This blog contains material I wrote and posted on multiply.com between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).
Saturday, 24 November 2012
The Case Against Celibacy
A dear friend of mine is fond of saying "Virginity is not natural"… and of course she has a point. We have evolved genitals for a reason; and plainly it makes little sense to claim that not using these organs is somehow "ennobling". There is nothing that I, at least, can see natural about denying the basic urge that brought us into the world in the first place.
Just think about it; the idea is ridiculous. What on earth can having genital contact with another adult human being have to do with whether one is a "good person" or not? The stress on celibacy just proves that those advocating it are basically even more obsessed with sex than the rest of us, the "normal" set if I can so call it. In the case of the Catholic Church, it stemmed, apparently, from a comment by Jesus that "he made (himself) a eunuch for God…let him follow this path who can." Whether Jesus made this comment is besides the point; the fact is that for the first several hundred years of the Catholic Church’s existence celibacy was not a requirement, and most if not all the Apostles were married men (I’ll not go here into the question of whether Jesus, if he existed, was married). It was as late as the eleventh centurythat (and check this link) celibacy became obligatory, and church history was re-invented to sanction it. In the case of the Catholic Church the imposition of celibacy led to the scandalous conduct of some of the early Popes, not to speak of lesser mortals, and led to the steady intake of sexual deviants like paedophiles. As always, even normally heterosexual men, in such constraints, might turn to each other for sexual solace, this defeating the very purpose of the requirement for celibacy. It is also needlessly cruel to homosexuals who are forced into a monastic existence because of the possibility of asylum from their own orientation. Martin Luther was completely right when he wrote of the Catholic Church: "They were completely unjustified in forbidding marriage and in burdening the priesthood with the demand of continual celibacy. In doing so they have acted like . . . tyrannical, unholy scoundrels, occasioning all sorts of terrible, ghastly, countless sins against chastity, in which they are caught to this day."
Today, there are increasing cases coming to light of paedophilia among priests,which raise some important questions: does celibacy lead to latent paedophiles becoming overt sexual offenders? Do closet homosexuals who are trying to deny their natural sexual orientation flock to the Church for refuge? Does celibacy have a future? Not facing up to these questions and just taking action (until such action can no longer be avoided) against individual paedophilic priests is not a solution…yet Benedict, who at least is modern enough to advocate condom use under some situations, has refused to lift the celibacy requirement (which is as I said not one of the original tenets of the Church). Look for further drop in priest recruitment.
Let’s accept it. Celibacy turns people off. Priest enrolments are dropping all over the world and many of the few joining are people who are failures at anything else. Not that they are likely to be able to do much. Especially when the celibate are expected to minister to the familial needs of the flock, including advice on sexual matters (and in many Indian villages the villager, usually a tribal, still expects the priest to do his thinking for him), it’s doubtful what practical advice such a person might give.
This is also true for Hindu monks like those of the Ramakrishna Mission. Themumbo-jumbo of celibacy is even more convoluted than the Catholic Church, but it has had an identical effect. I know a Mission priest who told me that they used to get qualified, capable people, but now get only those who can find no other way of getting on in life. I’m sure other religions will find the same problem with their celibate clergy. Mohammad, in comparison, was prescient when he said "I will have no celibate clergy". It’s another matter that these words have been twisted by hidebound mullahs to discourage population control among the poor Muslims. OK, and hilariously, sex being a sacrament in marriage, beautiful and a sacred duty, it’s banned for those who serve the sacred!
Now, it’s well enough known by now that sex does not just feel pleasurable but isexcellent for health. Maybe it does not make much of a difference to those who tried for a thousand years to suppress science and only now are grudgingly opening up to reality, but it would seem to me that it is a losing battle anyway. Abstinence does nothing for anything, it’s just a waste of effort.Nature will win out every time. My friend was right after all...