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Are We Naturally Monogamous?

I’ve heard it most of my life: Women are naturally monogamous, but men aren’t. Drawing on the evolutionary concept, females are motivated to stick to one guy — the father of her children — to provide for and protect her family. But males are instinctively driven to “spread their seed” to increase their chances of offspring.

So we expect women to want to find that One True Love, while we expect men to try to hit up as many women as possible — at least until he settles down with his One True Love. After he has “sowed his wild oats.”

Here’s always been my problem with that: I know too many exceptions.

For instance, me.

To be honest, I don’t think I’m naturally monogamous. If I wasn’t for my knowledge in this area, my faith in God’s design for intimacy, and my contrasting experiences of promiscuity and marital bliss . . . well, let’s just say that left to my own devices, I might have been jumping from bed to bed. I had to tamp down my temptation to engage multiple partners and grow into the far better plan God set down in His Word.

There are plenty of women like me, and there are also plenty of men who hanker for that one woman they can cling to. You can easily hear it in so many amazing love songs written by men. Exceptions abound!

Now I’m not talking about the choices we make, but our natural bent.

Our natural bents can be positive or negative in many areas, but just because we feel something instinctively doesn’t mean it’s good. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). I don’t think I’m naturally monogamous, but I do think monogamy is absolutely, wonderfully the way to go.


Albatrosses — who mate for life.
Photo credit: JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Indeed, when I agreed with God on his plan for sexuality, He blessed me in ways I still can’t fathom. Truly, my husband is now the only man I sexually desire. I no longer want to hop here and here, because I’ve experienced the far better course of intimacy in a covenant marriage.

Which is why I think the whole “I’m not naturally monogamous” theory is a cop-out.

Humans don’t fit perfectly into those black-and-white categories like animals — either hook up merely to reproduce or mate for life. I think we have a little of both desires in us: the desire to experience attraction with more than one person and the desire to connect our heart with one single person on this big populated planet. Those desires struggle in us to varying degrees, depending on our predisposition, personality, environment, experiences, etc. But what matters in the end is choice.

Unlike those animals with a section in the Wikipedia article for “mating habits,” we choose our approach to sex and relationships. And we can choose to recognize, nurture, and satisfy that desire to be with a single person from now and for the rest of our lives.

The benefits of monogamy are huge, and they include better sex.

Experts say you get really great at something when you’ve put in 10,000 hours of practice. For instance, that piano player who can totally rock a Mozart or Vivaldi or Chopin tune. But imagine that you kept changing his instrument — piano, violin, percussion, trombone, etc. Would he be immediately as good at playing those other instruments? Not likely. In a covenant marriage, you get a lifetime to learn love with your particular partner, to try many different things, and to perfect your lovemaking. You can become quite the maestro!

Focus on the mate you chose. Invest yourself fully in this One True Love. Even if your original, natural bent felt a little more Don Juan than Romeo. Monogamous, covenant marriage, and awesome sex within, is God’s beautiful design, and the payoff is worth the investment.