Is it any worse for a priest/nun to have sex than for unmarried laypersons?


#1

Religious take a “vow of celibacy.” I take it that is equivalent to a vow to refrain from marriage. I mean, why vow to not have sex outside of marriage? It’s a sin–of course, a priest or nun is bound by duty to God to refrain from sex outside of marriage.

A religious cannot be married, therefore he may not have sex. All unmarried people may not have sex.

Yet, sexual indiscretions for priests (and I’m talking about normal heterosexual consenting adult sex) seems to be popularly considered as worse than for laypeople. Granted, it is more shocking–and should be: priests/nuns are expected to be setting a good example. But is it any worse–in an absolute sense–for them to do so than for the rest of us? And if not, shouldn’t we be hearing about that? (Of course, I can’t remember ever hearing a homily about chastity in my whole life. Lectures in Catholic school, yes, but never at Mass.)


#2

i remember the verse: Better for you to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea than to cause his little ones to loose faith (something like that)… it would concern me… I liken it to the cop that get caught breaking the law… solely because of what that person is supposed to represent is in its own way cause for special penance… what do you think? :thumbsup:


#3

One difference that immediately leaps to my mind is that, while both are violating God’s intention for sexual relationships, priests and religious have taken a sacred vow. It is the addition of this vow that makes their violation worse; although one should not construe this as a minimalization of the seriousness of laypersons violating chastity.


#4

Actually this is a misconception.

Not all religious make an explicit vow of celibacy.

For example, benedictines make the following 3 vows…

  1. obedience
  2. stability
  3. coversatio morum suorum (conversion of one’s behavior)

And really, it is not a vow of celibacy but a vow of chastity.


#5

I’d say the two sins are the same as long as they are private and no one knows. If they become public then the priests’/religious’ is worse because it causes more scandal and leads the faithful astray! :tsktsk:


#6

[quote=EsclavoDeCristo]I’d say the two sins are the same as long as they are private and no one knows. If they become public then the priests’/religious’ is worse because it causes more scandal and leads the faithful astray! :tsktsk:
[/quote]

Excellent point! Thank you.


#7

Is it worse to commit adultery and have sex with someone else when you are married, as opposed to fornication between two unmarried people? Of course.

Remember, with their vows, the clergy takes the church as their spouse.

Josh


#8

Another factor to remind, the more you know it is wrong, the more accountable you are for doing it.

Thus is the priest was poorly catechized about it and the layman catechized more than the priest, for him it would be a greater sin.

But this is between God and the sinner to determine, not us.


#9

[quote=Racer X] Religious take a “vow of celibacy.” I take it that is equivalent to a vow to refrain from marriage.
[/quote]

I disagree with this analogy. Mary and Joseph were under a vow of celibacy, yet they married. They did not break their vow because it would have been a sin under Jewish Law. See Numbers chapter 30.

[quote=Racer X] Yet, sexual indiscretions for priests (and I’m talking about normal heterosexual consenting adult sex) seems to be popularly considered as worse than for laypeople.
[/quote]

Absolutely. As a young man I never vowed to God to remain celibate. I vowed only to remain chaste.

[quote=Racer X] I can’t remember ever hearing a homily about chastity in my whole life.
[/quote]

Strange, I remember plenty of them.


#10

It is not that “the sin” is worse - a priest or nun who has taken a vow of celibacy commits two sins (at least*), 1) by yielding to the pleasures of the flesh outside the sanctity of marriage; and 2) by breaking the vow to God.

** the priest or nun may have committed other sins, as well, such as placing themselves in a situation where they know they lack control, and so on.*


#11

[quote=ByzCath]Not all religious make an explicit vow of celibacy. … And really, it is not a vow of celibacy but a vow of chastity.
[/quote]

Then, for those who have not taken a vow of chastity, my original answer would not apply. However, I did not say that they took a vow of celebacy. I said a vow of chastity. While we are all obligated to be chaste, priests and religious have taken a vow to back that up; or, at least, many of them have. If they violate the laws of chastity, then they have violated the vow as well as the law.

[quote=Tom]Strange, I remember plenty of [homilies on chastity].
[/quote]

Then you are fortunate, I have heard a few but I also know others who have rarely, if ever heard them as well as others who have heard them often.


#12

[quote=Racer X]Excellent point! Thank you.
[/quote]

You’re wecome :slight_smile:


#13

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