This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By Jane Gilgun
It’s about time that officials of the Roman Catholic Church cleaned up their thoughts about sex. I don’t know how much more evidence they need to conclude that celibacy is a bad idea as a requirement for the priesthood. At ordination, young men at the age of 26 promise never to have sexual relationships with another human being. This in effect is a promise to forsake a God-‐given desire for a precious kind of intimacy that is part of being human, part of being alive, for that matter. These young people have no idea what they are promising when the give assent to life-‐long celibacy. Why not ask these young men to promise to be chaste? This promise would be life-‐ long. They could promise to be celibate for a designated number of years, say one to five. At the end of that time, they can either renew their promise of celibacy for no more than five years at a time. The possibility of renewal is life-‐long. If they decide they no longer want to be celibate, chances are they have met someone with whom they are intimate and with whom they want to become sexually intimate. Or, they may want to be free to look for someone with whom to be intimate both personally and sexually. At the point where they have found someone with whom they want sexual intimacy, they would talk to an advisory committee about their plans. The advisory committee would not have the authority to say yes or no to the priests’ desire for sexual intimacy. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church would be to respect the freedom of choice of priests, while ensuring that the priests have considered the upsides and downsides of forsaking celibacy and becoming sexually intimate. The tricky part is whether a desire for personal and sexual intimacy must translate into marriage. I will not comment on that. In the context of time-‐limited promises of celibacy with opportunities for renewals, it may be important to figure out what chastity means in the absence of a promise of
7. Individual interviews on similar topics. which is the most important?” “The most important one. In sexual matters. Discussions with others working on the chastity project about working ideas of what they think chastity is. gender. age. In brief. “What was I thinking?” Good executive skills means you have thought before you acted. persons with good executive skills consider whether both persons are free to engage in sexual behaviors and are not uncommitted to another person or to a promise of celibacy. Focus groups covering similar topics. In the context of the Roman Catholic Church. such as admission to a group or club. 3. It also means that the two persons are equal. Good executive skills mean that the heart and the brain are engaged in considering consequences of actions. gender identity. in effect. income. 5. A review of what has been written about the meanings of chastity. Reflections upon what they think chastity is. do well-‐planned research that could have several components.” answered Jesus. They would. they have talked about the many possible benefits and pitfalls of actions they would like to take. 1. This research could be called The Chastity Project. “Of all the commandments.celibacy. including consequences for themselves and for others. 2. sexual identity. 6. ethnicity. sexual orientation. etc. If two people are acting together. chastity involves good executive skills. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer. the self. Some Working Ideas Chastity means that people who are sexually active or who are free to be sexually active act in ways that promote the best interests of others. variability in religious affiliation. People who have good executive skills don’t act on the heat and passion of the moment and then later wonder. Church officials and others concerned with what chastity means could talk to people in a systematic way. ideas about chastity would be based on the greatest commandments. An anonymous internet survey asking people what they think chastity is and how they are or are not chaste in their own lives. 4. “is this: ‘Hear. These are some possibilities for this project. which Jesus discusses in the gospels. One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. he asked him. These and many other issues are important in order to ensure good outcomes when two people engage in sexual intimacy. Interviews with people from many walks of life. One person does not supervise the other or is not some kind of gatekeeper for something the other person might want. O Israel: The Lord . and any other persons who might be affected by sexual behaviors.
“You are not far from the kingdom of God. References Gilgun.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely. It’s for everyone. Lust.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Jane F.” the man replied. (2013). Chastity. he said to him. and other. but that is another story. (Mark 12: 28-‐34) Chastity requires good executive skills and applications of the greatest commandments.’ There is no commandment greater than these. teacher. (2013). Gilgun. (2011). is an idea whose time has come. renewable celibacy may be just the ticket for the current dilemmas in the Roman Catholic church. Discussion Celibacy has caused many problems in the Roman Catholic Church. Time-‐limited. About the Author Jane Gilgun is a professor and writer who wants all religions to be powerful in society by virtue of their teaching about compassion and showing compassion in everyday life. Jane F. (2013). To love him with all your heart. Gilgun. Gilgun. These commandments are part of ancient wisdom.our God. not just for priests. Gilgun. Gilgun. Time-‐limited. Jane F. God loves girls and women. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The priesthood is for everyone. I also probably cannot live in community.” “Well said. The evidence abounds. on the other hand. renewable celibacy may work for nuns and brothers. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. with no exceptions. going back thousands of years when the Hebrew scriptures were written. Jane F. but that’s for another article. philia. (2011). Jane F.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. with all your understanding and with all your strength. I considered being a nun but I could not live a life of celibacy. the Lord is one. agape. Jane F. The Roman Catholic Church dislikes women and girls. In the Judeo-‐Christian tradition. too. Religion in public life: Essays. (in press). We’ve always known: Why don’t we do it? Gilgun. . There is a God. Chastity is democratic. the central teaching is love of God. Original sin is not original. self. and erotic love. and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. (2013). Jane F.