Modern evolutionary science is adamant that men are possessed of a polygamous nature and seek the widest possible distribution of their gene pool. They are not naturally programmed to be with one woman but to disseminate their genetic material to the widest possible circle. Indeed science is now headed in the same direction with women, claiming that many recent studies show that females are likewise polygamous and non-monogamous by nature.
This is a subject I deal with extensively in my newest book, Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer.
But while acknowledging that the physical state of men and women veers toward a craving for multiple sexual partners, humans are also possessed of a soul which seeks precisely the opposite, an intimate sexual relationship based on primacy and exclusivity. And this spiritual-intimate need strikes even deeper than the physical, polygamous yearning.
How else to explain the indescribable, catastrophic pain caused when a partner discovers that his or her lover, or spouse, has been unfaithful? Numerous studies show that of all the traumas experienced in life, the pain of discovering that a spouse has cheated ranks among the highest. That kind of emotional trauma, which one almost never overcomes fully, demonstrates that we are programmed to expect faithfulness, to seek out uniqueness and singularity in our relationships, and to be the one and only to our beloved.
While our secular, pornography-saturated culture increasingly sees men as a sex-obsessed intelligent primates, I see men as intimacy-seekers, searching out a woman who can nurture their hearts, cultivate their humanity, and with whom they can achieve a sense of oneness. Numerous studies show that when married men have affairs they are often emotional and non-sexual. They frequently seek emotional intimacy even more than a novel sexual outlet. This is captured in the famous, adulterous line, “My wife doesn’t understand me.”
Indeed, against all the scientific research, there is the clear fact that even in an age where marriage is being treated as an outmoded institution which has passed its sell-by date, monogamy continues to be the chosen norm for the vast majority of people in cultures throughout the world, even if it is serial monogamy outside the framework of marriage.
With regard to women this is even truer.
Women seek the comfort and stability of monogamy, and not just for the security of their offspring but for the establishment of their own uniqueness in the life of a loving and exclusive partner.
What people truly seek in a relationship is a lover who is their best friend; that is, both passion and intimacy. They lean toward monogamy. They just don’t want it to grow stale. They wish for their monogamous relationships to remain passionate and erotic.
To be sure, there are always exceptions.
The biblical story of Purim, for example, owes much to a superficial, womanizing male who sets about bedding as many women as possible to find the one that is the most attractive.
Many modern men have adopted the dating mores of Achashverosh, replacing the heart, mind and sparkle of a woman’s eyes with three new criteria of attraction: large chest, long legs, slim figure.
I served as matchmaker-in-chief for a leading Internet dating site. I found that countless men who told me how desperate they were to find a really nice girl really meant that they were seeking a woman who looked like a model. At my weekly Sabbath table, where I host many singles, I watch as the men dismiss the most interesting women if they lack a bombshell body.
For many today, dating is about the exchange of two commodities. A man’s money can be used to purchase a woman’s beauty. Even religious men are trained to see physical beauty first.
I never believed that I would witness a time when marriage-minded religious men would become womanizers, giving themselves the latitude to date as many women as possible so that they can find “the best.”
In yeshiva I was taught one did not date a woman the way one shopped for a car. Rather, one focused on one woman fully and sought to develop a soulful connection with her without worrying about what else might be available.
Recently a young rabbinical student was a Sabbath guest at my home. He told me he had already dated 40 girls and had not found what he was looking for. I was stunned. But my guests were even more stunned that I was stunned. “That’s about the right number,” the other men told me.
“There is nothing scandalous in it. Why are you surprised?” But Jewish men, especially the religious ones, are supposed to be different. We are nation that gave the world Solomon’s Ode to a Woman of Valor from the Book of Proverbs, where a woman’s God-fearing qualities – her compassion, allure, empathy and competence – are also what make her beautiful.
It’s time for rabbis, ministers and priests to start giving sermons exhorting the single men in the congregation to be gentlemen and reward women for developing the traits that the Bible truly values, like an understanding heart and a luminous spirit.
While physical attraction is always important in marriage, both for men and for women, religious leaders must begin inspiring husbands to judge their wives’ attractiveness by considerations other than flesh alone. For if we fail, we’ll continue seeing women feeling permanently insecure about an imperfect body rather than taking pride in a generous spirit.
The author, “America’s Rabbi” whom Newsweek calls “the most famous rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 30 books and award-winning TV host. He has just published
Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley. His website is www.shmuley. com.