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Tony Grist

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Celibacy [Mar. 22nd, 2010|10:08 am]
Tony Grist
"No-one chooses the monastic life," said the monk, "unless they have serious problems with their sexuality." That took me aback. Up until then I'd supposed- if I thought about it at all-  that monks and nuns and celibate priests were heroes of spirituality.

So that's the first and biggest problem with the celibacy rule. You're going to attract a whole lot of people to the priesthood who are running away from themselves-

People who are confused,  immature, cowardly.

And the second problem is that you're attracting them on a false promise. The Church isn't the refuge from the world they think it's going to be. The new priest is the man he always was- with the same old urges- only now he can only satisfy them furtively.   Shut the door on  sex and it'll walk through walls to find you. So there you are- you and your sexuality- and instead of having the whole wide world to prance about in you're locked up together in a teeny-tiny cell.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-03-22 10:15 am (UTC)
It's a natural selection process for the perverted. Almost everyone with a normal level of sex drive must run away from their vocation at some stage.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-03-22 10:37 am (UTC)
I was about to say... if there really are "asexual" people out there, they would thrive in that environment, but might find it difficult to counsel their flock on issues relating to sex and sexuality.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-22 10:48 am (UTC)
I believe there are genuinely asexual people. I have someone who claims to be asexual on my FL. But it's a rare condition- and there certainly aren't enough of them around to staff the RC Church.
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From: sunfell
2010-03-22 02:56 pm (UTC)
No, I do not think that an asexual person would 'thrive' in a celibate environment. I know that I would not. Real celibacy means taking someone with an actual drive, and making them redirect that energy elsewhere. An asexual person does not have or perceive that energy, so it would not make a difference to them.

I consider myself to be asexual, because I have never been 'turned on' or interested in sex at all. I have thoroughly educated myself in it, so as not to be seen as ignorant, and do enjoy some erotica, but that's about it.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-03-22 05:04 pm (UTC)
I had a too simplistic view :-)

But "directing that energy elsewhere" is really not simple. I think the energy may not be containable and therefore, vulnerable people get hurt.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-22 10:46 am (UTC)
Yes.
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[User Picture]From: chiller
2010-03-22 10:16 am (UTC)
I think it's also partly an "absolute power corrupts absolutely" thing. Someone who started off reasonably level headed is more likely to go wrong when given responsibility for, and authority over, the spiritual development of a bunch of other people. It takes enormous self-knowledge and confidence to even manage a team in the work environment, and this is a much tougher gig.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-22 10:51 am (UTC)
Yes, there's that as well.

I was an Anglican priest for a decade or more- and the power certainly corrupted me. I shudder now when I think of the political games I used to play- and how much I enjoyed that side of things.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-03-22 11:00 am (UTC)
It's the politics that is putting me off looking for another job in corporate life. I hate it, it is a time waster and a distraction from getting any actual work done.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-22 11:23 am (UTC)
I'm hoping you're going to be able to have a career as an artisan cheese-maker.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-03-22 05:05 pm (UTC)
That would be nice but also might use up my life savings without any return. It seems quite easy to make cheese, but making really good cheese is more of a challenge.
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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2010-03-22 11:36 am (UTC)
Wow, what a narrow view.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-22 12:06 pm (UTC)
Deliberately provocative....

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[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2010-03-22 12:58 pm (UTC)
Ah, I see. :)

I restrained myself from a deliberately provocative reply, too!
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2010-03-22 11:55 am (UTC)
Interesting...I guess he's a monk, so I would have to take his word for it!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-22 12:08 pm (UTC)
It's a long time ago now, so I'm not entirely sure who he was. He may have been the Anglican theologian Harry Williams- who was- by the end of his life- openly gay and remarkably cool.
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[User Picture]From: ooxc
2010-03-27 11:23 am (UTC)
That makes sense - I knew him fairly well - and I'm sure tha this was true of him - but he wrote some remarkable books, and was a huge influence for good in many lives.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-27 10:18 pm (UTC)
I didn't know him personally- but he once lead a retreat I was on. He was, I think, one of the outstanding Anglican personalities of the second half of the last century.
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[User Picture]From: internet_sampo
2010-03-22 01:53 pm (UTC)
I agree. You are going to attract a lot of people running away from themselves. But I also thing there's a second type. Something Penn Jillette said made much sense: when he was talking about religious celibacy he said it was, "a kink." When I hear some (a lot) religious people talk about celibacy and when they also talk about the virtues of "suffering", what Penn said makes a lot of sense.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-22 03:23 pm (UTC)
I hadn't thought of that, but, yes, I believe Penn is onto something there.

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[User Picture]From: ooxc
2010-03-27 11:20 am (UTC)
Hallo, friend of friend

There's no doubt in my mind that some religious orders had a very poor structure of selection and preparation - especially during the twentieth century. Your monk was perhaps a product of that time?
I strongly beliece that celibacy can be a vocation and a strength, and that our society puts far too much weight on sexual/marital relationships.
On the other hand, I have serious difficulties witn celibacy as a compulsory accompaniment, rather than as separate vocation.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-03-27 10:15 pm (UTC)
Whoever my monk was he almost certainly said what he said in the 1970s.

I agree with what you say here about celibacy.
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