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Polyamory: Real Love Is Real Love (Part 2)

The following is a response to the Catholic Blog “Stumbling Toward Sainthood” and their “Polyamory: Another Attack on Real Love” series: https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/polyamory-another-attack-real-love-part-2/#more-1398

This is the second part of a rebuttal to the second part of their series. This will be a shorter rebuttal because their article is also shorter. I’ll also take some time to post my own “Why We Should Care” and “What We Should Do”.

Part 1 of this article can be read here: https://medium.com/@PolyamoryINC/polyamory-real-love-is-real-love-part-1-3c003c56a39f

In the first article, we talk about dogma versus data. Dogma will never be on our side. That’s not even a battle I would feel the need to fight. I understand there are certainly nonmonogamous and polyamorous people of all religions, including Catholicism. They may have their own dogmatic justifications just as gay Catholics have theirs.

That is not my place, so far as we’re talking dogma and not government policy. Frankly, I don’t care if the Catholic church doesn’t allow female priests, for instance. If that were hypothetically turned into stopping a female President, though, I’d certainly have something to say.

And this series isn’t a “You can be Catholic and polyamorous” argument. Frankly, I don’t believe, with my understanding, that you can be both. But that’s an individual’s choice, not mine. All I know is that the Pope says you can’t, so… that’s a case of the Polish saying:

Polish phrase: Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy

That translates to, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Thanks for the phrase, and thanks for the sausage, both equally satisfying to me.

So where is the line where someone like me cares? It’s when things move into secularism. The best way to raise children, for instance. I’m sorry, you’re not going to imply I’m a worse father, or that my son is worse off, for not being a Catholic father, for instance.

The line is where it is judging me, personally. And in writing, where it judges my community. And in thought, where it attempts to influence society.

Say what you will about the Amish, they aren’t blogging about how all the “English” are going to hell for driving their own cars. And yes, I realize that a blogging Amish is both an amusing and ironic picture.

But what I mean to say is that they apply THEIR standards to THEIR adherents. That is as it should be, because (with the exception of children), their adherents are voluntary. That’s a debatable for some… but let’s leave the argument there and just say that insofar as anyone volunteers for standards, the setting of those standards is perfectly fine and consensual.

The issue for society, though, is applying arbitrary standards to another group. And that is where I will take great issue.

Let’s start with that in mind as I quote the article.

I imagine some supporters of poly relationships are questioning why I care. They may argue that it isn’t harming anyone. I however disagree.
As Christians, we should want to see everyone know the love of God and go to heaven. God has made it clear that polygamy is not a valid form of marriage and polyamorous relationships aren’t good for us. At the very least, this is why we should speak out against poly relationships. — https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/polyamory-another-attack-real-love-part-2/#more-1398

As I pointed out in my first article, this harm is completely theologically based, not fact based. So I’m not returning to that.

But I want to note one phrase here, “As Christians, we should want to see everyone know the love of God and go to heaven.”

There’s this guy named Tom Cruise. He belongs to a church, too. And he believes that, paraphrasing in the same way, ‘As Scientologists, we should want to see everyone saved, to eliminate unbelievers.’ He says as much in a leaked internal Scientology video with him speaking about this.

So, no offense to this blogger’s faith, but… I hear this junk justification from every evangelizing religion on earth, from the Evangelicals, to Islam, to Scientology… and I’m even sure Jim Jones was in the “we have a responsibility to help these idiots who don’t know the TRUTH” camp.

You are free to believe that harm exists in what people do as listed by your sins, but let’s draw a clear line here. You are not justified when that crosses a line of consent, manipulation, or coercion.

I’m not saying you, personally, are crossing that line. But we watched the same-sex marriage debate and court cases. Catholics, Mormons, Evangelicals (all of you believing that the other’s are going to hell or purgatory, ironically), believing that you were justified to tell others what to do because you were “saving them”… against their will.

So when you end with “At the very least, this is why we should speak out against poly relationships,” I say… not the least, but the most.

And I don’t mean to be offensive, but I will be confrontational… that is exactly ALL you will do.

I’ve heard threats from other Christian preachers towards us, so maybe this may catch you off guard exactly how downright confrontational this will be.

