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.
In my discussion with Mr. Ballou, 1 was to write a series of letters in defense of Free Love. Mr. Ballon was to reply, - I to rejoin, - and he was to follow and close. I wrote five letters, (the last two on the Bible - not here inserted). Mr. B. replied, as was expected. I rejoined at some length in four letters. Mr. B. replied to my first rejoinder, and then in a closing letter.
I have no thought of giving any thing like a full view of that discussion, on either side. But as I wish to review Mr. Ballou, as well as some others, I will simply insert that part of my rejoinder which contains the substance of his main argument on the mind, against my letters on the mind. I will then look into Mr. B.'s Book - "Christian Socialism" - and see what we can find there directly related to our proposition.
In justice to Mr. Ballou, I would remark - lie professed to understand me, in my first two letters, to reason from "analogy," and replied accordingly, to destroy that analogy. I did intend to reason from analogy in my third, so I accepted his understanding of me, - adopted the analogy, and replied to it as mine. I shall insert but a portion of my second and third letters in rejoinder.
Mr. Ballou's argument against mine, begins, "Sexual love, as involving sexual coition, is radically an instinctive animal appetite. Man has it in common with the whole animal kingdom. - It is not of the nature of Benevolence, or Friendship, or any other truly spiritual love. As an animal propensity, it craves mainly its own gratification, just like the propensity for food, sleep, etc. It does not go abroad seeking opportunities to confer blessings on friend or foe. This propensity, then, is primarily and essentially animal. It has its use and place. Within its own proper limits it may be gratified innocently. Allowed to break bounds, it becomes criminal and pestilent. This is the truth of the case. Is it so with the spiritual loves? with love to God, to virtue, and our neighbor? Not at all. Away, then, with all false analogies; arguments founded on such analogies are utterly fallacious and worthless."
We agree with Mr. Ballou that when this propensity "breaks bounds," it is very evil - but not more so than higher propensities and sentiments. But let us keep to the point. What are its bounds? We have proved them non-exclusive, and we are now to answer Mr. Ballou's arguments against us. What are these arguments? This coitionary propensity, he tells us, is "radically an animal appetite," the same as in all animals, or " in common with other animals." As such it "craves mainly its own gratification" like the desire for food, etc. It does not go abroad seeking to perform deeds of charity and kindness. Still it may be allowed a narrow sphere of action "innocently" and safely, - not so with the higher sentiments. The reader can judge whether I have done him justice in this abridgment. I may mistake his meaning. I hope, for the honor of humanity, that I do mistake it. For if this, as I read it, is considered "innocent" in dual marriage, we have fairly come to the main stone which too often paves the hell of misdirected minds in our exclusive marriages.
Is it considered innocent, for married pairs to act on this matter, "mainly" from the cravings of, and to satisfy, mere animal and fleshly gratification? This may be proper for a beast, for aught I know, but is it for a man? Reader, I may not understand Mr. Ballou; but if he does not mean just this - what can be the force of this argument? He certainly seems to excommunicate this part of the brain from the rest in a most wonderful manner. He "puts it away" "with a vengeance." If I understand him, I should call such a state of the sexual affections, lust - not love. What is man? Are not the higher sentiments so to control the whole, as to humanize them, and raise all parts practically above the beast? Is not the man to sanctify the animal, in every fibre of his nature, and in every act of that nature? So we read humanity - so we read the man. Nothing short of this is man. Is any part of the man to be set apart from - so put away from, - the real man, or whole man, and placed under laws inharmonious with his leading manhood? So long as this is done, this part will remain an enemy to, and often successfully reign over the best interests of that higher man-hood. There is one partially redeeming suggestion in Mr. Ballou's argument.
He compares the desire for coition with the desire for food, sleep, etc. Its comparison with that for food is in part truthful, and with that for sleep is, at least, very innocent. But let us attend to the consistency or inconsistency with himself and the good Book which he reverences, in this comparison, while he so degrades it. The Book enjoins upon man - not the beast - "to eat and drink to God's glory." "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." This command is to the man, to control all his propensities and their uses, in harmony with Charity and the Higher Law. But where is Mr. Ballou's consistency with himself? If Mr. B. will admit the same non-exclusive action, as being the law of the mind, and so proper in this propensity that he allows in alimentiveness and every other lower propensity, I will at once lay down my pen; or seek an opponent. That moment we are one. Mr. Ballou knows this.
If he will allow Benevolence and Justice to control, and call to their aid the entire use of this faculty, as he does allow them to control, and so call to their aid every other faculty of the man, every other sentiment and propensity of the man, I can write no more, we are one. This would be an entire surrender to the whole meaning of all my previous arguments. I would rejoice over his conversion. But no; he does not mean this. Then what does he mean? What ! Let him throw no random shots at this with a mere fowling piece; but make himself consistent with himself, and it possible with any rational and philosophical interpretation of the mind.