If marriage no longer matters, why draw the line at couples?

Nov 23, 2018 by

by Will Jones, The Conservative Woman:

An article in the Mail caught my eye this week. It was about a polyamorous relationship, and featured a woman called Mary Crumpton who was calling for the law to be changed to recognise romantic arrangements such as hers. ‘I think,’ she says, ‘that I want to have a country where we respect people’s choices, in terms of their relationships and if that means that a Muslim man wants to marry three women and have those women respected in law as his wives, he should be able to do so. And if I want to have two husbands, then I’d like that to be respected in law as well, and I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be.’

I’ve noticed that the BBC seems to have become a particular fan of this new trend for non-monogamous relationships, as witness its recent series Wanderlust (covered on TCW in September), and numerous favourable features that it runs from time to time.

So what is actually wrong with polyamorous relationships? Why, after all, shouldn’t consenting adults be allowed to commit to more than one person at once? And why shouldn’t the law recognise these relationships and commitments as much as it recognises those of couples?

Well, since same-sex marriage came in these questions have become harder and harder for secular liberals to answer. If marriage is simply about love and commitment, as is now said, and is no longer about the union of the sexes for the procreation of children, then why should it be limited to two? What, after all, is so special about twoness? The relevance of two to traditional marriage is obvious: it is two people, a man and a woman, who produce children together and thus as parents bear moral responsibility for them. But what is so special about the number two for a relationship defined in terms of love and commitment? Any number of people can commit to one another. To limit legal recognition to two just seems stingy.

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