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.
I shall quote very little of Mr. Wright's reply to the above question. It is not necessary. I repeat, my book is not designed to be a substitute for any which has preceded it. I take it for granted that my readers have read these several books. Those who have not, will not, of course, find my reference to them of as much interest. Still, they will not be lost to such. I cannot too strongly urge my readers to read these books on Marriage, if they have not. None can afford to do without them. There is too much real value in them; and of that sort which is generally most needed. Mr. Wright's book was written to elevate love and marriage, and so to elevate the offspring of marriage. It was written for, and suited to, diseased and undeveloped humanity; and nothing is more needed. Comparatively, it was nobly executed. Mr. Wright does seem to reach, to some extent, the true features of connubial love. He reaches what I will call the first germ, or the childhood of marriage. This is much in advance of the large class for whom he wrote; and perhaps all they could bear. With nearly every feature of his love-marriage, except its exclusiveness, I can harmoinze. But in most every line, he seems to suppose this exclusive feature to be inseparable from the very nature of such love.
He does not see that his real connubial love can be enlarged till it bursts its exclusive shell, and so be enhanced, purified and ennobled. He says, virtually, "Here unto have we come," and then like all conservatives in the past, he adds his "no farther shalt thou go," Yet we have no doubt his book will do more to spread the principles of free love, than any other book written, except that of Dr. Nichols and wife. Perhaps we ought also to except Mr. Davis, though the latter is alike exclusive in his harmonial marriage. The reader will understand, that these men are not responsible for this opinion of ours. They, Mr. Wright and Mr. Davis, have certainly done what they could to confine marriage to pairs. But they elevate love and free it from law. Their exceptional doctrines will prove weak. We know something of the effect of such free and elevating truths as those books contain.
* See part II. Letter 2, of his book.
But, "What is marriage?" Mr. Wright's "definition of wife," is, "the incarnation of God to her husband. The great Invisible and Intangible made visible and tangible in the deepest and most intense and potent living relation. I speak calmly, knowing the full import of the words I use. No phrase so fully expresses what thou art to me as this : The incarnation of God."
The reader should know that Mr. Wright con-veys his sentiments in a series of letters, representing a male and a female - a man and his wife - communicating each to the other his and her views and feelings as to the marriage relation.
The language of the above quotation is very strong, but I have no controversy with what I believe to be its meaning.
"Worship is a necessity of my being. I must worship something; so must every man and every woman. My soul cannot stoop to worship times and places, stations and titles. I see no God in them. They are all the works of men's hands. But I worship thee, without one shrinking doubt as to my right to do so, or as to whether God will accept this devotion to the embodiment of my highest conception of his attributes, as being paid to him."
All this is very strong; but I only object to it from its exclusive concentration of worship upon one. Let such a soul enlarge till it knows and enjoys a more expansive worship. I should not have supposed so large a soul as Mr. Wright's could have penned so narrow and confined a sphere of worship. However, it is only carrying the worship which nearly all christians have concentrated upon the head of Jesus, into exclusive and dual marriage.
"In thee, God is manifest in the flesh." Brother Wright, we worship many Christs and many women; - all Saviours and all women; and we do not dispute that all real women are Saviours, and are Gods "manifest in the flesh." So are real men. Then do not confine an enlarged soul - one that has outgrown the shackels of sectarianism and exclu-siveness, to worship one individual object, and upon one individual altar, to the exclusion of all others. But we are thankful for even this progress from the past. Man, in a low and undeveloped state, has always held low views of woman, and of the objects of her creation, as made for the gratification of his lower nature. The change is refreshing. Man has held woman below himself. Even the wise Paul - wise for his day, - tells us " the woman was made for the man, not the man for the woman." Nothing can be more false to nature than the last clause, which we have emphasized. We almost wonder that such a mind could not sooner break from such debasing traditions. But such views are passing away. Woman is becoming man's equal - verily his object of worship. If the conservative reader is offended with my friend and myself on this, can he not pardon something for the ultra effects of reaction.
The man has always been worshiped more or less by the woman, and he has loved to have it so. I differ from Mr. Wright in that. I would not worship one woman in exclusion from all others. And I confess to finding it agreeable to receive worship from more than one. Nor do I desire to receive this worship from even the one, in exclusion from all other men. The expansion of heart and mind, which would lead the woman of my preference to love and worship other men, equally deserving with myself, with the same kind of love and worship, only endears her to me. For they, too, are a part of me, they are my brethren, and "all flesh is one flesh." My benevolence and adhesiveness are the greater, and the higher, and so control and baptise in their fount my entire connubial love. I do not allow even here the higher sentiments to be absorbed in, and controlled by, the lowest of the lower. Mr. Wright, deepen and enlarge the spirit of your theology in human brotherhood. To me, this exclusive spirit and worship is insipid and childish. In connubial manhood, truth, even in a mate, is both desirable and lovely; and truth is just.
Justice can never be absolutely exclusive.