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I am embarrassingly late in writing this, but I figure better late than never.
Over the summer, I wrote a two-part series talking about the problems with polyamory and how Christians should respond. A writer who focuses on poly topics wrote some responses. I wanted to offer some points of clarification.
I do want to add a disclaimer that his posts use some crude language (fairly minimal though) and display the typical basic misunderstandings about Catholicism. That being said, I do think it is important to read perspectives that differ from our own.
I wrote this because I care about people.
First, though I am sure his question was rhetorical, I want to address it.
The article’s concern is that these “distorted romantic relationships” should concern them about where they lead.
Now my view is that what I do isn’t anyone’s business, but I’m also very public about what I do and someone who doesn’t do it is concerned… for me? Concerned about me? I’m not sure which.
As a Christian, I am concerned about anyone who goes against God’s will. I want everyone to know the love of God and to experience eternal life with Him. When I write posts about these topics, it isn’t because I’m bored or want to attack someone; I write my pieces in hopes to show how Catholics should live their faith in a culture that presents many aspects that are contrary to God’s will. I write my blog posts because I hope they will bring people closer to God or, at the very least, give them a different perspective or illuminate an aspect of Church teaching.
What is love?
The other blogger criticized my definition of love. To a certain extent, this is a fair piece of criticism. I wrote this blog post for my readers who, based on the typical interactions, seem to be Christians, specifically Catholics so I didn’t go into as much depth as I could’ve.
Though I know this still doesn’t entirely answer the other blogger’s questions, I’m talking about romantic love. Romantic love should be oriented towards marriage. Within marital love, we should see affection AND attraction AND selfless consideration for the other person. And love is also a choice.
Marital love should reflect God’s love: free, total, faithful, and fruitful (again, romantic love should be on the path to marriage). We can easily see how poly relationships violate some of these (but to be fair, not all). Quick note: I typed these thoughts up from what I learned from a course I took that was based on the USCCA, but there is a quick explanation at this blog post.Marital love should reflect God’s love: free, total, faithful, and fruitful. Click To Tweet
As I mentioned in my first post, poly relationships in the US actually do meet the free requirement: there isn’t coercion or manipulation.
Once we reach total, poly relationships fall apart. Total means putting one’s spouse before everything except God. Having multiple partners clearly makes this impossible. This isn’t to say that people in poly relationships don’t love or try to prioritize their partners; it is instead recognizing that it is impossible to put one partner first which, whether consciously or not, puts in a ranking system of sorts.
Faithful gets a little more tricky. As we’ve established earlier in this series: there can’t be deception in a poly relationship. But faithful doesn’t just refer to being clear and not violating the trust of one’s partner. Faithfulness goes beyond that; faithfulness means being faithful specifically to one’s spouse (linked to Commandments 6 and 9).
Fruitful is up in the air. To be clear, it means there is an openness to life; it does not mean that life must be created with every sexual encounter. So sex between two men or two women is never fruitful. Sex where contraception is used is never fruitful (it could result in creating life because contraception can fail, but the intent is obviously contrary to that). However, in some scenarios, a marriage where one of the people is infertile might still be valid based on the situation.
As for “willing the good of the other,” it does come from St. Thomas Aquinas. It isn’t a direct quote; it is more a summary of ideas. Here’s a good take from Bishop Robert Barron.
Will of God
“Willing the good of the other” means desiring what is best for the other person. I am not, as the blogger claims making ‘the leap from “willing” to the “will of God”.” When I say “I will the good of Ben (my husband),” I am saying “I desire what is best for Ben.” As I stated in my original post “We want was is truly best for the other, and what is best for every person is to follow the will of God.”
The other blogger brought up a rather specific example which stems from a misinterpretation from my original post, but he did say something rather interesting. “That’d be a rather detailed and specific deity, to be sure.” You see, we have a God who provides clear guidance. While it may not be as direct as whether or not you should eat a chocolate cake for your birthday, His desires are clear to us both in Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Furthermore, we are able to listen to His will through prayer. God does not hide His will from us; we just need to seek it humbly.God does not hide His will from us; we just need to seek it humbly. Click To Tweet
Something being mentioned in the Bible doesn’t mean it is approved. The Bible is a series of books with different genres. The is history, poetry, allegory, and more.
Rather than repeat what has already been addressed about polygamy by writers more eloquent than I, I will just drop some links.
As for incest, the Lot example has his daughters getting him drunk. I’m not sure how that would be considered support for incest. Sarah and Abraham is a rather specific example which is addressed here.
The blogger then claims “Then again, Catholicism rests on doctrine, not scripture (though that’s a quick way to start an argument with a Catholic). The interpretation goes through the Holy See, and specifically the Pope, to determine what the bible really means….Love is what the Pope says it is. Marriage is what the Pope says it is.”
Catholicism uses Scripture AND Tradition. It’s a both/and. Tradition cannot contradict Scripture and both Scripture and Sacred Tradition come from God. Jim Blackburn wrote a great book on this topic which I reviewed here and you can purchase here.
The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus established the Church: to protect the truth. The Pope (if doing what he is supposed to) should reaffirm the truths revealed to Christ’s Church. Marriage is what God says it is, and the Pope protects this.
The blogger did not appreciate the article I shared that presented a secular perspective. Again, this would be fair criticism if the audience of my blog was non-Christians. I wasn’t trying to cover a detailed secular argument; I was just trying to point out that there are secular arguments out there.
However, I will share some summaries of studies regarding my claim that generally speaking, “children do best being raised by their biological parents in most cases.” I know these summaries may come from biased sources, but I think they pull key points. Most of them at least reference the study they are pulling the points from, so one could just look at those studies rather than the articles themselves.
Here’s a summary of some studies.
This is about same-sex marriage, but still raises some important points.
This is a summary of a study from the CDC.
Here is one more summary.
All that being said, I will concede there are studies that say the opposite. There are always going to be limitations to studies surrounding people and society. There are biases, a number of variations we can’t control for, and limited data.
Ultimately, this comes down to a different system of beliefs. As the other blogger acknowledged, there isn’t much room for debate here.
Rather than go into detailed responses, I’ll keep it simple.
First, I apologize if anyone feels personally attacked by my posts. That is never my intent, and if a post is going in that direction, please call me on that. If I lack charity in my writing, I want to know so I can do better in the future.
Second, Catholicism and all other religions aren’t equal. Catholicism is the fullest form of the truth. Saying that it is a “junk justification” to want to see others go to Heaven (is wanting eternal happiness for someone really junk?) is unfair because it disregards that only one of those religions is truly correct. I know this point doesn’t mean crap to the other blogger because he doesn’t know that Catholicism is true, but I think it is critically important for my Christian readers to understand: we are not like Scientology or Islam because we have the complete truth on our side.
Third, my point on religious freedom was completely contorted. I am not advocating in any way that we should disregard the fundamental human rights of every person. Going to those extremes to prove your point is ridiculous because that is not what Christians are asking for.
Finally, though I may be young and haven’t been married long enough to face huge challenges, I do know what I committed to. I know my marriage will face challenges. And maybe (though I pray it never happens), I may want to give up on my marriage. But I will stick with it because I made a commitment to my husband and to God. This commitment is to choose to love my husband every single day.This commitment is to choose to love my husband every single day. Click To Tweet
Here is a much shorter explanation on the problems with polygamy.
Karlo Broussard wrote about polygamy based on permanency and exclusivity.
Peter Kreeft wrote about love, specifically agape, and some common misconceptions.
Though I haven’t had a chance to read either of these myself, I have heard great things about Men, Women and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri which looks into Love & Responsibility by the great philosopher and theologian Karol Wojtyla.