In a recent Time magazine article, the question was posed, “Is monogamy over?” The article’s author David P. Barash argued that monogamy is under siege because men are biologically geared toward competing with other males to mate with multiple females. He goes onto argue that because polygamy is the natural outcome of the evolutionary process by which males are looking for a larger number of offspring and enhance evolutionary fitness.
From the female side, polygamy is a natural part of the process because it could enhance better genes for her children, improve access to material resources and social advancement. He states it could be “argued that a woman would be better off as the 20th wife of a very wealthy man than as the only wife of a pauper.”
Barash further argues that monogamy isn’t natural nor is it easy, but he sights the one benefit for children being that of biparental care. He goes onto to say that most species don’t parent this way; but because human children need so much care, children can reap the benefits of monogamous relationships. Finally Barash states, “It’s easy to do what comes naturally – animals do it all the time! Perhaps what makes human beings special is our ability to do things like monogamy that are socially imposed.”
So is Barash correct in his assertions? First, are males biologically geared toward polygamy based on evolution? Is there scientific proof for such a statement? If there is, I don’t know of any. Yes, it could be argued that both men and women cheat on spouses and significant others all the time so therefore, it must all be a part of our DNA. Or do these exceptions define the rule – that while many are cheating on the person they have promised themselves to, many more are not.
Or, as we would say to our children, “just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean you should or that it is right.” In other words, just because people have been cheating, having affairs and committing adultery since time began, doesn’t make it right. Just because murder is as old as “Cain and Abel”, and many have followed in Cain’s footsteps, doesn’t make it right. Just because “everyone” exceeds the speed limit when driving, doesn’t make it right. It is still true if the police catch you speeding, you are going to be cited for breaking the law. As Candace Bushnell (author of Sex and the City) states, “If we actually had a choice – if, for instance, for every cheating site there were a cheater site – how many people would choose cheaters? Who would want to partner with them?”
Could it be, while it requires more energy and moral fabric to have a monogamous relationship, it is still not only the right way to have relationships, but also the one built on trust and promise. Yes, I agree it is natural for the human flesh to want what it wants, when it wants it. You see this all the time on college campuses and on the streets of our cities.
People are gravitating to the lowest common denominators by having sex with whom ever they want, when they want it. It is readily available. It is easy to get. And that is the point – easy is natural; but living to a higher standard that honors just one spouse, giving yourself greater dignity and as Barash acknowledges, two committed parents give a child the best environment to grow up into a healthy person, is not easy and requires both trust and commitment.
I believe that God ordained one man to marry and partner with one woman, as it is stated in the book of Genesis. I think this was clearly God’s standard from the beginning because it both protects each of the persons at multiple levels, but also defines commitment and love to the highest level between only two people. I mean, how many people can you really “fall in love with “ at one time? How many people can you romantically be in love with at one time? How many people can you be truly committed to at one time? I think the answer for most of us is only one!
Beyond one, we are lapsing into either using or lusting. We can use and lust after multiple persons; but true love is only for one other person. I believe it is clear why God set it up this way. As Andy Stanley (Pastor and author of The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating) states, “I’ve officiating my share of weddings and done my share of premarital counseling. I always ask couples why they are getting married. Survival of the species never makes the list. We desire intimacy – to know and to be fully known without fear.
Intimacy is powerful. And intimacy is fueled by exclusivity.” I think Andy hits the nail right on the head! People today, as always, ultimately are looking for the closeness and intimacy that only can come from an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. Is it any wonder, that the all- knowing God who created us (book of Genesis) created us for monogamous relationships?
Polygamy should not become legalized for various reasons. We have already argued in this article that primarily it works against how God has created us – no matter what our “natural instincts” might tell us. But even if you say you don’t want God’s standards or religious standards imposed on you or on America since it are not a theocracy, I get it. But here is a very practical reason why it shouldn’t be legalized. We have lived through previous days in our world where polygamy was allowed. There are reasons beyond religious ones why it was not discontinued and why it is not legal in American. One of the key reasons is that history has shown that women and children do not do well in societies that allow it. Neither women nor children get the protection financially or emotionally they need from a stable monogamous relationship.
Finally, we in America need to rise to a higher standard than just what “comes naturally.” Love, commitment, trust and honor need to be our standards as individuals and as a nation rather than lust, convenience and mere self-satisfaction. Let’s continue to contend for what is right and true by keeping our own marriages pure and by advocating that marriage is still between one woman and one man!
Author: Jack Guyler
Source: Time Magazine, “Is Monogamy Over?”, September 21, 2015 edition