Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Wasn't there a time when Jesus asked followers whether they came to him to fill their bellies? Or perhaps accused them of doing so, I notice that there is a post here today from a Friend who, in a forum that I am not a part of, discusses how he is able to both fulfill his own libido with one partner (s?) and maintain a marriage with another, who is also free to fulfill her libido. I respect this person and do not mean this as an attack but questions are raised.
Is the purpose of our life in Christ to fulfill our libidos? What is it like for the hearts of those sexual partners whose role it is to fulfill the libido of a partner married to someone else? We know that people say they are "fine with it" in cases like this, but. . hearts are unpredictable.
Most of us have a libido and would rather that life supplied us with abundant love, physical and emotional. But our life Gd is rich without love and in fact,d can be even richer without human love.
I might point to greed. Does having an alternative sexuality entitle one to several partners, who are then not available for someone who might wish to love one person with all their heart. But these sexual partners are caught up in a complicated "thing." The "thing" of being the lover of a married person.
The poster refers to "dating". He and his female spouse both "date" men. Many people on a spiritual path simply abhor dating in general, as a cultural innovation that provides a series of partners for brief satisfactions, entertainment.
Are people made for our entertainment, our brief satisfactions? Dating actually implies a kind of dangling, a limbo of Peter Pan never grow up sexuality. Everyone knows "dating" by nature does not imply any sort of actual duty and can be terminated at the drop of a hat.
Who does the person on the outside of the recognized marriage call to in times of pain and crisis? Who is really there for them?
I visited the site of Oneida Community a few years ago. In this context Free Love included material and spiritual support for all, with NO dyadic contract, and I find this to be the more fair option, if one would suppose for the sake of argument that Free Love is compatible with a serious journey with Gd. In that context ego and dyadic selfishness was theoretically sacrificed to the communal marriage in a sort of Marriage Supper with Christ. So I say better collective marriage or collective commitment to all partners than the system of maintaining one State recognized marriage that provides unconditional love and support and ALSO indulging in endless libido satisfying encounters.
And my Friends, I say, that I don't believe any of these Free Love experiments are compatible or acutally "sustainable" in our spiritual path, we Quakers. The best alternative sexuality would most likely be avowed celibacy, perhaps in a structured setting. In fact the more you are serving your libido as your Gd, the more likely you would benefit from giving up on love all together.
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So basically, isn't maintaining of these "state-sanctioned" and possibly "Meeting Approved" marriages, and maintaining perhaps several, simultaneous and/or serial other sexual relationships with anyone of any gender, kind of like stuffing your pockets with extra cookies at the Church Picnic? Hey, like Ted Nugent said, its a "Free-for-all!" And we all know the place to go for counsel is the Rock N Roll Canon!
Thank you for posting this. The amount of suffering we are called to endure on the spiritual path, the amount of laying aside of one's self for the divine interests of Love...keeps suggesting to me that the best we can do is always practice setting aside personal will. Of course being true to who we are in our relationships...but beyond that, everything being infused with the practice of will power.
I get more benefit from routine attention to ego-disciplining spiritual exercises than anything else I'm conscious of engaging in: those seem the hardest and most needed.
They come in many forms...mostly they just amount to doing something divinely Good like reading scripture or loving someone...and doing it when times are hard and I'd rather be doing something else, or doing it even when the nagging feeling is all over me that "this is annoying and/or i don't feel like it!"
For me, loving one person well, and requiring them to love me well too, is the hardest and most intimate work I can find to do. The notion of not committing to just one person because I'm allowing for human nature and all.... Well, there was a time when I thought that might be a worthwhile notion (after reading Robert Heinlein) but in hindsight I realize that when I felt that, I was also very used to not being satisfied and not feeling I could trust the person I was with...and not being good at being me in the relationship....so "everyone can be free" seemed a better option at the time.
Finding out how to love and who to love and how to love ourselves at the same time is an immense journey.
And YES, as an Episcopal Priest once told me, The Gospels make a stronger case for us alllll to be celibate than they do for us to all be about straight marriage OR being gay-friendly. They don't talk about those things. But they do talk about leaving your family and being celibate and giving away all you have to God. And who is doing that!!?
So much room for laying aside our own ego needs, so little time...
Hi Olivia: About all I have to say these days are three words: Belton Women's Commonwealth.
At Oneida there was a committee who would receive men's requests for 'an interview' with a particular woman and attempt to discern whether the man's intention was sufficiently spiritual -- and that there weren't dangerously monogamous tendencies developing toward this woman.
Thanks Forrest. I am pretty well versed in Onedia, and I am aware of the particulars. As in many collective groups, the danger of the dyadic alliance was recognized.
I am fascinated by such experiments, although I don't think they are sustainable in a Judeo-Christian based spiritual community. Oneida members believed their pracices to be Christian and seemed to work for the participants, and what would have happened in the long run we can't know, since outside forced ended the community.
My post was about the unfairness of the dyadic alliance, e.g. state recognized marrriages, who then also feed, on folks on the outside of that dyadic alliance. As if as long as the all mighty marriage is strengthened, all other hearts and souls may be peripheral.
There is another post on here about a Quaker run business that had some labor disputes. The poster said, being nice to people isn't the same as treating them equally" and that some of the upper echelon were "more equal than others".
I don't know the particulars of the extra-marital romances of the poster that prompted me to ponder these questions. It isn't my business. But I am using it as a spring board to discuss this idea, that I believe comes from mainstream culture, that sexual and emotional fulfillment are a primary spiritual goal. That the dyad is the highest embodiment of that goal, e.g. having some sort of "soul mate" or even a barely tolerated spouse that you have managed to chalk up decades with, reflects spiritual progress by nature. Dyadic Marriage is reified in Christian culture. It fits in with my complains about rock n roll culture too, as exemplified in the movie "High Fidelity".
Anyway, going on to wonder about the fact that in such dyads are some participants more equal than other, e.g the state recognized union? And answering, perhaps somewhat jokingly, that if one is gong to engage in polyamory or some variation of it, the needs of all participants should be addressed in a sort of formal and solemnizing structure such as what groups like Oneida offered.
But what I really think, is that formal monasticism , something lost in most of the sects formed in the Reformation, might be most helpful for many lost souls.