The New Christians

The New Christians


Comment of the Weekend

posted by Tony Jones

Several commenters have questioned my inclusion of the “B” in GLBTQ, suggesting that bisexual persons don’t fit under the monogamy that I endorse.  But PSUdain clarifies on my behalf:

There seems to be a running confusion here about the nature of
bisexuality. I have seen it so far in two comments and it is likely in
more. It generally seems to be along the lines of, “Bisexuals want
multiple partners.”

This is not the case! A bisexual person may fall in love with a
person of either the same or the opposite gender. But this relationship
is just as monogamous as one between two heterosexuals. However, when
dating and pre-marriage, a bisexual person may end up dating both men
and women over time before settling down with one person in the end,
just like a homosexual/heterosexual person may date several people of
the same/opposite gender over time before finding one with whom s/he
wishes to continue in a closer relationship.

There is a word for a person who enters into a mutual relationship
with more than two participants (who may be of any gender) total. This
word is “polyamorous”. We could discuss that separately, but we should
take care not to confuse it with bisexuality. (Also, I do believe that
we would be mostly in agreement on polyamory, so it would be a pretty
uninteresting discussion.)

This is, alas, a common misconception, and I hope that I can help to clear it up.

While it may seem ridiculous or foolish to make and maintain these
distinctions, they are vital to a good discussion. Because if we have
different views as to what a word means, then we cannot properly
communicate when we use that word. Also, to discuss something we must
be able to either name or describe that ‘something’ during the
discussion.



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BOB

posted November 30, 2008 at 11:52 pm


Polyamory? That seems interesting to me.
So if a man meets a couple of bisexual women and the three of them all decided to form an exclusive mutual relationship (marriage) would that be wrong?



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Jonathan Brink

posted December 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm


It is so “nice” to know that we as followers of Jesus are leading the way towards showing love ;-P



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alan7388

posted December 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm


> Also, I do believe that we would
> be mostly in agreement on polyamory,
> so it would be a pretty uninteresting
> discussion.
(Proudly raises dissenting hand!) Quite a few of us polyfolks have been in wonderful longterm multi-sided relationships, with varying mixes of deep friendship, romance-among-companions, and the functional equivalent of group marriages; these are nothing if not “interesting.” I’m friends with a triad raising kids who are now in school. The three have been together for 14 years, and are getting on to the point that one of them has white hair. She says people who not in the know often assume she’s a live-in aunt or grandmother and tell her how lucky the kids are to be raised in a big “traditional” extended family.
Put the word polyamory into Wikipedia or Google and you may find ways of life that you did not realize can (among the right people, and with a lot of deliberation) work so well.
Here’s an article on religion and today’s polyamory by the religion reporter Andrea Useem:
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003979242_polyamory28.html
She expanded on the subject at religionwriter.com:
http://www.religionwriter.com/polyamory/polyamorys-faith-and-family-values/
Me, I run a site called Polyamory in the News:
http://polyinthemedia.blogspot.com./
…where you can click on the “Religion/Spirituality” category for more.



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daniel

posted December 1, 2008 at 1:18 pm


I think the Malthusian argument mentioned briefly in wiki under “polyamory” is interesting. If one looks at our ability to love as finite (a commodity, of sorts), then polyamory would result in an economy of diluted love. Not a compelling argument against polyamory but interesting.
An article that might be of interest:
https://culsnet.law.capital.edu/LawReview/BackIssues/31-3/Strassberg14.pdf
In it the author writes:
“[A} major contribution of monogamous marriage is that it
teaches autonomous individuals that social unity is the true experience of
individuality, by making the transcendent experience of romantic love
inextricably tied to a legal institution of marriage made possible by a state
defined by the rule of law. The experience of romantic love between two
polyamorous adults, however, would seem likely to always include a sense
of incompleteness, with one or both partners continuing to reserve an
interest in other partners, either in the present or future. Because they are
unwilling to fully surrender their individuality to their partner, they cannot
experience a transcendent unity in which their individuality is returned.”
This argument, at its core, is a Malthusian argument. The point that interested me the most deals with the theoretical poly’s “sense of incompleteness.” Social unity as the “true experience of individuality” and the inherent flaws to that a poly relationships … all very interesting.
Bob, I feel like it would be wrong. Theologically albeit there is a great argument for mono relationships concerning a sort of holy triad of love between two people and God but I am no theologian. Experience would tell me that there would be nothing healthy about having multiple partners. With only one wife I find it difficult to keep up. I can’t imagine adding more in the mix would help or be healthy…



