Saturday, October 22, 2005

More Celibacy

Readers can peruse this article dealing with reaffirmation of the celibacy requirement for Roman Catholic priests.

Whenever somebody asks about RC priestly celibacy, or whenever the concept intersects my consciousness [as when I see such an article on Yahoo!], a mixed bag of thoughts is consistently present. The thoughts are given below, with no significance given to the ordering of the thoughts.

(1) Free assocation. Private organizations can do [or should be able to do]whatever they'd like, so long as the person and property of others is not harmed or placed at risk. I personally don't see how priests not being married or having sex threatens my person, nor my property, so, from a libertarian standpoint, let Holy Mother Church do as Holy Mother Church pleases.

I've seen the thesis advanced that because priests don't have a sexual outlet, this has some causal link to the outbreak or presence of RC priestly homosexuality and pederasty. On this front I have no data, and cannot comment.

I don't understand why seculars and non-RC's make a big to-do about the latest thing they don't like about Rome, when they reject everything about Rome in the first place. It is one thing for, say, somebody to criticize Rome's view of justification, or her legalism and such; it is quite another thing for somebody who is an atheist or wants the destruction of Christianity-at-large to complain about, say, RC celibacy, when, even if RC priests were allowed to join the local swinger club, the critic would still loathe all things Rome, and, more generally, all things Christian.

So, on the libertarian level of live-and-let-live, those busybodies who want Rome to have an outlook more in common with secular thought really need to mind their own business. Rome's not telling me to not marry, have sex, etc, so as long as Holy Mother Church leaves me alone, I can confine my disagreements to theological and philosophical areas.

(2) Modernism versus traditional thinking. I'll admit to getting a tinge of pleasure whenever I see liberals, modernists, and progressives tweaked. On this level of thought, I'm either nonplussed or cheering on the staunch conservative Romanists.

Of course, there isn't one sort of "traditional" thinking in Rome. You have the cafeteria Romanism of the internet papists, the so-called ultra-traditionalism of others, the pseudo-intellectual Romanism that subjugates scripture to speculative philosophy, etc, but, at least they're worried about being faithful to what they see as the deposit of faith as compared to reworking the faith in a hip 21st century style that blends nicely with your daily Frappucino at the local Starbucks [as you listen to Moby on your Ipod, no less]. So, on that part of the "culture war," I suppose we're co-sympathetic.

(3) The big question. In a sort-of reply to (2), the question about celibacy isn't whether it is traditional, or how long it has been present, etc. The real question about celibacy is whether the Roman Catholic view as it now stands is faithful with scripture. At least this is how somebody like me approaches it. The Roman Catholic fantasy world --- a world whose landscape is largely paved with overly scholastic distinctions along with man-made pietisms and traditions --- obviously doesn't look at things the same way.

What does scripture present regarding marriage, celibacy, and the like? Basically, marriage and sex are good things, but, they are choices that have ramifications concerning how much energy and drive we have for devoting ourselves to other things. Marriage isn't for everybody, but one isn't the worse off for marrying. At the same time, one doesn't earn any sort of heavenly brownie points for not marrying or staying celibate. There are good points and bad points about being married, and happily married people mention the good points to me while feeling sorry for me, whereas, on the other hand, those unhappily married [or unhappily divorced] tell me that I'm smart for staying single, an effort that succeeds despite the best efforts of the small but scheming contingent of Swedish supermodel PP groupies!

One of the RC utilitarian arguments [but it seems to be the main one so far as I know] for priestly celibacy makes prima facie sense, as, one who is married can't devote himself fully to one's priestly service. [And those who join the RC priesthood know this in advance, so they can't complain once they're in as if they were misled.] But, the argument also, in a certain way, proves too much, for it seems to this fellow that one could make the same sort of argument without distinction about any non-priestly activity that a priest might like.

In the end, let Rome do as she pleases. I'm not joining the priesthood, and, so far as I can tell, Rome isn't forcing me to join her, so live and let live.

So, in the end, that's the grab bag of thoughts, spelled out in a stream-of-consciousness style that would make your local Birkenstock-wearing bongo-playing poetry-spouting coffeehouse pseudo-intellectual proud.

[Closing note: the statement about Swedish supermodel PP groupies is, just possibly, in a casuistic way of reading words, a bit hyperbolic.]


Blogger Steve Jackson said...

I recall an article a couple years ago in the New York Times about a priest who had a (consecual, sic) affair with a married woman. Now, this would have been considered "nobody's business" if the guy in question had been other than a Catholic priest.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 1:48:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

And, just perhaps, both the adulterous woman and the priest would be lauded for pursuing their intrinsic "right to happiness" too! Can't be held back by these puritanical restrictions that inhibit us, y'know!

Sunday, October 23, 2005 4:23:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Not bad analysis...pretty fair-minded for an anti-Roman, may God bless your darkened mind! Mind if a reprobate stops by to read now and then? I've become a regular at electofgod.

Monday, October 24, 2005 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

The judges award you an eight out of ten for the backhanded compliment!

Monday, October 24, 2005 11:22:00 PM  

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