The Logic of Polyamory

Logic of Polyamory“A survey commissioned by USA Network of 18-34 year olds in four cities (Austin, Omaha, Nashville, and Phoenix) found that 10 percent of respondents endorsed multiple partners within a marriage, ‘each of whom fulfills a need in your life,’” reports Leah Lebresco in her reflection on the failures of “polyamory” I commended this morning.

I’m relieved that the percentage is only 10. I would have thought it would be higher and it might well have been had the study included more cities on the east and west coasts. Perhaps the cultural image of an exclusive marriage still forms people’s vision of marriage, or they have some moral intuition of the good of sexual exclusivity, or more likely both, with the fact that very few people like the idea of their spouse being sexually intimate with someone else adding force to the cultural image and moral intuition.

I would have thought the percentage would be higher because polyamory plays out directly the logic of the sexual revolution many of those people hold. I wrote about this a few years ago for the Inside Catholic website (it had succeeded Crisis magazine and has now reverted to the name of Crisis).

The article began with the statement of a group called Unitarian Universalists for Polyamory Awareness and my prediction that they would be the frontrunner of a movement that would find a home in the mainline churches and dissenting Catholicism. Here’s a summary of the article:

The sexual liberal still seems to believe in monogamy. He insists that you should only have sex with someone, and just one someone, with whom you are in “a committed relationship.” You may climb into bed with only one person at a time, for a period that should last some years, and only if the two of you have some sort of formal commitment, so that others will recognize you as a couple. He wants to extend this privilege to people who desire sex with their own sex, and wants to let people try again if their current commitment fails.

He believes in monogamy, but his theology does not in any way require him to believe in it. He does not accept the biblical and…

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