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Non-Monogamy: Love in Many Forms

Day 1 of 5: What Does Healthy Non-Monogamy Look Like?

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to bear children for him. But she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” And Abram agreed with Sarai’s proposal. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian servant and gave her to Abram as a wife. (This happened ten years after Abram had settled in the land of Canaan.) So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. Then Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt. The Lord will show who’s wrong—you or me!” Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit.” Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away.
-Genesis 16:1-6 (NLT)

Often, when people look for biblical justification for non-monogamy, they say, “Polyamory was in the Bible! Polygamy was in the Bible!” People with a more conservative theology might then retort, “But that didn’t mean God approved! All those people living in polygamy ended up miserable!” And here’s a secret: they’re right.

Because honestly, Biblical polygamy is nothing to emulate. It was a relationship structure based on viewing women as property and powerful men wanting more power, more children, and more sex while denying this same agency to their wives or daughters. In Genesis 16, we see how Hagar was used as a sex object for Abram (Abraham) and reduced to a mere breeder for Sarai (Sarah) so that she could have a family. Sex is transactional here, and Hagar cannot say no: it’s an unconsensual encounter. After Hagar is pregnant, Abraham does nothing to mitigate the jealousy issues between Hagar and Sarah.

In exploring non-monogamy beyond our desires, we need to remember … Continue Reading Day 1 in the App

Jennifer C. Martin

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