CNN: “Is Monogamy Realistic?”

purity-ringOriginally posted October 2009. -JB

The following paragraphs are taken from  This issue is not going away and the slide toward the normativity of sexual promiscuity is only growing steeper by the day.  How can Christ-followers show the world the beauty of God’s design for monogamous sexual fidelity?  

Here’s the message the pop culture and even social scientists doing university research are feeding the emerging generation:

In the age of hookups, friends with benefits and online dating, and as human life expectancy grows, is it still reasonable to expect people to pair up and stay monogamous until death do them part?

“It’s realistic that some people can mate for life in the same sense that some people can play the Beethoven violin concerto or other people can ice-skate beautifully or learn a new language,” said psychiatrist Judith Eve Lipton.

Added evolutionary biologist David Barash, “It’s within the realm of human potential, but it’s not easy.”Lipton and Barash, who have been married 32 years and are the co-authors of “Strange Bedfellows” and “The Myth of Monogamy,” said serial monogamy may be more realistic — a model in which people move from one committed long-term relationship to another and choose partners for different reasons at different stages of their life.

What do you think about people pairing up and staying monogamous until death do them part?  Scott McKnight at Jesus Creed asks us: What can we do to show, teach, and pass on marriage as permanent and the significance of fidelity?

I would say this: Actions speak louder than words, and my wife and I have our story of both remaining virgins until married to share with our youth group every year. As this article reveals, people think it’s almost impossible to remain pure these days. Some of our teens probably think we’re aliens because we resisted sexual temptations (however imperfectly) until marriage.

It is difficult, and has never been easy. But the pathway to purity begins with seeing the world through God’s eyes and according “the pattern” of the gospel. As Paul realized, with tears in his eyes, many have their view “set on earthly things” and bow down at the altar of their gut desires (see below).

“17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:17-21).

We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2) and the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:5) to show the world “a more perfect way” (1 Cor 13).

And always with gentleness and respect out of grace and love.  I have written on this elsewhere HERE and HERE.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Reed says:

    Hey Jeremy,
    Long time, no see.
    I saw that article, too, and was amazed.

    I don’t have anything constructive to say, but that part in the article about America being the most strict about adultery as compared to the rest of the world…um…what about Muslim countries? They didn’t even mention Africa, Asia, or Latin America.

    I really dislike it when the church takes on the role of ‘morality police’, but I couldn’t help but think that the article really shows the moral decline of the country…particularly since it was on the front page of CNN. They were practically commending this view to the reader, that monogamy was generally impossible and not an ideal. Unbelievable.

  2. Reed says:

    I should add that my gut reaction to it is sadness.

    And I totally agree with you that the church as a whole needs to demonstrate what solid marriages look like. But the purpose isn’t to show how much self-control Christians have. It needs to be done in order to show the relationship of Christ and the church, and to show that faithfulness in marriage is because we have a God who is absolutely faithful to his people.

    1. Jeremy Berg says:

      Well put, Reed. It’s a basic question of whether we believe we should let our (sin-infected, “fleshly”) desires and urges guide our sexual and marital choices OR we own up to our fallen nature and trust that God’s design is ultimately best — even if His way demands more sacrifice and self-control (by the power of the Holy Spirit).

      Great hearing from you! Blessings to you, Kim and Isaac (I checked your blog profile). Are you still at TEDS? Enjoy your studies. I graduated from Bethel Sem in ’05.


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