Unitarian Universalist Sermon...
I gave a speech/sermon/presentation today at my UU community. It was well received!! Everyone said "interesting" or "great speech" or whatever and we had a great forum after where we answered questions candidly and had a few laughs. I'm so proud of myself for making it through my first public speech!
So for your entertainment, my speech, in its Beta form. I made some last minute corrections just before that aren't in here....
*It's one thing to speak to a room full of people about something that falls within your realm of expertise. It's quite something else to be prepared to speak about your own personal lifestyle choice, particularly when that lifestyle choice is unconventional. Even more particularly when it involves sex. You see, my husband and I practice polyamory.
Polyamory can be defined as a relationship style where each individual is encouraged to have romantic interest with other people. Polyamory is also the potential for loving more than one person within a given period of time. Here we will define "love" as a serious, intimate, romantic, stable, affectionate bond which a person has with another person or group of people. Responsible non-monogamy is another way of saying polyamory, and it is used to distinguish polyamory from "cheating."
Polyamory is a general term covering a wide variety of relationship styles, including group marriage or polyfidelity, open marriage, expanded family, intimate network, and some types of intentional communities.*Polyamory is a relationship choice available to people of any sexual orientation.
The main tenants of polyamory are honesty, openness, and communication. This also means polyamory does not mean "out to have sex with everyone" or even "wants to steal your significant other". I know this is a concern for many, but a polyamorous person is only interested in relationships where everyone involved, even partner's partners are consenting to the relationship. It also is very different from swinging, or purely sexual activities with others outside of a relationship and from polygamy, where one man has many wives who are not allowed other relations, and from polyandry, where one wife has many husbands who are not allow outside relationships. In polyamory, all members are allowed outside relationships, even to the point of loving another.
We love all our parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and close friends to varying degrees and for different reasons. Poly people just expand this to romantic love interests as well. They allow themselves to experience love as it happens.
However, Non-traditional relationships have few role models and little societal support, and therefore require careful consideration
It is natural, I think, that the UU values of individual choice and responsibility, and honoring diversity, should be attractive to polyamorist. It's inevitable, in my opinion, that Unitarian Universalism will soon be aware of a growing number of openly polyamorous people within its congregations.
Acceptance of one another within UUism promotes this integration for polyamorous UUs.* The closet can be a difficult place to live, I know, we lived mostly in the closet for about 5 years and leaving a part of oneself behind when crossing the threshold of oneís church can interfere significantly with oneís spiritual search.* Polyamorists need to bring our entire beings, including our relationships, into our religious homes, in order to pursue spiritual growth.
I believe that the tenants of polyamory: honesty, integrity, and consent in personal relationships are essential to the affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of oneís partners.* The affirmation of a partnerís inherent worth and dignity necessitates respect for that partnerís choices in his/her own relationships, including freedom to feel and openly express love for others, including romantic love.*Justice, equality and compassion in human relations are promoted by the presence of honesty, integrity, and consent in all personal relationships.
There is a right of conscience for members of our community to choose monogamy for themselves and to visibly bring monogamous relationships into their churches; and a right of conscience for ourselves to choose polyamory and to visibly bring polyamorous relationships into our community. There rights are inherant, no matter which relationship style you choose.
*Personal relationships, whether monogamous or multi-partner, must be integrated into our spirituality, as part of the* interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. world community, peace, liberty, and justice are all supported and strengthened by increasing education and familiarity with non-traditional life choices, and by opening the closet doors. Monogamy is now the norm, but there is plenty of evidence to show that was not always the case. But current Monogamous persons have plenty of questions.
The most common question that comes up when I discuss polyamory with monogamous people is the issue of jealousy. Well, jealousy is a natural human emotion, it happens. In order to have a successful polyamorous relationship you must change how you deal with the jealousy. In polyamory, you have to deal with jealousy on a personal level and not force the related emotions on your partner or partners. Jealousy can make us scared or angry or envious. As a polyamourus person, you must learn to battle these underlying emotions. This learning process is scary, but when these emotions are overcome, a new emotion called compersion takes over. Compersion is feeling happy that your partner is happy, even if that happiness doesn't all come from you.
Another important part of successful poly relationships is good communication skills. It takes time, patience, and practice to be a good communicator. There are lots of good communication practices, but the most common are active listening and non-violent communication. Active listening is essentially ensuring understanding by repeating what you heard in your own words, while non-violent communication avoids the use of the word "you" and prevents defensive reactions from the person you are talking to. Non-violent communication is used to avoid blaming someone and putting them on the defensive which leads to unconstructive communication or fighting.
So you deal with jealousy and other emotions, you learn to communicate, but how does it all work? The main thing that keeps it all together are boundaries. These are a set of ideals about time spent with others, types of relationships or who they can be with, the amounts of information shared about other relationships, or anything else the couple, partners, or group decide is important to them. These boundaries become the structure for the relationship, and like the relationship, they grow and change over time.
As I mentioned before, one boundary that all poly relationships share is a requirement of honesty. Being honest seems like an easy thing to do, but add in the good communication skills needed, and other boundaries, and things can get complicated. How to be honest without divulging information your partner does want to hear or doesn't want shared. Where do you draw the line between being honest and being respectful? This line is in a different place with each relationship, so like other boundaries, it must be decided on by the relationship members.
Another big topic is children in polyamorous households. Many polyamorists are parents, and across the country there are children who are growing up happy and healthy in polyamorous families. In fact, these households almost always mean a child learns two important things one what love can look like in its many forms and two, how to express that love. A child in a polyamorous household usually gets exposed to different types and levels of love expressed by their parents and various other adults in their lives. They also get to experience being loved by many adults in varied degrees and for varied reasons. In my opinion, being a child of a polyamorous relationship is a positive experience for the children. There is very little research on the topic, but case studies have shown that polyamorous families raise self-respecting, well adjusted children with a different view on love. The children are able to form close relationships with peers and adults and generally have a positive experience. Though some children struggle with the fact that mom and or dad are different and worry about social repercussions, a majority of children showed positive responses.
Polyamory is just a different way to express love and its value and worth in our community is inherent. I know that there are questions and comments, so I have endeavored to made this short enough so that we can discuss after the service is over. I will be available after our closing for discussion and comment.
- For the pursuit of happiness, not the sit around and wait for happiness -
Jen - bi female
John (Juntas)- husband
M - John's girlfriend