“Soft swinging” among married Latter-day Saints? There’s nothing soft about that, not anymore.

First of all, a confession: I had never heard of the term “swing gently” until I had just read about it in The Salt Lake Tribune and heard about it on the Mormon Land podcast.

Apparently a group of married couples from Utah, some of them Latter-day Saints, engaged in a whole range of hot and violent extracurricular activities with other married people. They had known each other to some extent before, but now they were getting a lot of first hand and first arm and first leg and first hip and first lip personal information on each other while giving old college try not to consume all last physical info so to speak.

There have been a few slips in that last regard, because just like your priesthood leader warned you in your teens, one small piece of icing can make you gobble the entire cake. I think mine said something like that to my buddies and I, who all really liked—or at least were tempted by—any kind of baked goods. That’s how I remember it.

In any case, as you may know, this is against the rules of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And these rules are not just guidelines. However, I was present at an elders quorum meeting in California in the 1980’s when the bishop informed us all that we were, say, going on a business trip and had a weak moment that involved a raging in the sack of a woman who happened not to be our legally and legally married wife, he would not report us to the stake president. He would, he said, just do it himself, with no further penalties.

When I shared what the bishop had said with my married friends, they were all looking within the ward boundaries for houses to buy.

It all reminds me of the day it was revealed via ESPN that former jazz musician Andrei Kirilenko’s wife, Masha, had given him a one-night free pass every year — what she called an “allowance” to any woman of his choice.

As I wrote at the time, thousands of husbands then had the following conversation with their wives…

Husband • Tell me darling, did you see that Andrei Kirilenko’s wife said that she gives him a freebie every year?

Wife • A freebie?

Husband • Yes, you know, free.

Wife • A free… what?

Husband • Uh, well, an exception to the once a year rule.

Wife • According to which rule?

Husband • The exception to the rule, Sweet Pea, which states that he holds on to only having relationships with her and no one else, no matter what kind of red-hot bomb might eagerly offer him the goods on a lonely road trip.

Wife • I’ve got your red hot bomb right here boy.

Husband • No, no, really, Sugar Brits. let me read this to you Right here it is written that Masha said: “What is desirable is always forbidden. And athletes, especially men, are receptive to whatever is offered to them.”

Wife • Men are pathetic dogs.

Husband • Wait, there’s more. She said: “It’s the same as raising children. If I tell my kid, “No pizza,” what does he want more than anything else? Pizza.”

Wife • Keep the anchovies.

Husband • I also like pizza.

Wife • What are you now, 13?

Husband • Let me read on. She said, “So that’s the agreement Andrei and I have … if I know about it, it’s not cheating.”


is it cheating

Obviously, when swinging, both partners know about it, and both partners participate. is this cheating

Imagine you should discuss this possibility with your wife or husband. How would that work? What would he or she say if you expressed your appetite for more pizza? Deep dish, extra crust, extra toppings, extra cheese, extra meat.

If the first answer was: “What? I’m not enough meat for you?”

Your answer may have to be, “No. You are much flesh.”

And from there it could spiral into a death spiral.

It seems those gently swaying couples discussed above wanted extra helpings of cheese and meat, toppings of almost any kind, and an increased dose of physical attention. And in their cases, it went both ways. It went in all directions, even as they tried to keep things “soft.”

In my estimation, according to modern Latter-day Saint teaching, there is not much scope here for anything else, let alone extramarital shenanigans.

The Church would never, ever, ever allow such a thing…


There was this whole polygamy thing back then, but this was different. It was several women sharing a man. I’m not sure how it would have gone if the woman had chosen to date multiple men.

How did that even work? Did a man who practiced polygamy only bed one woman at a time, or were there group sessions? I do not know. I’m not sure I want to know. Proponents, if there are any, would explain that the man has assumed financial responsibility for his wives. Does anyone have a better feeling about the setup?

Didn’t think so.

At least that was then. That is now.

Rules sometimes seem flexible.

That’s not now, not anymore.

Talk about “stay longer”

Whether the swinging is hard or soft, whether permission is given one way or both within the relationship, it is forbidden, with a capital V, in Latter-day Saint belief.

My bishop in California told the group that if it ever happened, he would take care of it himself without undue punishment. But just like the church leader of my youth said all those years ago, you take a bite, you’re bound to dip into the whole pie.

I don’t want to get too personal here, but over the years I’ve had – and have – had enough cake with my beautiful wife. I can’t speak for everyone, but sharing intimacy with other couples beyond the religious aspect seems to get complicated. In the religious realm, things could get more complicated.

Hey snook’ems, did you notice that sister and brother Smithers looked oh so hot today? Let’s take her to a “stay longer” tonight, what do you say?

Emotion and devotion are, at least on some level, tied to physicality. What if a little touch turned into a full tackle and next you really like tackling and then you or your loved one hit everything in sight and sometimes keep stacking?

There are behavioral specialists who say rocking can work for some couples. One expert in holistic health and family solutions wrote that swinging can lead to a happy, fulfilling lifestyle as long as rules and boundaries are set and followed by the couple.

“Couples who choose this type of lifestyle seek a partner or partners for the sheer excitement of getting from a partner what they can’t get from their ‘main partner’, the number one partner in their lives. For example, one partner may enjoy the ways another can please them that their longtime partner cannot. … When two people are very secure about themselves and a lot of trust is built, then both feel comfortable allowing the other to have different partners. … Each couple chooses together what their life in their relationship will be like and plans and plays accordingly.”

Experts claim that “opening up” relationships can save certain marriages, keep them from going stale and take the pressure off partners who feel the sometimes unwelcome pressure to meet everyone’s needs. One sex therapist emphasizes that, as the doctor put it, “traditional monogamy isn’t for everyone.”

Maybe not. But – did I mention? — Latter-day Saint leaders disagree. In my research for this column, I could not find any that stretched the boundaries of the newer Covenant Path enough to accommodate vibrations.

No extra meat pizza for the faithful.

So it seems the extended lifestyle is working for some.

But if you’re in or out of the faith, it can be a dangerous business, a slippery slope, a step that could destroy trust and ruin relationships. I do not know. I’m not here to judge, just to throw it out. If you eat too much cake, you could get sick.

It’s in the scriptures somewhere. I just can’t remember where. Maybe the song of Solomon.

Editor’s Note • This column is available only to Salt Lake Tribune subscribers. Thank you for supporting local journalism. “Soft swinging” among married Latter-day Saints? There’s nothing soft about that, not anymore.

Joel McCord

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