Friday, March 28, 2008

What's So Bad about Open Marriages?

Off and on for the past few weeks, I (along with several others) have been involved in an exchange on the Families Against Planned Parenthood blog with a commenter who goes by the name "Student" — apparently a woman in her early twenties who is currently in law school.

The discussion thread's original focus was the alarmingly high STD rate among US teenage girls, and has since also come to touch upon other aspects of sexuality.

Like billions of other people who have walked the earth since the dawn of time, Student makes no bones about her approval of premarital sex, and so I asked her if her non-objection to non-marital sex in this instance also meant that she likewise did not object to any and all non-marital sex, including, say, adultery.

She responded:

How and why did you make this leap? Isn't that along the lines of "If you don't have a problem with driving, surely you likewise don't see a problem with driving drunk, right?" One does not logically follow the other.

I replied:

In a word: no.

You opened the door on this one by saying you see no problem with sex between two people who aren't married to each other. Adultery is one example of sex between two people who aren't married to each other.

For the sake of consistency, it would seem that if you believe it's not necessary (morally speaking) for two people to be married to each other before they have sex, why would you see a problem with adultery—other than for reasons that are entirely arbitrary?

She then replied:

And driving drunk is an example of driving — but I DO NOT find it acceptable...

Following your logic I wouldn't have a problem with pedophilia or beatiality either.

I replied:


Remove the sexual act from the context of marriage and openness to the possibility of procreation, and anything is possible.

Slippery slope? Maybe. But I'd say it's more of a package deal.

Student also said:

I have a problem with adultery because of the dishonesty. If you're comfortable enough to be intimate with someone, you should be honest with them. If you want to call that an arbitrary reason, so be it.

I replied:

Who said anything about dishonesty? What if a couple mutually agrees to have a so-called open marriage?

Objectively speaking, is adultery within an "open marriage" wrong?

I should say, though, that I couldn't agree more with you when you say, "If you're comfortable enough to be intimate with someone, you should be honest with them." The only problem is that you're missing the point that any and all non-marital sex is, by its very nature, a dishonest act.

The sexual act speaks a language of permanent, committed love—a language that two persons who are not married to each other are not capable of honestly speaking, for they have not yet made said commitment, and either of them is free to end their relationship at any time.

Student replied [regarding my question about the morality of a so-called open marriage]:

If the couple both agrees then, no, I wouldn't consider it "wrong."

It's against this backdrop that I came across this article (via Mark Shea), to which he gives the headline, "HuffPo Labors to Destroy Last Vestiges of Christian Conception of Marriage and Family".

The article, which is actually titled, "Open Relationships: What the World Already Has", could be summarized as follows:

I live in an open marriage. I'm honest about it. Deal with it.

Shea, for his part, elaborates, and offers his usual trenchant analysis:

A culture which recognizes absolutely no basis for sexual restraint beyond mutual consent is a culture that ultimately can offer no reason at all not to approve any form of sexual coupling, tripling, etc that may occur to any number or combination of consenting persons. Ultimately, not just gender, but age and even species cannot matter and will be swept away as "irrational taboos". After that, it will just be a matter of time before materialist dogma eats away the idea that things like "choice" (a mere epiphenomenon of brain chemistry, after all) and "equality" are some sort of inviolable rock of adamant. Eventually, it will all be about power because when every pretension of "I ought" is seen through, what says "I want" will remain, for it never made any metaphysical claims. As Lewis points out in the Abolition of Man, man's conquest of nature turns out to be nature's conquest of man.

Of course, Lewis did not foresee that our culture of sterile narcissistic hedonism was in a losing competetion with a fertile Muslim culture that is only to happy to take the reins of what passes for civilization as the secular West continues its suicide.

These two sentences from the article jumped out at me:

Our behaviors tell us we're not monogamous. History shows us as being non-monogamous.

Well, um, yes, but history also shows that man has a rather pronounced propensity to behave in such a way as to do unspeakably nasty things to his fellow man.

One neglects to acknowledge the reality of original sin at one's own peril.

What a tragically ironic world we live in, where one pats oneself on the back in an effort to extol the putative merits of being "honest" about one's decision to engage in that which is, by its very nature, dishonest.

But then again, as Shea is wont to say, "Sin makes you stupid."

1 comment:

chestertonian said...

I wonder where Student stands on engaging in premarital sex while driving drunk?