Posts Tagged ‘celibacy’

Who wants to give up anything the body wants or needs? I’ve been investigating the importance of the body as the “Temple of the Holy Spirit” and yet, here is old Paul recommending celibacy as a way of walking out “self-control.” Harumph.

I Corinthians 7:1b
It is well [and by that I mean advantageous, expedient, profitable, and wholesome] for a man not to touch a woman [to cohabit with her] but to remain unmarried.

This Pauline letter must be one of the main sources for the Catholic tradition of celibate priests. A few verses later, Paul even spells it out, “I wish that all men were like I myself am [in this matter of self-control]. But each has his own special gift from God, one of this kind and one of another.” [vs 7:7]

Is this a good thing? I know that fasting, another form of body denial has its place in devotion. It seems that as we deny the body sustenance, there is more time to look inward to the things of spirit. But this conversation is for those who choose these things, for those who choose to be celibate or choose to fast, or choose to deny themselves in other specific ways.

What about those who have no choice? What about the lonely men and women of this world who desperately want relationship and intimacy with another person? What of the couple who no longer have intimacy due to illness or boredom. What of the poor?

God promises a grace to those who are not in a position to choose. These promises can be seen readily in the beatitudes. They are promises of hope in the midst of great loss and deprivation. These were the people he chose to teach first, to reach first.

What happens for the rest of us who much choose seasons of deprivation? We get a taste, a glimpse of both poverty and grace in this arena.

But I want to remember that Paul also says that each person has his/her special gift from God. The key here is knowing what God wants of me. The point is hearing God’s voice, God’s plan for today, for now. Once, God called me to a long fast and I was so deaf, He made bread taste like garbage before I got the message.

Choosing self-denial for the mere sake of it does nothing special. These times must be part of the true call.

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