Monogamy is Moral, Promiscuity is Not
In order to save Western Civilization, we need to define objective standards of morality. Monogamy needs to be defended and behaviors such as promiscuity, and its results, polyamory and polygamy, need to be rejected.
The act of sex is a value. It is the expression of one’s spirit. It unites the mind, body and emotions. By uniting two bodies, you unite two souls and is, hence, intensely personal.
It takes time and effort to establish the close relationship required for sex. You reveal your inner most self to that person and because of that you have a deep connection. With multiple partners your time and attention is spread around with different people. Intimacy is lessened because it isn’t possible to maintain that depth of a bond with several people at the same time. And inherently creates conflict, both internally and existentially.
Ron Pisaturo, author of Masculine Power, Feminine Beauty: The Volitional, Objective Basis for Heterosexuality in Romantic Love and Marriage, thinks that such an arrangement is a total failure -- much worse than having no one. He points out that a “true romantic partner is a constant primary spiritual companion, even when the partners are apart. With multiple partners, there is no such constancy. Moreover, each partner is acknowledging that he is not good enough to be the constant companion for anyone.” He goes on to say:
A sexual threesome is an absurdity. It is like presenting your life’s work to two people who are paying attention only half the time. That is worse than presenting to an empty room. As the number of participants increases, the situation becomes even more anonymous and self-abasing. Such a gathering provides physical sensations with spiritual anonymity.
It is my understanding that monogamy is a more recent development, that it was polygamy that was dominant in primitive cultures. With more wives the men could father more children and thereby have a larger tribe. More children also maximized the size of households in order to work the farm/fields for survival. Because of industrialization, people eventually didn’t have to worry as much about day to day survival, so they had time to focus more on personal happiness, and that led to the opportunity for romantic love to blossom. Primitive cultures viewed this as a threat to the welfare of the tribes because romantic love is focused on the individual.
An individual develops himself alone. He not only develops himself alone, he feels comfortable alone, being secure in his own thoughts. Once mature, an individual seeks someone with whom to share his soul. He wants someone who reflects his deepest values, someone who sees life the same way he does. He wants to be seen as an individual and therefore it takes another individual to reflect him and to make him feel visible. A polygamous relationship doesn’t make him feel like “one” since his reflection is a group of people. He wants to feel valued and that his value as a person is understood so much so that his life is crucial to his loved one’s happiness. So he picks just one person, “because in reality, one can only love, really value and see, one person at a time.” Of course, we can love more than one person, but we can't have a romantic relationship with more than one person at a time because of the time and effort it takes to really “see” them. And to be “seen.” Individuals don’t seek out groups for psychological mirrors, they seek out one other individual. In a romantic relationship it is totally selfish and rational to want the undivided attention of just one person. It is the sign of immaturity and psychological disturbance to crave the attention of a crowd.
You can only experience a romantic sexual act with one person at a time. What exactly does that mean to have sex with ten people? And what does that express? I don’t see how spreading yourself around this way doesn’t diminish the ecstasy. Each person can’t see you in total, nor can you see them in total individually. It isn’t possible. Each person only sees a part of you, only experiences a part of you. And you them. As a friend of mine said, “There is no intimate sharing in a group relationship.”
(There are other benefits to monogamy. By marrying only one person, property can be passed down easier. The needs of their children can be better met as it is easier for two parents to be consistent in raising them than ten parents. But these are really side issues.)
It is the rise of individualism that has given rise to romantic love, not the tribe mentality. Monogamy is focused on the individual and polygamy and polyamory are focused on the group, but if ten people choose to live in a polygamous relationship, it is their right. It is their life and anyone can ruin their own life if they choose, because their life belongs to them. But I don’t have to approve and I can voice my view that their choice is immoral and self-destructive, and it is not the best choice to make. Ayn Rand stated that morality “is a code of values to guide man’s choices and actions -- the choices and actions that determine the purpose and the course of his life.” If one values romantic love, the idea of multiple sexual partners is repugnant, as it is and should be, for the civilized man -- the man who values himself as an individual.
Charlotte Cushman is a Montessori educator and authored Montessori: Why It Matters for Your Child’s Success and Happiness and Your Life Belongs to You. She has been involved in the study of Ayn Rand’s philosophy since 1970.