the dissolution of polyamorous “marriage”? And how are children supposed to understand the nurture, permanence, and acceptance of a family if their pool of “parents” are able to expand or contract at random?

For these and many other reasons, Christians must oppose further attempts to expand the definition of marriage. While the spirit of the age says that love comes in all forms, the truth is that sexual libertinism is a false gospel. No kind of sexual experience can truly satisfy if it runs contrary to God’s design. Instead of acquiescing to the currents of the sexual revolution, Christians must stand ready not only to reject the acceptance of polyamory but to continue to model for the world a better way.

Regardless of what happens in the culture, marriage must continue to be held in honor among the people of God (Heb. 13:4), because marriage itself is meant to point toward the gospel. Christians must continue to recognize marriage as a sacred institution, to embody the love, sacrifice, and commitment that defines it, and to demonstrate that the roles of mothers and fathers in the lives of their children are not fungible. 

Seeking to legally sanction polyamory by calling it marriage is a tragic error. And destroying marriage in American culture will have devastating consequences. But the good news is, Christians are not called to take their cues from the culture but from the Scriptures. And the biblical witness about marriage is unchanged.

Josh Wester

Joshua B. Wester is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24