CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Sliding Toward Polyamory

Jul 22, 2008

Polyamory has gone big time. There are magazines and journals devoted to it, societies founded to further it, conferences held around the world to discuss it, and countless organisations in existence to promote and defend it. In case you are stuck at this point, let me save you a trip to the dictionary. The word simply means “many loves” and it involves such concepts as group love and group marriage.

When I last googled the term ‘polyamory’ there were around 1.4 million hits. It is worth looking up some of the many sites devoted to polyamory. Consider just a few of the groups pushing this, such as the Alternatives to Marriage Project; The Polyamory Society; and The World Polyamory Association.

This last-named group offers this ‘Vision Statement’ about its conferences: “Join the CHOICE movement!  Investigate the possibilities of a polyamorous (more than one love) lifestyle. Ask us how you can make more love in your life, relate from your highest self with your lovers and housemates, uplevel jealousy into compersion (joy at your lovers’ joy), and give them each the love, intimacy, attention, companionship, touch and sexual-loving they need. Create a loving support and create true, inner peace with your extended family, your tribe.”

There are also various niche groups as well, such as the Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness; the Polyamorist Political Action Committee; and the PolyChildren Index.

And consider some of the book titles available on the subject. There are such juicy titles as, The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities; Lesbian Polyfidelity: A Pleasure Guide for the Woman Whose Heart Is Open to Multiple, Concurrent Sexualoves; Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits; Loving More: The Polyfidelity Primer; and Polyamory: More Loves, More Loving.

And there seem to be endless conferences, meetings and support groups out there devoted to this growing movement. There are even entire TV series devoted to this, such as the US-made Big Love, which our own SBS in Australia is happy to run prime time on Saturday nights.

Sadly, this is not merely the stuff of hormonally-charged fruitcakes. There are plenty of “serious” academic, educational, political and legal groups pushing this stuff as well.

All of this may have been unthinkable just a few short decades ago, but the times they are a changin’. But the interesting thing about all this is how it is simply the logical extension of both the sexual revolution, and the attempt to redefine marriage and family out of existence.

Polyamory is simply the next step along the slippery slope that began around about the 1960s. When the institutions of marriage and family were attacked by the sexual libertines and social engineers back then, they knew that the best way to destroy them was to radically redefine them. The idea was that any and all sexual relationships were as good as another.

And the radicals of the 60s soon became our legislators, politicians, judges, academics, journalists and educators. Laws were changed all over the Western world. Easy divorce was implemented, cohabitation and de facto relationships were given legal recognition and benefits, and alternative lifestyles were paraded and championed.

Of course pro-family voices back then warned that this would simply be one big slippery slope. And that is just what we are now seeing. Twenty years ago when cohabitation was granted the legal and social benefits of heterosexual marriage, we warned that homosexual marriage would be the next logical step. We of course were mocked and scorned. Critics said that we were mixing apples and oranges, and that no one was calling for same-sex marriage anyway.

Of course now we are up to our ears in same-sex marriage. And pro-family voices are now warning that polyamory is the next logical direction once the homosexual lobby has gotten its demands. And the same criticisms are being levelled. “They are two different things” they argue, and no one is calling for polyamory anyway.

Well, both criticisms are so much hot air. As I just pointed out, polyamory is all the rage, and is getting more impetus, public support, and true believers all the time. And the similarities are certainly there. Yet the critics continue to keep their head in the sand.

Consider but one example of this. Homosexual activist Rodney Croome recently had an opinion piece in which he laughed off any move toward polyamory, based on the promotion of same-sex marriage. He sneered at those warning about the slippery slope, and sought to argue that the two types of relationships had nothing in common.

Yet he comes nowhere near to making his case. He starts off with a complete red herring. He says those concerned about polyamory are simply being hypocritical: “Often those who oppose same-sex marriage justify themselves by referring to ‘biblical values’, conveniently ignoring the fact that the Bible is full of polygamous relationships.”

There are several obvious problems with this. A person need not be religious to oppose homosexual relationships. And I am not aware of any credible religious person who condones polygamy. The Bible in fact does not, and warns against it. Simply because the Bible describes a behaviour does not mean it approves of it.

He then speaks of the “old myth about homosexual promiscuity”. Old myth? Really? All the research shows that this is no myth. Even homosexual researchers acknowledge this. And when fellow homosexual activists make such claims, are they simply liars, or what? Consider just one remark by Dennis Altman: Monogamy “is not a realistic choice for many of us . . . we don’t find one partner sufficiently fulfilling. People who argue that there would be no problem if all gay men would just be monogamous are ignoring both medical and emotional realities”.

He then says nations which have legalised same-sex marriages have not legalised polygamy. The simple response is: not yet. Twenty years ago the same objections were being made: countries that have recognised and legalised cohabitation have not legalised same-sex marriages. It only took a few decades to show the hollowness of that objection.

The rest of his piece is an attempt to differentiate same-sex marriage from polygamy. But he nowhere does this. He says that same-sex marriage is all about love, commitment, consent, choice, justice and equality. I guess he is not reading the polyamory literature. That is exactly what they are saying as well.

