The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

SHOULD CATHOLIC PRIESTS BE ALLOWED TO MARRY?

I would like to begin with some quotations from the Bible:

Everyone who has given up home, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children or property for my sake will receive many times as much and inherit everlasting life (Matthew 19:29).

A man is better of having no relations with a woman (1 Corinthians 7:1).

I tell you brothers, the time is short. From now on, those with wives should live as though they had none ((1 Corinthians 7:29).

The unmarried man cares for the Lord's business; his aim is to please the Lord. But the married man cares for worldly things; his aim is to please his wife; and he has a divided mind (1 Corinthians 7:32-33).

There is a beautiful "Quote for Priests" from Father Anthony Ho's blog that I would like to share with my readers. Here it goes:

"It is true, one reason why the Church requires celibacy in her priests is that one who is free from the cares and responsibilities of family life can more completely and wholeheartedly devote himself to the work of the sacred ministry. But the deeper and more spiritual reason is that the soul which is free from the bonds of earthly love, however noble and pure it may be, is better disposed for an ardent and unselfish love of God."

Celibate priests can devote themselves completely and wholeheartedly to the Church since they are free from the burdens and responsibilities of family life. Truly these celibate priests are one of our greatest gifts from God - so rare, valuable and precious. I pray that we can have more celibate priests in the future. In this morally decadent world, those who can relinquish sex are not easy to find and that's why our celibate priests have become a rare treasure today.

I have never had sex before and I don't know how enjoyable or important it is. But I do know that it certainly has got nothing to do with holiness, purity and chastity. Here I would like to quote a real life story that my grandmother told me when I was still a little girl. This is how it goes: When my uncle got married, someone gave him a wooden crucifix. He hung it on the wall just above his marital bed. Both my uncle and his wife suddenly fell ill but they didn't know what was wrong. They just coudn't get well. When my grandmother visited them, she saw the crucifix in their bedroom and suggested that they remove it and put it elsewhere. After removing the crucifix from their bedroom, my uncle and his wife were immediately healed from their mysterious illness. Whether it is a coincidence or not, having sex in front of Jesus doesn't seem to be the right thing to do. If sex is something which is holy, pure and chaste then why not have sex in the Church?

Would the Church be served better if the priests were married? No doubt a celibate priest would devote all his time to God's work but a married priest will be unable to devote himself totally to God's work as he tends to get bogged down with earthly things. According to Patricia Dixon, the wife of a former Protestant pastor in her article entitled "Why a Married Priesthood Won't Remedy the Priest Shortage":

"The advocates of a married clergy need to give a little more thought to the real consequences of their blithe slogans. Perhaps they will listen to a wife who has been there. Let us consider a typical, moderately large parish in an affluent American community, in which three priests live in a rectory that also houses the parish office. What changes would have to be made if the priests of this parish were married? First, there would have to be many priests at the parish. A celibate man can give all his time to the parish; a married man must give priority to his family. So these three priests must become five or six, leaving the priest shortage right where it was, even if the removal of celibacy rules doubles the number of priests in America. The salary of a married priest would have to be three times the current stipend in order to keep a priest's family above the federal poverty line. And, of course, those six families can't all live in that rectory, and the parish offices can't be in the home of just one of them. So we now need six houses, and extra space somewhere else, to replace the one rectory. If the priests are expected to furnish their own housing, their salary will have to be increased even more. Thus supporting married priests will cost that three-priest parish more than six times what it now spends to support its priests. In all likelihood, the priests will have to work outside the priesthood to bring in income. Of course, their time for the parish and parishioners will decrease. So the parishioners, even if they could somehow support their six priests, will still find themselves short of priestly attention. Every married pastor faces, throughout his career, the tension between the needs of the church and the needs of his family. Both Church and family require half of the man's time and energy. A minister's wife who is pregnant may find that the church members are uncomfortable with her as a living symbol of the pastor's active sexuality."

I used to visit a home for the ex-drug addicts and they told me that the pastor who was supposed to be in charge of them seldom came to see them after he got married. And after his first baby came, they saw even less of him. What does this suggest? That a married priest will put his family first and neglect his ministry duties. Like all married men, a married priest wants to finish his work fast and go home to his wife and children. Perhaps he shouldn't miss dinner. His wife doesn't like that. Thus the priesthood seems to be more like an occupation to him - a job that provides him with an income to support his wife and children. One of my friends told me that her pastor is exceptionally kind and friendly to all those who always buy presents for his wife and children. Can't blame him though. He certainly wants the best for his wife and children even if it is at the expense of the parishioners.

