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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fundamentalists on Polyamory and Consanguinamory

I came across this when searching for this poignant story. It’s a website for reactionary evangelicals, primarily ones who oppose the liberalization taking place in their own church hierarchies. They’re commenting on the same story.
The comments are fascinating to read. The topic forces them to delve into not just homosexuality, but polyamory and consanguinamory. What makes their conversation important is that the people commenting aren’t your standard fare reactionaries: they’re very articulate and aware of the various arguments. This gives us a great window into what we’re fighting against.
I don’t think that is Integrity’s [i.e. IntegrityUSA, a pro-queer Episcopalian non-profit] end goal right now, but I can easily see, 30 years from now, Susan Russell and Gene Robinson leaving [the Episcopal Church] in a huff when it ordains its first bishop in a polyamorous relationship, and the new mainstream of [the Episcopal Church] will call them fundamentalists […].
[...] The next cause will be polygamy. Now that same-sex marriage has been defined as a fundamental right, there is no ability in those states to stop the next lawsuit by a smart lawyer arguing that it is just as “irrational” and without a “compelling state interest” to limit marriage by number as it is by gender.  Frankly, the arguments are much stronger for polygamy than they are for same-sex marriage.
We can dream, can’t we? That last line gets me though. If it’s so much easier, why do we have legal same-sex marriage, and not legal polyamory? Strong arguments have never been the sole drivers of justice, unfortunately. There are too many people who willfully close off their own empathy.
The BBC news had a news story on sadomasochism yesterday. What struck me was the matter of fact reporting. “Just good, clean fun. Isn’t everyone doing it?” The ick factor has become so numb, we are all in big trouble
Yes, if they had their way, getting tied up during sex and spanked would be publicly ridiculed - and maybe even illegal. This is why everyone needs to fear people like this. People think, “Oh, well, it’s just homosexuality that they care about.” No. Don’t forget that sodomy laws applied to heterosexuals as well. Their desire to oppress homosexuals goes hand-in-hand with their desire to police the sex lives of heterosexuals. No-one is safe.
When I was in college I was much more liberal in my beliefs about politics, religion and sexual behavior.  I however was very shocked when a friend told me she had once had sex with her brother.  I also got in a rather heated argument with another friend who honestly was perplexed at why I thought incest was wrong even if it was consensual and there was no possibility of children from the act. My unwavering insistence that some things were just not done and no reason need be given for their wrongness was met with a sullen stare and accusation of being unreasonable. Damn straight
This person sees no problem with his complete inability to give any meaningful basis for his disgust, and even revels in “being unreasonable.” They cannot be convinced, and that actually makes them proud.
Another option [for fighting same-sex marriage arguments] is reduction ad absurdum - arguing that any such proposals result in clearly absurd conclusions - such as, that incest is morally permissible.
I actually accept the logical conclusions of the arguments for gay rights, so my position can never be reduced to “absurdity.”
By Levitical standards most of the patriarchs were wildly incestuous.
Very true. This is why I think their comments are so revealing. Every once in a while they’ll openly admit a weaknesses in their own arguments.
[…] I am old enough to remember the arguments at the time of the illegal ordinations of the first women [in the Episcopal Church] in the U.S. People then argued absurdities: that treating men and women as being the same would end in same-sex marriage. Ridiculous!  These things we are discussing here follow even more directly and logically than did the one which has come to pass. If feelings rather than natural law and scripture are to decide, then nothing is out of bounds.
So, arguing back in the day that gender equality was a slippery slope, that was “ridiculous!” Reactionism against sexual freedom and normalization of queer sexuality? That’s justified, apparently. And since when is scripture a valid source of law in a secular society? Failing to institute theocracy won’t suddenly turn the Earth into a moral hellscape. Besides, we’re talking about sex and relationships here, not murder. When consent is the difference between a sexual encounter being enjoyable and fulfilling, and it being traumatizing, feelings matter a lot. My standard for sexual morality is the flourishing of humanity. They haven’t convinced me that their policies and beliefs would do anything for human fulfillment.
Devil’s Advocate Mode:  Actually, the argument for polyamory is easier to make from scripture than the argument for homosexuality.  After all, it was common practice in the Old Testament, even among the Godly patriarchs and kings.  […] The New Testament statements about having only one wife could be easily [interpreted] as Paul’s suggestions rather than an absolute prohibition of having more than one spouse as a time. And, after all, since not everyone must follow Paul’s strong recommendation to be celibate, not everyone must follow his recommendation to have only one spouse. As for incest, people keep telling us that the Adam and Eve are the model for human sexuality.  Well, who do you think their sons had sex with, if not their sisters?
Yes, all true. How refreshing. If only their ability to articulate the argument meant that they could feel its correctness.
The Baptist boycott of the Walt Disney Company was in 1998, and I was 15.  That was the first time that I remember homosexuality really being something that I was “supposed” to be against.  Before then, it just didn’t register. To the older folks who’ve posted here, is the gut-wrenching sense of “wrongness” that I feel after reading this article on incest the same feeling that those of you who’re older feel about homosexuality? If so, have I really been desensitized that much by the spiritus mundi?  I believe the Bible, I believe it is wrong, but I can’t remember feeling the same feeling toward homosexuality that I feel toward this.
Of course, the other response might be that, if his reaction to homosexuality wasn’t so strong, then maybe he should be similarly lenient on the consanguinamorous. Seeing how open homosexuals haven’t destroyed civilization, maybe that should give him a more open mind. Instead, he’s becoming more of a bigot. How lovely. In response:
[Y]es, it’s the same ‘sense’ of wrongness, keeping in mind that it is about the actions, and not rejection of the persons involved. I am more than twice your age. The nearly vanished world I grew up in still understood active homosexual behavior as anti-societal and prohibitions existed in some criminal codes. But in defiance of those the ‘love that dared not speak its name’ was openly practised in such places as college campuses, and from there made its way into city neighborhoods, workplaces, then into suburbia, and next - ?? So it would seem that consciences can be dulled simply by exposure to relentless cognitive dissonance between morals one is taught and what one experiences in society.
What you call the dulling of consciences, I call the strengthening of empathy. That “cognitive dissonance”? I call that the dissonance between baseless, unquestioned “morals,” and exposure to the actual circumstances of human lives. Amazing how real people complicate the simple narratives which reactionaries cling to. Which sounds more Christ-like to you: unremitting judgment, or loving empathy? And witness, all y’all! He clearly makes the case that disgust for consanguinamory, and disgust for homosexuality, are equivalent. He wants to go back to the days when people had the same revulsion seeing two men kissing as they do for a brother and sister kissing.
Revisionists [i.e. liberal Christians] always think they can make the world safe for their own vices but hold the line there.  They talk of including EVERYONE, and insist that loving and including someone means accepting, no…  rejoicing in their sexual behavior, yet somehow that always translates to mean including just their own vices.  I’m sure that Integrity would [publicly] condemn such a relationship.  But once Integrity and Changing have shattered the foundations enough for their own vices to be [accepted], it is simply not realistic to think that within generations the sexual minorities currently excluded by the Integrity crowd will not use the same tactics to win their own inclusion.
And you know what? He’s right. Mainstream social liberals fight so vehemently for the rights of oppressed groups, as long as those oppressed groups are close enough to them. They conveniently draw their red line right after themselves, leaving everyone just past them to suffer on the other side. Regressives say that intellectual honesty will require social liberals to backtrack. I say the opposite: intellectual honesty must force people to expand their empathy, and throw off their bigotry. After all, regressives aren’t all that intellectually honest either.
Offspring aren’t an issue in gay incest, so clearly the state has no pressing interest in regulating that.  Why can’t two brothers be husband and wife?
That last sentence is clearly snide, but the unadorned meaning of it all is true: their moral repulsion cannot be justified by eugenics. (And why should anyone be making a eugenic argument in the first place? How are people more disgusted by consenting adults in love than by people openly siding with eugenicists?)
What is disappearing is the whole idea of the structurally defective relationship. The only standard becomes the consent of the autonomous individual. Next would be the idea of sex between father and daughter. And why not? If the relationship is “loving, consensual, and mutual” who is to gainsay it? This logic is relentless, and furiously caustic.  Only once let autonomy become the standard, and nothing can stand against it. […] The complete privatization of sex is the only endpoint that can be achieved under its influence. But our culture will be long since dead before it reaches that point. Autonomy is fast becoming the only standard of morality. No thought is given to the impact of sexualizing certain relationships. Only the autonomous will must be satisfied.
When it comes to the law, yes, “[t]he only standard becomes the consent of the autonomous individual.” As it should be. If a relationship is “loving, consensual, and mutual” then indeed, “who is to gainsay it?” Wouldn’t it be great if we had more “loving, consensual, and mutual” relationships? It is not “furiously caustic.” Autonomy is not “fast becoming the only standard of morality.” I don’t think every possible pairing of people is a good idea. There are many exogamous, monogamous, heterosexual relationships that are horrible and destructive, to both those involved and their children.

