The nature of love and unnatural chastity
That wonderful institution called marriage has been in the media a lot this week – and for two very different reasons.
In the US, President Barack Obama has faced down deeply conservative voters to reverse his opposition to gay marriage. Interestingly, he cited his Christian values as the primary reason for reversing his thinking. “In the end, the values that I care most deeply about ... is how we treat other people,” he said.
Hallelujah to that, and we can only hope our own Prime Minister Julia Gillard – usually so eager to warm to Mr Obama but on this occasion very quick to shrug him off – reverses her own thinking on the issue sometime soon.
Within hours, Mr Obama’s comments were being hailed as a milestone for the gay rights movement.
In the same week on the other side of the Atlantic, a very different conversation has been taking place on the issue of sex, marriage and Christian values.
In Ireland, an unofficial association representing hundreds of Catholic priests has called on the Vatican to end the practice of celibacy among the priesthood.
It follows a survey of Irish Catholics which last month revealed nearly 90 per cent support for priests to marry, and nearly 80 per cent support for the ordination of women.
The proposal to end celibacy among priests is in itself not new – it’s been many years since Australia’s National Council of Priests first urged Bishops to consider loosening the rules to allow married men to become priests and boost dwindling numbers worldwide.
What’s significant is that priests in a country which once prided itself as the world’s foremost Catholic nation are now taking the fight on this absurd ruling direct to the Holy See.
It beggars belief – particularly given the litany of evil abuse cases now unearthed around the globe – that the supposedly intelligent Catholic hierarchy can’t see the sense in bringing an end to celibacy.
Let’s face it; celibacy is not a heavenly edict. It’s a man-made construct that evolved over centuries.
I don’t actually care if there are enough Catholic priests into the future. (Even in Ireland it’s been suggested recently that the Vatican should follow the example of News of the World: hold one last mass and close itself down.)
But for three main reasons I believe it is time for the evolutionary wheel to turn again, and this archaic celibacy rule to end.
Firstly, vows of chastity are unnatural. And it’s not unreasonable to believe that some men (I stress ‘some’) forced into unnatural situations will do unnatural things. Shattered abuse victims across the globe are living testament to the results.
Secondly, with all the will in the world – and with all due respect to good Catholic priests who’ve dedicated their lives to their parishioners – men who do not have sex and do not experience the highs and lows of intense human connections cannot possibly understand or advise on complex modern-day relationships.
And thirdly, while its priests and hierarchy remain essentially ignorant on these issues – forced to live in a bubble of unnatural behaviour – it strikes many of us as audacious that the church believes it has any voice or legitimacy to campaign on political issues impacting the lives of those outside the Catholic flock.
That includes Sydney Archbishop George Pell’s current crusade to convince federal politicians to deny gay couples the right to marry.
If you ask me, Archbishop Pell should be fighting a crusade much closer to home – and that is to allow his clergy (and himself) to go out into the real world and find normal, human, physical love.
Now that would make the world a better place.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…