More on Polyamory, Apes, and the Evolution of Marriage

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On the comments section of a previous post, FreeXenon has been vigorously arguing that multiple sex-partners is a normal part of human nature and should be recognized as such. He condemns the "traditional marriage" of one man and one woman as little more than slavery and suggests that we should take after apes and raise our children in multiple-parent groups. My responses will be in-line with my summary of his comments (they are much too long to include here):

1. You people who believe in only monogamous marriage are crazy. You are just trying to scare people with your talk of society and morality.

False, ad hominem attack. We are the sane, respectable people (and the majority, I might add) out there. We are parents, teachers, clergy members, doctors, business owners and decent church-going folk. The majority of Prop 8 donations came in small amounts from individuals. (By contrast, the majority of anti-Prop 8 donations came from big business, government and private activist associations.)

2. You guys think it is better to cheat on one spouse than to have multiple sexual partners.

Nope. We think they are both terrible. But I suppose from the child’s standpoint, the father leaving the mother for another woman still preserves the structure of the traditional family while if the child is raised by many “fathers” and “mothers” they will lack the parental intimacy necessary in child raising. Infidelity in any romantic relationship is devastating and crushing to all those involved.

3. Nature never necessitated one man and woman to be in a monogamous relationship to raise a child. Rather, many animals have multiple sexual partners and children are often raised in "untraditional" family groups. They work well there and also so in human society. Humans were never meant to be monogamous and society is "going against nature" with traditional marriage.

If nature had never intended that a child be raised by one man and one woman, why does it require just that formula to conceive one? Why would humans invent the idea of mothers and fathers if it was not necessary? Why are children in our society that lack a present father so often maladjusted? What proof do you have that humans just “made up” our very deep-seeded, primeval concept of the married unit?

The only “proof” you offer is that some animals have multiple sexual partners too and raise children in groups. And this proves that those characteristics are “evolutionarily” superior? Which race has been more successful? Silverback Gorillas or humans? “Civilization” including stable homes and families has catapulted the human race to be much more successful than any other race on earth. And you want us to go back to acting like apes?

4. Biblical, Chinese and Muslim marriages are "property exchange" deals. This is the history of marriage.

No, the history of marriage begins with one man and one woman coming together to conceive and raise a child. Nature provided them with romantic feelings that encourage this bond. This ideal has been corrupted from all sides, with authoritarian chauvinists on the one side and homosexuality/polyamory on the other. Both sides try to hijack marriage for their own selfish purposes—authoritarians for control, sexual deviants for social recognition. But both sides are destructive to the original intent of marriage and threaten to undo all the benefit it has given our society. Marriage is the basis of society, which has propelled our race to the greatest the earth has ever seen. Again, you want to return us to the state of animals.

5. There are laws in place to prevent child/incest/bestiality/inanimate object marriage because (duh) they are illogical. And other than incest, the other party is not able to "consent" to the marriage. Therefore they are invalid.

And there were laws to prevent “gay marriage” because (duh), if marriage is between a man and woman, it doesn’t make sense to marry a man and a man. If you allow the definition to be changed, where does it stop? How can you justify one change “because some people want it” and not others? What if the entire city of San Diego “consents” to be married to each other so that single individuals can now enjoy tax and social benefits. With your reasoning, how can you justify saying no?

6. You crazy conservatives/Christians have the belief that you only have so much love to give so it should all be given to your spouse. You do this to control people. (But wait . . . you also teach to love your kids, parents, friends, your neighbor - meaning everybody--) Alright, well you teach you can only love one person romantically/intimately. Well, that' stupid. You can sexually love as many people as you have time for.

I love it when agnostics/athiests tell us Christians what we believe. (I don't believe I mentioned Christianity or religion at all in my post or comments, by the way.) You caught on the point as you were trying to explain it away: There are at least two kinds of love (for example, the way you love your mom and the way you love your spouse). You can love many people as friends. You can love many people as family. But you can only love one person in a married sense. (People who have tried otherwise end up losing the trust and relationship with those involved.) You can have multiple sexual partners, but then you will never experience the intimate relationship of a monogamous couple. If you believe that a close monogamous relationship can be duplicated with multiple partners, than it is obvious you have no idea what marriage is about.
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FreeXenon said...

The strange thing is that none of the above is even close to a direct quote from the original thread. Your rebuttals are to your own erroneous arguments.

Anyone who cares to see what I really said and how you heinously misrepresented my position may choose to check out the original thread:

You have misrepresented, slanted and all-and-out lied about my position, especially in your introduction. =( Sad, really. =(

I will address some of your lies and misrepresentations below. There are soooo many. =(

Anyone who wants to see the real conversation please see the other thread and judge for yourselves:

I will never and have never condemned heterosexual monogamy. It is an integral part to our humanity, but it is just not the only answer, or our only instinct. Monogamy does not work for everyone, and neither does polyamory.

