The New Scientist recently ran a very scholarly article that asked the startling question whether or not we should simply abandon monogamy as a social institution since not many people actual adhere to it anymore. The author, Jessica Bond, argued:
The lifelong commitment of two people to one another may be the fairy-tale ending, and an ideal of Western society. But monogamy is a relatively modern development, and hardly a sure path to happiness. Is it time we explored the alternatives?
Throughout our early history, polygyny, or one male with several females, was routine. One idea for how monogamy came to dominate is that as we evolved larger brains, keeping babies alive required more effort and food. The children of men who were spread across too many families were less likely to survive.
She goes on to cite the depressing statistics of how many couples are unfaithful to one another both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her point is fairly simple: since monogamy seems to be so hard for us, maybe we should just start developing a new paradigm where open relationships without monogamous commitment are accepted and encouraged.
This mentality is vintage 21st century Western Civilization: if something is hard, let’s just find an easier way to do it. Got a problem with underage drinking? Since older teenagers can’t stop themselves, let’s just lower the drinking age. Don’t want the work of raising a child? Since people still want to have sex whenever, wherever, and with whoever, let’s just legalize and build an entire industry of child killing.
Of course, all of this reasoning is built upon the back of the humanist/materialist worldview. If there is no ultimate moral authority beyond our own happiness, these things make sense. The path of least resistance is not only preferable, identifying and choosing it is moral and admirable.
But there is, of course, another option. And that is to recognize that just because something seems hard, just because something might go against our human nature, that doesn’t mean it’s not right. In fact, if the humanist/materialist worldview is wrong, and the Biblical Christian worldview is right, doing right almost always goes against human nature because our tendency is to yield to temptations that satisfy our base instincts but leave us empty and unfulfilled.
This perspective would tell us that the reason monogamous relationships fail is not because there is something wrong with marriage. It would tell us that the reason they fail is because there is something wrong with us. Namely, sin. And it would also tell us that the solution to this failure is not to embrace it, encourage it, or give up and surrender to it as the new normal. Rather we should work to correct our sinful desires.
Do I expect American society to choose the Biblical worldview over the materialist worldview? Of course not. But I do expect as they make the wrong choice, it will lead to increased misery, increased despair, and increased trouble.
When it does, may those of us who find peace and joy by clinging to the Biblical view be there ready to point them to our better way.