Objection Series: Celibacy or “You mean, no sex? Ever?”
As part of the Objection Series, I did not think I would be writing specifically about celibacy, although it can be an objection for parents. I referred to celibacy in the Objection Series post: He’s throwing his life away! I was surprised to hear “You mean, no sex? Ever?” as the very first objection from a well meaning friend responding to the news that my son was entering college seminary.
Now, I won’t begin to claim I have any understanding of celibacy as a discipline of the priesthood. There are so many facets to celibacy: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. I imagine it would take a long time to come to an understanding and appreciation of celibacy by the individual and even longer for their family. It doesn’t help that the culture is so over sexualized from every direction, type of media and passing billboard. It is almost impossible to get away from the culture’s slant on sexuality.
Perhaps understanding the concept of celibacy is like eating an elephant; you need to take it one bite at time. So as part of a small bite of understanding, here is a post from a seminarian related to the desires of the heart of every man and woman. He provides a glimpse at the evolving understanding of celibacy in this post from the blog: Seminarian Casual
Why I Want To Be a Priest Posted November 20, 2015
Thomas Rhett, my favorite country artist, just came out with a new music video for his song “Die A Happy Man.” The video features Rhett and his gorgeous wife enjoying all the pleasures that a vacation in Hawaii can offer. And all of that paints the picture for his lines:
If I never get to see the Northern Lights
If I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
If all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby I could die a happy man.
I think that song speaks to everyone. Everyone wants intimacy, a relationship, and to share one’s life with another. What’s more, everyone wants that on the beaches of Hawaii while horseback riding with the dog tagging along and a cold one in your hand.
I had my life pointing in that direction: I was set to make a lot of money as an engineer and I had the gorgeous girlfriend, what more can the world offer?
I think that was the mindset of a guy I met this summer who asked me “Why do you want to be a priest? Do you like public speaking?”I went into shock and I wasn’t sure why. At this point I had been thinking about that question for years—throughout high school, at college, and now for a whole year at seminary. I’ve even given my vocation story countless times to total strangers. But for some reason the question caught me off guard and it left me with a pit in my stomach wondering whether or not I knew the answer.
The thing about that situation was that the guy that asked me was looking at the priesthood from a utilitarian standpoint. To someone like that, the priesthood is just another career path that you would only choose if you liked it and it fit what you thought the ideal life is.
Now, that’s not entirely wrong. The priesthood is a profession in some sense, but I think what the man asked me neglects the whole “God” dimension to the question. Because without God, the priesthood does seem best fitted for someone that likes public speaking, or likes being a leading community figure, or even likes to live by himself.
I think another part of it is that some people think that someone who wants to be a priest just isn’t into the whole marriage thing. They don’t want that wife on the sun setting shores of Hawaii. And to all of those pretenses I want to scream “No! I do want those things! I’m a normal guy!”
The thing that people have to remember is that discernment is choosing between two goods. Marriage is a good and priesthood is a good. It’s not that I don’t have a desire to get married, it’s that I have a longing for something more than that. It’s precisely that longing for more that comes from God, and because that longing is deep in your heart it’s difficult to explain to people.
That’s what I wish people knew. It’s not that I don’t want the girl on the beach, it’s that I want something more than that. And if God is truly calling me to more, then that’s the only way that I’ll die a happy man.
Please know that the authors of the blog pray for parents of discerning sons and daughters to find understanding and peace.