Both groups base their attack on marriage on exactly the same premises. Both argue that loving, consensual, committed relationships are the really important thing, nothing else. Homosexuals say gender has nothing to do with real love and marriage. Polyamorists say number has nothing to do with real love and marriage.

Their arguments are identical. The case for one leads to the case for the other. Once the institution of marriage is redefined out of existence, then anything goes. Once we dump the ‘one man, one woman, commitment for life’ principle of heterosexual marriage, then all sorts of relationships are fair game.

And the polyamorists certainly know this. They regularly appeal to same-sex relationships and marriage to buttress their arguments and make their case.

So Croome can waffle all he likes about these differences, but they are only differences in his mind. Both types of relationships are part of the slippery slope that is now gaining momentum and pace. The answer to all these weird and wild sexual combinations and permutations is to return to the age-old understanding of what real marriage is all about. Until then, the slope will only get more slippery.

www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=7620

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14 Responses to Sliding Toward Polyamory

  • Thanks Bill. Keep on being vigilant.
    Stan Fishley

  • No real surprise here – it’s the same devil giving them the same arguments. Look at how the Muslims and the homosexuals both play the victim card with equal enthusiasm. Our task is to pick the falsehoods in their arguments. This is where you come in Bill – you are a champion in this “battle of ideas” which is designed to lead to decisions in life-choice.
    As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
    Ian Brearley

  • Bill, get the ground rules right, get the basic idea of marriage right of one man and one woman, in permanant, committed marriage and no need for any other so called group love.
    Well done Bill
    Judith Bond

  • Thanks Bill,

    If I recall correctly, polyamory is legal in the Netherlands where a man added a second wife not too long ago?

    Jeremy Peet

  • Ever since the sixties, when sex became detached from the boundaries of marriage and family and from the morality and truth of the Judeo/Christian faith, it has become merely a recreational activity that can be practised in whatever form one wishes; but, like high explosive that is no longer confined by its steel casing, or a nuclear core that is withdrawn from its protective surrounds, it becomes a force for destruction when it is no longer bounded by the protective laws that used to surround marriage. It has resulted in the misery of unwanted pregnancies, abortion on an industrial scale, an explosion of Sexually Transmitted Diseases HIV, AIDS, rape, the continuing break up of the family and now teenage murders. So much for a “successful and progressive society.”

    The heterosexuals and the Playboy philosophy, in breaking down the barriers have given the moral right not only to the homosexuals to claim their share of the action (to public acceptance of their sexual activities) but also to those behind them who engage in paedophilia, incest, polyamory, polygamy, exhibitionism and even bestiality. Homosexuality has a reputation for risk-taking and extremism. This in turn, like a fire feeding off itself, is already encouraging heterosexuals to cast aside all restraint and seemingly outmoded inhibitions and to give full expression to their narcissistic instincts. All this is funded for and encouraged by the government’s own policies on sex education in schools.

    Realising that family life is important for the well being of children, politicians now have to define what they mean by family and they have come out with their own “back-of-fag-packet” ideas of what constitutes marriage. Both put no limits on the genders of the partners, and neither, presumably soon, on number, age differences, duration and soon, even of species. The only stipulation placed by them is that commitment (for five minutes?) and parental involvement should form the basis for a family. What profundity! This is like saying that the only requirement for a game of football, is for the players to be committed to kicking the ball. But why should anyone recognise even these stipulations?

    Some would say “What right do you have to impose your old fashioned morality of commitment and parental involvement on us? We can bypass your middle class morality simply on the basis that what you are demanding of us goes against our own natures; we were born the way we are; it is not in our natures to be in long term relationships or to possess maternal or paternal instincts.” (Since civil partnerships and gay adoption has been made legal, there is not exactly a stampede for either the registry office or the adoption agency).

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/mar/08031409.html (legalising of sex in public parks).
    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2356730,00.html (incest)
    …and of course paedophilia: http://www.tpuc.org/node/151 (Germany and EU to Legalise Paedophilia)

    David Skinner, UK

  • Hi Bill,

    Regarding the Bible and polygamous relationships, didn’t prophets like Abraham and Jacob engage in such relationships? How would you explain that?

    (I’m on your side in all of this, just looking for suggestions on what I might say to someone who poses this question to me).

    Regards,
    Tim Baker

  • Thanks Tim

    A fair question. The short answer is, as I mentioned in the article, that not everything described in the Bible is necessarily approved of by God. Description is not the same as prescription. Some OT saints had more than one wife. But it was not God’s command or intention, and he in fact clearly speaks against polygamy in both Testaments. It is expressly forbidden in Deut. 17:17 and 1 Tim. 3:2 for example. God’s ideal has always been monogamous marriage.

