Recently, I discovered that some very close Christian friends of ours are involved in "swinging", where they basically trade each other for sex with other consenting couples. We sort of stumbled upon this discovery and now, it is incredibly awkward for us to even have the relationship knowing this fact and we are torn on what to do. The couple would never do it with friends (one of their rules) but they are open to doing this with other random couples that they meet online, etc.
While I understand that all couples have to keep their sex lives healthy and exciting, I believe that as a Christian, this crosses the line. This other couple is also Christian and they have been adamant that there is no scriptural evidence that their lifestyle is sinful. They justify it that it is only for the excitement and that it helps their personal sex life and they are not pursuing relationships with the people they swing with.
However, as Christian friends, I am unsure what to do. I don't want to judge our friends but how can I approach this subject with Christians who choose to do this and have seemingly already justified the lifestyle?
They have 4 children under 10 and obviously keep this from them and any of their other friends and family. At this point, my wife and I feel that our best solution is to try and bring scripture to them and share our concerns as friends, but we feel they will dismiss it as they have already "researched" this topic and feel comfortable with it. I can't just pretend I don't care but I am concerned that even approaching them about the subject could end the relationship. Any thoughts would be helpful.
Dear Name Withheld,
Several defining verses come immediately to mind: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people” (Ephesians 5:3). One definition of sexual immorality is sex with someone who is not your spouse. Another term for this behavior is “adultery”. The fact that you know of their “secret” means that the hint is public.
The writer to the Hebrews could not have been more explicit: “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4-5).
It seems to me that whatever research they did was “VERY POOR RESEARCH”! They obviously looked in all the wrong places. I imagine that the conclusions they reached are the ones that can be found in Playboy and Hustler and a variety of internet porn sites. Is anyone surprised these days by the wild variety of justifications Christian people employ to delude themselves into believing that their sinful behaviors aren’t really sin? I think not! The world may swing; but, according to Romans 1:18-32 the people in the world don’t know any better. We Christians, on the other hand, know better--mostly. We Christians are Christ indwelt and therefore distinctive in our love for the truth, for Jesus, for purity and for holiness.
Wikipedia describes swinging like this:
Swinging or partner swapping is a non-monogamous behavior, in which both partners in a committed relationship agree, as a couple, for both partners to engage in sexual activities with other couples as a recreational or social activity. Swinging can take place in a number of contexts, ranging from a spontaneous sexual activity at an informal social gathering of friends to planned or regular social gatherings to hooking up with like-minded couples at a swingers' club and can involve internet-based introduction services.
Swinging made inroads into American social life during the 1960s (and has continued ever since) sexual revolution spurred on by the invention of the contraceptive pill and the emphasis on safe sex.
In the late 1950’s Polaroid came out with the “Land Camera.” Pictures were developed instantaneously inside the camera itself. Take the picture and seconds later the developed photo was in your hands. In the early 1960s Polaroid came out with a low-cost version called the “Swinger”. I didn’t think much about it until several years later when I put 2 and 2 together and realized that couples could take compromising pictures of each other and have them developed moments later thus avoiding the need to have them developed at the drug store—where developing sexually indecent photos was illegal. Of course, swinging is nothing new. King Herod did a little swinging with his brother Phillip’s wife, Herodias (Mark 6:17).
All I know about swinging comes from the entertainment pages and the sports section.
My freshman year in college I went to an “R” rated movie with Mike, Becky and Allison. We were pals—best friends growing up. In those days an “R” rating was close to today’s PG. I didn’t want to go; but they talked me into it. Really. Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice was about swinging. I don’t remember much about the movie; but I do recall that one husband and one wife, not married to each other, worked hard to convince the other husband and wife, not married to try it. Bob and Alice had a great time; Ted and Carol didn’t. Maybe it was the other way around—but who cares. People got hurt before it was all over.
I am not certain, Name Withheld, that all is fun and games as your Christian swinging friends purport. The great risk is that one spouse falls in love with some one else’s spouse. Time will tell, but my guess is that somewhere along the line, later or sooner, some one or other is going to get hurt and a lot of little children are going to grow up with the wrong mommy and daddy.
