Chesterton on Celibacy

After yesterday’s rant on Father Cutie and the priestly celibacy issue, I thought it best to get another perspective on this issue.  This reading comes from G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy:

A clergyman may be apparently as useless as a cat, but he is also as fascinating, for there must be some strange reason for his existence.  I give one instance out of a hundred; I have not myself any instinctive kinship with that enthusiasm for physical virginity, which has certainly been a note of historic Christianity.  But when I look not at myself but at the world, I perceive that this enthusiasm is not only a note of Christianity, but a note of Paganism, a note of high human nature in many spheres.  The Greeks felt virginity when they carved Artemis, the Romans when they robed the vestals, the worst and wildest of the great Elizabethan playwrights clung to the literal purity of a woman as to the central pillar of the world.  Above all, the modern world (even while mocking sexual innocence) has flung itself into a generous idolatry of sexual innocence–the great modern worship of children.  For any man who loves children will agree that their peculiar beauty is hurt by a hint of physical sex.  With all this human experience, allied with the Christian authority, I simply conclude that I am wrong, and the church right; or rather that I am defective, while the church is universal.  It takes all sorts to make a church; she does not ask me to be celibate.  But the fact that I have no appreciation of the celibates, I accept like the fact that I have no ear for music.  The best human experience is against me, as it is on the subject of Bach.  Celibacy is one flower in my father’s garden, of which I have not been told the sweet or terrible name.  But I may be told it any day.

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