Unnatural wait

Richard Lucas (Letters, 26 December) thinks sexual relations outside marriage are something new. In truth, the great majority of such have always occurred outside marriage as he understands it. Does he think those who have undergone Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Shinto or pagan ceremonies are really married? As he believes these religions are false, logically he should not.

We do not know whether any form of marriage existed throughout the millennia of human existence. In many societies, including ancient Israel, polygamy was the norm and in some it still is. Many marriages were/are held for political, social and/or financial reasons without the participants having a mutual sexual affinity.

The reason 19th century American Mormons allowed polygamy was because they had more women than men and there were few jobs for the former. In this case, a polygamous marriage was, for many, better than none at all.

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It is unrealistic to assume that everyone can find a desirable marriage partner. Gender imbalance is widespread. After wars, there are often many more women than men. This is also due to a difference in employment opportunities. In frontier areas, there are more men than women, while in cities that are primarily capitals – such as Ottawa and Canberra – the opposite applies.

In China, there are far more men than women, yet many of the latter say they cannot find suitable partners.

In this country, many people do not marry until their late twenties or even later and for sound reasons. Often they cannot afford to establish homes. To remain celibate until they can afford to do so would be entirely unnatural and would cause many more problems than it would solve. Mr Lucas did not explain why he thinks such self-denial would address adequately the social malaise he abhors.

Euan Bremner

Perth Road

Dundee