Should we abandon the idea of lifelong, monogamous marriage? That was the question asked in a recent article in New Scientist by Jessica Bond, who argues that, because we’re not very good at monogamy, perhaps it’s time to make “consensual non-monogamous” relationships—in which partners have multiple sexual relationships, but everyone involved knows about it—a norm in our society.
This argument flows from her naturalistic evolutionary worldview (and the relative morality that comes out of such a belief). She argues that monogamy is a relatively recent development in our evolutionary ancestry and that, in the past, our supposed human ancestors practiced polygyny, or one male with multiple female partners. Gradually monogamy took over because it supposedly had survival value and helped bring about social stability, but, apparently, we’re still not very good at it. Bond quotes several studies to prove her point:
In the UK, 1 in 5 people admit to cheating on their partner.
In the US, over 30% of married or cohabitating couples have cheated.
In the US, 20% of single people have had “consensual non-monogamous” relationships.
Bond then argues that relationships that are non-monogamous—but cut out the deceit by keeping everyone in the loop—seem to be working for some people so “at the very least there is room in our society for other types of relationships. The systems that shape how we select our partners are flexible, and changeable. . . . But that doesn’t mean it is the only way, or the best one.”
Well, I have news for Bond and others like her—marriage isn’t an evolutionary institution. Marriage was created by God from the very beginning (Genesis 1:27), so he alone has the authority to define it. And he has defined it as between one man and one woman for life. “Consensual non-monogamous” relationships violate God’s design and are a perversion.
Marriages fail because sinful, fallible human beings are part of them.
Marriages don’t fail because there’s something fundamentally wrong with the institution of marriage. Marriage was designed by God as “very good.” But—as with everything—sin can make marriages difficult. Marriages fail because sinful, fallible human beings are part of them. The problem isn’t with marriage—it’s with sin! And perhaps the reason so many marriages are failing is because our culture has abandoned God’s Word and a biblical view of marriage and sexuality and has embraced a sexual ethic where “anything goes.”
It’s not time to abandon monogamy; it’s time to get back to the authority of God’s Word, see what God says about marriage, and pattern our lives and relationships after God and his Word.
But as I’ve said so many times, the more that a culture abandons the foundation of the absolute authority of the Word of God, ultimately anything goes. Really, it illustrates the essence of what is being described in this verse: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
Learn more about God's design for marriage on our website.
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.