This section is from the book "Free Love: Or, A Philosophical Demonstration Of The Non-Exclusive Nature Of Connubial Love", by Austin Kent. Also available from Amazon: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships & Other Adventures.
Before introducing the reader to our argumentative letters, we shall first define some of the more important terms which we shall be likely to use, and so make our exact moral whereabouts more clearly understood. By connubial love, I mean a normal development of the sexual attraction of our nature, in all of its phases. By denying its exclu-siveness, I deny that, in such a harmonious development, it will be absolutely confined, in any form of its manifestations, to one of the opposite sex.
When we write non-exclusive, we mean not absolutely exclusive - no more. By promiscious, we sometimes mean no more than the opposite of entire exclusiveness: the context will show when it means more. We do not teach an entire non-ex-clusiveness, or, what is the same, an absolute promiscuity. To us, this is equally absurd with entire exclusiveness. Various shades of preference are natural and so proper. Different minds differ as to their leanings towards entire exclusiveness, or its opposite - absolute promiscuity. This is more or less true on every plane of sexual or connubial love. What we declare to be true of this love is true of every other love. No man or woman is absolutely promiscuous in their social or adhesive attractions. Nor is any one absolutely dual and exclusive. The reader will find the same law to prevail, with various modifications, through all the lower and all the higher loves. Benevolence, the crowning faculty, and the personification of our moral manhood, has its shades of variation. The Great Teacher, though the highest pattern of universal charity and benevolence, showed much partiality, preference for the "brethren;" and he had his "beloved disciple" among the twelve of the more choice of these.
His moral teachings are very emphatic, and often repeated, in enjoining this special regard for our brethren. Paul bade us " do good to all men, but especially to the household of faith." In this, Jesus and Paul acted and taught in harmony with the laws of mind. But enough, I am understood. Truth impells us to regard all according to their real value, and our ability to appreciate it. The former would be a true estimate, the latter is as near as we can practically reach it. Because truth may require me to lay down my life for one man, it may not for another. Of course, in choosing a partner in marriage, we should not be governed in our selection by an estimate of the real worth of the person, but of his or her relative worth and fitness for such a relation to us. I write thus full on some of these points, to make clear what I consider some of the true principles of mental philosophy, and so to prepare the way for my mental argument. I have been full, at the expense of some repetition, to save the reader, if possible, from the misconceptions which experience has shown me too often pursue such an expose as this, on so radical a theme.
In what I have written, the reader will perceive that I have not, and he may be assured that I shall not, undertake to oppose the doctrine of a special and "ideal mate" when, and so far as it is not carried to absolute and entire exclusiveness, in any phase of its amative monopolies. In other words, and more correctly, I shall only review and oppose the entire, exclusive feature of the system of dual mating.
Further explanation: - In the main, I approve of the "spirit and nature" of what Swedenborg, the Fowlers, Wright, and others of their like, call connubial love; but I deny that such disinterested-ness, such purity, such oneness of soul, such moral elevation and chastity in sexual love, is exclusive, or confined to one. When these men write directly of pure and elevating love, in opposition to impurity and a predominance of self in love, or "lust," I harmonize with them. When they say that such love as they have described, cannot seek a variety, in entire health, I deny it. When they write upon the nature and spirit of lust and its effects, I harmonize with them. But when they say that all attraction towards a variety, is of such a nature, 1 deny it. I think I must be understood by all who have carefully read their books. This, too, is very important to a clear understanding. I positivly deny that these writers are my opponents, as to what really constitutes a pure and elevating love and attraction, or an impure and debasing one. We all admit that man may lust after one or many. I insist that he may love one and many.
I write to prove my last position, and to disprove its opposite.
Our first and main argument will be presented in three letters, the substance of which were written in 1853, and published in the fall and winter of 1854-5, in the "Practical Christian" We shall omit nothing in these letters which we consider essential to our present purpose.
Friend Ballou : -
I thankfully accept your hospitality in allowing me a place in your paper, to express my dissent from your views on the subject of Free Love, and to record my reasons for that dissent.
Free Love and Marriage are fast becoming the question of the age. All classes will soon see this fact, whatever view they may take of it in other respects. It has been about the last to ask, and will perhaps be the last to receive, a full and fair hearing. It will have it soon in the Press and in the Lecture-room. Since I suggested, (last fall,) the propriety of a discussion with yourself, it has been brought before the public, and called forth more attention than for years previous. I refer mainly to the two books written - one by Mr. Wright, and the other by Dr. Nichols and his wife - which have been extensively advertised, and more generally read than anything before this. I might add, the introduction and agitation of it through some few spiritual mediums. Mr. Wright and Dr. Nichols harmonize on many points; on others they are diametrically opposed. I am glad to find that some few letters which I wrote last fall (with the intention of sending them sooner to your paper) are confined entirely to this main difference, and as appropriate as I could now write. It will be remembered, those books were not then published. I am glad of the delay in my letters, as many more minds will be prepared for them.
I will take the liberty especially to ask those who have read those books, to read my letters; I have many years since taken my position, and I really believe I can demonstrate its truth. I wish to come to the vital question, and make my exposition and discussion as short as possible and do the subject justice. I have no health, ability, or desire to hold a long controversy, and yet I esteem it a great privilege to record what seems essential, and to commit myself to the age in defence of what to me is the most absolute truth - and the most elevated. I have such confidence in the power of truth and such faith in the real good arising from free discussion, that I prefer to do this in the immediate presence of an opponent line my friend Ballou.