It’s my wife Trudy’s birthday. We celebrated with dinner and a concert last night and will continue celebrating this weekend. And then, two weeks from now, we’ll celebrate our engagement anniversary—the day we chose to do something completely unnatural, to be exclusively committed to each other for as long as we lived.
It’s natural for humans to seek out multiple partners. Enlightened experts like to point this out, along with the fact that the next two most intelligent species, great apes and dolphins, are wildly promiscuous—so it’s clearly natural for us to be so as well.
And in truth, as a young man I was very promiscuous; when my hormones rang, I answered the call. And yet, at the same time, I was anxiously seeking out the “reason” for my existence.
That’s not natural either.
Humans are the only species on earth that feel called to be something beyond the natural. There’s a half-tuned receiver inside us that demands to be fully tuned in; and when we do, it calls us to go beyond the natural to the supernatural, not in the sense of ghostly or occult, but in the sense of surpassing our natural animal behavior (the Latin word “super” literally means to go beyond or above).
The most obvious way in which we exercise our supernaturalness, is monogamy. True, we’re not the only monogamous animals—wolves, swans, and many others, even cockroaches and flatworms, are naturally monogamous. But we are (if and when we choose to be) the only supernaturally monogamous creatures.
And it doesn’t end there. Humans are (if and when they choose to be) the only supernaturally peaceful creatures (sadly, Vladimir Putin is behaving all too naturally right now). Humans are also the only supernaturally forgiving creatures. And ultimately, they are the only supernaturally gracious creatures, grace, in its original sense, meaning undeserved favor or love — if and when they choose to be.
And so, exclusively loving my wife is just one of the many supernatural behaviors I’m committed to. And Trudy has the same weird preoccupation. No, it doesn’t come naturally to us, and yet we persist. Odd, aren’t we?
And yet we wouldn’t have it any other way.