A rational observer will notice that human beings are not naturally a pair-bonding species. In our culture, about 50% of married women and about 70% of married men will have extra-marital sex at some time during their marriage. Some sociologists and other researchers theorize the percentages would be much higher, if not for the religious connotation of "sin," the religion-based laws about adultery, and the stigma associated with peoples' natural sexual preferences. Monogamy over an extended period of time appears to be an unrealistic expectation, one that causes huge amounts of human suffering, pain, and of course, legal fees. For many married people, monogamy is a form of sexual slavery.

The institution of marriage is inherently flawed by the idealistic fantasy of monogamy until "death do us part." Why not improve marriage to become a secular contract of partnership that does not require monogamy? Instead, monogamy could be an option that couples could add to their contract at any time they want, especially during times when they want to have children.

An important part of a non-monogamous marriage contract would be each partner's responsibility to keep the other informed of his/her sexual contacts, with an emphasis on safe sex. An important part of freedom from monogamy is a reduction over time of the notion that marriage implies "ownership" of the spouse. One beneficial end result might be a significant reduction in domestic violence.

Tags: marriage, monogamy, secular

Views: 665

Replies to This Discussion

ok, so now reading this thread, i've reached where we have two plausible, but opposing views of how monogamy became the norm.

anette says its the result of "social evolution" and humanity found it to be the best for societal growth.

khemin says that we were non-monogamous for a long time and it was rome/religion that forced monogamy.

does anybody know which interpretation is correct, or at least has more supporting evidence?

i tend to lean towards khemin's view, but i was torn apart in a discussion i started in another group.

btw, in my discussion i was asking for people to give me their impressions of this article HISTORY OF MONOGAMY which i had found through google. it very much echoes khemin's points, which i found interesting despite some problems i had with it as well.

The first statement really tells all, monogamy may well be as old as Adam since Adam presumably only lived a few thousand years ago! LMAO

But really, that's a religious article in support of a submissive female in a monogamous patriarchal society. Nuf said. There is no significantly scientific reasoning behind anette's POV. I can't believe you were beaten on the other page... hmm have to look at that :)

With the human sex ratio being about equal, I think it was social evolution.
Thank you, TNT666 and BrotherEduardo, for your very generous remarks.

If I might add a bit to my prior entry, the whole Pauline Christianity-Roman Empire merging of marital laws reminds me so much of a classic Star Trek episode called "The Changeling" in which Kirk, Spock, et al, encounter an alien probe of immense power bent on destroying all lifeforms, including all life on the Enterprise, as well. As they discovered, this genocidal probe had originally began as two separate robotic spacecraft (one from Earth and the other from some unknown alien planet) with separate missions. The Earth probe's mission was to find new lifeforms while the alien craft's mission had been to sterile soil samples and return them back to the alien planet.

What had happened is that in a freak accident, the two robotic spacecraft had collided with one another and then worked together to combine themselves into one craft so as to "survive" and continue their missions... now also combined into one as a result of the repairs made. When Thus, when finally all repairs were completed, their bastardized new programming... derived from elements of their separate original programs and haphazardly fused together... horrifically became to sterile (destroy) all lifeforms and return to the Earth probe's home planet (Earth) from whence it was launched and destroy all life there, as well.

Obviously, the end result was a genocidal probe of immense power whose mission resembled not at all the respective programming of the two original probes... just as the end result of the Roman Catholic amalgamation of Jewish and Roman marital systems and laws hardly resembled at all how marriage had been practiced in either ancient culture and for millennia prior to them both elsewhere throughout the ancient world.

In both cases, the end result of their respective "collisions" was a complete and utter abomination.
I totally agree especially, as a person who has a wonderful open relationship with a partner of 3plus years. I feel the same way myself, but I still don't like the concept of marriage open or otherwise because it is a contract, and I believe people should just be together if they want to be together. Marriage itself as a concept is only so people can be together with the approval of society. I think it would be better if people just didn't deny nature.
My view on this is largely informed by things I read in The Red Queen by Matt Ridley and Sperm Wars by Robin Baker a few years ago. Great books. The good news (I guess) is that religion is less a cause of our marriage/sexual adventures and more a consequence of them. Evolutionary pressure when offspring take considerable investment, means that men will try very hard to prevent other men from competing with them over a female--the concept of monogamy is a psychological binding to help protect the man from being cuckolded. The woman derives some benefit in the form of a mate who's more willing to commit resources and protection to her and her offspring if he believes they're his.

At the same time both genders benefit from spreading themselves around a bit--men much more so than women because they don't have a gestation time between offsrping--but women still benefit by gaining resources and having men's sperm compete (and letting the best win). This leads to infidelity and  the need to be covert about it.

