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Why Do You Believe In Monogamy?

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Why Do You Believe In Monogamy?

I grew up in Evangelical Christian circles.

My entire childhood my mom and dad took me to church.

I attended Sunday School and sat through long sermons.

They expounded the virtues of following the narrow path.

I believed in God from a very early age, “accepting Jesus” when I was 6 years old. When I was in my early teens I got baptised of my own volition.

By 16 years of age?

I was a leader in our youth group.

I agonized over the spiritual state of my fellow teenagers.

I watched them struggle.

Trying to live the way we were taught God wanted us to.

In high school I bolstered my belief.

I added rigorous philosophical argumentation.

My life long career as a philosopher began at that time.

I learned to present Christianity from an intellectual perspective.

In my high school classes I was frequently grilled by my fellow students.

I fielded all their questions cogently.

I even started a Christian rock band.

We played coffee houses in the Calgary area.

Shared our faith with the street people who frequented those venues.

From the age of 19-24?

I pastored a home church affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement.

The one that grew out of the Southern California Jesus Movement in the 70s.

I guess you could say I believed in God and Christianity. I was raised to believe in it. Everybody I knew believed in it. The culture that surrounded me believed in it too.

I was a believer!

Even so at age 25 I began to question my belief.


Even with all that intellectual rigor?

I began to wonder if what I held to was actually true.

Or was just the fruit of my being taught to believe it was?

I had intellectual reasons for my faith of course.

I also had strong emotional connection with this perspective.

How could it be otherwise growing up the way I did?

The social support system around me endorsed it.

What else was likely to happen?

None of that mattered now though.

I found myself needing to dig deeper.

Cracks in the arguments started to show up. I started to see they did not hold the water I thought they did. The evidence was inconclusive.

I could no longer be honest and believe with conviction.

I became what I dubbed a “Christian agnostic.”

I can tell you this wasn’t an easy thing to do.

Questioning a strong faith is never popular.

What was worse?

I was too religious for the atheists.

But I was also too atheist for the Christians too!

The social pressure to conform and “just believe?”

It was strong from both sides.

Why have I told you all this?

Monogamy has always been the default relationship belief in your life. You’ve never questioned it. You were raised believing it is the way to have a relationship.

Everyone around you believes in it.

Your friends believe in it.

Your family does.

It is enshrined in your thoughts.

In your emotions.

You see it as the one true way to have a relationship.

It is the romantic belief of your culture.

It just seems true to you.

You are a believer!

But have you ever really stopped and looked at the evidence? Have you ever wondered if what you hold to is actually true? Or is it just the fruit of your being raised to believe it is?

I want to suggest you do so.

If you do, like I did with my Christianity?

You may find the evidence is not as strong as you thought it was.

In fact, I believe if you are honest?

You will see the opposite is actually the case.

I don’t have space here to get into extensive details.

I’ll leave that for future blog posts.

But it is common knowledge.

Divorce rates around the world are about 50%.

“Kel, you’re seeing the glass as half empty.”

“Doesn’t that mean 50% of marriages work?”

Not exactly.

50% is just the number of marriages that end in divorce. This does not reflect the number of marriages that, while they have not ended in divorce, are far from happy marriages.

When this question is taken into account?

Even the most pro-monogamy researchers admit it.

Only about 20% of marriages are truly successful.

One blogger I follow is very thorough with his research.

He puts this number at only 17%.

What should you believe in light of such statistics?

Should you say to yourself, “My relationship will be different.”

“I’ll beat the odds!”?

You could choose to look at things that way.

But let me ask you this:

What if I told you that 83% of all pedestrians end up in fatal accidents from vehicles running them down? Would you consider it reasonable to continue to walk the streets and “just believe” you won’t get hit?

Naturally you could.

But I doubt you’d think you were being reasonable in doing so.

83% odds against you?

That might be okay for something unimportant.

Something that won’t change your life in any significant way.

Hey, if the outcome is unimportant to you?

Take a chance and see how you make out!

But something like your relationship life?

I hope you can see that’s not a great bet.

It’s likely, 83% likely, to end up bad for you.

It’s never easy being an agnostic, whether you are talking about religious belief or romantic belief. Either way the true believers aren’t going to like it.

But what should you base your beliefs on?

Emotion and social pressure?

Or the actual evidence?

I’ll admit it.

When I began studying and realizing the actual statistics?

The ones against traditional long term monogamy?

My faith was shaken to the core.

Just like my Christian faith was so many years before.

I didn’t want to believe what I was seeing.

But even the most pro-monogamy authors I knew were saying it.

You have to come to grips with this fact.

It isn’t about what you want to believe at all.

It’s about what the evidence actually supports.

In my blog post Is Love The Answer To Your Loneliness?

I told you monogamy is a very high level achievement.

Now you know why I said that. 

The Disney Fantasy of happily ever after is a wonderful story you’ve been told all your life. You’ve been taught to believe it is not a fairy tale but can really come true.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble.

When my bubble burst?

I began exploring.

Could there be alternative ways?

Better ways to configure your love life?

Ways you can have the love you desire?

Without becoming the victim of these awful statistics?

I love love!

I believe it is the most important thing you can pursue in your life.

I want to help you in that pursuit.

What is the important first step?

You need to ask yourself this very critical question.

Why do you believe in monogamy?

What do you think? Do you believe in monogamy because it really makes sense, or do you just believe in it because you were raised to think that way?

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Marie

    I don’t think monogamy is the problem. I think self esteem, boundaries, communication challenges and trauma are more responsible for divorce and unhappiness in relationships. I do think that the idea that monogamy is the only way to do relationships can be a contributing factor, when someone who isn’t inclined to be monogamous, heterosexual or any other societal expectation feels pressured to conform. For me, I’m naturally quite monogamous and believe that resisting our animalistic urges to have multiple partners is a healthy part of adult development. But that might not be true for everyone. I would only want a partner who feels similar. Curious to read your thoughts 🙂

  2. Kel Good

    @Marie – I agree with you that there are factors beyond monogamy itself that impact success rates of monogamous relationships. And the things you mention impact all types of relationships, not just monogamous ones.

    But I do think there are things inherent to monogamy, or at least the way most people want to “do” monogamy today, that impact the success rate of this relationship option.

    Cohabitation, having children, financial stress, and household administration to name just a few. And obviously none of these things so typical of our modern conception of what a monogamous relationship must include, have anything to do with romantic love. Yet they impact heavily the likelihood of its demise.

    You’re right though that ultimately this comes down to personal preference. But I think we all would be wise to explore what’s causing these stats and consider our options accordingly.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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