The latest “scandal” to hit the Roman Catholic Church is the tale of a priest, Father Alberto Cutie, who apparently had a two-year affair with a woman. This, of course, violated his vows of celibacy.
Now, I’m a Muslim, so the whole “you can’t serve God unless you give up sex” thing is a nonstarter for me. But I thought I’d offer a tongue-in-cheek commentary on it all. Since worldly pursuits such as eating, drinking, and having sex all distract one from pastoral duties, I think that, in addition to practicing celibacy, priests should practice “edibacy”, the abstention from food.
Now, hear me out…. God created humans with certain drives. We have a drive to sustain our lives through eating and drinking, and to pass down our traits through procreation. If we can expect a man to put aside his sex drive, then certainly we can ask him to refrain from eating. Imagine the time saved, the money not spent, the indigestion avoided. I mean, come on, a man cannot serve two masters. A man cannot serve his stomach and his Creator. A priest should be willing to fast for the rest of his life in order to keep himself pure.
Well, that’s ridiculous, you say. Without food, a man will die, but he can live without sex. Technically, that might be true, but most men would probably wish they were dead. And what we are finding is that many, many men cannot survive without sex. If they happen to be Catholic priests, then they have to deal with the constant, distracting struggle to control their passions, or they fall pray to fornication and thus have to live with the constant, distracting struggle to deal with the guilt and the consequences of their actions, such as unplanned pregnancies. How many popes have had illegitimate children, whether before they ascended to that office of after? The list is quite impressive. So if God’s Anointed Representative on Earth couldn’t keep it in his pants, what chance does the local parish priest have when he comes into constant, often solitary, contact with women in his community? Priests are still human, after all.
I submit to you that it is cruel to expect a man (or a woman; I’m looking out for the nuns, too), to give up the joy of sex inside of marriage, and to give up the opportunity to have a wife and the blessings of children. It’s also unrealistic to think that a man who has not lived with the everyday realities and challenges of marriage can intelligently counsel married couples on their relationship. It’s all hypothetical for him.
How did this whole celibacy thing get started? It sure didn’t start with Jesus, upon whom be peace. Though Jesus, as far as we know, never did marry, it was mainly because that his prophethood was rudely interrupted by Herod. He was taken up by God and in our Muslim tradition, it will be when he returns to rule the world that he will marry and have children. He did not dictate lifelong celibacy for himself or his followers. It was an innovation brought into the Church at a later time.
I have so much compassion for this priest. God gave him a normal sex drive, just like He gave him a normal need to eat and drink in order to sustain his life. He tried to live within the bounds of his priestly vows, and he was undone by the perfectly natural, perfectly normal, and totally unvanquishable desire to have sex. Had he been a Lutheran or a Muslim or a Jew, he could have married this woman that he fell in love with and they could have perhaps had some cute kids whom he would have raised to be God-fearing people. Instead, he is stripped of his job, his name bandied about in the press, and he will always have the odor of fornication and scandal attached to his name. Well, he did volunteer for the priesthood, but I don’t think any man knows what he’s getting into when he promises never to have sex for the rest of his life. Because really, I think you would have to be kind of crazy if you did.
So, Father Cutie? Can I talk to you about Islam?