Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Andrew Sullivan think celibacy is an unreasonable burden, and supplies as evidence his own struggles when he was chaste.

I also remained chaste until I married in my mid-twenties, and I have to say I never experienced the nerosies and other symptoms Sullivan describes because of it. I'll allow that perhaps Sullivan's struggles had another dimension since he believed that his orientation was somehow wrong.

What I found interesting is that Sullivan never mentions praying to God to help him in his struggle. If chastity is seen as a burden that one must shoulder alone, Sullivan is right, it is unreasonable. But if it is seen as part of an expression of one's love for God (and for me, love of my wife before I even knew her) that God can help us with, then it's not unreasonable.

My favorite line of scripture is the angel's line to Mary after telling her that her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant -- "Nothing will be impossible with God." Difficult, yes, but not impossible.


Hate to get pendantic on you, but I am a catechist, and these terms get thrown around a lot, and often used incorrectly.
  • Celibacy means not marrying. So a vow of celibacy, in and of itself, does not preclude sex.
  • Chastity is a positive virtue that all Catholics are called to that entails a healthy integration between one's sexual life and the rest of one's life.

For those who aren't married, chastity includes refraining from sexual intercourse. So when a priest takes a vow of celibacy, that combined with his commitment to chastity make this tantamount to committing to a lifetime of sexual abstinence.

But chastity encompasses more than just not having sex. For married Catholics, not having any sex with one's spouse would be unchaste. As I said above, it's a positive virtue that speaks to what we do as well as what we don't do.
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