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alan7388

posted December 1, 2008 at 2:01 pm


> If one looks at our ability to love as
> finite (a commodity, of sorts), then
> polyamory would result in an economy
> of diluted love.
It’s a truism in the polyamory world that while love may be infinite and unbounded (a polyamory symbol is a heart with an infinity sign), time and attention most definitely are not.
But this is purely a practical matter. Compare it to having more than one child, or more than one good friend. The love of a child, or of a friend, is not inherently flawed or spoiled by having another child or friend, now or in the future.
> “The experience of romantic love between two
> polyamorous adults, however, would seem likely
> to always include a sense of incompleteness,
> with one or both partners continuing to reserve an
> interest in other partners, either in the present
> or future. Because they are unwilling to fully
> surrender their individuality to their partner,
> they cannot experience a transcendent unity in
> which their individuality is returned.
Umm, it’s a sad fact of life that in this world, we cannot maintain transcendence indefinitely. By the nature of the human brain — or because of our fallen nature if you prefer — any state of transcendence in this world is temporary. Expectations that it will be permanent are unrealistically utopian and guarantee misery, in marriage or anywhere else.
Polys are often accused of being utopian (as Jubal Harshaw put it: “A wonderful system — for angels”). However, it’s the ideal of transcendent couple romance till the end of days that is the more utopian, and poly is, for those who make it work well, a happier adaptation to reality.
This viewpoint matches up with what we’re learning about the biochemistry of romantic love and bonding. A particular set of hormones mediates the transcendent, loopy state of being “in love,” or limerence. Polys sometimes call this NRE, “new-relationship energy.” In a successful long-term relationship this gives way, in typically 6 months to 2 years, to the more down-to-Earth, comfortable-warmth bonded state mediated by a different set of hormones. These states (or their outward signs) can be induced or suppressed chemically in animals.
Successful polys are, of necessity, good at understanding, supporting, and negotiating these transitions. There is nothing so heartwarming as sharing your partner’s NRE with someone new.
Of course this is not for everybody. It takes a huge amount of relationship work, self-knowledge, and willingness to stretch hard to new things. When in doubt, don’t. You are warned.



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daniel

posted December 1, 2008 at 3:02 pm


alan7388, thanks for the information. Am I correct in thinking that a majority of people who are “polys” do not wish for recognition by way of institutionalizing their relationships? The institution itself being a sort of civil pressure to encourage sexual acts to stay within the defined relationship, it would seem that polys would not be interested. If this is the case (that marriage is not desired) then this conversation has no bearing on the discussion at hand, although it is interesting to me. If they (polys) do desire recognition (in the same way that some same-sex couples do) then make the argument for why you believe this is necessary. I am curious. The idea of polyamory, even down to the symbol, makes me believe that state recognized marriage is not being sought, it wouldn’t make much sense to me.



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slyypper

posted December 1, 2008 at 3:06 pm


Daniel wrote:
>Experience would tell me that there would be nothing healthy about having multiple partners. With only one wife I find it difficult to keep up. I can’t imagine adding more in the mix would help or be healthy…



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daniel

posted December 1, 2008 at 4:13 pm


“with all due respect, you’re inferring from your monogamous experience that poly won’t work…”
Slyypper, of course that is what I was doing!
Todd, I was “declaring God’s Word void?” Please justify.
You also wrote:
“liberals are concerned with offending men whereas conservatives are concerned with offending God.”
Can someone be concerned with offending both?



