Friday, January 21, 2005

Call them on it (Part II)

Note: this will make no sense if you have not read Part I, below:

Reflecting on my earlier post, I have come up with what I think might be an example of an acceptable answer (though certainly not a sufficient one), for those that are unclear exactly what I'm hoping for. I'm sure I am opening myself up to all kinds of criticism now:

The type of response we need developed is similar to the Catholic Church's understanding of the celibate priesthood. Centuries of wrestling with this issue has lead the Catholic Church to a complex theological understanding of celibacy that does not simply deny the sexuality of the priest as a human being. Though the Catholic Church has not abdicated its moral authority, (remaining firm on extra-marital intercourse) they have developed a well-articulated recognition by priests that they are, in fact, married to Christ and to His Church in a unique manner more real than a traditional male/female marriage. This special union necessitates the abdication of the right of the purely physical expression of sexual love, but focuses that energy toward the love of Christ and of the parish, instead of simply ignoring or denying it. This unique union provides special benefits of authority and uninterrupted communion with God not enjoyed by those partaking in marriage, and each diocese works to mentor and support the priest in his tasks and in this difficult calling. (See, for example, several scenes on this topic in "Keeping the Faith.")

How well this particular ethic plays out in real life is beside the point. What is significant is that this is a comprehensive understanding human sexuality outside of the context of marriage. Any comprehensive ECSS (Ethic of Christian Single Sexuality) would need to be formulated for a completely different constituency . But the possibility exists, and the theological tools are there to begin such a project. It's time to step up to the plate...
Grace & Peace