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Mandatory Celibacy –A Pitfall for Sin?

It’s a very delicate topic to talk about but with respect, it’s necessary to bring to light the problems arising from the natural urges for sexual pleasure in the celibate life. Maybe I am too simple, but I don’t understand celibacy. To this day, it doesn’t fit with my logic, so without wanting to offend anyone, I will try to demystify this confusing subject.

When we see a priest, we can’t imagine that they can have sexual desires as we see them close to God because of the environment they live in and/or because of the vestments they are wearing. Therefore, we don’t see them as normal human beings with normal emotional or sexual desires. In spite of that, unless a priest is asexual, he is most likely to feel the sexual urges and desires.

To be celibate means that you must be sexually abstinent. As we know, it’s more difficult for a man than a woman to not fantasize without having a sexual desire as they are more physical in nature than a woman who is more emotional. And so, it’s more difficult for them to resist and win every time it occurs.

He must be abstinent not only physically but also mentally so as to respect his engagement to celibacy, because the fantasy leads to sexual urges for action. A priest vows or promises to God to be abstinent during his whole vocation life-time, therefore, sexual intercourse is prohibited.

From here arises some questions that are worth looking at because there are unspoken facts just like a big elephant in the room, and respectfully, we can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist.

What about self-simulation to gain sexual pleasure? As we know, self-stimulation, according to the Church’s teachings is a sin as fornication is a sin which is also experienced. Would it be naive and deceitful to say that those practices don’t exist in the clergy? So why is it not mentioned being as it seems to be the downside of celibacy and has an important impact on society?

Is mandatory celibacy more likely to lead to sin because of the obligation to restrain from natural desires? Is a priest more at risk to fantasize, self-stimulate and fornicate therefore violate his vow/promise to God to remain chaste? It’s said that priests are married to the Church and to God. If so, isn’t it committing adultery?

Honestly, is it fair to say that if all priests were faithful to their vows of chastity and obedient to the law of celibacy their entire lives, that they still fell into sin by self-stimulation, especially knowing that is impossible for any human being to resist acting on urges without fail for an entire lifetime? So, knowing this to be a fact, is it fair to say that the law of celibacy along with the vow of chastity was perpetually broken since the day of their existence?

Knowing this to be true, is it fair to say that mandatory celibacy is, in fact, a pitfall for sin?

Would it be also fair to say that optional celibacy gives the opportunity to explore the sexual life without guilt, therefore making it less likely to fornicate and self-stimulate since there is the option to be married?

If I understand it correctly, the difference between mandatory and optional celibacy is that mandatory celibacy obliges the priest to restrain his urges without the absolute certainty that he can uphold his vows, and that optional celibacy ensures the priest has the freedom to take responsibility for his choice, knowing what celibacy itself is expecting from him if he thinks that he is strong enough to be faithful to his promise to God, and if he isn’t, then he can choose marriage so as not to fall into temptation and sin, as long as he marries out of love to avoid divorce.

I would like to point out that divorce is a concern about married priests by the clergy.

When we look at this closely, we realize the fact that as we speak, there are thousands of secret relationships which are sinful because they are not married and to add to this there are thousands of children born out of wedlock.

I don’t understand it. Why are we concerned about potential divorce which can't be counted as fact since the law of celibacy is in force? Are we only assuming about something not yet to be born, without giving the credit that marriage can work if optional celibacy was granted?

Now we can’t forget that a marriage is not only composed of physical and sexual attraction but also with love which makes marriages durable, we must give credit to this amazing sacrament and to the mature couple involved.

The sacrament of marriage has no less value than celibacy. We know that celibacy, even though is a gift, is still not a sacrament and can be a concern as much as divorce is because women and children of priests are victimized by mandatory celibacy. A priest needs to explore their sexuality one time or another during their ministry life, which is natural and part of their human hood, but who will suffer for it? We can surely say that sins are not avoided because a priest is celibate when we look at the number of secret relationships out of marriage aside from giving oneself pleasure.

More sins are committed because of celibacy right now than it would be with marriage if the clergy would consider it instead of being afraid of something they don’t know about. They can’t give expertise on divorce rates for married priests since they have nothing upon which to base their claim.

I believe that we need to be truthful and approach this situation with honesty without disregarding any facts to have a fair verdict on what is best for everybody involved- priests, children of priests and women, not only for the benefice or for the beliefs and teachings of the clergy.

Dear reader, I hope that you found values in those points. If I may respectfully say, I think that the reasons behind celibacy need to be revised.

“But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV

Louise Ouellet

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