America’s Next Bright Idea: Abandoning Monogamy

If there is no ultimate moral authority beyond our own happiness, these things make sense.

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.

No. 1-21

Heck's piece is sprinkled with emotional words implying decay and moral decline all over the place. "older teenagers can’t stop themselves" ... "increased misery, increased despair, and increased trouble" ... "embrace it, encourage it, or give up and surrender to it [=sin] as the new normal" and so on.

It always amazes me how social conservatives apparently take it as a self evident truth that young people in particular are less moral, more violent, more likely to abuse drugs, commit sexual violence against women thanks to rampant pornography and so on. Yet, virtual all actual studies show contemporary materialistic society actually has yielded LOWER crime/violence rates etc. than was the norm back in the 1960s and 70s!! Now, mental health and loneliness (see link below) may possibly be a by-product of the fairly social changes that have taken place during the past 50 years. But this does not change the basic fact, which is that rampant social breakdown in the U.S. has not occurred.

Of course, it is possible that social conservatives mainly observe the situation in their (predominantly) rural communities, which HAVE been hit hard by economic changes since the 1980s. This in turn has caused a social crisis as well, which is real (read e.g. Douglas Murray's "Coming Apart"). It is not a common phenomenon across the entire U.S., all the same.


DirkBelig, my point is that dropping the drinking age to 18 results in more access to alcohol for 15 and 16 year olds, who can't handle the stuff. Nominal 21 drinking age doesn't keep it out of the hands of college age students but does a better job of keeping it away from high school kids.


DirkBelig, the legal drinking age was 21 for years. In Georgia it dropped to 18 in 1972, during the Vietnam era. North Carolina at the time had a two tiered drinking age, with 18 for beer and wine and 21 for spirits, and it dropped to 18 at about the same time.


the author spelled out the humanist/materialist "moral" of monogamy: the monogamous male is more likely to achieve reproductive success. Name a Christian moral - any moral - and you can identify a compelling materialist justification for it. Morality is a direct consequence of materiality


"Got a problem with underage drinking? Since older teenagers can’t stop themselves, let’s just lower the drinking age."

The legal drinking age was 18 until the neo-Puritan latter-day Carrie Nation types demanded it be raised to 21 and held Federal highway funding hostage to states raising their ages to the old age of majority.

This has led to the insane glitch where young ADULTS from ages 18 to 20 years and 364 days are able to marry, sign legally binding contracts, get tattoos, vote, fight and die for their country in the military, etc., but hoo boy, you'd better not touch a drop of demon rum because that's illegal and you're too young. Right. If a 20-year-old SEAL shot Osama bin Laden, it can't be Miller Time™ because kids can't drink? Puh-leeze.

Now if we wanted to raise the age of majority back up to 21 for everything (good luck with that!), we can talk; but this wah-wah-wahing about drinking is more a problem with those morally opposed to jazz and liquor than a sign of America's moral decline.