The largest professional association of psychologists in the United States is working to normalize polyamory, an inevitable next frontier in the sexual revolution.
News reports released last week revealed that for the past year, the American Psychological Association (APA) has had an active task force dedicated to advocating for individuals practicing what it calls “consensual non-monogamy” (CNM), sometimes referred to as “ethical non-monogamy.” The task force’s website claims polyamorous individuals often face social and medical stigmatization and need more support and inclusion. One study found about 4 percent of U.S. adults fall into this category.
The task force set up broad parameters to include people who practice polyamory (a group of people in relationship with each other, like a “throuple”), open relationships (couples who agree to have other sexual partners), swinging (couples who agree to have casual sex with other people), and relationship anarchy (individuals opposed to any relational categories or rules).
The 80-member task force, led by two California-based researchers, is a part of the association’s Division 44, also called The Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. In June, the task force announced on its Facebook page that Division 44 had approved its request to add both consensual non-monogamy and “Kink/BDSM/Fetish Sexualities” as searchable subcategories in the APA Psychologist Locator, a list for patients trying to find a practitioner. (Note: BDSM refers to deviant sexual practices that involve bondage, discipline, dominance and submission, and/or sadomasochism.)
“This historic step toward inclusion acknowledges the legitimacy of the CNM and Kink communities and will help eliminate a barrier and improve access to culturally affirming healthcare,” wrote Heath Schechinger, a licensed psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-chairman of the task force.
The task force is producing brochures individuals can take to healthcare providers and therapists to “educate” them about consensual non-monogamy and working to include the practice on therapy intake forms. One committee is working to research discrimination in family and employment law against people with multiple partners.
The APA isn’t alone in its push to normalize polyamory, nor is the development a surprise to many conservatives who predicted it. A recent article in Teen Vogue profiled 18-year-old singer and actress Willow Smith, daughter of actor Will Smith, who recently announced she is bisexual and could see herself in a polyamorous relationship. “I love men and women equally, and so I would definitely want one man, one woman. I feel like I could be polyfidelitous with those two people,” Smith recently told her mother and grandmother during their talk show Red Table Talk, adding she felt there was no freedom in monogamy because “it’s all fear based.”
Even some self-described Christians have embraced polyamory, claiming Biblical figures practiced polyamory and that the Trinity is a polyamorous relationship.
Andrew T. Walker, a senior fellow in Christian ethics for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, disagrees. “When God ordered the marriage covenant, he ordered it as a heterosexual, permanent, and monogamous union,” he said. “Any example of polyamory or polygamy in Scripture is an aberration due to sin and a settled rejection of God’s original design.”
Walker said that the progressive worldview has little to no explanation for why relationships or marriage should be limited to just two people. “The culture is enamored with polyamory because the culture is obsessed with sexual novelty,” he said. “What was once taboo becomes easily transgressible when there is no moral foundation to prohibit it.”