What Does the Bible Say about Ethical Non-Monogamy?

Ethical non-monogamy has been growing in popularity over the course of the past few years. Ethical non-monogamy is the belief that a married couple can have an open relationship.

In other words, ethical non-monogamy teaches that a married man and a married woman can date other people freely without consequence.

Since both members consent to seeing other people while remaining married, they view it as “ethical.” Even though the world teaches this as “ethical,” what does the Bible say about ethical non-monogamy?

The Problems of Ethical Non-Monogamy

I only recently heard about the recent uprising of ethical non-monogamy through a podcast. Prior to listening to this podcast, I was unaware of how severe this issue has become.

The idea that a married couple can have boyfriends and girlfriends without it being seen as cheating or adultery is unfathomable.

While I am not married myself, it still caused irritation and anger to rise in my heart that anyone would think ethical non-monogamy is okay. Not to mention the fact that there is nothing to warrant it as being ethical despite it being labeled as “ethical” non-monogamy.

While they claim it is ethical in the sense that both partners consent to each other seeing other people, there is nothing ethical about it. In a sense, it is the same as polyamory.

The world might see ethical non-monogamy and polyamory as okay; however, it is not biblical, and it will cause many problems for the couple.

Even though both partners consent to seeing other people does not mean God consents to it. God created marriage to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24).

Anything outside of this goes against God’s design for marriage. Marriage is a beautiful thing God created. However, similar to other things, mankind has broken it and made it into something it’s not. It is not biblical nor is it okay to participate in ethical non-monogamy.

If a person accepts this way of thinking and promotes it, they are standing up for adultery and sin. A person can call it whatever they want; however, if a married man is spending time with his “girlfriend” instead of his wife, it is adultery.

The same goes for the wife as neither of them is faithful to each other. To be honest, it is also hard to believe neither of the consenting parties would grow jealous of their spouse’s “other woman” or “other man.”

In realistic terms, at least one of them would grow jealous or envious of their husband’s or wife’s boyfriend or girlfriend. As it is with jealousy, it can make you do terrible things.

What Does God Say?

As believers, we need to look at ethical non-monogamy from a biblical perspective. It has already been established that ethical non-monogamy goes against God’s design for marriage. God says that marriage should only be between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-5).

Anything outside of this goes against what God says and it will result in problems. While we do not have anything in the Bible that talks about the exact term “ethical non-monogamy,” we can see that Scripture does not approve of it.

Non-monogamy is closely related to polygamy. The only difference between ethical non-monogamy and polygamy is that the former does not marry each of their partners, whereas the latter does.

With ethical non-monogamy, the person is only married to one person, yet has many partners. However, with polygamy, the man or woman is married to multiple people.

The Church of the Latter-Day Saints is most well-known for practicing polygamy as Utah is one of the only states in America where it is legal to practice polygamy. Even though polygamy is legal in Utah does not mean this is acceptable either.

While polygamy has been outlawed in most states, ethical non-monogamy is not outlawed nor is it banned anywhere in a legal sense. Even though it is not condemned by the world does not mean it is permissible by God.

From a biblical and ethical viewpoint, there is nothing biblical, ethical, or praiseworthy concerning ethical non-monogamy, polyamory, or polygamy.

Polygamy is practiced in the Bible by many men; however, nowhere does God approve of this practice. Just because something happened in the Bible does not mean that God approves of it.

Take as an example the matter of Solomon. Solomon was King David’s son and the ruler of Israel after his father passed away. At first, Solomon was a faithful follower of God, yet his many wives led him astray (1 Kings 11:1-13).

Solomon’s many foreign wives led him to follow after their own gods, thus turning away from the One True God. Solomon’s many wives and concubines did nothing but harm him and cause trouble in his walk with the Lord. In the end, Solomon’s foreign wives caused his downfall.

From this one instance in the Bible, we see that having multiple wives or multiple partners is not biblical or ethical. Not only this, but we also see that it caused Solomon to turn away from the Lord and follow after false gods. It is the same today.

If a person is married to their spouse and they are seeing another boyfriend or girlfriend, it is only going to impair their relationship with their spouse as well as with God.

For a Christian to practice ethical non-monogamy is unheard of because it goes directly against God’s design for marriage.

For unbelievers who practice ethical non-monogamy, things will get worse for them as well. They might think they are “getting the best of both worlds,” when in actuality their marriage is falling apart.

To say that being with multiple partners while you are married will make your marriage “stronger” is insane. Being with multiple partners or even only one partner in addition to your spouse is adultery.

What Do We Do as Christians?

As Christians, we don’t need to practice ethical non-monogamy. If you have practiced it in the past or are presently practicing it, it is time to stop, repent, ask for forgiveness, and turn away from the sin.

Even if you and your spouse have already consented to this arrangement, know it is not biblical in the slightest sense.

Since it is not biblical, Christians do not need to practice it, nor should we endorse it. If you know someone who is practicing ethical non-monogamy, try to talk with them about it. Be open to listening and don’t be mean; however, also share what the Bible says about the matter.

Granted, it might be that the person you know who is practicing ethical non-monogamy is not a Christian, which will make it more difficult for them to see the authority of Scripture. In this case, still, try to talk with them about it, point them to what God says, and pray for them.

Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. Prayer is one of the major blessings we have as Christians because we can talk with God about anything and present our needs to Him.

God does not approve of ethical non-monogamy; therefore, we can trust that He will help us point them to the truth of the Bible and lead them to repentance.

Therefore, the Bible does not approve of ethical non-monogamy. Even though the world accepts ethical non-monogamy does not mean it is correct.

Christians need to be aware of ethical non-monogamy in order to be able to help point others away from this lifestyle and help them come to know the truth of what the Bible says.

Taking the time to talk with the individuals practicing ethical non-monogamy does not mean that they will accept what you say or stop practicing it.

As believers, we can pray and talk to those who are open to hearing what God says about marriage as well as the problems that will come as a result of ethical non-monogamy.

God created marriage; therefore, we know what He says about it is the correct way to practice it, which is between one man and one woman — not an open relationship after one gets married.

For further reading:

Why Is Polygamy Allowed in the Bible?

Is it True ‘What God Has Joined Let No One Separate’?

What Did Jesus Mean by ‘Two Become One’ in Mark 10:8

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Nadtochiy

Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

LISTEN: Overcoming Fear in Marriage

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

WATCH: Signs You Married for the Wrong Reasons

Click here to read the full article.

This article originally appeared on Christianity.com. For more faith-building resources, visit