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Is Monogamy Against My Nature?

A man proposing to a woman..
Monogamy is the theoretical norm in American society, but the practical reality is a bit more complicated.

I had an interesting conversation today on the topic of relationships. Some background info for those who are not familiar with the term: monogamy is the practice of being married to only one woman, or the practice of having a sexual relationship with only one woman. Monogamy is often contrasted with polygamy, which is the practice of being married to multiple women, or having a sexual relationship with multiple women. Many people throughout history, including kings in the Old Testament, were married to multiple women.

Monogamy In The Modern World

Today, monogamy is the marital norm in most of the world, although Muslims and Mormons are permitted to marry multiple women. However, in practice, many people engage in sexual relationships with multiple partners, even though they cannot legally marry them in the US (and often would have no interest in doing so.) This happens by cheating, or when both partners agree to be in an “open relationship” where sexual relations with other people are accepted.

My friends, who are not Christian, argued that men (and women) by nature desire to have multiple partners. Monogamy, they believe, goes against human nature. This is the reason, they argued, why so many people cheat and seek sexual satisfaction in someone other than their wife.

A Christian might instinctively object to their line of argument, but I thought about it and came to a surprising conclusion, “Whether they are right or wrong, it does not matter.”

A characteristic teaching of Christianity is that everyone, without exception, sins against God. Sin, Christianity holds, (i.e. missing the mark, doing the wrong thing, rebelling against God), is so deep a part of human nature that a believer, in order to become like God, must receive a new one, “be born again,” and die to self daily.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

John 3:3

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Who we become matters more than the way we were born.

We cannot use our nature as an excuse for doing evil. One of the effects of knowing God is a change in our nature, a movement from light to darkness, a spiritual evolution in our thoughts, desires and intentions.

For this is the will of God, your santification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles, who do not know God.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

Finally, there is a lot of secular wisdom in monogamy, both as it relates to marriage and sexuality, that many non-believers have been able to identify (e.g. Jordan Peterson on enforced monogamy). When polygamy is permissible, rich and powerful men tend to marry multiple women, which creates a scarcity of available women in society.

King Solomon in the Bible, for example, is said to have had more than 700 wives. Assuming an equal sex ratio of one man for every woman alive, that creates a situation where 699 men would not be able to find a partner to marry. Polygamy, it follows, can have disastrous social consequences. It is evidently not God’s perfect will as related in Genesis and reiterated by Christ (Matthew 19:5).

In addition, being married to one woman but having multiple sexual relationships is problematic for other reasons. It tends to lead to unhealthy emotional attachments, to say nothing of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. It tends to weaken the bond of marriages, and is often a contributing factor to their failure. When marriages fail or are weakened, it’s bad for the married individuals, bad for kids, and bad for society.

Pornography is training in polygamy. It makes it harder to love and be satisfied with one partner. It is bad for relationships and bad for society.

I’m curious to get your thoughts on this one. Tell me down below what I got right, wrong, or failed to mention altogether.

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An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).


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