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ABC News Nightline Sensationalized “Debate” on Infidelity

jealousy_965822It is obvious to me that ABC news had no interest in having an intelligent adult discussion on the subject of why so many people across all cultural lines, religious background and nationalities have extra marital relationships or cheat.  If they did they would not have set up a talk about fidelity, sex and marriage in an evangelical church.  The setting certainly was dramatic and sensational but it is not objective or in my opinion worthy of what used to be a very good current affairs news show.

What I found interesting was the constant referral to the Bible and “Marriage as God designed it”, though it is expected given the setting.  Christians did not invent marriage and many cultures around the world have marriages that do not fit Evangelical version of marriage.   Why do we need to constantly ask the evangelical minister what marriage is?  Marriage, I believe in this country, is currently sanctioned by the government and I do remember that our constitution was resolute about separation of church and state.  To define marriage by the Bible is to put one religion above others and to bring the state into the business of dictating personal beliefs.  Furthermore, the argument of GOD designed marriage has little to do with the scientific fact that humans and other animals are often not wired for monogamy.  This is a fact and one we as a culture need to discuss in a mature and thoughtful manor.   We need to be discussing alternatives to cheating, lying and betraying the trust of those we love.

I must say as a person who has studied the Bible both in high school and in college I would prefer a discussion that leaves the term adultery out all together.  Adultery in the Bible sense is the adulterating of a man’s bloodline by another man having sex with his wife (his property).   The traditional marriage that most people think of is one that came out of the fifties in the USA, it is not the Bible tradition.  In Biblical times marriage was an exchange of property from one man, a woman’s father, to another man, who became her husband.  Polygyny is found throughout the Bible and fidelity only applied to married women or a man’s property.

Cheating in our culture is a problem.  It can be emotionally devastating for all parties involved.  There is real pain when we find someone we love and trust has lied to us and has been deceitful.  It can bring up insecurity, anger, hatred, jealousy and many other challenging emotions.   It is hurtful and those who cheat feel guilt and anguish over their own behavior.  Cheating and loss of trust can crumble families and hurt kids.  It is worthy of serious and hard discussion.   Good people, who fully understand the challenge, feel pulled to connect with another person emotionally and/or sexually.   If we take the Bible out of the discussion we can have a frank discussion about cheating and the loss of trust when we deceive our partners. How about real discussion about learning honesty, allowing openness and recognizing the tendency of humans towards non-monogamy?

Polyamory is one option that for some people can solve this challenge.  It was great to see Jenny Block on the show speaking to this.  She was articulate and spoke of possibilities beyond monogamy.  Jenny made it clear that in her view open marriage was not cheating and that different people have different needs in relationships.  When the host asked the pastor weather Jenny was cheating his reply was a bit frightening.   He basically said she was wrong for her open marriage, that is was adultery.  He went on to say that he had all the right answers because his world view was that of Gods and we should all have to live by “God’s creation of marriage”.  Basically any other way is not valid since, according to him, God ordained and created marriage and man has no right to change it.  This need to force one’s own belief system on others makes my head spin (I think Jenny was feeling this too).  I really want to know what  the great need is for some people to homogenize our world and create one size fit all way to live, love and be human.  There are wonderful options people can explore beyond cheating; polyamory, swinging, open relationships and other possibilities.  It is my hope that at some point an honest adult discussion will take place and I challenge any major network to have the balls to host such a discussion without the obvious set up for sensationalist journalism.

My thanks to Jenny Block for the courage to be out and public as a polyamorous person and parent.  I know the challenges that can come from being so public.  She is an example to us all of what is needed to help facilitate a discussion about real possibilities and solutions to modern relationships and family.  Jenny did a great job of holding her own in a hostile environment.  I challenge our community to have her courage and to come out of the closet and show the world polyamory and other alternatives can work and even benefit healthy, happy relationships, marriages and families.

To see the aired version go to http://abcnews.go.com/nightline.   I do recommend watching the entire debate at  http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/10Commandments/affairs-cheating-nightline-face-off-debate-adultery-infidelity/story?id=8645026 .  Keep in mind that the videos are not in order but are numbered.   You will notice how the editing cuts out so many important points and information.

Loving More staff writer – Robyn Trask (39 Posts)

Robyn is the Executive Director of Loving More Non-Profit, a national leader for polyamory awareness, polyamory counselor, workshop facilitator and writer. Since 2004 Robyn has worked to expand media awareness of polyamory appearing in numerous articles, radio shows and TV. Robyn and Loving More were instrumental in the formation of Polyamory Leadership Network. A national speaker and advocate for polyamory she has been a speaker at conferences, taught at universities and been a featured keynote speaker. Robyn has been openly polyamorous for 23 years, raising three children in a polyamorous family. Robyn has been running polyamory support groups, teaching and facilitating relationship and sexuality workshop since 1999. In addition she counsels polyamorous individuals and families. Currently Robyn is working on two polyamory related books.


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Discussion

  1. Alan M.  September 27, 2009

    Considering how badly stacked this show was from the start, Jenny sure had guts to go on it and show our flag as she did. She only got brief snips of time, but she used them pretty well. Go her.

    I posted more about this on Polyamory in the News: “Jenny in the Lion’s Den“.

  2. yJan  October 18, 2009

    If you read the bible carefully, then you will notice that Jesus indeed did NEVER EVER prohibit polygamous relationships.
    The relationship in marriage is the exact reflection of the relationship between god and humans.
    To conclude:
    1 GOD -> MANY PEOPLE, 1 chosen nation.
    1 HUSBAND -> MANY WIFES, 1 bride.

    Salomon, David, Josef are only a few examples of patriarchs, who were legally married to more than a few, sometimes more than a hundred women.
    David was punished by the lord for ADULTERY WITH BATSEBA, WHO WAS ALREADY MARRIED, NEVER FOR HAVING MORE THAN 1 WIFE!!!! READ CAREFULLY AND SPREAD THE WORD !
    And to conclude, Jesus only stated various examples of SIN WITHIN MARRIAGE, HE NEVER CONSTRAINED THE MARRIAGE IN ITS FORM TO ONLY 1 WIFE.

    Thank you for listening and understanding.

  3. ArgentoRose  November 7, 2009

    I agree about leaving religion out of public discussions about cheating, if the people involved really want to seriously debate it. Otherwise, the debate becomes just another avenue to sensationalize for entertainment purposes and/or to evangelize about religions as happen in this show. What a circus!

    That is the main reason I did not watch the entire show – just searched for the snippets where the brave Jenny Block spoke eventually to watch. I could care less what any monotheist says about his/her religion and god in relation to how I live my life since after the year when the Catholic Pop tried to justify the genocide of women (the Female Holocaust) by his religion which occurred during the Middle Ages in Europe.

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