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"Are 'swingers' adulterers? Ethics and Religion Talk"

on Tuesday, 21 January 2014. Posted in Front Page Headline, Media Updates

By Rabbi David Krishef

Last year, our Ethics and Religion Talk panel weighed in on whether sexting, or sending explicit photos of oneself via text message, was akin to adultery.

Now, the panel weighs in on whether two consenting, married adults who are "swingers" engage in such a lifestyle with other consenting adults are adulterers.

I am fully aware that private intimate behavior between consenting adults may be legal or illegal, depending on the jurisdiction.

However, it is not the intent of this column or its panelists to analyze or explain the law. In fact, often we don't care whether the behavior we are asked about is legal or illegal. We wonder whether, according to our religious/ethical system, it is moral.

It might be illegal in some or all states — nonetheless, we might be of the opinion that it is moral; or, as in the case of this week's question, it might be legal (at least in most states/locations). Nonetheless, we might be of the opinion that it is immoral.

This week's question is:

"If a married couple engages in a 'swinging' lifestyle with other consenting married couples, is this considered adultery?"

Howard Earle, Jr., the senior pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church, responds:

"Scripture explicitly teaches that sex is reserved for a man and woman who are married. To reduce marriage to strictly a relationship between the husband and wife only is a critical mistake. Genesis states that the two (Adam and Eve) shall become one flesh. God joins a man and a woman together first and foremost for His glory. The vow that a couple makes to each other is first a promise to God. Therefore, any deviation from His standard is a violation of His Law and regarded as an insult. Because God's standard does not make allowance for our consent in this matter, a swinging lifestyle is adulterous behavior."

Sandra Nikkel, Ministry Coordinator of the Grand Rapids East Classis and Pastor of the multicultural Ministry at Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, responds:

"Wow, I have a hard time answering this question. Even though I know that this ‘swinging’ lifestyle really exists I don’t see how this kind of activity benefits anyone in the long run —those who are involved or those who are close to the ones involved in it. I can’t even imagine how children would feel to know that their parents are involved in this lifestyle and what about parents, siblings, etc....

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