Plumb Lines

July 30, 2009

Sex is My Religion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Matthew Schmitz @ 11:20 am

Well, not my own. But it seems to be the religion of the polyamorists described in a recent Newsweek article. The tendency of cultural conservatives who read about these polyamorists will be to call them self-indulgent and self-obsessed. While these people are self-obsessed, they are far from self-indulgent. Instead they are making huge, almost fanatical sacrifices in order to realize the ideal of our modern society: self-actualization through desire. Only be ceding to their every sexual impulse can they be fully “free” from repression. In order to achieve this freedom they go through feats of spiritual self-discipline. Jealousy is conquered through frank discussion and the acceptance that one will, from time to time, have to overhear his partner having sex with someone else. Attachments to children are considered, but ultimately submitted to the ideal of sexual freedom.

The polyamorous family described in the Newsweek article has a historical antecedent. In medieval times people joined in non-traditional, quasi-familial units and tried to realize the highest ideal of their age through, in part, strange sexual practices: they were called monks and nuns. The historical irony is that the polyamorous lifestyle of the article’s subjects seems to require nearly as much self-mastery as any celibate’s vow. What one thinks of this new fanaticism will, of course, be influenced by whether you think every human attachment and instinct should be submitted to the single-minded pursuit of sexual–which for these people means spiritual–freedom. Every age has its true believers; these men and women are ours.

-Matthew Schmitz


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