NO Sex For You
Gabino Zavala, an assistant bishop of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles has resigned because he has a secret family, including two teenage children. An announcement from the Vatican stated that “the pope had accepted it under the norm in canon (Church law) that says a bishop who is ill or otherwise unfit to carry out his duties should resign.” Because the Catholic church requires a vow of celibacy from its priests, his resignation was accepted. There was nothing reported of any type of abuse, sexual or otherwise, on the part of Zavala; the resignation appears to be solely based on the fact that he met a woman he cared for and decided to father children with her.
The Archdiocese of Bostonhas settled approximately 800 clergy sexual abuse claims, is providing care to about 300 abuse survivors at any given time, and has given anti-abuse training to nearly half a million children and adults. This offender registry allows you to search your area for offenders affiliated with the church only. That being said, the problem of sexual abuse and pedophilia is in no way an issue that lies solely within the church, nor is it an indicator that all men sworn to God are susceptible to becoming rapists, pedophiles, or other sexual predators.
Zavala’s story interested me because it’s quite different from most of the stories regarding priests that make the news. He didn’t molest a child; in fact he “once urged Catholic media to report scandals such as clergy sex abuse in a spirit of love and mercy.” Tod Tamberg, the archdiocesan spokesman, said he “knew nothing about Zavala’s affair except that it involved consenting adults and that no church funds were used.” Unless some lurid details are being kept under wraps, nothing negative took place here other than the simple violation of what seems to be a very outdated rule; no sex, not even with someone you love and wish to have children with because you are promised to God and Him alone.
According to the BBC, the Vatican made no reference to the reason behind Zavala’s resignation and the Pope reinforced the church’s views on celibacy when he said it was “the sign of full devotion, the entire commitment to the Lord and to the ‘Lord’s business’, an expression of giving oneself to God and to others.” I understand the logic but I also believe that the God he speaks of is one that would encourage matrimony and family building rather than a life of solitude, so long as the commitment to Him and to the faith stays strong. Is God truly that selfish to demand that a person go through life without knowing the love of a spouse and the joy of having children? Or would He prefer a dedicated family man rather than a dedicated yet desperate man who succumbs to human nature and sexuality in a depraved way? Being a father Himself, of Jesus and of humanity, I would think that He would encourage monogamous and consenting couples to procreate, not deny the people most dedicated to Him the chance to marry and have children.
In no way am I about to suggest that the celibacy rule is responsible for pedophilia and abuse in the church, but I do think that it isn’t helping the matter. It’s possible that a person who commits a terrible sexual act did so out of desperation because their nature is being denied due to the vow of celibacy. If they had a wife to go home to, maybe they wouldn’t have taken a victim’s innocence away after years of sexual abstinence. There are a lot of maybe’s there because to indulge in sex acts with a child is a horrendous thing to do and isn’t simply the byproduct of desperation. Pedophiles outside of the church are allowed to have sex with any consenting adult that will have them and they still turn to children, so it’s obvious that allowing sex won’t cure a pedophile. But just as some people in prison resort to gay sex because that is all that is available, perhaps priests resort to alter boys because they are not allowed a wife.
Organized religion is flawed, as is nearly everything in existence than relies on us mere human beings in order to function. It’s sad that someone like Zavala, a person who appears to have been a shining star in the Catholic church, must now withdraw from his position. His crime was one that is only a crime according to the word of God as translated by man. I read a lot today about what the Bible says about marriage. In general, it’s safe to say that God desires us to marry a person of the opposite sex. Vows of chastity and celibacy aren’t anything new within the church; these practices have been in place for some time in varying degrees.
As we adapt to the world around us by changing laws, behaviors, and lifestyles, we should also make adaptations within the church. The word of God hasn’t exactly changed much over the years, so either God quit talking or the creative minds behind the Old and New Testament are a thing of the past and no one living in present times is willing to speak up. That aside, the bible can be interpreted in countless different ways and I am certain that the right person can find something within those pages to allow the celibacy rule to be lifted or at least be a rule only until a person finds their life partner and married under the eyes of God.
I was raised Catholic but don’t claim it currently; the last two times I’ve been in a church was to see my son baptized and to sell a guitar to some guy from Craigslist. I have no doubt that an educated religious person can school me severely on why celibacy is important and why God demands his priests abstain from sex and marriage. In my limited experiences with various churches within the Christian faith, I’ve found that the people I’ve connected to and been helped by the most have been those who were married with children. They understood the life of an average parishioner better than those who have never known romantic love or parental bliss. They were able to balance being strong in their commitment to God and being a loving spouse and parent, their faith working to strengthen them on both sides. Perhaps it’s time for the church to stop acting as though love, sex and marriage creates a wall between the person and God. Maybe it’s time to realize that those so-called forbidden things can actually strengthen the bond to God and the commitment to being a good Christian leader and follower.