    The Bible is realistic about human behaviour, even that of God’s people. Their character and behaviour is honestly depicted – warts and all. But being honest about the shortcomings of the saints is of course no endorsement of particular behaviours and actions.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thank you Bill, You continue to bless us with the wisdom from above. Keep on listening and passing it on.
    Robert Colman

  • This is an old but good reflection on this issue:

    (A scene at City Hall in San Francisco)
    “Next.”
    “Good morning. We want to apply for a marriage license.”
    “Names?”
    “Tim and Jim Jones.”
    “Jones? Are you related? I see a resemblance.”
    “Yes, we’re brothers.”
    “Brothers? You can’t get married.”
    “Why not? Aren’t you giving marriage licenses to same gender couples?”
    “Yes, thousands. But we haven’t had any siblings. That’s incest!”
    “Incest? No, we are not gay.”
    “Not gay? Then why do you want to get married?”
    “For the financial benefits, of course. And we do love each other. Besides, we don’t have any other prospects.”
    “But we’re issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who’ve been denied equal protection under the law. If you are not gay, you can get married to a woman.”
    “Wait a minute. A gay man has the same right to marry a woman as I have. But just because I’m straight doesn’t mean I want to marry a woman. I want to marry Jim.”
    “And I want to marry Tim, Are you going to discriminate against us just because we are not gay?”
    “All right, all right. I’ll give you your license. Next.”
    “Hi. We are here to get married.”
    “Names?”
    “John Smith, Jane James, Robert Green, and June Johnson.”
    “Who wants to marry whom?”
    “We all want to marry each other.”
    “But there are four of you!”
    “That’s right. You see, we’re all bisexual. I love Jane and Robert, Jane loves me and June, June loves Robert and Jane, and Robert loves June and me. All of us getting married together is the only way that we can express our sexual preferences in a marital relationship.”
    “But we’ve only been granting licenses to gay and lesbian couples.”
    “So you’re discriminating against bisexuals!”
    “No, it’s just that, well, the traditional idea of marriage is that it’s just for couples.”
    “Since when are you standing on tradition?”
    “Well, I mean, you have to draw the line somewhere.”
    “Who says? There’s no logical reason to limit marriage to couples. The more the better. Besides, we demand our rights! The mayor says the constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. Give us a marriage license!”
    “All right, all right. Next.”
    “Hello, I’d like a marriage license.”
    “In what names?”
    “David Deets.”
    “And the other man?”
    “That’s all. I want to marry myself.”
    “Marry yourself? What do you mean?”
    “Well, my psychiatrist says I have a dual personality, so I want to marry the two together. Maybe I can file a joint income-tax return.”
    “That does it! I quit!! You people are making a mockery of marriage!!”

    Michael Whennen

  • Thanks Michael

    Yes I have seen that around before, and it is most fitting here.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Dear Tim, the Bible also describes a lot of other kind of behaviour that we would question. But it never shrinks from spelling out the consequences. As for polygamy, it can hardly be said to be promoting it, for in all cases, starting with Abraham, it shows the conflict, envy, strife and in the case of Solomon, the idolatry, leading to the disintegration of the Davidic kingdom into Israel and Judea, that followed as night follows day. The Bible says that we must not murder or commit adultery and yet David, mighty man of God spectacularly does precisely that. Can we say therefore that the Bible is encouraging murder and adultery? No, because if one reads on it shows the consequences of his actions.

    I also wish to endorse Ian Brearley’s thanks to Bill for creating a site where we can come and safely ask the tough questions. This is no academic forum but a place where we can come in for fresh ammunition before heading out into that particular part of the battle field to which we are assigned. Because of this we need to pray for protection for him and his family from the enemy.

    Thanks too for Michael, who could also have added those who want to get married to pavements and bicycles.

    David Skinner, UK

  • The fact of multiple partners in many homosexual relationships has been verified by surveys of the homosexual community such as SMASH, etc done by the UNSW – the National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR). see http://nchsr.arts.unsw.edu.au/

    The following article by Andrew Bolt, We Thee Wed, details a conversation between Jon Faine and a homosexual rights lobbyist in Victoria saying he knew of relationships with THREE men in them!
    See http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,19535166-25717,00.html

    So it is happening right here in Victoria – how long til they want to register these relationships?

    As to the Netherlands situation Jeremy mentioned… the man was married to a wife, then the two of them took out a co-habiting arrangement with a third woman – it was not actually marriage, but the media (and the man!) wrongly reported it as such…
    See http://cathyyoung.blogspot.com/2005/10/decline-and-fall-in-netherlands.html
    WND reported it as a ‘civil union’ – see http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46583

    Jenny Stokes

  • Bill, I have always found our (generally I agree with you) criticisms of OT polygamy to be hollow. In multiple translations, I don’t think that De. 17.17 can be used to state that the OT demands monogamy … see below … I find it strange that if God opposed polygamy, why did so many OT saints practice it without God punishing them … ? Don’t worry, Bill. I am NOT supporting polygamy. I think we just need to be clearer as to why we don’t support it – I don’t have a better answer though …

    CEV 17And the king must not have a lot of wives–they might tempt him to be unfaithful to the LORD.
    Today’s NIV / UK NIV / NIV 17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
    The Message “And make sure he doesn’t build up a harem, collecting wives who will divert him from the straight and narrow.”
    NLT 17 The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.

    Graeme Cumming

  • Last week I saw a great documentary on polyamory, and I although I was a bit baffled at first, it was also very fascinating, so I decided to make a free social network for all polyamorous people. I launched the site last Sunday and you can find it here http://www.polyamorynetwork.com

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