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Re: [evol-psych] Article: Building Better Husbands

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  • Steven D'Aprano
    ... To say that being Christianity _causes_ males to be monogamous is like saying going to the Olympics causes athletics . Firstly, Christianity is neither
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 31, 2004
      On Fri, 30 Jul 2004 09:44 pm, David Ewing wrote:

      > --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, Henry Harpending
      > <harpend@h...> wrote:
      > > On Wed, Jul 28, 2004 at 09:45:47PM -0400, commons@t... wrote:
      > > >I thought marriage was the rule in almost all societies including
      > > >non-christian.
      > >
      > > It is if you are careful and inclusive about defining "marriage".
      > > This article is really about male willingness to be monogamous and
      > > invest in offspring, and this is not at all the rule in all
      > > societies. The idea that Christianity _causes_ males to act this
      > > way is pretty strange.
      > >
      > > Henry Harpending
      > I'm not a Christian, but I don't find it strange at all. Christians
      > make public promises to be faithful to each other. If they stick to
      > their word, they will be monogamous till death parts them.

      To say that being Christianity _causes_ males to be monogamous is like
      saying "going to the Olympics causes athletics".

      Firstly, Christianity is neither the only nor the first social or
      religious movement that demanded monogamy. Giving the credit to
      Christianity is rather like giving the credit for the mass production
      of motor cars to the Korean company Hyundai.

      Secondly, one of the attractions for those who prefer monogamy is that
      Christianity generally prescribes monagomy. Polygamy makes it very
      difficult for low-status males to find mates, while monogamy maximises
      the number of available women. So rather than Christianity enforcing
      monogamy on unwilling males, it is more likely that males wanting
      monogamy demand Christianity support them.

      Compare the difficulty with with the Roman Catholic Chuch has with its
      priests breaking their vows of celebacy and (to close the notorious
      loophole) chastity, with the widespread (albeit not perfect) practice
      of remaining faithful within a monogamous relationship. Even the most
      religious of men find it difficult to keep their vow of chastity, while
      even the least religious can keep their vow of faithfulness.

      Thirdly, Christianity is at least partly subject to social pressure.
      Consider how most of the mainstream Christian sects have changed their
      attitudes towards divorce. If men wanted to be polygamous, either
      Christianity would adapt to allow it or men would find a way to ignore
      the prohibition.

      (Which of course the rich and powerful have always done.)

      And fourthly, I believe that a significant minority of Mormons would
      dispute the claim that Christianity demands monogamy.

      Monogamy and polygamy are best considered to be *economic* issues rather
      than moral. It is my understanding that the Koran allows men to have as
      many wives as he can support. Likewise Mormons and ancient Judaism.

      Steven D'Aprano
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