Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Are people really supposed to be monogamous?

We hear it all the time: being monogamous goes against our nature. Explanations have been offered for this, including the fact that most other animals are not monogamous, but rather go from one mate to another. Also, we are told it is genetically to our benefit to have relations with as many people as possible in order to ensure the continuation of our genes. This would especially apply to men.

Despite this popular belief, our society has paradoxically affirmed that "cheating" is one of the most serious of crimes. What are we to make of this? Is monogamy really unnatural? Let's consider some evidence.

One of the main considerations I want to make is our psychology. When a man is hungry, his body is telling him he needs food. When someone dies, we grieve as we adjust to their departure and learn to live without them here. Our bodies tell us things. It doesn't sit idly by, it expects to be heard. No different is the case when we break up with a spouse.

Divorce is a devastating situation. It is sad, unfortunate and causes a great deal of anger, depression, and pain. Similarly, cheating causes the same reactions. If going from one partner to another was built into our DNA, why would such pain be cause when we did something so natural? I think the question answers itself.

Divorce has devastating consequences. One study, by the National Institute for Healthcare Research in Rockville, MD, has said that divorced people are three times more likely to commit suicide. Another study, which I cannot quote right now, says for people considering divorce, those who proceed with it are less happy five years later than those who remain in the marriage.

These are not the effects of something natural.

Also, why do we look to other animals to determine our correct course of action? Humans are unique. We may compare ourselves to chimpanzees, but it is common for chimps to attack other groups of chimps, take the young babies, rip them apart and eat them. Do we want to behave this way? No. We are called to a far higher standard.


  1. DIvorce - we know has very sad consequences. so why isnt the church doing more to prevent Catholic spouses from forcing divorce on un-willing spouses? I know I have hardly ever ever heard a priest daring enough to speak of divorce ( the spouse who instigates it) as the grave sin it is that Pope John Paul calls it to be. My husband who has chosen to separate from me, and unless is hit by divine intervention- will probably force a divorce upon me and our 20 yr marriage- thinks he is in a state of grace- able to receive sacraments. Not in grave mortal sin. as he destroys our childrens' family. He rufuses to do anything to repair our marriage. Several priests i have myself heard say statements to the effect of saying it is alright to break up ones family. This is not talking about physical abuse, drug/alcohol situations. Just one spouse choosing to break vows and refuse to commit to what they promised when they freely chose to marry in the church. And then starting to search for a "repacement spouse" long before even the civil divorce.
    I think until more Bishops, priests get some backbone and call it for what it is- GRAVE SIN- more familys are torn apart, and other dissolutioned spouses look at them and rationalize that this behavior must be acceptable.