Honest Sex, Honest Marriage, Honest Celibacy
[Due to a question I have received about my thoughts on these matters, I am republishing the following post that I first published in March.]
HONEST SEX, HONEST MARRIAGE, HONEST CELIBACY
— Without Reference to God, the Bible or the Church!
If we understand that sexual intercourse is "body language" that says, "I give you my all," then wholehearted HONESTY in making that statement requires several conditions.
… all of me entirely for you alone, not for another— monogamy;
… all my years— lifelong monogamy;
… all my body— without latex, pills or surgery to shield or impede my body.
— Now … What DOES God Have to Do with It?
Honesty in giving one's all— that is what opens sexual intercourse to the horizonless, infinitely honest Self-Gift— Agàpe— that is God.
Nature and human honesty— those are the realities the Church's moral teaching about sexuality simply affirms.
What about celibacy?
If a husband and wife give themselves to each other with the kind of honesty I described, there can be at least three results: joy, communion, life. These are also qualities of God.
Sexual honesty and those three fruits of it do not happen without an exchange of vulnerability.
A professed Christian celibate (a monk, a nun, a priest...) has received an invitation from God to live without a spouse, and to do so "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven", as Jesus teaches. I HATE to hear people say that priests are celibate in order to have time and energy for work in the Church. That motive does not turn me on, and it's not the one Jesus gave. Even an atheist can live the celibate state for a merely practical motive.
One who is a celibate for sake of the kingdom of heaven is celibate for God. (Pious tradition gets it exactly right in speaking of nuns as "Brides of Christ".) Celibacy, then, aims for communion, life and joy, just as honest sexual intercourse does. A "professional celibate" who just crusts over to protect himself from his own human feelings, or numbs himself with any form of addiction, or "plays around" is not receiving or living his celibacy "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven."
A Christian celibate must also say— not to a human spouse, but to God— "I honestly give you my all". For the sake of the kingdom of heaven!
Remaining faithful to vowed Christian celibacy requires the constant rehearsal of vulnerability by way of very personal prayer— together with worship and all the virtues. The same is true of honest marital sexuality.
Celibate monks, nuns and priests have the same ultimate goal as married folk. Its just that celibates do without the support and challenge of spouses and children.
Since celibacy and marriage share the same ultimate goal, I, a celibate, have felt the closest personal kinship with married couples who live authentic sexual honesty.
To ALL his followers— celibates and spouses alike— Jesus promises communion, joy and life. However, the Way of Resurrection and the Way of Cross have the same footsteps.
NFP ("Natural Family Planning") classes propose that periodic abstinence from sexual intercourse in marriage can be a beautiful way to express love and respect." So is the Cross.
The NFP "Gospel" must frankly propose to spouses the whole Gospel: its rewards, its beauties, its passion and its share in the Lord's Passion.