But careful when you say, “the very least”, because we’ve seen others declare war, and that’s sort of a… leaving your options open statement which I can’t let slide by.

Speak your peace, set your dogma. Enjoy 2/3 of the 1st Amendment all wrapped in a bow, Free Speech and Free Religion.

But come after us with policy changes, laws, breaking up our families, or criminalizing what consenting adults do… and the only trinity involved to is going to be something like “Manning, Jenkins, and Jackson — Attorney’s At Law”.

You will find that little 1/3 left of the 1st Amendment, Freedom of Assembly, is one heck of a thing to try and stop.

The second argument from the blog is the exact one made against same-sex marriage.

Christian bakers and florists have had to pay astronomical fines or even lost their businesses. Religious organizations are told they have to hire people who actively contradict Christian teaching. Speaking the truth about marriage is declared bigotry. It is not far-fetched to believe that the government redefining marriage to include polygamy would have similar impacts. — https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/polyamory-another-attack-real-love-part-2/#more-1398

Let me start with the second part, that’s simply not true.

Really, religious organizations are told they have to hire people who actively contradict Christian teaching? Bolderdash!

Churches have full freedom to fire anyone they wish on theological grounds. This extends not just to organizations that claim non-profit religious status, but even as far as privately held for-profit businesses ignoring government regulations for religious grounds. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burwell_v._Hobby_Lobby_Stores,_Inc.

You mean to tell me my boss can ignore the law because his religious rights supercede employment rights, and the freaking business isn’t actually a protected religious establishment… just the goofy stuff him and his nutball preacher think up in some parish basement?

The amount of leeway affording to religious freedom over all else is astounding, and under no threat.

And for any case where you show that an organization HAS had to change to comply, I’ll bet you 20 to 1 that organization is taking Federal Funds. Rather than skip out on all that money, and truly be independent, they caved.

You want the money… you follow the rules… that’s not stopping religious freedom. And the game is played both ways. I don’t see any federal funds paying for abortion services. So don’t cry foul when it’s all about the money, not your religion.

Now, let’s talk about bakers. Personally, I don’t agree with that decision on more political grounds. On the other hand, I see the problem of allowing bakers to turn away customers.

Hobby Lobby might be able to change employee policy, but what about turning away customers who are LGBT? Imagine if Walmart said, “We don’t sell food to gays.”

There’s quite a fine line where you can see that, no, refusing business because of who a person is can cross into civil disorder. The purpose of government is to preserve peace, safety, and order.

So, I’m sorry that a couple bakers have to slap on two grooms. Walmart both has to sell them the meat and party trays, as well as let them buy milk, eggs, and gasoline. Because your freedom, extended to its logical conclusion, would starve people you disagree with to death.

I’m sorry, but in that case… screw the church. And the argument of “well, the non-religious can always feed you” doesn’t really go along with the plan to convert everyone, now does it?

“Convert or die” is both a call from the Middle Ages and what we see from groups like ISIS.

This may seem like a stretch to you, but again, back to the “the least we can do” statement is quite open ended.

On the other hand, when it comes to the artwork on cakes, I’ll agree. I don’t think someone has to make artwork they disagree with. Yes, you have to sell me two grooms. Yes, you have to bake a cake and give it basic decorations. And to me, NO, you don’t have to say, “Congrats Adam and Steve, you’re such a fabulously gay couple!”

But hey, just saying I’m on your side. Art is a little different, a little more personal. I wouldn’t want to force a baker to write what they consider blasphemy with their own hand. And I think that is a fine line. So yes, I’m compromising on the “acting on what’s in their hearts”.

But if you say I can’t buy a sheet cake with the same basic decorations and/or generic words? No, sorry, doesn’t fly. You don’t get to starve me to death by trying to create 10 points of from my eating cake at a gay wedding and you putting frosting around the edge of yellow cake.

A line has to be drawn, and drawn long before some jackass at Burger King says that putting my whopper through the broiler is against his religion because he can’t prepare “gay meat”.

As you might forget, you are not the only religion out there, and few of us are wanting sharia law enforcement at the butcher, hasidic law at the baker, and Westboro Baptist at the baker.

