THE BRIDGE: Sex & The Revolution, Part 2–Monogamy
By Darryl James
(August 28, 2007) *In the first installment of this series, I outlined how the so-called Sexual Revolution in America was largely a hoax, leading to greater sexual messages for the youth, who now receive fewer messages of intrinsic sexual education.
I also advocated for some honest and open discussions about sex, or we may find ourselves in a quagmire filled with less love and more deviant sex, less commitment and more pain, less fulfilling sex and more aberrant sexual behavior.
Actually, in many quarters, we are already there.
The problem is that following the so-called sexual revolution, many Americans now hold some strange ideas about sex.
Some people believe that free love is best for any and all humans, even though most of the people who have pursued so-called free love have paidsome quite dearly, with a broad range of dire results.
For some, free love has exacted the price of disease, relationship discord, emotional dissonance and sexual dysfunction.
For others, free love has resulted in unwanted or unplanned children, unwanted abortions and reproductive dysfunction.
While there are some human beings who are living for the sexual connection based on other forms of attraction, far too many people, particularly in the United States persist with the pursuit of free love, even while paying the high price often exacted.
Some people, while not necessarily advocating free love, are all for experiencing sex with multiple partners, even advocating the avoidance of virginal marriages in favor of sexual experience with other partners prior to a life commitment.
Yet, there are still others believe that humans were made to find one mate and mate for life.
In America, the standard is allegedly monogamy, or at least that is the company line that many of us claim to hold near and dear. I call it a company line because while many people espouse a belief in monogamy, their sexual activities are far from an intrinsic demonstration of monogamy.
The struggle with monogamy comes because much like many beliefs that Americans hold, most of the holders have no clue as to the origin of the belief.
Monogamy as we know it is a relatively new concept in the human continuum. It is steeped in religious traditions, but not in the origins of any actual religion.
We know that in Islamic societies, a man may have many wives as long as he can support them. But what some may not know is that the same was once in place within Christianity. In fact, at one time, even Catholic priests could marry and have children, although their children could not inherit church assets.
So when did the change come?
Well, those of us who know history, know that God did not hand down any edict to alter the directives of the church.
Changes came in the fourth century under Emperor Constantine, when the church became the Roman Catholic Church as he bridged the Empire of Rome to the Church of Rome, appointed himself Pope and began to organize the church.
Christianity was strongly and aggressively propagated from the Roman Empire into the West and from the West into the rest of the world and thus came to be known as a Western religion. We know that the world was redefined based on Western supremacy, so when we speak of monogamy, it should be noted that the Romans were notoriously monogamous.
It should also be noted that the average Roman enjoyed little marital bliss or worldly pleasures.
It is called asceticism; the paganistic teaching that to be spiritual is to be poor. Under such teachings, sex and all other human passions have to be denied for the highest fulfillment. This behavior is typically found only in monastic lifestyle today but was popular during the Roman Empires era.
This distorted view of human passions and sexuality tortured the souls of those who wanted to be spiritual, but who still wanted to embrace certain pleasures of the flesh and of the world. And, this view became the foundation for other propaganda surrounding holiness and marriage forms in the growing Christian world.
In addition to the proliferation of monogamy, celibacy was propagated as the new standard of high attainment in holiness.
Sex was viewed as unclean and sinful, so accordingly, marriage was viewed as a necessary evil to guard against fornication. Based on those views, monks and nuns were considered holier and closer to God than anybody else.
The view of marriage continued to evolve. Since it was considered strictly an activity of the flesh, it was touted to be avoided by those seeking spirituality, which lead to priests being mandated into celibacy.
Monogamy became an acceptable pursuit for those less spiritual and polygamy was condemned as an abomination.
These views and resulting laws emerged during a time when Greek philosophy and Roman politics ruled the Church and the Church ruled the land, but contemporary Christianity is still very much Romanized where monogamy is the law rather than being Hebraic in nature where polygamy was viewed as acceptable in the sight of God and man.
So, if we know that the majority of the world practices polygamy and that monogamy is a relatively new concept, why does the average American believe that monogamy is and has always been the most popular lifestyle?
The easy answer is that the popularization of monogamy is tied directly to the Western Feminist movement, which has been influencing society for more than two centuries. Feminists viewed polygamy as far too advantageous for men and too disadvantageous for women and joined the Churchs movement to propagate monogamy.
In fact, polygamy continued to be openly practiced in the last two centuries in Non-Western countries, and today, is still practiced in some Western societies.
Yet, in America, we still have advocates of monogamy claiming that such a lifestyle is the only path to spirituality and happiness.
But we would have a hard time telling that to polygamous societies, which are the most numerous in the world. According to a worldwide ethnographic survey of 849 human societies, 708 had customs that were polygamous (more than 1 wife), 4 had customs viewed as polyandrous (more than 1 husband) and 137 had monogamous customs. Other than the religious and supremacy factors, there can be a few other reasons for this.
Quite frankly, the practice of polygamy, whether you agree with it or not, actually works for most of the world. And, if we look at the dwindling marriage rate, it would appear that monogamy is on the decline.
Whether a society of individuals make choices to be monogamous or polygamous, politics should be removed so that the people can decide which is best without viewing one or the other as sinful or wrong.
That would be a revolution.
Darryl James is an award-winning author who is now a filmmaker. His first mini-movie, “Crack,” was released in March of 2006. He is currently filming a full length documentary. James latest book, “Bridging The Black Gender Gap,” is the basis of his lectures and seminars. Previous installments of this column can now be viewed at http://www.bridgecolumn.com. James can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.