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Redefining Monogamy

Jul 20, 2015 | 2 Comments

A couple of years ago, The Gospel Coalition published a column by Joe Carter titled “What You Should Know About ‘Monogamish’ Relationships” that’s worth revisiting. Carter begins by defining his terms:

The Concept: Monogamish — A term coined by sex columnist Dan Savage to describe relationships in which a couple is emotionally intimate only with each other yet engages in sexual infidelities or group sexual activity. Monogamish couples can be sexually polyamorous but remain emotionally “monogamous.” (Another term used for this phenomena is “San Francisco relationships.”) Although the term can be used to describe both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, monogamish coupling is generally considered acceptable, even normative, within homosexual communities.

Carter goes on to explore ways that normalizing homosexual marriage could lead to acceptance of polyamorous activity within heterosexual marriage as well. His article is lengthy but worth the time it takes to read it in full. He concludes:

For years, heterosexual supporters of the cause were able to fool themselves into thinking that what gay rights activists wanted was parity with straight relationships. Then, when it became obvious that many homosexuals reject the “heteronormative restriction” of monogamy in marriage, the advocates proposed a two-track compromise: straight marriage would still be expected to be monogamous while gay marriage could be as polyamorous as they wanted.

But it doesn’t work that way.

There cannot be a “separate but equal” basis for “marital” relationships, with heterosexuals expected to adhere to a standard of sexual fidelity while gay couples are allowed to redefine monogamy to include polyamourous sexual escapades. The lower standard will eventually prevail, with the stricter “sex with spouse only” being a valid option, but not an ideal—and certainly not the norm. A significant percentage of heterosexual men will follow the example of their gay brethren and simply refuse to “marry” if it comes with an expectation of sexual exclusivity. After all, why shouldn’t they have the same marriage rights as gay men?

Since women have the most to lose from such arrangements, they may prefer to retain the one-man/one-woman rule. But it doesn’t matter what they want. In every struggle for expansion of man-made rights, some people win and some people lose. Straight women will simply have to accept the loss for the greater good of normalizing homosexual conduct and preferences. If monogamy is not considered a necessary component of same-sex marriage, then it will only be a matter of time before the leavening effect of language reduces the cultural significance of monogamy in all marriages. Refusing to allow a husband to take a lover will be viewed as backward and old-fashioned as refusing to allow a wife to work outside the home.

This is the future that many advocates of same-sex marriage are, whether the realize it or not, are fighting for. But is this really what they want. Are they really ready to redefine marriage in a way that leaves out monogamy?

Well? What do you think?

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