Veteran Catholic author and activist, and now blogger for America magazine, Sidney Callahan, has an answer for New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan and other prominent churchmen who worry that legalising same sex marriage will lead to accepting polygamy in the future.
Archbishop Dolan said that after marriage was redefined to include same-sex couples in New York, there could be pressure for further redefinition that accepts multiple partners and infidelity.
Sydney's Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen expressed a similar concern in an article titled "Real marriage", published last month in his diocesan newspaper Southern Cross.
Callahan responds in her blog: "To my mind they are underestimating the unique and innate drive for pair bonding that contributes to equality and unity in a marital relationship. Such mutuality is impossible for three or more."
"A dyad is unique because it is one relationship formed by two persons; it gains a intensity from its face to face, I-Thou quality. This power may be a legacy of mother-infant nursing in which mother and child commune in a loving gaze and pleasure filled dialogue. In this dialogue of giving and receiving, human selves are created—whatever the gender.
"Cultures which practice polygamy give up the special mutuality of an equal dyad. Also, they pay a price in depriving poor young men of mates and endangering the equal rights of women. This privileging of powerful males provokes vigorous opposition to polygamy by both secular and gospel feminists. Apparently Christians won converts in the ancient world by their democratic ideal that each person could have equal access to the goods of pair bonded marriage."
Callahan suggests the faithful should not be surprised that persons of different sexual orientation desire "the goods of committed marriage and family creation", for "promiscuity, temporary hook ups and friends with benefits do not provide psychological or moral sustenance in the long run—especially in old age."
"Marriage between two loving committed adult persons is here to stay, never fear."
FULL BLOG: Polygamy Next? (America)
Some Afterthoughts (Archbishop Timothy Dolan)
Real Marriage (Archbishop Peter Jensen / Southern Cross)
Don't Do Unto Others: The difference between gay marriage and polygamy (William Saletan / Slate)
Sidney Callahan (Center for the Study of Law and Religion, Emory University)