To mark St. Valentine's Day, Monica Hesse of The Washington Post wrote about polyamorous couples. Her story described the lives of eight people who are in relationships with more than one person.
Polyamory isn't about sex, polys tell you. It is about love. It is about loving your primary partner enough to love that they have a new secondary partner, even when their New Relationship Energy with that person leaves you, briefly, out in the cold. It's about loving yourself enough to acknowledge that your needs cannot be met by one loving person. It's about loving love enough to embrace it in unexpected form -- like maybe in the form of your primary's new secondary! -- in which case you may all form a triad and live happily together.
According to Hesse, polyamorous people have problems. They often get jealous of their partner's partner; they feel entitled to romantic fulfillment; and they cuddle a lot. But in her account, polyamorous people are not much different from monogamous couples. They worry about childcare; they seek community; and they fall in love. As Hess ends her story,
Later that night, Victoria and LaVasseur have signed up to be facilitators at a cuddle party -- a nonsexual outlet for people of all ages to spoon, tickle, pat and snuggle each other. It requires facilitators because cuddle parties come with 40 minutes' worth of rules on how to snuggle respectfully.
The two of them aren't sitting anywhere near each other; in fact, LaVasseur is demonstrating proper cuddle etiquette with another woman, one old enough to be his mother.
Victoria looks on contentedly; she catches his eye and they smile.
They seem ridiculously in love.
As you have perhaps guessed, Hesse's story was intellectually shallow. Beyond some glancing criticisms of polyamory, it failed to address the practice's moral and theological aspects. After all, their view of relationships differ with those enshrined by Christianity and Judaism. Instead of eternal sacrifice and duty, they believe in individual desires and choices.
Hesse should have asked her subjects at least a few intellectually rigorous questions. Imagine a partner is sick or dying: Is it permissible to ditch that person for a partner who's healthy? Are there any times in which God calls on you to sacrifice your desires and impulses for those of another?
Since the sexual revolution began four decades ago, newspaper reporters have sought to normalize practices once deemed sinful and evil. Think of divorce, cohabitation, homosexuality. And they should explore them. But pretending that traditional religion doesn't have objections to a radical secular practice is insulting.