Sorry, tough luck… and no sympathy.

The author moves on to “What We Can Do”, and so shall we.

One thing we need to do is share the love of God. I suspect that many seek polyamorous relationships because they are trying to fill the space for God with human relationships. — https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/polyamory-another-attack-real-love-part-2/#more-1398

This may seem like a 180 degree reversal, but I’m going to 100% agree with the author.

There’s a saying in swinging. Swinging makes a good marriage great, but highlights the flaws in a bad marriage. Or as I like to put it, if you are turning to nonmonogamy to save your marriage, you’re 95% more likely to blow it up.

The only thing that saves a relationship is working on THAT relationship. People open up relationships correctly for many reasons. But those that open up as a “fix all” are doing so for the one worst reason.

The author chalks this up to filling up the space for God with human relationships. And, having been a preacher, I know exactly what she is saying.

When I went through divorce and walked away from the church, the first was not my choice, the latter was definitely my choice, I felt a little empty you might say.

That comes from leaving a community and a marriage. While a preacher, church community was my entire community. I lost all my friends. It was extremely depressing.

But that’s not when I turned to nonmonogamy. In fact, I turned to a relationship that quickly included nonmonogamy and it was extremely light for many reasons. It was by no means polyamorous.

Often, that “god hole” described by many is a sense of belonging, a sense of community, and the feeling of purpose reinforced by ritual. And yes, people can try to fill that with relationships.

And no, filling that entirely with romantic relationships isn’t the most healthy thing. It has to be filled with self confidence, purpose and meaning, belonging, and a sense of community. Churches are usually one stop shops for this feeling.

But I can tell you that you can build it other ways such as volunteer work. Even most Christians concede that anywhere is a church when you are doing God’s work… and even many an atheist can call feeding and clothing people the fulfillment of that definition.

Of course, if I go too deep into this subject, I’m going to start going off about how churches are full of lazy no-doers (my prime frustration as a preacher). And that won’t do, even if I wanted to do that… For those of you who don’t know, Protestants are more of the “by works” and Catholics are more of the “by faith”.

In the end, my audience is mainly do-gooders who (and you’d better) know that doing good is its own reward. And polyamory isn’t going to fulfill you in quite the same way… just as you already know you don’t need to sleep with all your friends, that having “just friends” is rewarding and valuable in its own way.

Filling it all with lovers… damn, that’s just depressing, to be honest.

Christians need to get our act together when it comes to marriage. Our credibility when it comes to talking about marriage is rightly questioned when we ourselves aren’t living up to the requirements of marriage. We need to be faithful to our spouses. We need to recognize that marriage is a lifelong commitment. — https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/polyamory-another-attack-real-love-part-2/#more-1398

Except for the lifelong commitment getting a shrug from me, I’m 100% down with every bit of this. Gotta get the mote out of your own eye first, as it were.

Or as I put it… if I’m already going to hell, why are the churches worried about me when they already have pews full of hell bound sinners? ;)

We need to address the horrendous stereotype that fathers are idiots when it comes to child-rearing. We need to address all issues plaguing American marriage and not just focus on same-sex unions. — https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/polyamory-another-attack-real-love-part-2/#more-1398

Hallelujah and Amen! I can certainly get behind that. I’m not !@#$ing Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin, and quite frankly, that kind of thing infuriates me WAY more than what church people have to say about my sex life.

And there are some very deep marriage issues going on in America. It has not adapted to the equalizing effects of gender roles that started in the 1960s, and is under such strain that I for one am not surprised that younger people are not even considering marriage now.

Marriage today is a stress and debt machine to continually sprint towards the “dream” where the house will be perfect, the kids have college paid, and we have fabulous sex all the time, all paid for by Visa and Mastercard, that is if you can ever pay off the student debt and the double mortgage.

The author ends by saying something very intimate, I think.

I know as a young woman who has been married a little more than a year, my comments don’t carry much weight, but Christians, we need to share the truth about marriage by living it. — https://stumblingtowardsainthood.com/polyamory-another-attack-real-love-part-2/#more-1398

When I was a year married, my child wasn’t even a glimmer. We were active in our church, both working, one of us in college. We had a small two bedroom house on a cul de sac.

