Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

When consent trumps morality

Relationships | Polyamory advocates are finding acceptance in mainstream culture 
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 7/19/19, 05:03 pm

The largest professional association of psychologists in the United States is working to normalize polyamory, an inevitable next frontier in the sexual revolution.

News reports released last week revealed that for the past year, the American Psychological Association (APA) has had an active task force dedicated to advocating for individuals practicing what it calls “consensual non-monogamy” (CNM), sometimes referred to as “ethical non-monogamy.” The task force’s website claims polyamorous individuals often face social and medical stigmatization and need more support and inclusion. One study found about 4 percent of U.S. adults fall into this category.

The task force set up broad parameters to include people who practice polyamory (a group of people in relationship with each other, like a “throuple”), open relationships (couples who agree to have other sexual partners), swinging (couples who agree to have casual sex with other people), and relationship anarchy (individuals opposed to any relational categories or rules).

The 80-member task force, led by two California-based researchers, is a part of the association’s Division 44, also called The Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. In June, the task force announced on its Facebook page that Division 44 had approved its request to add both consensual non-monogamy and “Kink/BDSM/Fetish Sexualities” as searchable subcategories in the APA Psychologist Locator, a list for patients trying to find a practitioner. (Note: BDSM refers to deviant sexual practices that involve bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and/or sadomasochism.)

“This historic step toward inclusion acknowledges the legitimacy of the CNM and Kink communities and will help eliminate a barrier and improve access to culturally affirming healthcare,” wrote Heath Schechinger, a licensed psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-chairman of the task force.

The task force is producing brochures individuals can take to healthcare providers and therapists to “educate” them about consensual non-monogamy and working to include the practice on therapy intake forms. One committee is working to research discrimination in family and employment law against people with multiple partners.

The APA isn’t alone in its push to normalize polyamory, nor is the development a surprise to many conservatives who predicted it. A recent article in Teen Vogue profiled 18-year-old singer and actress Willow Smith, daughter of actor Will Smith, who recently announced she is bisexual and could see herself in a polyamorous relationship. “I love men and women equally, and so I would definitely want one man, one woman. I feel like I could be polyfidelitous with those two people,” Smith recently told her mother and grandmother during their talk show Red Table Talk, adding she felt there was no freedom in monogamy because “it’s all fear based.”

Even some self-described Christians have embraced polyamory, claiming Biblical figures practiced polyamory and that the Trinity is a polyamorous relationship.

Andrew T. Walker, a senior fellow in Christian ethics for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, disagrees. “When God ordered the marriage covenant, he ordered it as a heterosexual, permanent, and monogamous union,” he said. “Any example of polyamory or polygamy in Scripture is an aberration due to sin and a settled rejection of God’s original design.”

Walker said that the progressive worldview has little to no explanation for why relationships or marriage should be limited to just two people. “The culture is enamored with polyamory because the culture is obsessed with sexual novelty,” he said. “What was once taboo becomes easily transgressible when there is no moral foundation to prohibit it.

Facebook/Cathedral High School Facebook/Cathedral High School Cathedral High School in Indianapolis

Discrimination or faithful standards?

A Catholic high school teacher sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis last week after his school fired him in June for being in a same-sex marriage. Joshua Payne-Elliott, who had taught social studies at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis for 13 years, filed a suit in Marion County court on July 10 alleging the archdiocese illegally interfered with his contractual relationship with the school. He also filed discrimination charges against the archdiocese with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Administrators at Cathedral told Payne-Elliott on June 23 they were firing him on the orders of the archdiocese, a month after the school renewed his annual teaching contract for the 2019-2020 school year. The suit claims Cathedral President Robert Bridges told Payne-Elliott the school made the decision “with a gun to our head.”

Payne-Elliott married Layton Payne-Elliott, a math teacher at nearby Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School, in 2017. Church administrators also ordered Brebeuf to fire Layton Payne-Elliott earlier this year, but the school refused. The archdiocese in response said it no longer recognized the school as a Catholic institution. Because the Midwest Province of Jesuits oversees Brebeuf, the split has less of an effect on the school, while Cathedral depends heavily on support from the Catholic Church.

The archdiocese released a statement defending its decision and contending the U.S. Constitution allows religious organizations to define acceptable conduct for employees: “In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis’ Catholic schools, all teachers, school leaders, and guidance counselors are ministers and witnesses of the faith, who are expected to uphold the teachings of the Church in their daily lives, both in and out of school.”

Joshua Payne-Elliott reached a separate and confidential settlement with Cathedral last week. —K.C.

Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta (file) Associated Press/Photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta (file) Transgender military members testify before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel in February.

Symbolic attack on transgender military policy

The Democratic-majority U.S. House of Representatives last week approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would reverse the Trump administration’s newly implemented policy on transgender individuals in the military. The amendment would ensure any person who meets gender-neutral occupational standards can serve in the military regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. It passed 242-187, with 10 Republicans joining every Democrat in support of the measure.

