Womb to Tomb: TMSIDK Episode 27

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Ruth Finkelstein explains how to make cities more friendly for seniors. (Photo: Lucy Sutton)

We associate monogamy with Christianity, but legal monogamy was around before Christ’s birth. In fact, it was Greco-Roman strategists — not philosophers or religious adherents — who embedded this into our society. Monogamy was tactical: anthropologists have seen that polygynous societies (in which men may marry many women) have higher crime rates.

So how did Christianity tie itself to monogamy? Monogamy was bred in Greco-Roman societies. Christianity became popular in Rome. Rome fell, and Christianity adopted its monogamy principles and allowed it to spread to many places that Rome never reached.

Of course, Christianity’s monogamy is slightly different than the Greco-Roman variety. In Rome, you could have sex with prostitutes, concubines, and slaves; Christianity did not say that was cool.

Alexandra Petri (Washington Post columnist) is our special guest co-host, with AJ Jacobs (author of It’s All Relative) as real-time fact-checker. Tell Me Something I Don’t Know covers everything from birth to earth, including pregnancy tests, parenting, monogamy, aging better, and, finally, embalming.