“Is monogamy worth it?” was the headline on CNN’s home page to this article. Other questions posed in the article are
- Is monogamy realistic?
- Do they (adulterous affairs of recent celebrities) just illustrate the realities of modern life?
- Is it still reasonable to expect people to pair up and stay monogamous until death do them part?
The mere asking of such questions shows exactly what form the answer will take: pragmatics. When we ask questions about worth, we are doing a cost/benefit analysis from a personal material perspective. When we ask if something is realistic, we are weighing the convenience of something with respect to ourselves. When we ask if something is reasonable, we decide if something is likely given the nature of the factors involved.
When we talk about marriage, it is unbiblical to even ask these questions. Romans 11:36 tells us “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (NASB). Our perspective cannot be personal, private, or with respect to ourselves but with respect to God. Each of these questions assumes an inward focus.
I cannot answer the question “Is monogamy worth it?” since it assumes that monogamy is based on some condition that may differ from one person to another. If you ask me “Why do I believe in monogamy?”, I can answer that on a couple of levels. First, marriage is a picture of the love of Jesus for the Church. When I love my wife and am faithful to her, I show how Jesus loves believers. My faithfulness is a picture of Jesus’ faithfulness to the Church. If I were unfaithful to my wife, then I have maligned Jesus’ character, because Jesus will not be unfaithful to the Church! Secondly, monogamy is honoring to my wife. Unfaithfulness would be humiliating to my wife and a betrayal of her trust. The CNN article addresses this by suggesting that American culture is too wedded to the idea of monogamy. Everyone else is doing it….
Finally, Tim Challies has written a series of articles on sex, and his third installment is the best yet. He observes that our sexual appetite is a gift from God; it “nudges” us to get married if we are single, and to the married it promotes unity and intimacy. Let me add that our sexual appetite is not a nudge to be unfaithful to our spouses.