In part 1 of this series, we established that men look, and many women get jealous, hurt or angry. In part 2 we will explore biological evidence and Biblical examples to show why men look at other women.
As believers in Christ, we understand that we all have a sin nature. But we also have a God given nature. In the Garden of Eden, before Adam and Eve ever sinned, God gave Adam a distinct and different male nature and he gave Eve a distinct and different female nature. He literally built Eve for Adam, and he made her nature almost completely the opposite of his.
Adam was built to lead, and God gave him dominion over the Garden, and had him name all the animals before Eve was ever made. God made a man’s mind to systemize, he made a woman’s mind to empathize.
So the question is – is man’s natural inclination to look at a variety of attractive women (even when he is in a committed relationship) a corruption of the nature God gave him in the Garden of Eden? All the ladies are saying “of course God never meant for a man to be attracted to more than one woman”.
Biological Evidence of man’s attraction mechanism
“the average man’s brain is sexually stimulated by visual cues and is built for variety…
Using functional MRI scans, researchers examined the brains of young men as they looked at pictures of beautiful women. They found that feminine beauty affects a man’s brain at a very primal level – similar to what a hungry person gets from a good meal or addict gets from a fix. One of the researchers said, “This is hard core circuitry. This is not a conditioned response.” Another concluded, “Men apparently cannot do anything about their pleasurable feelings [in the presence of beauty]”
Dr. Walt Larimore, MD – pg. 99 “His Brain, Her Brain”
Even some Christian writers who take the “men just need to be trained to look away” approach admit this:
“Men’s sex drives are completely different from women’s sex drives…They really are primarily visual. If a man sees a pretty woman, his body automatically starts to respond, in the same way that if you were to walk in the front door, even if you weren’t hungry, and you smelled chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven, your mouth would start to water, whether you really wanted them or not. Even if you weren’t seeking it out, you respond. There’s nothing wrong with that…
If he’s noticing that a woman is attractive, and then he’s pulling his eyes away, he’s only being tempted. He’s not sinning. He hasn’t decided to do anything; in fact, he’s decided to turn from the temptation, which is exactly what he should be doing…
if your husband looks at other women, or comments on them, that’s hurtful…Tell him how you feel. Tell him you understand the temptation to look, but that he promised to love you and you alone. You’re worth it. And he has no right to look at anyone other than you. None of this “all men do it” garbage. We all are tempted towards sin; but we do not have to give into it.”
-Sheila Wray Gregoire
But as you can see from the last statement above, while the writer acknowledges man’s biological inclination to look, she sees it as part of his sin nature and a temptation he must be trained to pull “his eyes away” from.
Shelia then goes on to say that “he promised to love you and you alone…and he has no right to look at anyone else other than you.”
I could point to many more sources, and research , both from a biological standpoint, as well as psychological standpoint about man’s physical sexual attraction mechanisms, as well as his being wired for variety, but you get the point.
Biblical Examples of Man’s sexual nature
So at this point all the Christian ladies, and many Christian men are saying –“so what, man is naturally inclined to look at multiple women, but it’s part of his sin nature, and not part of God’s original design. Men just need to be trained to suppress, and flee from their sinful desire for variety – problem solved.”
But what about so many of the Patriarchs having more than one wife?
Abraham – the man of faith, the father of Jewish people, had multiple “concubines” (Genesis 25:6)
Jacob – The father of the twelve tribes of Israel, had all these sons through a combination of four wives (two free wives, two slave wives). The names of these twelve tribes are inscribed on the City of God for all time.
Gideon – the judge, great warrior and one of only a few men in the Bible to meet God in physical form (as the Angel of God), “had seventy sons of his own, for he had many wives.” (Judges 8:29-30)
David – “the man after God’s own heart”, had 18 wives. God scolded David for stealing a man’s wife (Bathsheba), and told him that he had given David his “master’s wives” and “and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these” (2 Samuel 12:8)
Notice I left out King Solomon. The reason for that is unlike Abraham, Jacob, Gideon and David, God condemned King Solomon for marrying many foreign wives who lead his heart astray. Also Solomon’s behavior was in fact, the “hording of wives” (having 700 wives and 300 concubines) which was condemned by God in Deuteronomy 17:17.
So in the Bible – we have Abraham, Jacob, Gideon and David, all great men of God, and if they had sinned by having more than one wife, if they had horded wives as Solomon did, then God would have said something, but he did not – as we said previously – God told David he gave him many wives!
Man’s polygynous nature (being drawn to more than one woman) is part of his original design by God
When we put together the fact that men are naturally wired for variety, and biologically conditioned to receive pleasure when seeing a variety of beautiful women – and we put that together with the fact that many great men of God had more than one wife we see a very different picture. Man’s wiring for a variety of women is actually part of the original design (before the fall) that God made man with.
The Adam and Eve argument
The argument that if God wired men for polygyny (to have the capacity for having multiple wives) then he would have gave Adam more than one wife does not hold water. If Adam’s monogamous relationship with Eve was meant to be God’s pattern for marriage, then we have two problems:
- Adam and Eve’s children had to marry each other – sibling marriage, something that God later condemned. So did God mean for brothers and sisters to marry for all time, since brothers and sisters had to marry in the beginning?
- The second problem with the “God only gave Adam one wife, therefore that was his pattern for marriage” argument is that God pictures himself as a Polygamist husband in the book of Ezekiel when talking about his relationship with Israel and Judah:
“The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, 2 “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother; 3 and they played the harlot in Egypt. They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and there their virgin bosom was handled. 4 Their names were Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister. And they became Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. And as for their names, Samaria is Oholah and Jerusalem is Oholibah… 36 Moreover, the Lord said to me, “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. 37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands.”
Ezekiel 23:1-4 & 36-37(NASB)
So if men looking is not the problem, then what is?
God made man with the capacity for polygyny – that’s why men whether they are in a committed relationship or not, are drawn to beautiful women. Many men throughout history have chosen not act on their polygynous capacity, while many did choose to act on it. It is interesting to note from a historical standpoint, that Israel was still highly polygamous at the time of Christ, as the Romans had trouble enforcing their monogamy laws in nations like Israel (but eventually their monogamy laws did end polygamy in Israel).
So since God made man with a capacity for polygyny, then it is not sinful for him to be visually drawn to multiple women even after marriage.
And no it’s not lusting for a man (single or married) to be aroused by the site of beautiful women, other than his wife. Lust in Matthew 5:28 is talking about sexual covetousness, meaning a man thinking about trying to get a woman to actually have sex with him outside of marriage.
So the problem is not man’s polygynous nature (his being drawn to many women), but with woman’s jealousy, anger and insecurity.
Many people attack the polygamy of the Patriarchs noting the problems with jealousy between their wives – but they never even consider the fact that the wives jealousy was the sin, not their husband’s polygyny.
In the final part of this series about Christian men looking at other, we will explore how women should handle this issue of men looking at other women.