Saturday, June 19, 2010

Spread the Love

Most families have had their share of domestic disturbance. From trivial bickering over what to watch on television to the unspeakable horrors of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Families have been torn apart by tragedies like grief and infidelity, and by overwhelming financial burdens. The Beatles told us that love was all we needed, but look around. It isn't enough. Fifty percent of marriages fail.How many more continue in perpetual misery?

Some have suggested that monogamy is unnatural and, that forcing people together forever, or at least until death they do part, is rather like the artificial construction of political nations from disparate ethnic and religious groups who happen to share some geography. In other words, doomed for disater. There is a pattern around the world, particularly in African and Eastern Europe, of nation states devolving into smaller ethnically based nations. It can be argued that this is more natural.

Similarly, it can be argued that it is more natural for people to spread their love around a bit. Love here, is plainly a euphemism for sexual relationships which again, according to some, flow very naturally out of friendships. This is not the forum for debating the pros and cons of monogamy but it does raise an interesting question.

Can people who cheat on their partners still love them? Is it reasonable for a man to have a sexual relationship or even a very intimate emotional relationship with another woman and say that he still loves his wife or girlfriend? Can a man love two or even more women? Equally?

There is man in India named Ziona. He has 32 wives and 94 children. They all live together in one pretty big house in Eastern India. Think about that. This situation raises enough intrigue to fill a book, but of relevance to the current discussion is the question of whether the man loves his wives. Is it possible? Obviously he has sex with them but sex and love aren't the same thing. There is hell of a lot of loveless sex going on in this world. Does he love them? Does he have enough love for each of the women he has married? Obviously, he does not have sufficient time for each of them unless their definition of sufficient, and his, is ridiculously low. Immeasurably lower than most of ours. Fascinating.

I have one wife and no girlfriends or mistresses, so for me to answer the question posed earlier is a long stretch into the realm of the hypothetical. Could I love two women? I don't see why not. I don't, but I really can't see why that would not be possible. The closest analogy I can draw is loving our children. It is an imperfect analogy, I know but it's the best one available. I didn't have to use some of the love I already had for my son to love my daughter when she was born. I found some more. If we had have had a third child, I would have had more love available for that child as well with no diminution of my love for my other children. I don't know if that would be elastic enough to stretch to 94 children, (as Ziona in India has), but I can't see why not.

I believe that love originates with God. God is love. God is infinite and therefore love is infinite. God finances our love from his inexhaustible supply of it, but would he provide the love I would need to love a woman who wasn't my wife? I don't want to know the answer to that question.

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