Evolutionary Psychology and Evolutionary Biology support that humans are not wholely monogamous by nature. The other thread went over the specifics.

Anthropology and historical evidence also supports that polygamy and other untraditional family structures have been apart of almost every single society's history, and is apart of some cultures today still.

A key point to polyamory is that it is not specifically about multi-partner sexual relationships. It emphasizes intellectual and emotional intimacy, as well as sexual intimacy. It is about consensual non-monogamy through open and honest communication. That goes both ways for the male and the female partners.

Conservative religions teach sex negetivity, the starvation model of love, as well as use of monogamy as a tool of control. See other thread for the real conversation.

Our culture is more accepting of infidelity by turning a blind eye than they are of an open and honest polyamorous relationship, which is reviled. Again open and honesty is opposed. Baffling. See other thread for the real conversation.

Backing of Proposition 8 was heavily funded by a concerted effort of the Mormon Church to the tune of $20 million or so, if I remember correctly.

Uggghhh! There is so much here that is incorrect. I will not spend my whole day correcting you arguing with yourself.

See the original thread for the real arguments:

Please approve my last 2 comments in the other thread that are waiting in yoru moderator's queue so I can respond. Thanks.... =(

I can understand your frustration. Your points do sound pretty disingenuous when they're stated clearly.

I would encourage readers to go back and check the accuracy of my summaries of your points, but I doubt they will; they are much too long and rambling. The truth is simple and clear and self-evident. You have already submitted 7 very long comments to try and prove your fundamentally flawed points (plus links to more long, rambling explanations).

With cura-te-ipsum, I also wonder what kind of life-experienced have lead you to hold such poor views of love and marriage. Inexperience or bitterness? For those of us with experience in real relationships, your arguments would be laughably wrong if they weren't so serious.

Anonymous said...

FreeXenon, you certainly seem to have some unusual ideas about marriage. In our society polygamy is frowned upon at the moment although it has a long history in other ancient societies.

The religious literature I have read about sexuality teaches it from a positive perspective. I've never heard of this "starvation model" you are talking about. It doesn't seem to describe anything about what I believe marraige and sexuality to be.

FreeXenon, are you suggesting that society would be better off embracing polygamy in the hope that it would reduce the incidents of infidelity?

FreeXenon said...

@John Galt: The only thing disingenuous is your post. Using mix-and-match and a complete misrepresentation of an opponents points is a clever, but unethical rhetorical device. =(

The simple truth is not so simple, by virtue of the fact that we are debating it and that there are a significant number of others who believe the same. There have been many news articles and TV shows that are discussing poly and bringing it to the forefront of consideration for our society.

The current monogamy only model is limiting and is founded on flawed assumptions and fear. I am not saying that it cannot work, because it certainly does for many people, but it does not work for everyone.

@Secular Heretic:

Polygamy, as a marital model in-and-of-itself would not prevent infidelity. I think we have plenty of examples of this in the Mormon and Muslim worlds, and with that being said it is also important to note their oppressive cultural attitude towards women. Both are a distinctly patriarchal in their cultures. =( Polygamy is merely the state of having more than on spouse. Polygamy is just a suceptable to our human faults as monogamy is, perhaps even more so because there are more people involved.

Polyamory, as a relationship model which promotes open and honest relationships, and a realistic view of our human tendencies, would help to prevent infidelity. Part of that equation is that polyamory promotes a sex positive culture and taking responsibility for our needs, which we definitely do not currently have under the air of conservatism that currently reigns.The current expectation is that mythical 'the one' or 'soulmate' theory. Once you open your mind to honestly consider the merits of polyamory things will change. =)

I thought I had posted a link to a polyamory intro in the previous thread, but it looks like I have not so here's one that I have written. There are also a list of resources (books, video, audio, and articles) there for more information:

If you search for articles on polyamory you will find people who talk about their positive experiences and their thoughts and feelings as to why it makes sense. Do not just take my word for it, there are many, many others out there who have found polyamory setting them free from the oppressive monogomy only model, since it is the only culturally acceptable choice. Are there bad stories about polyamory, of course there are, just like there are bad experiences with monogamy. Most people are not really ready to undertake polyamory. Like I said poly is not for everyone.

It is harder to think of the starvation model when your world view is firmly rooted inside of it. When you consider polyamory which is outside what you are used to, then it will be easier to see the truth in the 'starvation model'. It is harder to see it when that is all that you have known, since it becomes viceral to your world view. Reaching beyond that is no easy task especially when it is counter to the conservative popular cultural ideals.

