(Im)Morality and Polyamory
Can polyamorous families provide children with a sense of right and wrong?
Posted Nov 18, 2013
One of the common arguments against polyamory is that it is immoral. While polyamory does not fit conventional morality any better than other forms of consensual non-monogamy, it does provide adults and children with clear ethical guidelines.
Contemporary social mores cast monogamy as right in the sense that it is essentially and eternally good, the only morally correct option in a world of increasingly casual debauchery. Non-monogamy, in contrast, can strike many people (even those who don’t actively practice Christianity) as deeply wrong. Ironically again, cheating can seem more benign than polyamory because at least cheating fits a monogamous model: Cheaters “lose control” and “give in” to lust but then have the decency to feel shame and remorse, confess their sins and vow never to stray again (at least until the next time they lose control). Infidelity is thus a moment of weakness, certainly not something to be coolly negotiated, scheduled, and conducted in front of the children. Desiring sex with others makes sense, many people feel that draw attraction to new people even when they are happily partnered already. Polyamory is unabashedly non-monogamous and more directly challenges conventional morality with its brazen rejection of sexual (and emotional) exclusivity.
While morals tend to be absolute and are usually grounded in religious tenets, ethics are more situational and emphasize conduct. Rather than an external set of rules that define good and bad behavior, ethics is an internal sense of what is right and wrong depending on how an action fits with internalized values and affects other people. Ethics are often specific to a group or sub-culture, so that a roller-derby team will have a unique sense of what is right or wrong in their group when compared to a church choir or a 4-H club.