The culture of the traditional family is now in intense competition with a very different culture. The defining difference between the two is the sexual ideal each embraces. The traditional family of Western civilization is based on lifelong monogamy. The competing culture is “polyamorous,” normally a serial polygamy, but also increasingly polymorphous in its different sexual expressions.
Mehan notes that Fagan is using the term polyamory more broadly than the dictionary does. What Fagan is writing about is pansexualism — the idea that anything goes. The same usage was employed in a Boston Globe Sunday Magazine cover story last weekend. Jay Sekora of Poly Boston, a group of 500 Bostonians who live in polyamorous relationships, told the paper: “There’s monogamy where two people are exclusive. There’s cheating in which people are lying about being exclusive. And poly is everything else.” The paper goes out of its way to dress up polyamory as something more than just sex. As the, ahem, community is wont to say, “With affairs, you get sex. With polyamory, you get breakfast.” And sex. It’s mostly about sex. Polyamory consists of open affairs often with “primary” and “secondary” relationships. (Just imagine the conversation when a 20-something female calls home during the holidays: “Well, mom, I’m in a secondary relationship with Jack. I won’t be coming home because I’m hoping that Jack will have some spare time for me just before or after Christmas. It really depends what he and Jill are doing and they haven’t decided yet.”) Anyway, these things get complicated. One emergency room doctor, the Globe reports, “has been in a committed relationship for five years with a woman and man who live together within walking distance of his Somerville apartment. Amoroso is only sexual with the woman, who is sexual with each of the men separately, but they all consider the others life partners.”
Whether or not there is sex between all the participants, is beside the point; the arrangements undermine the ideal of a committed man-woman relationship by ignoring the complimentarity of opposite sex couplehood. And that is precisely the point. As Mehan says:
Monogamy seeks objective truth and norms. Polyamory is relativist in its moral orientation. The one promotes a limited constitutional state because it assumes self-imposed restraint and self-discipline. The other relies on social welfare programs “to rescue its adherents from the effects of its form of sexuality.”
On children, abortion, the role of the traditional family and the responsibility of fathers as well as mothers, these cultures reflect antithetical views.
Fagan’s Touchstone article is based on a talk he gave to the World Congress of Families last year in which he suggests that people with radically different approaches to family life cannot live together in a free society. The promoters of polyamory control most the cultural institutions and even many churches won’t provide a vigorous defense of traditional marriage and family. Fagan’s speech and essay are call to cultural conservatives to defend traditional sexual morality (not just “marriage”) from the moral relativism of polyarmory and its anything-goes mentality and lifestyle. We are called to oppose more than abortion and the gay rights agenda, and should see those as part of the larger agenda and pansexualism’s assault on our civilization.