A married man is always busy thinking of ways to increase his income so as to give his wife and children a better life. With a family to support, money will never be enough. If a priest is only concerned with making money to give his wife and children a comfortable life, the priesthood is no longer a vocation but a kind of job or money making channel for a family man. Just imagine what will happen if we have priests who are always busy doing direct selling (such as Amway or Cosway products) in the Church together with their wives. Business would be good for sure because of the parishiones' support. But is this the kind of priests we can respect and love?

On the contrary, a celibate priest has all the time in the world to do God's work. He doesn't have to be on time for dinner with his wife and children. He doesn't have to keep thinking that he must finish his work fast so that he could go home early. He doesn't have to think of ways to increase his income. And most of all, he can devote all his time to the parish and the parishioners will never find themselves short of priestly attention. As such, the priesthood is only suitable for those men who are ready to live the life of Christ and willing to devote their entire lives to walk in the footsteps of Christ.

We call a priest Father. Can we marry our own father and have sex with him? Priests are suppose to live the life of Christ. But is the life of a married priest a reflection of Christ's life? Christ is celibate and he was ready to die on the cross for our sins because it was His Father's will. Had Jesus ever said, "Father, please spare me my life. I want to take care of my wife and see my children grow up. I can't die on the cross. Family firstlah." If these were His words, Christianity wouldn't have existed at all!

There is no such thing as the Church denying the priests the human rights to get married. Priesthood is a choice and the vows of chastity are to be taken freely. Those who feel that they cannot live the life of Christ can always get married and get a job elsewhere to support their wife and children. They don't have to keep eyeing the priesthood and pestering the Pope to change the rules of the Church for them. No doubt it is not easy to get a respectful and secure job that can provide well for their families during this period of recession but it should be remembered that the priesthood is a vocation and not an occupation. If they really love to help out in Church, they can always come to Church to lend a helping hand. Many lay preachers are doing that free of charge in Malaysia.

Should priests be allowed to get married then all the jobless men on the streets would be fighting for this job. Where on earth can they find such a respecful and secure job during this period of recession? Their wives and children would be well provided for by the Church and live a comfortable life. Who doesn't want that? Of course there would be no more shortage of priests when the Roman Catholic priesthood becomes an occupation!

Who says that celibate priests cannot give advice on family matters? The capability to give advice doesn't rely on the fact as to whether they are married or not. I give advice and help to single mothers and divorcees to help them live their lives again. I don't have to be a divorcee or a single mother to do that. I may never have been married before but this does not deter me from observing and analysing the world around me and learn from the experiences of others. I also give advice and help to rape victims (my students) but this does not mean that I have to be a rape victim myself!

Who says that married priests would not get involved in sex scandals? Maybe some of you would have read about the case of Ahmad Najib - a married man who raped, killed, burnt and chopped off the legs of the beautiful Canny Ong. He was sentenced to death. No doubt he is married but this does not deter him from raping another woman. Then there was Lily Chua's case back in 1993 where the pastor turned music teacher murdered her and cut her into eleven pieces before he dumped her body parts in a drain and a ravine about one km away. Fearing that his wife would discover his affair with Lily Chua, the pastor had no choice but to kill Lily Chua and then destroyed her body completely so that no one would discover his extra-marital affair. The pastor was sentenced to 12 years in prison but was released from prison after 8 years because of good behaviour. Extra-marital affairs are so common nowadays. When a man is married it doesn't mean that he wouldn't be interested in another woman.

According to Pope Benedict XVI, "Celibacy seems difficult to understand in an agnostic world in which God doesn't enter the picture, in which we no longer think of a future with God, because the present of this world seems sufficient. To live the celibate life is to acknowledge the presence of God, the certainty of the next life, and the value of both. With the eschatological life of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the realities of our time. Celibacy is allowing ourselves to be taken in hand by God, giving ourselves into the hands of the Lord and therefore is an act of fidelity and trust. Celibacy is a great sign of faith." How right he is! Thank you Pope Benedict XVI for defending and reinforcing celibacy. Really, our marriage minded priests should emulate our Holy Father who is living a holy life!

(Those of you who like this article may also want to read "Taxi Driver Wanted to Become a Married Catholic Priest" in this blog dated October 2009).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Lavinia

    I accidentally came across your blog and see your much loved experience from Mother Mary and God.

    However, then I read your profile and there is something that caught my eyes "Can read palms and give advice on feng shui matters". Catholics do not read palms, or give advice on feng shui matters. It is liked having God on one hand and think no harm done if I try reading my palm or feng shui matters. Catholics cannot, as we worship God as the only God on earth, good or bad! This is idolatry and that's how the Jews had their experience in exile. It is all in the Bible!

    All the best,

    ReplyDelete