I recently noticed two articles on CNN.com that startled me over how sexually driven our society has become. They were Ian Kerner’s “Are you willing to negotiate monogamy?“ and Christopher Ryan’s “Monogamy unnatural for our sexy species“. The former article discussed the growing trend of “negotiating monogamy” wherein a couple decides mutually, for the sake of their marriage, that they will allow some sort of “sexual free pass.” They can reignite their sexual passions with someone else and bring their new-found happiness back to their marriage. Kerner says that simply discussing it as an option could even be healthy because when couples talk about sex “they often tend to get turned on and end up going home and having sex with each other.”
Ryan on the other hand takes his reader through a snapshot of human history paralleled by the evolutionary development of mankind through the ages. He says that monogamy is simply a symptom of the shift into agrarian society when “the human female went from occupying a central, respected role to being just another possession for men to accumulate and defend, along with his house, slaves and asses.” In actuality, mankind is yearning from within to return to its primal (and natural) days during which all things, including partners, were shared without question.
It’s easy to come to these conclusions when you’re starting point is that of human feeling, or more specifically the feeling derived from sexual pleasure. Unfortunately, today no researcher will be able to properly study the sustainability of love in a monogamous relationship because it has come to be built on utterly selfish standards. Love today is a feeling, not a choice. We love something as long as it makes us happy, but when it breaks, disappoints, or grows old it’s time to move on. I love my car until the alternator runs out. I love my phone until it starts dropping calls. I love my Xbox 360 until I get the three rings of death. The divorce rate is so high today because people love their spouses until they stop pleasing their selfish desires. So the issue behind the lack of happiness and the struggle to be monogamous has nothing to do with the evolutionary form of happiness, but rather the deep depravity of the human heart.
Ryan says, “Couples who turn to a therapist for guidance through the inevitable minefields of marriage are likely to receive the confusing message that long-term pair bonding comes naturally to our species, but marriage is still a lot of work.” Due to the fact that marriage is a lot of work it isn’t natural to our species? Obviously my experience with marriage is limited seeing as I’m still not married yet, but I have a pretty good idea that it is difficult because two broken and flawed human beings are entering into a lifetime unity with one another which requires work. However, the work is a symptom of reconciliation and restoration in growing alongside one another – it is not conclusive evidence that monogamous marriage is unnatural just because it’s hard.
He goes on to say, “This is a problem because there is no reason to believe monogamy comes naturally to human beings. In fact, for millions of years, evolutionary forces have cultivated human libido to the point where ours is arguably the most sexual species on Earth.” To me, this is intellectually ignorant. Evolutionary forces are not the cause of increasing sexuality. Every single day we continue to create a more deeply entrenched exposure to the hyper-sexuality of our culture. I feel like that’s pretty well illustrated in the exposure of men and women in advertising over the last 20-30 years and it’s not because of evolutionary factors. It’s because the advertisers can make a fortune off of the weakness of the human heart.
These are great illustrative examples for why Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (17:9) The sickness is too desperate for humanity to understand it. The cure must be the same. God’s creative order was not meant for our temporal happiness, but for our eternal joy. These two things are deeply different in nature. One cannot consider it all happiness in times of suffering. Happiness is a fleeting emotion so when we make decisions built upon its effects, they are pleasing only for a short time – even in marriage.
Paul once said, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:22-24). We must always begin with Christ. When our starting point is humanity (or their feelings), what we consider “wisdom” ends up being a stumbling block and folly. Truth is not built upon how we feel. The sinful condition does not disappear if we just try hard enough. Though powerful, our feelings are not trustworthy, they are deceitful.
Kerner says, “When you consider what we’re up against, it may not be such a bad idea to give negotiated monogamy a chance before we dismiss it outright as a violation of the sanctity of marriage.” I’m sorry living sacrificially for another human being is so hard. I’m not even married yet and I know it’s hard. My answer to that attitude though is this:
If you want to be a narcissist, don’t get married.