Marital Fidelity and Genes?


For Lord’s Day, May 24, 2015

Dear Saints,

Yesterday, the same day that Mike and Erin (now the Delgados!) vowed before God and all of you to live in exclusive, life-long covenant faithfulness to one another, the New York Times ran an opinion piece that suggests it may not be biologically realistic to expect them to keep such a commitment, at least sexually.  That is, like laboratory animals, some people could perhaps be at a genetic disadvantage to keep conjugal covenant with their spouses.

In his opinion piece, “Infidelity Lurks in Your Genes”, Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, writes:

“We are accustomed to thinking of sexual infidelity as a symptom of an unhappy relationship, a moral flaw or a sign of deteriorating social values … But during my career … it turns out that genes, gene expression and hormones matter a lot.”

While Mr. Friedman makes many responsible disclaimers throughout the article, like all psychology, his speculation is built on a faulty foundational understanding of the origin of man, morality, and immorality:

“… We have long known that men have a genetic, evolutionary impulse to cheat, because that increases the odds of having more of their offspring in the world. But now there is intriguing new research showing that … Women who carry certain variants of the vasopressin receptor gene are much more likely to engage in “extra pair bonding,” the scientific euphemism for sexual infidelity … it is important to acknowledge that we live our lives on a very uneven genetic playing field.”

Here revealed is psychology’s anti-scriptural paradigm: the theory of evolution which denies humanity as made in the image of God, the idea of sin, and the reality of natural corruption passed down to us from fallen Adam as our real genetic problem that we all share.  As well, psychology (notice I give no adjectival nuance: see here) caters to the suggestive notion that we are victims and incapable of ultimately and objectively being held morally responsible and accountable. Slap a label on us so we can slap you with slander and slither by consequences if you say we have done something wrong (especially in court).

The truth is, according to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we are not only physical but spiritual and moral creatures. God holds everyone accountable to His moral standards and enables Christians to be faithful by Him Who is Faithful and True to us. The solution to our sinfully corrupt nature is salvation in King Jesus, and the theme verse commitment that Mike and Erin chose for their married life can and will keep them faithful: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Christ the King expects our fidelity not only to Him but to our human relations and commitments, especially marriage, because His Kingdom is holy. The Lord Jesus says elsewhere, … Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female … For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:4-6).

Christ calls us to faithfulness to our spouses as He is faithful to His Bride the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).  And so He calls on us to pray that we all would be faithful moral subjects of His Kingdom when He teaches us in the second petition of the Lord’s Prayer to pray, “Thy Kingdom Come”. As we will learn by the guidance of the Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 191 tomorrow evening, this petition includes asking “that Christ would rule in our hearts here.” Fidelity in body comes by fidelity in our hearts. May Christ rule there indeed that we would rule our deeds not by sinful impulse excused by the latest “science”, but by God’s holy, infallible, inerrant, enduring, eternal, Word, the only rule for faith and life.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

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