We were young. Life was simple. We were happy.

And things changed. Not instantly, but slowly. Over time, we talked less, wanted more, as though we’d run through all the “goals” and we were supposed to just grow old and be happy.

Some couples do grow together, perpetually feeding each other.

But for most people that stick together over time, all those 60 year marriage stories we hear, it wasn’t about romantic love at all. It was just “what you did”, to society’s norms, to get along, to survive.

It’s not like the woman could go out and get a job. Marriage was all she knew.

We now have an independence unsurpassed by previous generations. We have more wants, more dreams, and more opportunity.

For many, marriage may start great, but over time, turns into the realization of “settling”. And when one person starts believing “I can do better”, they have no financial, familial, or societal reason to stay.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. In fact, it is why I’m a new kind of preacher. I’m a polyamory preacher.

I tell the happily married of 20 years to be VERY careful before coming near this. But welcome the young into a more stable moral framework.

I know this runs counter to the Catholic culture, but the author did such a good job defining polyamory and that polyamorous people are happy, that I’ll state WHY we do what we do.

Polyamory is much more stable. It is a good cure for many’s “I can do better” thinking. It is a cure for the couple married 5 years with a 2 year old, who are starting to get sick of each other.

For many, marriage and the old relationship escalator feels like a prison. Women are being asked to “honor, cherish, and obey” quite a few assholes out there. And dogma doesn’t give many options to get out, save for going celibate and praying that heroine addicted husband who sold all their furniture for their last fix changes his ways, so they can return to that life long marriage.

And even when not in the extreme, people fall out of love. No matter how much Jesus you rub on a relationship, you can’t put that spark back in most times. Trust me, been there, tried that… tried the hell out of that.

And my only mistake was trying it again, for a second time, with far worse results.

And this story can be told by so many nonmonogamous people… what changed things for me was when I let go of my expectations. When I let people love me who loved me, and loved who I loved.

When I stopped trying to “own” the other person… When I valued honesty over some arbitrary fidelity… I learned that another person couldn’t “take” someone from me. Only I could lose someone.

I was MORE responsible for my relationships. I couldn’t count on a piece of paper, or a promise not to sleep with other men. That ring didn’t stop the sleeping around or the ripping of that paper.

I had put faith in God, faith in marriage, faith in being parents, faith in a shared mortgage.

None of that stopped a single divorce. None of that stopped my life from being ripped apart.

In Polyamory, I am responsible for myself, for my own happiness, and for keeping my relationships.

I don’t entangle financial and romantic relationships. Some do, but not doing this works for me.

I don’t entangle living arrangements. Some do, but not doing this works for me.

I always keep my heart open to love. And in doing so, I feel more love for my other partners than I did in marriage.

I loved both of my wives. Both divorces took years before I got over them.

And I loved being married. But the harder I hung on, the faster they slipped through my fingers.

So, I understand and appreciate the author admitting some personal experience limitations.

I turn 40 next year. My first long term relationship started when I was 17. I met my first wife when I was 20. I was through two divorces by the time I was 32. At that point, I’d devoted most of my life believing in one, lifelong marriage. I believed in it even when I tried to save one of them with nonmonogamy after some pretty horrific episodes of cheating on their part.

When I decided that I would be polyamorous, and only polyamorous from then on… a weight lifted from me. I felt more myself finally. I didn’t feel I was trying for these marriages because “that’s just what you did”.

So, from my point of view… it’s not naive to believe in something like lifelong marriage. But it’s utterly insane to keep believing in something that’s turned out to be nothing but painful bullshit.

I look at my own life and see. Lifelong marriage the best option? Nope, not for me. And with who I am with now, I’m glad I’m not forced today to try to make either of those marriages work again. I did do much better, for me.

Some might say “Well, if you could have only found the best person possible, it would have worked.” Yeah, and as my dad used to say, if reindeer flew, your car would be covered with more than birdshit.

There’s no formula for happiness. Not monogamy. Not polyamory.

But there is a formula for misery. And that’s trying to live someone else’s idea of happiness in spite of all the evidence to the contrary that it’s not working.