There are lots of threatened people out there and many of them are (surprise! — Not) gay. One of them, GCB, read my recent post on polyamory and launched an interesting discussion on GayChristian.net. I don’t think many of the contributors to this dialogue actually read my post or they would have seen that it’s not a simple “polyamory good” or “polyamory bad” opinion. Still, it’s interesting to see a diversity of perspectives.
One commentor, GCB, noted that my opinion incorporated a developmental perspective that he found “unsettling.” The notion that as people evolve, the forms of relationship might actually evolve too, seems to be quite threatening to many people. (Especially to moralists who tend to be accepting of developmental hierarchies, just so their particular style of rigid morality is at the top.)
One thing, perhaps, some readers don’t fully appreciate about truly post-conventional relationships is that these relationships involve an awareness that sexuality does not necessarily need to be expressed in genital behaviors or conventional relationships. Sexuality involves a subtle energy exchange (yin and yang, masculine and feminine, etc.) that flows through all relationships, including platonic relationships with both genders. David Deida talks about the Eros of exchanging erotic energy with places: the feminine energy of lush Hawaii and the masculine energy of vivacious New York City. To use a bit of jargon, in post-conventional relationships there is a worldcentric expansion of our understanding of what sexuality is all about. Certainly it would be very difficult to argue that poly relationships are ipso factoexcluded from a more expansive, pansexual mode of being. In fact, it seems to me that the defenders of monogamy, particularly among gay male and lesbian couples (where objections related to childraising are frequently not at issue), have some serious explaining to do, if they want to argue that it’s wrong for others to explore alternative relationship styles.
Another common misunderstanding of my articulation of a developmental perspective on sexual relationships is the idea that somehow polyamorous relationships are better than monogamous. That’s not necessarily the case at all. I’ve only claimed that post-conventional relationships, given their deeper awareness of the pansexual forms in which the exchange of sexual energy occurs, have more options for expressing their sexual energy with more than one partner. A man can take a hot bubble bath and enjoy a connection to feminine sexual energy. A woman can use a dildo to stimulate herself genitally to experience masculine sexual energy, and so forth. If two people have taken vows to be sexually monogamous with each other for their entire lifetimes, then those vows need to be handled responsibly. I certainly have never said otherwise, though polyamory opponents seem to invariably get very nervous that monogamy is going to be flying out the window.
(Incidentally, one of the interesting things to watch for in polyamory debates is how traditional religionists use the Bible to defend monogamy, when the sacred text (at least in the so-called Old Testament) gives many examples of polygamous marriages and relationships. Often they will invoke some extra-biblical notion of spiritual evolution to justify their moral judgment. They may say that morality evolved from the Old Testament to the New Testament, or has evolved from the ancient days to the present. God’s law evolved, but then it stopped evolving! Because, uh, don’t ask.)