Celibacy. A word used with fear and trepidation in our sex-drenched society. A common notion amongst (perhaps liberal or is it also Protestant?) some Christians is that celibacy is a calling. And that it is but few that are called. Parenthetically, the remark might be added that is is confusing to myself as to why the calling has evaporated in modernity and in the Protestant West … but not elsewhere. However, that is not the main point that I’m going to make tonight. Celibacy is not a “calling for the few” for the Christian. It is a universal calling. All Christians are called during times of their life to celibacy. From puberty until marriage … we are called to be celibate. When we travel apart for work or otherwise … we are called to be celibate.

Jesus remarks at one point when his disciples fail to cast out a demon, “that sort of demon can only be removed through prayer and fasting” … St. Paul counsels that married couples should fast from sexual activity (in a manner of speaking) only when they mutually agree. This seems to imply strongly as well that such celibate periods within marriage are beneficial to spiritual growth. The larger church accepted this idea quite universally, East and West, and this held until a few centuries ago but has dissolved in the modern era.

So … my question is the following. Where is there a defense of the notion that celibacy is a calling for the few? Where is defense of the abandonment of monasticism and single celibacy as a calling?

Filed under: Ethics & MoralityMark O.

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