“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Attend a 3-Way ‘Commitment Ceremony’?”

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Q: My daughter and a married husband and wife are living together in a three-way, polyamorous relationship. The three of them cannot have a wedding ceremony, so they are planning a commitment ceremony event as a sign of their partnership with each other. The ceremony was scheduled was postponed due to the pandemic. My husband and I could not have attended anyway, since he was recovering from transplant surgery. When she first told us about this “throuple” relationship, I told her that I thought it was morally wrong, and that the couple should not be doing this to their children. That caused a break so serious that she wouldn’t even visit or call her father during the cancer treatments. I never stopped reaching out, via cards, e-mails and texts. Now she does respond to texts once in a while, and she sent us their family holiday card. I am afraid if I don’t attend their event, the rift will be irreparable and permanent. But will attending be an acceptance of the sinful polyamorous relationship? Will I be condoning a sin, and thereby being guilty myself? Thank you in advance for your time. – A.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m sorry to hear about the situation. As you say, this situation is morally problematic. It is another sign that the culture is going over the edge.

You would need to consider what your attendance at this ceremony would convey to them and to others.

People could easily presume that you are giving approval to the arrangement. This threesome would amount to a daily assault on the sanctity of marriage, even if the couple concurs. This would be doubly sad since children are caught in the situation.

We have a general obligation to avoid giving scandal. We also should avoid things that encourage others to sin.

While it is understandable that you love your daughter and you want to stay closer to her, it would be good to remember that sometimes a true act of love means witnessing your faith and refusing to cross a line.

Not approving of your daughter’s choice doesn’t mean that you no longer love your daughter. In fact, the two things go together in this case. You aren’t rejecting your daughter as a person, even though she might feel that.

And there is someone else worth remembering in all this: Our Lord.

He gave humans the gift of sexuality, and he also made clear how he wants that gift to be used. Our Lord has a right to have his commandments followed.

You might want to think about the consequences about attending. Will you later feel obliged to invite them into your home? Will other children or grandchildren be exposed to this irregular living arrangement?

Perhaps this is a moment to intensify your prayer for your daughter. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you so that you give glory to God.

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