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God Didn't Approve This Plan

What we now consider criminal, sexual attacks upon the young of both sexes by older, predatory persons have always been with us. In some cultures, the handing off of young girls to old men is institutionalized and sanctified. In dominant Western tendencies, such violations have been variously ignored and denied across all social strata and traditions for all time. Women in my life are quick to point out that the soul-less assaults by men upon girls are under-reported because the act is so close to normal: girls of 13 are marriageable in Massachusetts with the approval of parents and judge, after all. God help the girl who is both trusting and physically precocious if she smiles one time too many at the handsome youth minister with whom she is smitten.

The current rage aroused by the system of hiding the sex sins of Catholic priests points up our habitual denial, and it begs for a hard look at its root cause:  Professed celibacy as a guarantor of strength and "purity."

All manner of men across history have developed rites of passage and hierarchies among acceptable members as a way of manufacturing, out of whole cloth, social order which pushes power up to the inventors of such systems. A defining difference among these structures of created power is the degree to which the powers of available gods are brought to bear in the make-believe world. Even though the Bible offers scant support for denying one's physical requirement to reproduce a next generation, celibacy was inserted into the Catholic ministry early as proof of they moral superiority of those who keep their robes closed. More borrowed from other spiritual cults than invented by the Church's founders, celibacy made mothers proud of their sons while providing a manifestly odd sample of male and female humanity in the life of service to God.

Women have often told me that a celibate life does not seem that strange to them, and that, minus the urge for children, giving up sex would be, in some ways, a relief. Men, on the other hand, are always suspicious of the claim of celibacy by their fellow men. Entire camps of men-only dwellings? To whom would such places be attractive? Idealistic boys who have yet to feel the urges of what they are missing? Wily, sexually advanced boys who seek a wall of safety behind which to live out their urges? Patient boys who wait until they are men before pulling starry-eyed believers under their predatory spell?

No disclaimer is required, but I state here my conviction that a majority of men and women who serve in the Catholic Church do so with a heart of surrender and a gift for service. But they could as easily express themselves and spread their value if they were married with children or openly gay, held both in high esteem and held in check by a familial system that did not mix work structure with the need for emotional, spiritual support. The tradition that denies sexual reality has ill-served the Church, and we must assume that this fact is not new to the world in the last century.

Lying--and hiding--about sexuality, is rife within all brands of Christianity, and misapplication of sexual attention plagues humanity at large (see female genital mutilation, foot-binding  and child sex slavery.) This case of a fully exposed, endemic failure, however, offers a once-in-two-millennia opportunity to stop denying the absurdity of phony sexual isolation. We believe our God is forgiving for good reason: we make lots of sick and hurtful mistakes. The least we can do is shorten His list of absolutions required by coming clean on impractical, enforced closeting of powerful forces within the beings we are designed to be.

Posted on Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 02:25PM by Registered CommenterCoEternity | CommentsPost a Comment

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