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Let's Talk About "Open" Marriages

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Written by Evi Idoghor


If there was one story that dominated the entertainment media a few years ago, it was the admission of the nature of Will Smith and his wife, Jada's marriage. These two have managed to stay in the spotlight after all these years and it isn't because of their talent, but because of the controversies that have arisen from their household. Last year, during the less-than-prestigious Academy Awards, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock over a joke about his wife.

If there was one story that dominated the entertainment media a few years ago, it was the admission of the nature of Will Smith and his wife, Jada's marriage. These two have managed to stay in the spotlight after all these years and it isn't because of their talent, but because of the controversies that have arisen from their household. Last year, during the less-than-prestigious Academy Awards, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock over a joke about his wife.
Let's talk About Open Marriages

When Chris finally spoke up, he stated that Will was upset with everyone except his wife (who he was supposed to be upset with) because she maintained a sexual relationship with a younger man (who was rumored to be their son's friend) while still married to him. Though Will and his wife publicly addressed what happened in their marriage while laughing through the discussion in a cringe-worthy manner, contemplating their relational dynamic led to this piece today.

 

Recently, there has been a lot of redefinition, particularly in the Western world. Redefining the nuclear family, redefining woman, redefining what appears to be mental illness, and redefining marriage. While looking for a stock photo for this post, I typed the word “marriage” into the search bar, and photos of a man and woman in wedding attire, as well as two women in wedding gowns, appeared. To conform to the narrative that a marriage can be whatever you define it to be.


As a Christian, I believe that God created marriage to be between one man and one woman who have pledged their allegiance to God and to each other in order to live together for the rest of their lives. Both parties who have decided to embark on this adventure must be open and honest with one another. There are no secrets or skeletons in one's closet that the other person is not aware of.


Some may argue that in an open marriage or relationship, everyone knows what everyone else is up to, so it must be fine as long as no secrets are kept. This is where redefinition comes into the picture. Marriage must be redefined for a relationship or marriage to be open and make sense to those who wish to practice it. Because if they adhered to the true definition of what a marriage or a courtship should be, they would be unable to justify their deviancy.


What is an “open” marriage?


According to Wikipedia.com, “Open marriage is a form of non-monogamy in which the partners of a dyadic marriage agree that each may engage in extramarital sexual relationships, without this being regarded by them as infidelity, and consider or establish an open relationship despite the implied monogamy of marriage. There are variant forms of open marriage such as swinging and polyamory, each with the partners having varying levels of input on their spouse's activities.”


What is a marriage?


According to scripture a marriage is exclusionary, which knocks out the faulty foundation for which an open marriage is built on. In Matthew 19, some people came to ask Jesus about no fault divorce. He answered them profoundly in verses 4-6. “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”


In this response, Jesus not only demonstrates that no-fault divorce is not from God, but he also defines what a marriage should be and addresses the issue of identity that some people are dealing with today. And so, we can see that oneness which is what marriage seeks to achieve, is possible only between one man and one woman. We can also see that God is the originator of marriage. And since God created (and defined) marriage, any other (re)definition of it is a forgery.


When I think about this deviant concept of marriage, a plethora of things come to mind: if a child is brought into the picture, how do you explain the dynamic of your relationship(s) to them? Where do couples in open marriages draw the line? What constitutes acceptable behavior and what constitutes grounds for separation?


How long are you allowed to ‘cheat’ on each other by getting involved with others during the 'marriage?' What are the ground rules for such an arrangement? Is it permissible to have only one partner at a time or to entertain multiple people at the same time? Do you have sex with or without protection when doing so with third of fourth third parties? Do you get tested for STDs on a regular basis? Is the external partner (s) involved in the 'marriage?' How far is too far when it comes to this deviancy? Is it acceptable for anyone to be envious or hurt? Do they all live in the same house?


I remember my sister-in-law sending me an article about a Nigerian “couple” who were in an open relationship sometime ago. If I had to describe the entire piece in one word, it would be immoral. They discussed sleeping with multiple people on different occasions and enjoying threesomes on occasion. When asked what their ideal marriage would be, they replied: one in which we would sleep in separate rooms from our spouses and, of course, continue to entertain external partners. For depravity to make sense to those who the enemy has deceived, truth must be redefined.


Any relationship concept that deviates from what God intended for relationships, will be dysfunctional and chaotic. Humans have a history of creating, reinventing, or adopting concepts to justify their fleshly desires. A woman might say, “my boyfriend is pissing me off, so maybe another woman would be a preferable partner, because women understand each other better.” A man might say, “my spouse doesn't understand me; perhaps my secretary, who constantly asks me how my day is going, will be a better partner.” Or both might say, “our sex life has become redundant, perhaps its time to introduce a third party through pornography or a sex partner.”


1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “You say, “I am allowed to do anything” - but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.”


We will destroy ourselves if we always do what seems desirable to us. Just because we have access to everything as Christ followers, does not mean we should indulge in everything. Knowing when to indulge and when to recognize that something (even if it appears to be good) may not be beneficial to us, is wisdom.


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All images are courtesy of Unsplash


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