Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In Defense of Monogamy

Every human being deserves to be someone's chosen, the one with whom that person shares things he or she shares with no other. Every man deserves to have a woman who looks at him with a desire she reserves for him alone.

Every woman deserves to have a man who sees a beauty in her that he sees in no other.  In such a love, a person finds the courage to become the very best that he or she can become.  It is a gift that says to the recipient, "You are worthy."

When a man decides to seek out other partners, whether for the sake of engaging in a polygamous marriage or a polyamorous relationship or for an affair, he tells his wife with his behavior that she is not worthy.

She isn't good enough, isn't beautiful enough, isn't worthy enough to meet his needs.  She is not special enough for him to do the work it takes to stay in a monogamous relationship. He crushes her soul and her spirit.  She may have been raised to accept that this is the way things are, that no man can be satisfied with one woman, or her own self-worth may be low enough for her to accept this as true - but the message he gives her with his behavior could not be more clear.  The same is true when it is a woman who seeks out other men.

Polygamy does exist in the Bible, but if you read the passages it never exists in a truly happy home. Sarah despised Hagar, and the two sons born of the two women became blood rivals - a rivalry which continues to devastating effect today in the war between Israel and Islaam. The sisters Jacob married, Rachel and Leah, became divided by their marriage to Jacob; Leah was never able to do enough to secure Jacob's love and Rachel was jealous of Leah's fertility.

The children born of those two women and their maid servants were deeply divided.  The older sons were deeply wounded by the favoritism Jacob showed to Rachel's oldest child. Solomon lost his faith because of his many wives. That God permitted the many wives did not mean God approved of it. He, after all, chose but one bride from among many - Israel - and she caused him plenty of trouble all by herself.

If I seem to be preaching, believe me when I tell you I speak from experience.  When I was just 17 and my husband and I were terribly insecure, we worried that we didn't have what it took to live out monogamy. We didn't really understand that love was a choice and not a feeling, and worried that some other might come along whom we loved and that this unrequited love - unrequited because of our marriage - would tear us apart.

So, we decided we would have an "open" relationship - we would allow each other to be with others sexually so that we would have our curiosity sated and thus prevent the desire of another from tearing our relationship apart. That little experiment lasted 10 years to nearly disastrous effect on our relationship and our marriage.

Randy's sense of self-worth, already low, plummeted each time I found someone else I was interested in.  The other person I was with inevitably ended up hurt by the relationship, inevitably ended up feeling that they weren't worth having a woman give her full self to them. It was impossible not to develop an attachment to the men I was with, the human brain is wired to bond through sex, and my wounds from the ended relationship carried into my marital relationship and did damage to my own sense of self-worth.

The worst part was, looking back, that I led those men into mortal sin to satisfy my own vanity. I wanted to feel good about myself, to feel beautiful, and so I lured them into a trap.  I didn't love them, although I thought I did, I didn't even love myself. Not one of them ever got to see the real me during that time period, including my husband.

How could they? I wasn't even showing her to myself. They got lured into that trap by a counterfeit and sold their soul to be with the illusion.  I am responsible for that. I know one of them died in a car accident just a few years later, long before I ever really had a relationship with Jesus. If he is in hell today, it is in no small part because of me. Yes, it was his choice, but I was guilty of laying the trap for him.

Monogamy isn't always easy. There are still times I find myself tempted by other men, but when I see it happening, I keep my distance and pray for the strength not to give in to the vanity that I know lies beneath this desire.  I know that as much as the siren song may call out with promises of happiness and satisfaction, its promises are empty and that path only leads to heartbreak for all involved.  God gives me the strength to resist, and if that isn't enough He will move me out of harm's way.

Monogamy is the safest place for the heart to rest.  It is the road where love flourishes best because it gives the most.  Monogamy is good for the man and for the woman, and - if we're worried about overpopulation - it's best for the environment, too.  A truly monogamous couple who remain together for a lifetime will have far fewer children together than a couple who are "monogamous" with several different people or a couple who are in a polygamous marriage.  Monogamy is a beautiful gift to give to the one you love.

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