The Detriment of Promiscuity

The Detriment of Promiscuity

Today, the institution of marriage is under assault like never before. The biblical standard of one man remaining monogamously attached to one woman for life has been diluted to grant an individual the legal right to an unlimited number of divorces and remarriages for any cause or reason. Not only are secularists pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriage, some even are promoting polygamy. The Bible calls all these violations of the biblical marriage standard sexual immorality. The secular term is “promiscuity.”

Now, four British zoologists in their study of 267 different species of birds have established evidence of the benefits of avoiding promiscuity.1 The zoologists found in these bird species a wide diversity in both levels of promiscuity and levels of cooperation. They observed that the level and complexity of cooperative behavior were inversely proportional to the extent of promiscuity. That is, the lower the level of promiscuity within a species, the higher the degree of cooperation.

The zoologists noted that species capable of the efficient division of labor, such as jays and ravens (see figures 1 and 2), offer both a higher survival rate and a greater quality of life for the individuals within their species. Such division of labor demands a high level of trust among the individuals within the species. Evidently, monogamy between individual pairs of birds goes a long way to providing that level of trust.

Figure 1: California Scrub Jay
Jays exhibit complex cooperative behavior made possible in part by their monogamous life style.
Image credit: Hugh Ross

Figure 2: Common Raven
This raven serves his fellow flock members by keeping guard over a picnic site. As soon as the humans leave he signals the other flock members that it’s safe for them to feast on the scraps. When the flock does arrive, another member of the flock will stand on guard ready to alert the others of any impending danger. Such a high degree of cooperation is possible in part because of the ravens’ commitment to monogamy.
Image credit: Hugh Ross

The book of Job exhorts us to look to the mammals and birds for instruction.2 Ninety percent of all bird species display monogamous behavior. Thanks to the zoologists’ research, we have at least part of the answer as to why so many species of birds exhibit such advanced levels of societal cooperation. The zoologists’ study implies that for humans monogamy is more than a moral issue. Monogamy contributes to the effective, productive, and peaceable division of labor that makes a high-technology global civilization possible. To put it another way, the study provides yet more evidence that there are practical and beneficial reasons for obeying each of God’s moral laws.

  1. Charlie K. Cornwallis et al., “Promiscuity and the Evolutionary Transition to Complex Societies,” Nature 466 (August 19, 2010): 969–72.
  2. Job 12:7–10.