BTW, thank you everyone for the debate. I have found this quite educational and informative. =)

FreeXenon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
FreeXenon said...

***Response from previous thread***


Thank you for calling me out. I do have a bias against conservative religions. I try to limit that in my writings, but it always comes out and it is generally applicable to the topics that I generally discuss, such as this one. =(

Conservatism has opposed almost every single civil rights movement that we have undergone, and the root impetus for those movements is conservative Christianity, who are the most vocal opponents. They have supported slavery and apartheid, and have opposed womens suffrage, interracial and gay marriage to name a few. Too much is conservative religion used as a tool for oppression, violence, and the perpetuation of civil rights violations, and this greatly saddens and angers me. =(

Intimacy and Romance can also have nothing to do with lust, which is a concept of Christianity. The use of this word does show part of the problem. You post does show significant bias this way. Physically and emotionally intimate relationships are stimatized and looked down upon. You can only have one at time, and to want or to find another one is a horrible and shameful thing, even if your partner is very OK with it and encourages it.

The intimacy in polyamory is not just physical in nature. Emotional and Intellectual intimacy is also very key. It is possible to be monogamously married and have a poly relationship with another person on a purely emotional and intellectual level which could never includes a physical component.

I want you to show me empircal statistics that compare monogamous to polyamorous relationship length. You are making an assumption based on your biased opinion on this topic. Raven Caldera, the writer of "Pagan Polyamory", has been in a poly relationship for a very long time since the late 60's, if I remember correctly. Open Relationships here in the US have not really come into our consciousness prior to the free love movement in the 60's, so this is a good example.

This comment has been removed by the author.

On his blog FreeXenon wrote a (*surprise*) lengthy article on how to prevent jealousy in romantic relationships, which he blames on (*surprise*) the "starvation model of love." (ie. People don't like sharing their romantic partners with other people.)

Hmmmm... looks like that polyamory is working out real well for ya, huh?

FreeXenon said...

Again, you are incorrect in your words and your assumptions. =(

One, the article is on Understanding and Managing Jealousy, and not 'preventing jealousy'.

Two, how could I write this if If was having problems with it?

Three, I am not polyamorous.

*shakes head*

cura_te_ipsum said...

Your stereotypes of conservative Christians have limited your understanding and love for them. I feel sorry for you. I also feel somewhat disrespected that you associate "slavery, apartheid, opposition to womens suffrage[...], oppression, violence, and the perpetuation of civil rights violations" with me as a conservative Christian when you have no idea who I am and what I do every day. What I really don't understand about your judgments is that those things you think I am part of have nothing to do with what God teaches. I guess you'll never know, and likely don't care to, understand where a Christian like myself is coming from. Therefore, I don't think our conversation is going to achieve anything. Good luck with your agenda. Too bad we wasted so much time on it.
ps. If conservative Christians are saddening and angering you so much, you might want to consider forgiveness or some other method to limit how much your emotions are controlled by them. Life should be more about love and joy than anger and stereotypes.

FreeXenon said...

I don't necessarily care what the church teaches. I care what people do with those teachings. Some can choose to promote prejudice and bigotry, and some choose tolerance and acceptance. What we have here is prejudice that is strongly supported and promoted by conservative Christianity, is it not? This is seen against the more popular gay rights movements, and against the newly foming poly rights movement too. Religion can be used as a tool for oppresion or for freedom, and here we distinctly have oppression.

I am not associating you specifically with those things. I am sure all of you are great people. I am associating your mindset, which is the same mindset that was prevalent in those who supported those, what we now consider vile, things.Check out the Church's standpoint on these issues' in height of their day, and you will see they supported slavery and so on - "the marked children of Caine". The current Gay Marriage and Polygamy civil rights movements are distinctly opposed by you, correct? There is a pattern here and it is that pattern that I am speaking to and hoping to break.

Some times it is hard for me to separate the people from the mindset and in writing this respsone you have helped me to delve further into it. Thanks.

Are all Christians like this? Most definitely not. Many do carry the love, acceptance, and openness of Christianity which is far evidenced by all of the mission work and social programs that they do, but a vocal majority fall in the other camp. It is those people that I rally against, since it is they who have the greatest affect on public opinion. I rally against the prejudice and close mindedness that is consistently promoted by a vocal majority of conservative Christianity. This mindset is very latent in the arguments here. The rest of Christianity I have no real problem with. =)

Thank you all for the debate.

and just tnoticed that I had a post of mine deleted.... =(

FreeXenon, I have approved all 12 of your comments on the two different articles and have only deleted the duplicates.


Repeating your arguments over and over do not make them any more right. I currently allow recent comments to go unapproved for the convenience of my readers but your abuses may make me have to change that policy.

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