Saturday, July 7, 2007
Step right up to the discussion of UU polyamory.
I have almost nothing to add to the discussion of "polyamory" and Unitarian Universalism over at The Lively Tradition. After all, LT is very competently taking the sort of position I'd take. For anyone who is interested in a previous go-round on this issue, I'll point back to my commentary on polyamory from 2004:
Here's the short version of my perspective, from the second post:
I have argued that suggesting that polyamory represents any sort of "next step" in Unitarian Universalist marriage ethics plays directly into one of the more viscerally compelling (if logically implausible) arguments against same-sex marriage. When conservatives charge that polyamory is next on the slippery slope, how is it helpful to have liberals urging us to start slipping? . . . Is there a slippery slope or isn't there? Look: a strictly "strategic" argument against polyamory essentially concedes that the conservatives are right — polygamy is next on our agenda — but hopes nobody will notice if we don't bring it up just yet. I'm saying that this would be a foolish way to go.
Which leaves three options. The first option is to ignore polyamory. (But it won't go away. It has an advocacy group that wants press coverage and congregational and denominational recognition.)
The second is to acknowledge that Unitarian Universalists have no principled reason to participate in civil marriage at all. By this logic, we're only really committed to individual sexual freedom and object to any legal, religious, or societal constraints on it that aren't established by the participants themselves. This would mean that our churches should stop celebrating marriage ceremonies and our ministers should stop signing marriage licenses — permanently. If marriage is oppressive, wrong, and disciminatory by its very nature, then let's get off that bandwagon altogether. (The chances that our society will buy this line of thinking are nil. The chances that UUs will buy this line of thinking are perhaps somewhat higher.)
The third option is to recognize that the liberal church does have a stake in some social institutions, including marriage. We may not have done much thinking about it lately, but in practice Unitarian Universalists recognize that marriage is a good thing not just for the couple but for the community, that improving and strengthening marriage is a liberal goal, and that our advocacy of gay marriage is rooted not in sexual libertarianism but in a deeper recognition of the value of marriage itself. That's why Unitarian Universalist leaders should oppose calls for the legal or religious recognition of polygamy on principled grounds, and not merely strategic grounds. It is inconsistent with our goals for marriage.
As for comments on this site, I have absolutely no interest in arguing about the merits of polyamory itself. For that conversation, please do visit The Lively Tradition. If you have something to say about the church's relationship to society or to the state, especially regarding marriage, have at it.
Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 7 July 2007 at 7:38 PM