The Trump administration’s policy, which took effect in April, allows enlistees and service members with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria to serve if they forego hormone treatment and sex-change surgery. They must also be willing to serve in the military as their biological sex. The Department of Defense has defended the policy as necessary to maintain a ready and lethal force.

The Republican-majority Senate most likely will not consider the amendment. —K.C.

Canadian Anglicans hold fast on marriage

The leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada voted last week to keep its definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. A proposal to remove references to spouses’ genders in the definition of marriage passed last year but required a two-thirds majority from each of three groups—lay people, clergy, and bishops—again this year.

Although the measure passed among lay people and clergy, it did not receive enough support from bishops, who voted 62.2 percent in favor but needed 66.6 percent to pass. Despite the setback for the demonination’s liberals, a statement from the House of Bishops did affirm an established practice that allows local dioceses to choose to perform same-sex weddings.

The denomination has about 1,700 parishes and 500,000 members. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.

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  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 07/19/2019 08:44 pm

    An important article on the APAs continued efforts to normailsie sexual immorality.  I am wondering why the second article does not use quotations around the word "married"?  I would argue, without using quotations, World is contributing to the normalisation of same-sex "marriage" and is ceding to those who wish to redefine the concept of marriage.

  • Andy Knudsen
    Posted: Fri, 07/19/2019 09:53 pm

    I think World stopped using the quotations a few years ago:

  • JerryM
    Posted: Sat, 07/20/2019 09:36 am

    Thanks for directing me to this article.  I do not agree with the argument made by Mindy.  As I read it, World's motivations are being "wearied" of using quotations and ceding to the now newly understood "cultural construct".  She also makes what I would argue to be a false equlvalence comparing the use of "casual sex" (or casual "sex") without quotations to same-sex "marriage".  Though immoral in the eyes of God, sex can be casual.  Marriage, on the other hand, cannot possibly be anything but the union of a man and a woman.  I would suggest World needs to not grow weary of doing good and continue to stand for the universal truth of marriage, not cede to the wider culture.  

  • Ann Marshall
    Posted: Sun, 07/21/2019 12:40 pm

    Thank you, Andy Knudsen, for the link to that past column from Mindy Belz. I think her point is well taken that to forever add quotation marks to ssm begins to take on a snarky quality. Perhaps if we imagine Jesus using air quotes thusly: "scribes and Pharisees", we can get a feel for how much restraint is needed to our wish to talk down to those who oppose us. 

  • SG
    Posted: Sat, 07/20/2019 01:00 pm

    I agree with you, JerryM.  It may be tiring to use quotes, but it keeps the issue clear.



  • Laneygirl's picture
    Posted: Sat, 07/20/2019 02:19 pm

    Thanks, JerryM.!! I NEVER felt comfortable with World's decision to drop the quotation marks because it made somebody weary. Wow. The Scripture reminder from GA6.9 is on target!

    The definition of marriage was dealt a man-made tectonic shift in the last presidency. With God out of the picture, it makes total sense to the unredeemed mind that any concoction of "marriage" is On. The. Table.



    Posted: Sat, 07/20/2019 04:42 pm

    Re Polyamory: They will hold the gov't responsible for sexually transmitted diseases and for finding cures for whatever they share among "friends." 

    There are SO MANY SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES for women to get. Why isn't the gov't mandating education of diseases they can get during sex? Women have a lesser chance of getting pregnant than contracting something. And liberals have already come up with a "cure" for pregnancy.

    Posted: Sat, 07/20/2019 04:40 pm

    Polyamory: reminds me of the mormon guy who had several wives, each of whom received welfare checks from the gov't. The guy didn't work. 

    Posted: Sat, 07/20/2019 04:53 pm

    Do people read these articles to discuss grammatical errors to throw people off about what is being said? 

    I put quotes around "cure" in my posting because maybe they were supposed to be there. I guess I thought it was understood that "cure" is sarcasm. 

    I'm not real savy about English grammar. I mostly just skip right over quotation marks and just read the message. Should I be focussing more on the grammar than the message? 

    As I understand it, commas are not used as often as they used to be. Is it because people read too fast and just glean the meaning of what people are saying. Or do I need to watch my commas as well as quotation marks? Quotes inside the end or outside the end? 

    I'm sorry what was the article about? 


  • Judy Farrington
    Posted: Sun, 07/21/2019 09:46 am

    Please. All this stress on punctuation DIVERTS ATTENTION FROM THE VERY WELL STATED MESSAGE. Thanks, World, for an extremely well done article. Our knees best be hitting the floor. 

  • JerryM
    Posted: Sun, 07/21/2019 06:42 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with your point about the importance of prayer.  Can I please say that we need to engage with this issue both in the spirit and with the truth (with the use of quotations falling under the latter).  If you want a book to reference on why quotations are so important to conveying truth, there are many, but here is one:

  •  burningheart's picture
    Posted: Sun, 07/21/2019 10:46 pm

    Jesus said that blessed are the ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness and that they shall be filled.  He did not say that we should hunger and thirst for morality.  The one who is filled with His righteousness will live out a moral life regardless of what the SOGI (Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity) people do, promote, or attempt to legalize.

    -- ron