Editor’s note: Our coverage of the topic of polyamory is not an endorsement of it. One of our stated goals is to inform the church, and we believe this article serves that purpose.
In a recent article on Insider.com, self-described “dirtbag Christian” Jennifer Martin defends her polyamorous lifestyle as being compatible with her faith. Both identities are important to her, she writes, despite Christianity’s “many, many flaws.”
Martin was raised in a “strict Pentecostal, conservative household” and realized at a young age her “ability to develop attraction to multiple people simultaneously.” At 20, she married a man, and they had two children. As their “progressive ideologies” developed, Martin and her husband joined a United Church of Christ congregation. “The denomination changed my life,” she writes, calling it “the type of Christianity I had always longed for.”
Before the pandemic, a male partner of Martin’s moved into the family home. Now he’s a type of third parent, and Martin alternates sharing beds with him and her husband. “We are not a throuple,” she notes, because the two men don’t date each other. But all three people have other dating partners.
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Jennifer Martin: ‘Both My Faith and My Polyamory Are Important to Me’
Jennifer Martin acknowledges that some people don’t understand how Christianity and polyamory can co-exist. But she insists there’s no conflict. “I’m not a Biblical literalist, for one thing,” she writes. “There is nothing about the concept of a ‘Biblical marriage’ that appeals to me.” Despite Scripture having some instances of polygamy, Martin says, it’s “still patriarchal and has no benefit for people in modern relationships.”
When asked why she doesn’t become agnostic or atheist, Martin replies that she still believes in God and in Jesus’ teachings and values. She attends worship weekly, prays, and reads the Bible. “Both my faith and my polyamory are important to me,” she writes, adding that for her, the two have never been “at odds.”
In an email to Church Leaders, Martin denies any conflicts between Jesus’ teachings and her lifestyle. “I see a lot of conflicts in how people support greed and wealth in their politics and in the teachings of Jesus Christ, however,” she says. “I believe Jesus was a radical who fought oppression, challenged the status quo, defended the marginalized, and was executed by a corrupt empire for doing those things. I think the Christian obsession with sex-based ‘sins’ is uniquely rooted in patriarchal and harmful theology.”
Not ‘A Real Christian’?
People often tell Jennifer Martin she’s “not a real Christian,” and sometimes other progressive Christians challenge her “nonmonogamy.” Fellow polyamorists have warned Martin that her faith is “inherently harmful.” She understands the “anger toward Christianity,” she says, because she has “a lot of it myself.”