Doin' What Comes Naturally?
David Burchett David Burchett's weblog
- 2010 Jun 03
A recent headline jumped out from the daily scan of the Dallas Morning News.
Here is a bit of the article.
Christopher Ryan devoted his dissertation to an examination of the roots of human sexual behavior and suggests, in a new book co-written with his wife, psychiatrist Cacilda Jetha, that we re-evaluate the idea that monogamy comes naturally to men and women - and look at whether it should even be something we require of our spouses. In Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality, to be published this summer by HarperCollins, Ryan and Jetha point to anthropological and biological evidence that humans are designed to seek variety in sexual experiences.
The myth, says Ryan, who writes a blog at PsychologyToday.com, is that "you should be completely happy, completely fulfilled with one partner for 50 years. But that's not the design of the human organism.
Hmmmm. The myth that "you should be completely fulfilled with one partner" is not a myth to the lovely Myth Joni with whom I am currently involved in such a silly relationship. She has made it clear that this will be the plan for this human organism. The authors of the upcoming book posed this question.
"Adultery has been documented in every human culture studied," Ryan and Jetha write in the book. If monogamy is such a natural state, the authors ask, why are so many people driven to cheat?
Some words like self-centeredness and immaturity come quickly to mind. And a really un-PC word like sin could be a factor. Christianity teaches that men and women are born with a sin nature. More enlightened thinkers believe that more education and more understanding and more programs will eventually make for a more utopian society. So how is that working out kids? We do studies and develop evolutionary rationales for behavior that this barely upright walking hominid still calls sin.
Our politically correct society has made sin an archaic and intolerant word. But no word as powerfully communicates any behavior that separates me from a Holy God. The law does not convict me of blunders and slip-ups and shortcomings. It convicts me of sin. By reducing the power of the concept of sin we have negated the awesome gift of grace. You don't need grace to rescue you from idiosyncrasies. I haven't been moved by a hymn that says…
Amazing Grace. How sweet the sound,
That empowered a dysfunctional but spiritually seeking and fundamentally good person like me.
Somehow John Newton's original line about saving a wretch like me hits a little closer to my story. I am not talking about self-bashing and looking for fault. I am talking about the mind boggling prospect of facing a holy and sinless God with resume that I would have to present. Am I a good person? Yeah, I think so. Am I up to that appointment without the redemptive endorsement of Jesus? No way.
Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan is the author of "The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism" (a wonderful book). He described in a USA Today article how he has to define sin to an urban culture that does not relate to the concept. "I use it with lots and lots of explanation, because the word is essentially obsolete. "They do get the idea of branding, of taking a word or term and filling it with your own content, so I have to rebrand the word 'sin,' " Keller says. "Around here it means self-centeredness, the acorn from which it all grows. Individually, that means 'I live for myself, for my own glory and happiness, and I'll work for your happiness if it helps me.' Communally, self-centeredness is destroying peace and justice in the world, tearing the net of interwovenness, the fabric of humanity."
Author Christopher Ryan's hope is that the book on sexuality will prompt readers to question their beliefs about monogamy, though he knows many will be incredulous at the suggestion that adultery comes naturally.
I would say that I am not at all incredulous for the reasons just stated. Loving your mate unselfishly is definitely not natural. In fact, I would suggest that kind of love is supernatural. Jesus said these words to the religious leaders who were asking Him about the laws of divorce.
But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. Mark 10:6-9 (NIV)
Paul challenged men to love their wives in a way that seems impossible without dependence on God.
Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage. (Ephesians 5, The Message)
I will celebrate (and that is the right word) my 34th wedding anniversary in July. It has not always been easy. We had some really rough times. But I am so grateful that we persevered. Something happens when a couple grows toward each other. When both parties give up the selfish expectation that the other person is responsible for their happiness then the biblical concept can begin to happen. My wife and I are experiencing that mystical journey of the two becoming one and I am more in love with her today than I was 34 years ago. There is a richness and depth to our relationship that could never be found had I decided that this human organism was not wired for monogamy. I would be less than honest if I said the thought has never gone through my mind.
It is a sad fact that the Christian church has not consistently modeled God's ideal. But circumventing the truth does not change the truth. We are created for a relationship with God and for intimate monogamous relationship with our mates. That kind of relationship may not come naturally but it definitely is possible with Christ. And holding to that ideal is certainly worth it.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com.