Chastity Versus Celibacy


#1

(I’m going to cross-post this to the Apologetics Forum, since this is a question of both morality and apologetics.)

A Church of Christ co-worker who knows that I am converting to Catholicism recently gave me a book entitled Traditions of Men Versus the Word of God, by Alvin Jennings, in which he purports to take the traditions of a number of religions and strains of Christianity and refute their beliefs from the Bible. The very first chapter deals with Catholicism; I won’t characterize what he wrote, except to say that if you spread it in your garden, it would grow some fine vegetables.

I am writing a refutation of all points in that chapter, and I’m not having much trouble, except for a couple of points. One of them deals with an apparent differentiation of celebacy and chastity.

On this subject Jennings quotes a book, which he does not further identify, entitled Explanation of Catholic Morals. I googled that title and found that it was written by John H. Stapleton and published by Benziger Brothers in 1913. It is cited frequently in web pages belonging to anti-Catholic writers, but in my brief search I was unable to determine if it is genuine or a forgery.

Here is the quote:

“All celibates are not chaste…one who takes the vow of celibacy does not break it by sinning against the sixth commandment; he is true to it till he weds.”

Does this accurately reflect Church teaching? Is it possible to be an unchaste celibate; i.e., fool around and still be considered as not having broken the vows of celibacy? It’s a little confusing, but if they are considered separate issues, it would make more sense how priests, who have a vow of celibacy, could receive forgiveness for individual acts of unchastity and still be considered celibate, still continue as priests. Previously I had thought that once a priest had been known to have engaged in a sex act of any kind, he had broken his vows and should automatically be turned out of the priesthood.

DaveBj


#2

Actually that quote has it backwards. All chaste are not celibate.

Everyone called to be chaste according to their station in life. For singles that would be celibate until marriage.

If one takes a vow of celibacy but is then unchaste, then they will have broken that vow. That vow is no sexual contact.


#3

I suggest that you read the Thelogy of the body or watch the series by Chris West. He explains all of this in his series.

God bless,
Beckers


#4

[quote=DaveBj]…a book entitled Traditions of Men Versus the Word of God, by Alvin Jennings, … The very first chapter deals with Catholicism; …

I am writing a refutation of all points in that chapter, and I’m not having much trouble, except for a couple of points. One of them deals with an apparent differentiation of celebacy and chastity.

On this subject Jennings quotes a book, which he does not further identify, entitled Explanation of Catholic Morals … written by John H. Stapleton and published by Benziger Brothers in 1913. It is cited frequently in web pages belonging to anti-Catholic writers, but in my brief search I was unable to determine if it is genuine or a forgery.
[/quote]

I tried to find this and couldn’t find it as existing on ABEBooks.com, a major source for out of print books. You may want to continue looking for it before suggesting a charge of lying, it’s too easy for them to pull up some obscure text that was written by a pseudo Catholic, even as early as this text.

Byz hits the nail on the head when he says they’ve got the quote backwards.

If the quote is turned around, as suggested by Byz, they’ve got it right.

Chastity means you have relations only within your marriage. If you aren’t married, you don’t have marital relations. It’s that simple. Chastity understands that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and therefore is not to be violated.

Celebacy means you are not in a state of life which allows for having marital relations or even if you are married, some couples for certain periods of time may choose to be celebate for religious reasons. This is rare, and seldom supported by spiritual advisors for married couples.

[quote=DaveBj] It’s a little confusing, but if they are considered separate issues, it would make more sense how priests, who have a vow of celibacy, could receive forgiveness for individual acts of unchastity and still be considered celibate, still continue as priests. Previously I had thought that once a priest had been known to have engaged in a sex act of any kind, he had broken his vows and should automatically be turned out of the priesthood.

DaveBj
[/quote]

Another point you need to know is that breaking one’s vow does not mean a priest is tossed out of the priesthood. A priest who is a moral wreck (let’s pray for anyone you know who might meet this criteria, as all priests need and deserve our prayers), can still confer the sacraments according to his ordination. The Holy Spirit acts on the sacrament and the Priest’s poor moral state does not effect this.

God Bless,

CARose


#5

Chastity means using the sexual faculties as God intended for your state in life, regarding and treating your body and the bodies of others as temples of the Holy Spirit. It means no deliberate sexual pleasure or genital activity outside marriage. So for those who are not married (celibate) either by virtue of the current state in life, or by virtue of a vow of religious consecration, do not engage in any genital activity or deliberately pursue sexual pleasure through the senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste, or through entertaining thoughts and fantasies based on such pleasures and sensual gratifications.

Celibate means one who is not married, either in response to a vow or because in their current state in life they are single. Those vowed to celibacy are also vowed to chastity. Those who exchange marriage vows are vowed to chastity and fidelity. Their sexual expression and pleasure are exercised only within marriage, only with each other, only for the purposes of uniting them and procreating children. Period. No exceptions.

Celibacy is a charism, a gift, granted to those who are genuinely called by God to the celibate priesthood or consecrated religious life. Chastity is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that results from the graces of baptism and confirmation, and with fidelity is a virtue strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of marriage.

A celibate who sins in any way against the 6th and 9th commandments violates his vow, an additional mortal sin added to the first sin. You can find plenty of so-called “Catholic” writers who argue the opposite (National Catholic Reporter is a notorious example), but that does not make it Catholic Church teaching.

Any sincere questioner can find answers in the Catechism.

Exercising the sexual capacities under influence of a physical or psychological disorder, such as homosexuality, pedophilia, sado-masochism etc. is gravely sinful when full consent and deliberate act of the will are present.


#6

[quote=ByzCath]Everyone called to be chaste according to their station in life. For singles that would be celibate until marriage.

If one takes a vow of celibacy but is then unchaste, then they will have broken that vow. That vow is no sexual contact.
[/quote]

Just to clarify and repeat:

Celibate = not married.

Chaste = sexual activity appropriate to one’s marital status.

If one is celibate, that means no sexual activity. If one is not celibate, that means sexual activity with one’s spouse.

– Mark L. Chance.


#7

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