In the end human mating habits are most similar to some species of social birds that live in large colonies. Individuals are usually serially monogamous--several partners, but only one at a time. Religion has codified this through marriage, divorce and their impacts on how people in our culture view people who decide to sleep with someone other than their main squeeze. Religious taboos around divorce are a justification of the increased ability that males had to control females in the less civilized (and more rural) times when religion was invented.

You personally may be much happier in a polyamorous or free love type of community, but the norm of unsuccessful marriages isn't a flaw of religion so much as an inevitable consequence of human mating habits.

The primary benefit to removing religion from the picture is the freedom from guilt and the freedom to make science/evidence based choices to maximize your happiness without the influence of ancient cultures and sensibilities.

Outside of that it's less a problem of religion and more a problem of government. The marriage "contract" as it exists today is messed up because government (with the influence of religion) has decided that marriage is state business. If governments didn't have specific and separate language for marriage, regular contract law would allow the flexibility you seem to want.

I rather doubt that domestic violence rates would be affected much by a change in marriage rules. Domestic violence stems from extremes of many things including past abuse, the need of males to prevent their mates from getting access to competing males, the need of females to keep their mates from splitting their resources with other females, and a males need to prevent the offspring of other males from using his resources. Drugs such as alcohol are often sited as a 'cause', but their main function is to remove the inhibitions of higher level reasoning that would have otherwise restrained the already unstable person.

There's no long term historical foundation for this thought. It is a "just so theory" about reproduction. I propose to you that such "just so" authors have not questioned how long ago monogamy came about... Archaeology tends to show monogamy being a recent thing in humans.

 

So I propose this questioning to you:

What if all this serial monogamy was simply mankind rationalising it's dominance of females by looking at the most "in your face" of animals? Birds are easily the most studied and most watched members of the animal kingdom. Once human males found out their role in procreation, they decided to act upon this. But since by this time most of us had left Africa eons ago... our ape counterparts were no longer available, so men rationalised their desires with bird behaviours.

 

We aren't birds, nor bees, nor termites. We're apes and I think our society would be much healthier (crime, depression, etc, etc, ) if we accepted that.

I didn't and don't have 500 pages to reiterate the arguments and evidence in the book, so I presented the "how things are" side with admittedly little explanation of why things are the way they are. However if you'd read the books before claiming there's no evidence for these ideas you wouldn't call them "just so theories."
"recent" is a relative term in Archaeology.

Accepting that we're apes has nothing to do determining optimal mating habits for human happiness. Different ape species have vastly different mating habits, from Gorillas who basically follow Polygamy with a silverback and his 'wives', to Bonobos who will fuck anyone any time for any reason, to young male chimpanzees forming rape gangs, and oragutans who often prefer a five night stand.

I don't think a significant portion of crime is caused by the troubles of monogamy.

Depression is serious, but there isn't a one shot cure. Individual people vary as much as different ape species in their fetishes. Some are poly others strictly monogamous and others prefer NSA relationships, so if someone is depressed because their sex or relationships life sucks polyamory may not be the answer..

I find that for me personally monogamy is the best answer.  I typically do not find myself sexually attracted to very many people, and the ones I am attracted to I must have an emotional attactment  of some kind before I desire to engage any any sort of sexual activities.  Needless to say flings and one-night-stands aren't really my thing.

 

I suppose it's possible that I could find myself in a situation where I was in love or at least lust with more than one person, but I can't think of a time in my life when that has been the case.

 

To those that choose to be non-monogamous, more power to you.  I think everyone should do what makes them happy, as long as both (or more as the case may be) partners kniow that's the type of relationship they are in.

  I'm new to the site and actually fairly new to my own Atheism.  Here's my 2 cents.  There has been a lot of data to suggest that the natural state of humans is a social monogamy at best.  And I will agree that if, perhaps, people were taught how to carry on with polyamorous relationships; relationship counseling.  One thing I would like to elaborate on is Eduardo's feeling of ownership.  I think what really goes with that is that when people "share" with someone else, there is a feeling of loss because that is how were are programmed to view things.  "Is this person giving what's mine to someone else?"  The selfish gene kicks in and feeling of inferiority set in.  Feelings of anger and jealousy.  Yet, it's funny how we can spread our love to children, family and friends without those feelings.  It just doesn't make sense. 

Actually, a recent study was conducted and it was discovered that non-monogamy is more of the evolutionary preference. The book that came out is called Sex at Dawn where the author discusses the results of the study and open relationships. I highly recommend people read it. Another book is called The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People. I recommend that book as well.

What does "...non-monogamy is more of the evolutionary preference." mean?

 

My wife and I did some non-monogamy (spouse swapping) with people who told us we would return from the experience more turned on than ever. We did.

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