Voicing the suspicion that the Independent Affiliate disaffiliation has actually been an institutional and administrative dodge to the question of polyamory and the UUPA has, as could be expected, kicked off a discussion of the same subject on this blog. So be it.
Some of where I am coming from.
1. Monogamy has been the norm in this culture for a long time. It is a restraint in that it does not come easily to everyone. It chafes. It calls for self-discipline.
2. Other cultures practice various forms of polygamy, and that is usually to the detriment of women. How this works out in the new global culture coming is anyone's guess.
3. There has been, also, a bohemian rebellion against monogamy among the more privileged sets for quite a while under a variety of names: free love, open marriage, and now "polyamory". Polyamory is a neologism -- a new and made up word which carries within itself a loaded message. Who is against more and many loves? The question is not how many people we love, but how we structure our relationships.
In my view, those who advocate Multi-Partnered Relationships are proposing a significant change in the way that our culture has understood the bonds and covenants that make families. Changes in those norms have occurred in the recent past: the widespread acceptance of divorce, the widespread acceptance of pre-marital sex, the still-unfolding movement to legally recognize two-person same-sex relationships as legally and morally equivalent to heterosexual unions. So, a further change is being proposed.
Should Unitarian Universalism support and advocate for this far-reaching change in the cultural mores of the society who looks to us for guidance about these matters? And we do have some cultural authority on these matters of sexuality. We have shown to have a pretty good grasp of what is not only good for individuals, but also healthy for the society, in these areas over the last half century, with one exception. Our experiments with "open marriage" in the 60's-70's proved to be not prophetic of a liberated future, but an exercise in self-indulgence.
I believe that those who propose changing our collective position on two-person marriage bear the burden of proof that such a change is warranted, necessary, and socially responsible. One of my tests is a question that my mother used to ask me when she objected to some aspect of my behavior, "What if everybody did that?" It is that test which separates the self-indulgent from the socially responsible policies.
The advocates of multi-partnered relationships within the UUA have taken a passive-aggressive stance toward the association, its churches and especially its ministers. Rather than trying to demonstrate that the widespread, and eventual, legal recognition of multi-partnered relationships is warranted, necessary and socially responsible, they have asked UU's to prove that they are not prejudiced, ignorant and backward by advocating for them. Their most specific request, when you get right down to it, is that UU ministers protect them from the potential disapproval of other congregants. Nothing stops multi-partnered folks from joining our congregation -- I have never heard of them being denounced or condemned by any church body or official or minister -- nothing stops them from being as open as they wish about their relationships -- except that they are fearful that many of their fellow congregants would disapprove.
They have adopted the stance that the potential disapproval of their fellow congregants is a prejudice against them, similar to homophobia, or racism. But there is no convincing evidence offered that being in a multi-partnered relationship is anything other than a choice that they have made. Republicans, gun-owners, and drivers of Hummers also claim to be victims of prejudice in UU congregation, but having to live with the fact that some people will disagree with the choices you have made does not constitute prejudice.
The shaky claim to being the victim of prejudice is the defining characteristic of a passive-aggressive stance toward others, because it shifts the burden of resolving the difference to the other party. Prove to me that you are not prejudiced against me.
Read the comments on the blog post where this has arisen and see that almost every pro-polyamory posting starts with an accusation of prejudice, immaturity, ignorance, suspicion and uptightness. Round two starts with the concern that failing to respond properly to the suggestion that one is prejudiced shows one's defensiveness and anger. To which I say, "Don't play that game in my house."
I invite comments that seek to demonstrate that the widespread and eventual legal recognition of multi-partnered relationships is warranted (solves a real problem), necessary (no other path will correct existing problems) and socially responsible (will increase the stability of families for the benefit of children, women and the social order.)