Is Polyamory a Sin?

Polyamory is becoming more well known as more and more are choosing to practice this lifestyle. What does the Bible say about polyamory? Is it a sin?

“We have an open marriage.”

“We keep things interesting and swing. Nobody gets hurt, and everybody enjoys it.”

“It took me a while to figure out that being polyamorous allows me to live my best life.”

These are some of the ways people describe their practice of polyamory.

Is polyamory a sin? What does the Bible say about polyamory?

What is polyamory?

Polyamory is essentially having multiple love interests at the same time and being open about it.

WebMD defines it this way: “Polyamorous people have multiple loving, intentional, and intimate relationships at the same time. Polyamory is a type of open or non-monogamous relationship that follows certain guidelines.”

Another buzzword for polyamory is being in an “open relationship.” A person may have a primary partner—even a spouse—but also openly have romantic relationships at various levels with others.

According to Newsweek, one in nine Americans has been in a polyamorous relationship, and one in six would like to try one.  

Acceptance of these kinds of relationships is growing in the United States. A recent article in The Economist reported: “Views are changing: in 2020 a fifth of Americans told Gallup that polygamy was morally acceptable, up fourfold since 2006. That reflects more media visibility and growing acceptance of non-traditional families. Millennials are most inclined towards non-monogamy: two in five prefer it, perhaps because the alternative does not pan out so well” (“Disrupting the Dyad,” Jan. 14, 2023, p. 24). 

The article also reported that some U.S. cities now have ordinances for multipartner “domestic partnerships,”  requiring municipal employers to “provide health insurance and other benefits to employees’ partners” (ibid.).

An Oct. 16, 2021, Psychology Today blog post touted the alleged success of practicing polyamory. The post discussed a study of 340 polyamorous adults that found their polyamorous relationships lasted an average of eight years, did not diminish intimacy within the primary relationships, and resulted from a yearning for more emotional closeness rather than simply lust for more sex. The reason the majority of people surveyed gave for their lifestyle was, “It’s just the way I am.”

Christians are probably reading that and saying, “Do what now? So, get married to someone you love, but then have other sexual and intimate partners as well? Isn’t that cheating on your loved one?” 

At the same time, people identifying as polyamorous read that and are probably saying, “That’s wonderful. As long as there are guidelines and there isn’t a decrease in intimacy, why not?”

The dangers of “poly”

It doesn’t take a skilled linguist to discern the etymology of the word polyamory. Poly means “several,” and amor means “love.” So, polyamory is desiring romantic love from several people, not just one.

Tragically, down through history, in the two biggest areas of life—religion and marriage—people have continually desired several when God has given them one.

The Bible says that God created marriage to be a union between one husband and one wife.The Bible says that we should worship only God. But mankind has desired to worship and serve many gods—polytheism.

The Bible says that God created marriage to be a union between one husband and one wife, but people have desired to add concubines and multiple wives (or husbands)—polygamy.

Though polygamy and polyamory aren’t exactly the same thing, they are based on the same root desire—to have many romantic attachments instead of just one.

Polyamory in the Bible

Even Old Testament personalities fell into this desire, with Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, being the all-time champion. His father, King David, also had several wives and concubines, as did Solomon’s son Rehoboam. But God explicitly commanded against these polyamorous relationships for the kings of Israel (Deuteronomy 17:17). Sadly, they did it anyway. Today, God expects Christians, especially leaders, to maintain a strict standard of marital monogamy (1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6).

So, if people think polyamory is a new thing, based on a modern standard of sexual and romantic freedom, all they have to do is read the many accounts in the Old Testament of men who went against God’s will and tried to have romantic attachments to multiple people. It was a bad idea then, and it continues to be a bad idea today. There’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

To learn more about the issue of polygamy, read our article “What Does the Bible Say About Polygamy?

Is polyamory a sin?

Polyamory is a sin because it goes contrary to God’s intent, design and instructions for romantic relationships. God created love and romance to be shared between only two people—one man and one woman. Consider that God created the human brain and knows exactly what happens when two human beings share romantic intimacy (sexual or emotional). That bond was meant to be strong and to grow through a shared lifetime of togetherness.

Jesus talked about this in Mark 10:6-9, while addressing the subject of divorce: “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

God built His standard for marriage right into His core moral law. To learn more, read “Seventh Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery.”

Polyamory destroys the idea of being someone else’s one-and-only beloved.Notice: Jesus said God’s intent was for two to become one—a single cohesive unit. It was not to be separated or added to. Science has even discovered that the biological chemistry of romantic connection “leads to monogamy.”

Knowing how powerful the sexual relationship between human beings is, God wanted it harnessed within marriage for the benefit of both partners. Sharing sexuality between multiple partners naturally provokes jealousy (Song of Solomon 8:6; Proverbs 6:34).

Sharing romantic love with multiple partners also destroys one of the major physical teaching tools God uses to instruct us about Christ’s relationship with the Church. God’s people are to be like a “chaste virgin” spiritually betrothed “to one husband” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Any form of poly connected to the topic of romance and marriage—including polyamory and polygamy—goes directly against God’s instructions. To willingly and knowingly break God’s instructions is sin (James 4:17; 1 John 3:4).

For all the supposed benefits of polyamorous relationships touted by their proponents, the crushing natural consequences are often ignored or scoffed at.

Historical and modern consequences of disobeying God’s intent for marriage

David’s polygamy led to horrible consequences, such as incest, brutal violence, murder and competition between his children for the inheritance of his throne. Solomon’s polygamy led him to allow idolatry for the sake of the many women he claimed to love. 

Polyamory destroys the idea of being someone else’s one-and-only beloved (Song of Solomon 2:16). It messes with very powerful brain chemicals, like oxytocin, that were designed to help bond two people emotionally and romantically. Let’s be blunt: polyamory is really an elaborate way to cheat on your significant other, both physically and emotionally. 

God’s Word provides many examples of people leaving inappropriate lifestyles and aligning themselves with God’s way. With more and more people openly declaring themselves polyamorous, Christians must avoid any reasoning or justification that could lead them down this path. Even if both partners in a dating relationship or a marriage agree to polyamory, it is still wrong.

God’s Word tells us to “flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). It’s interesting that God inspired this command to be general enough that it could apply to all the various forms of sexual sin that humans could devise.

All sexual activity outside of marriage is sexual immorality.

For those reading this who may be involved in polyamory, understand that this lifestyle is not God’s will for you and that you can leave it. God’s way of life is all about repentance, which means changing the direction of your life.

God’s Word provides many examples of people leaving inappropriate lifestyles and aligning themselves with God’s way. When the apostle Paul wrote to a congregation that had many people who came out of various sexual sins, he said, “And such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

The key word is were. They left those ways of living and changed.

To learn how to turn your life around and stop sinning, read “How to Repent.” 

Leaving polyamory

If you’ve been swept up in the fake euphoria of polyamory and are realizing it’s all a lie, it is not too late. God is ready and willing to forgive and help. He offers forgiveness from polyamory, just as He offers forgiveness from all other sins.

Seek love and sexual intimacy within marriage—with one beloved. It’s not just God’s way, it’s the best way!

To learn more about common questions that come up regarding human sexual relationships, read “Questions About Sex Answered by the Bible.”

Topics Covered: Social Issues, Family, Marriage

About the Author

Eddie Foster

Eddie Foster

Eddie Foster was born in Ohio, and after living in several parts of the northeastern United States, he once again lives in the Buckeye State, most likely for good this time. He lives in the Dayton area with his wife, Shannon, and two daughters, Isabella and Marley. They attend the Cincinnati/Dayton congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

Read More