Sarah Coakley—Love in a Time of Infidelity

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Gregory also provides us with a powerful counter-argument to Peter Steinfels's insistence that a commitment to celibacy could only now be re-invigorated within contemporary Roman Catholicism at the cost of a high theology of lay and married service. As he puts it in A People Adrift, "If the church wants to restore celibacy to [its] former status, there is really only one practical way to do it: demote marriage to the second-class standing it once had."

I argue, in the spirit of Gregory, that marriage and celibacy ought to be re-thought alongside one another. But I have also tried to suggest that heterosexual and homosexual desire ought to be examined together and subjected to the same exacting standards of ascetic transformation through discipline and "right direction." In this way, homoerotic desire could potentially be released from its cultural - and biblical - associations with libertinism, promiscuity and disorder. Gregory's vision of desire as thwarted, chastened, transformed, renewed and finally intensified through its relations to God - which would then produce spiritual fruits of love and service in a range of other relationships and communal bonds - represents a way beyond and through the false modern alternatives of "repression" and "libertinism."

The re-thinking of celibacy and faithful vowed relations (whether heterosexual or homosexual) in an age of instantly commodified desire and massive infidelity is a task of daunting proportions, of which no-one can be very confident of wide-spread success. But as Gregory himself warns, we cannot believe it unless we see it lived.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologySexuality* Religion News & CommentarySexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

Posted October 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Second Citizen wrote:

This will be a problem until psychoanalyis and sociology are declared non-religions.

October 29, 4:57 pm | [comment link]
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