Most everyone in the baseball world was shocked when two New York Yankee, left-handed pitchers, swapped wives, families, children and dogs. Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich were best friends in 1973 when they and their wives got to joking about swinging one evening at a restaurant. On thing led to another and not long afterwards their arrangement was made public during spring training. “We didn’t trade wives, we traded lives,” said Kekich.
While this was big news in every ball park in Midwestern America, in New York, in the era of the swinger, it simply wasn’t that big of a deal. Lee MacPhail, general manager of the Yankees inserted some club house humor in to the controversy when he joked, “We may have to cancel family day.”
How did it all work out? Peterson was routinely booed on the road after the swap and Kekich never regained his former proficiency. In fact, Kekich was 2-5, 7.48 era, after the announcement of the wife-swap. “My whole career went into a black hole,” said Kekich.
Fritz Peterson ended up with a life partner. He and Susanne Kekich are still married and have had four children together. Imagine this; Peterson is now a Christian evangelist. Does it get any stranger than that?!
On the other hand, things didn’t work out so well for Kekich. His relationship with Marilyn Peterson soon soured . They never did get married and split up completely just two years later. He got hurt; she got hurt. Can you imagine the pain, confusion and hurt among their kids?
I mention both of the above stories because I predict that unless repentance and purity soon avail, your swinging Christian friends and their children will end up devestated.
So, in approaching them, you may save a marriage and more than one family. How do you proceed? Let me share a few Biblical guidelines.
First, you have God’s approval in approaching them. In fact, Paul gave us the responsibility to guide them into truth and repentance: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 6:1-2). I doubt that you’ll be tempted to join their activities as Paul warns us; however, you can make it your goal to restore them to the Faith.
Second, pick the right time and place. You can do the right thing at the wrong time, or the wrong thing at the right time; but, wise are those who know just when and how to share the right thing at the right time.
Third, share your love and concern for them.
Fourth, gently show them the Biblical truths of Ephesians 5:3; and Hebrews 13:4-5. I would also discuss with them 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Remind them that they are redeemed out of sinful immorality by the blood of Christ and Jesus expects them to act like it.
Discuss 1 Corinthians 6:18-20: “From sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Fifth, forward this Ask Roger answer to them.
If they listen to you, repent and forsake their sin, you may not only have salvaged some families, but you very well may have helped save their souls from Hell.
Unfortunately, you concerns about sabotaging the relationship are very real. Unfortunately, my experience is that they will most likely reject you, your Biblical truth and your friendship. They’ll dismiss you as “judgmental”. Sorry. Sin often separates relationships. Sorry. Your relationship with them may be restored after they repent, confess their sin and forsake their behaviors. But, until then, your relationship will be functionally dead.
You didn’t mention whether or not the swinging couples were connected to a church or small group. In many ways a Christian small group functions like a church. If they are involved in a small group, it is the responsibility of the leaders of the group to approach the swingers several times with an increasing number of group members in order to lead them to repentance. If they respond, great! If they don’t, Jesus taught that they are to be excluded and no longer allowed to be in the group:
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17).
Paul affirmed this procedure in dealing with a case of sexual immorality in the First Baptist Church of Corinth:
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? … hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).
The misplaced pride among the Corinthian church members regarding the sexual sin in their midst may well parallel the pride and cavalier attitude of your swinging friends.
When (hopefully not “if”) your friends come to their senses and once again seek purity, then welcome them back into the fellowship according to Paul’s guidelines in 2 Corinthians 2:6-9:
The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
Finally, it may be that your friends attend a church where they are not involved and not known. Unfortunately, in this case, you will be unable to enlist the help of others to help you confront the swingers. Whatever you do, don’t go alone into their presence. Have a prayer partner and/or a godly Christian accompany you. It is never good to confront sin alone.
God Speed. Good Luck. God Bless. May the Holy Spirit go before you and prepare their swinging hearts to receive forgiveness and restoration.
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