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alan7388

posted December 1, 2008 at 10:36 pm


> Am I correct in thinking that a majority
> of people who are “polys” do not wish for
> recognition by way of institutionalizing
> their relationships?
My experience is that when poly activists discuss legalized group marriage, the discussion quickly runs into how extraordinarily complicated any state recognition or regulation of poly relationships would have to be.
Same-sex marriage is simple. It maps exactly onto the legal regime that already exists for straight couples. (At least this has been true since the courts started regarding men and women as equals.) But how would the law mandate, for instance, property rights and responsibilities in partial poly divorces? What about the rights and responsibilities of marriages that merge into pre-existing marriages? Setting default laws for multiple inheritance in the absence of a will… allocating Social Security benefits… it goes on.
And because there are many different basic kinds of poly relationships, compared to only one basic kind of couple marriage, each would need its own legal regime — and we know how good the state is at regulating complicated personal matters.
Moreover, poly relationships can change from one kind to another while continuing to exist. An equilateral triad can become a vee or vice versa, or something in between. The flexibility to adapt — to “let your relationships be what they are” — is a core value in the poly groups I know. How would the state keep up with any group’s particular situation?
I’ve also heard it argued that opportunities would abound for unscrupulous people to game the system in ways the law couldn’t easily address: for people to pretend that their poly relationship is a different kind than it really is, or that they’re in poly relationships when they’re not.
The discussions quickly come around, instead, to business-partnership models for poly households, such as subchapter-S corporations or family LLPs or LLCs. These are already well developed to handle a wide variety of contractual agreements between several people.
Looking farther ahead: good law follows reality, rather than precedes it. Fifty or 100 years from now when poly households are commonplace and their issues are well understood, I’m sure an appropriate body of law will have grown up organically to handle the issues that arise. At least that’s how it works when civil society is allowed to go about its business, free of religious or ideological compulsion.
If there is any kind of consensus about this in the poly community, I think it’s generally that religions should set marriage definitions for their members as they wish, and the state has no business enforcing these criteria against members of other religions or none. In other words, the legal-contractual part should be the state’s job, and the sacramental part should be for churches to define and enforce on their own voluntary members. Like it’s done in France, for instance.



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daniel

posted December 1, 2008 at 11:45 pm


Thanks.
“…the legal-contractual part should be the state’s job, and the sacramental part should be for churches to define and enforce on their own voluntary members.”
I agree with you on this.



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alan7388

posted December 2, 2008 at 12:26 pm


> whereas conservatives are concerned with offending God.
It’s entertaining to see Biblical conservatives tie themselves into a twist trying to put polygamy (and by extension modern polyamory) in the same “unBiblical” category as gay marriage — seeing as how the OT is chock full of righteous, Godly characters, from Job to Solomon, who had multiple wives.
And no, you can’t posit (as I’ve seen done) that Solomon had only one “real” wife and the rest were mistresses, because the OT clearly states that he had both wives *and* mistresses (scads of them), with the two different words for each category.
And no, a conservative can’t say this was limited to the Old Testament and “we’re past that now,” because (1) Then we could be past Leviticus too, hm? and (2) There are lines in the NT that imply polygamy was part of the normal background of life for the first Christians (i.e. that bishops should forego having more than one wife because it would take too much time away from being a good bishop.)



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Ed White

posted December 2, 2008 at 10:08 pm


Daniel wrote: “The institution itself being a sort of civil pressure to encourage sexual acts to stay within the defined relationship, it would seem that polys would not be interested”
While the institution traditionally is thought of as intending to restrict sex to sanctioned relationships between specific people, sex isn’t always a factor in either traditional marriage or poly families. Whether because of physical or psychic disabilities or difficulties, for instance, some people simply don’t have sex – and not all sexless marriages are loveless. This is surely a small minority, but important to keep in mind.
In fact, for a relationship to work between a non-sexualized person and a sexualized person, if those labels make sense, a polyamorous relationship would be ideal.
Beyond the idea of non-sexualized persons, you might say polyamory is simply a modern take on the age-old phenomenon of open marriages. Whether a sexless marriage wishes to stay together out of a deeper soul bond and love, or out of mercenary reasons, allowing sexual relations to exist beyond the marriage-proper is often essential.
I think a big issue here is the confusion of sex and love. Sex can be an expression of love, and some may argue that it always should be, but it simply isn’t always the case, just as sex isn’t just for procreation.



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daniel

posted December 2, 2008 at 11:19 pm


:) this entire thread has put a smile on my face.



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Your Name

posted December 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm


Doesn’t bisexual by it’s very name indicate promiscuity? And do bisexual people also want the right to marry? And if they are bisexual, does that mean that a bisexual should have the right to marry two people of either the same or opposite sex? This is getting very complicated. If being in love is the main critera for marriage, why can’t three or four people who are genuinely in love marry or is that called polygamy and why shouldn’t that be legal too if all the parties involved are truly in love?



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Your Name

posted December 11, 2008 at 2:50 pm


So What happened to the discussion. It seems you posted a couple times, the other guy never did and then it just died away. I hope you guys pick the discussion back up, or really get the two way discussion going.



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