I care about much more than consent, but I don’t presume the right to bludgeon people with state authority every time I think they’re not being wise. Culture exists to encourage healthy behavior; the state cannot and should not place social engineering as its primary goal. The difference between their morality and mine is that I respect people’s autonomy, even if I don’t always agree with their decisions, and I understand that human relationships are too complicated to pass blanket rules against. People should be judged on their individual circumstances. That does not mean ceding all morality to autonomous relativism, it means allowing morality to become as nuanced as the lives people actually live.
I’ll gladly equate a person engaging in homosexual acts with a person engaging in bestiality, just as I’ll gladly equate a person engaging in heterosexual fornication with a person engaging in homosexual acts.
So, homosexuality = bestiality, and homosexuality = fornication? Then, that implies fornication = bestiality. Here is where I get to quote, “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” We see the real danger of regressives. They make you think they’re only fighting this current battle, but their real goal is a total rollback of all social progress made. They may be fighting against gay rights now, they may be fighting against women’s rights now, but one day they’ll come for everyone else. They want to police everyone’s sex lives, not just sexual minorities’.
[This] is the same sick feeling I had when the ordination of women was discussed. Something spoke to my spirit and told me it was wrong. But I ignored it and stayed. All of our children were baptized in the Episcopal Church. In all the years I remained, I NEVER ONCE took communion from a woman celebrant. I could show Biblically why I believed as I did, but I understood the Biblical arguments of those who wanted women to be ordained. I realized that I might be wrong on the subject, but I just couldn’t do it. The idea made me ill. My husband and children all received communion from women celebrants while on those occasions, I remained in the pew. But in early 1996 when the [Episcopal] charges against Bishop Righter were dropped, I KNEW I wasn’t wrong on homosexuality and I finally left.
So here we see it plainly. All of this unjustified moral disgust is equivalent. Disgust for homosexuals, disgust for consanguineous couples, disgust for female authority figures, it’s all the same socially driven dysfunction, the same psychological mechanism, and it’s all socially destructive. She “realized she might be wrong on the subject,” but that never actually opened her emotionally to changing her mind.

If you accept homosexuals and bisexuals, if you support women’s rights, if you support sexual freedom for consenting adults, but you still feel disgusted by consanguinamory, and you still support throwing consanguineous couples in jail, then look at the company you’re keeping. Does such company make you uncomfortable? It should. Hopefully that will cause to you reconsider the arbitrary limits you place on your fellow citizens. Join us in solidarity.

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