Monday, January 23, 2006

Toward the Theology and Practice of Celibacy

3 Epiphany
2nd Hilary

Alright, it's second week already, and I have so much to do. Been having some provocative talks with my community - provocative for me, anyway. So look for this space to get... controversial... this week. In the meantime, consider my final post on celibacy here...

I've already stated that if celibacy is anything, "it is a positive way of blessing, hallowing and consecrating the flesh." I think I’ve found a helpful interpretive key for building this theology and practice of holy celibacy:

Genesis insists that it is not good for man to be alone. This is one of the things that makes marriage good. If celibacy is also good, and a gift and call from God, it cannot mean being alone in the sense that the Trinitarian god fretted over in the first chapters of Genesis. Marriage is good. Celibacy is good. It is not good to be alone. If we can really say yes to God by joining him in those statements and build our life as the people of God accordingly in the way we pray, study, and break bread, we’ll be doing a good work.

Any thoughts?


Mark Mossa, SJ said...

If one were celibate, and just staying home alone all day, that would probably be "not good," as Genesis suggests.

However, most vow or practice celibacy in the context of a life of radical availability. That means developing relationships with LOTS of people. Not to mention that many of us live celibate lives within the context of a religious community, which leaves some wishing that they could be alone more often!!

People who live celibate lives also frequently develop friendships with people who might, for lack of a better term, be described as "soul mates." These are people that one is able to have intimate, non-sexual relationships with, the kind of relationship that actually is even in some ways facilitated by celibacy.

I have deep friendships with people that I'm certain I could not have had with them were I not a Jesuit. So, the fact that I sleep alone in my bed at night doesn't mean that I'm alone, or lonely.

Does that mean I'm never lonely? Of course not. But can anybody say that?



Anonymous said...

I think I agree w/ Mark.

Like you have said before, our communities of faith are to keep us from being alone, individualistic, and funky.

Kyle said...

Yeah, Mark is indeed dead-on here.

+ Alan said...

Definitely Kyle - and well said Mark. I've said this to many people and I'll say it here. I'm not sure it's ever a good idea for someone to live alone - i.e., by themselves. I'd give leeway for short periods of eremitical solitude (for spiritual reasons) - then to return to life in the community. But the Western common practice of people just choosing to live alone because they "prefer" it is, to me, simply unhealthy. Just another thought.

naak said...

Kyle, you have hit it dead on; and Mark, I like your comments. The understanding that celibacy is not a "solo" trip through life, but a life joined with Christ. If one is "single" then he lacks both spouse and God. The church as a whole would do better if this was better understood. And that is why Paul said it would be better for one to do so if they could; therefore not condemning marriage, but increasing the understanding of marriage; this will be fully revealed in the marriage cerimony of Christ and His bride, the church.