The Oneida Community was founded by Joseph Humphrey Noyes in 1848. Noyes’ interpretation of some key passages in the bible led him to believe that the Second Coming of Christ had already happened in 70 AD. This led him to interpret some more passages to mean that there was no more marriage between one man and one woman, but instead every man belonged to every woman the same way that all property should be held in common.
Noyes originally started a community in Putney, VT but do to the practice of Complex Marriage, he was charged with adultery and moved the community to Oneida, NY, where it became the Oneida Community.
There was a big theme of holy sexuality in Oneida. Because every man was married to every woman (Complex Marriage), promiscuity was encouraged to the point that exclusive relationships were actually forbidden. To keep down the birth rate, Noyes instituted a policy of Male Continence that the Oneidans were required to practice.
Teenage boys who were still learning this method were paired with menopausal women so that the chances of them conceiving would go down, while the older men such as Noyes paired themselves with teenage girls who were in their prime attractiveness.
Noyes also believed in Eugenics. There was a committee in charge of pairing members of the community together to produce the best children possible. Noyes, being the founder of the community, was chosen to father nine of the 56 children that resulted.
The community eventually broke down when the children came of age. Noyes wanted to pass on leading the community to his son Dr. Theodore Noyes. His son was a bad leader because he didn’t believe in Christianity and he wanted to lead from a distance instead of being directly involved. Noyes eventually had to take over the duties again. This, combined with factions, the law catching up with them (Oneidans were practicing statuary rape) and the death of Noyes contributed to the Oneida Community’s demise a few years later.
1 thought on “Oneida Community”
I found this community to be so interesting because of the sexuality aspect. I guess I always considered christians in the US to be conservative, boring and a bit prude (yes, I stereotyped). However, the Oneida Community clearly proves me wrong.
The most interesting part of the community was their obsession with complex marriage and sleeping around using the pull out method. Especially interesting is when you said: “Teenage boys who were still learning this method were paired with menopausal women so that the chances of them conceiving would go down, while the older men such as Noyes paired themselves with teenage girls who were in their prime attractiveness.”
It sounded like such a process and I wonder how the women felt!! Did they enjoy the promiscuity of the community? Did they want to just have a relationship with one guy and feel special? Nonetheless, although I can see how why the community wasn’t able to survive, I can’t see how Noye’s theories really related to christianity. It sounds like he just loved having sex.
Comments are closed.