As a follow-up to the last piece, here is a guest post from Bellita:
"Men are biologically driven to be with as many sexual partners as they can be: Quantity Matters. Women are instructed by their own bodies to find the best male they can find and be with them at least long enough to raise a child out of infancy. Quality Matters. This isn’t rocket science. We all know this . . . The change I see that needs to come is for the different male experience of sex to be accepted [it is], without judgement [it isn't]. "
I will never forget the Muslim man who tried to pick me up (so to speak) for Islam. (If I ever share the whole of that story on this blog, I’ll play up the Game elements.) Perhaps the most memorable part of his practiced sales pitch were his parting words . . .
“You know, I’m really glad I got to talk with you about this, because my reward will be great in heaven. Many beautiful women!“
Yes, he actually said that. But it was not all . . .
“You will have a great reward, too, if you become a Muslim. Many handsome men!”
*****Silent Scream of Terror*****
Every woman I have told this story to has cringed in sheer horror at the idea of being a sexual partner to countless men for all eternity. (That’s not Heaven; it’s hell.) Byron acknowledges this in his post, but says that if you reverse the sexes, you have a man’s idea of an “all-areas pass to the Hall of the Gods.”
Then he asks: If men and women are completely different when it comes to sexual hard wiring, then why is it women’s sexuality that has become the standard by which both sexes are judged? When that point sunk in, I started wondering how we got to this modern state of affairs.
The old Catholic view was pretty much the reverse–very down on female sexuality, warning that all women could be agents of the devil, including one’s own wife. It is the early Church that gives us the very first Marriage Strike in history, with men retreating to the deserts in record numbers or barricading themselves against the opposite sex in monasteries. The great theologian Origen of Alexandria even thought it reasonable to castrate himself. Say what you like about the “misogyny” of it all: these religious actions took for granted that male sexuality is after quantity rather than quality.
On the other hand, the post-Reformation (but not necessarily propter-Reformation) idea that everyone can achieve sexual virtue through marriage seems to be in desperate denial of the same fact. And its implication that a man can be “fixed” by being faithful to a single woman (a benign sort of social castration?) is a complete break with the ancient Christian tradition that there is just no fixing human nature until death.
Yet anyone who thinks the Christian view begins and ends with the bleakness of sin and death has never seen the way the light of ages looks, refracted through the stained glass of medieval thought. At no other time in history did both natural law and divine law get to sit side by side at the table of philosophy.
St. Thomas Aquinas himself, Patron of Philosophers, was very clear that there is actually no natural law against a man taking several wives . . . whereas there is a natural law against a woman having several husbands. The latter is wrong in a way the former is not because it creates a situation in which a child may never know who his real father is. But the child of a man with many wives can be certain of both his father and his mother. Natural law and biology hum along together very harmoniously.
But why do people assume that divine law is the discordant note? I don’t know what happened to philosophy after the Reformation for many to take that for granted today, but the sanity of the Middle Ages was better than that. It’s the reason we have an answer to the question of why in the world a man would keep to only one woman when he doesn’t actually have to–and I submit that this answer that only a Catholic could have come up with is absolutely universal in application.
Simply stated, the only reason for a man to have only one wife and to stay true to her all their lives would be his desire to give her his fidelity as a gift.
And it would be a gift because she could never repay it, even with the same. A woman’s faithfulness is an obligation for the reason stated above, but a man’s faithfulness isn’t. Marriage is just not a relationship between equals. But when it comes with that free gift from a husband, properly valued by a wife, it is also–to quote St. Thomas Aquinas–”the greatest of all friendships.”
Nature can explain a lot of things about sex, but only Christianity understands the free gift.