Over at CNN guest columnist Christopher Ryan goes to great lengths to assure us we are not naturally monogamous, but that primitive man (and woman) lived in egalitarian tribes of hunter-gathers who shared everything.
No one thought about private possessions until they started raising crops and claiming land. Then a wife became just a thing, he says, citing the 10th commandment as evidence for his conclusion: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that [is] thy neighbor’s.”
Monogamy is an agricultural accident, he claims:
Research from primatology, anthropology, anatomy and psychology points to the same conclusion: A nonpossessive, gregarious sexuality was the human norm until the rise of agriculture and private property just 10,000 years ago.
That’s a lot of research. And it’s also a lot of nonsense.
Sexuality is still gregarious. Infidelity is still the norm. And I’m not sure a shared woman was better off than a monogamous one, since the real problem has always been the self-serving heart. A nonpossessive sexuality is not a human one. There has never been a man who couldn’t turn a woman into a thing, regardless of how many were available to him.
Monogamy has never been “natural” anyway; it’s just been necessary. It’s a discipline that keeps our demons at bay. But marriage is more than that. It is an office, not an instinct, an office that represents God’s covenant keeping love for his people.
When Jesus was questioned about divorce he points back to creation itself:
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.
Ryan comes to a different, and much less satisfying conclusion:
Just as we can choose to be vegans, we can decide to lead sexually monogamous lives. But newlyweds would be wise to remember that just because you’ve chosen to be vegan, it’s utterly natural to yearn for an occasional bacon cheeseburger.
A divine ordinance vs. a bacon cheese burger? It’s a choice between lasting significance and short-term satisfaction.
It’s a choice with consequences.