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By Thomas Moore
Do monks have sex?
Most of the ones I’ve known are serious about their vows. In my own experience—I was a monk for thirteen years—the vow of celibacy didn’t feel like repression. I’ve talked to a few people over the years who did resent it, but while I was a monk I never met anyone like that.
I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but the vow of celibacy can be a joyous thing. Monks are dedicated to living intensely in community. They’re like utopians who want to experiment with a better world. They believe that celibacy allows them to create a really close community, and their purpose in keeping the vow is precisely that—to make real community possible.
As I see it now, toning down your sexual behavior is a secondary aspect of the vow of celibacy. Let me compare it to the vow of poverty. “Poverty” in a monastic setting isn’t primarily about living with few possessions or having a Spartan lifestyle. I know monks who do live that way, but the main purpose again is to share everything in common and in that way intensify community living.
For the Christian monks I lived with, the particularly vibrant community made possible by the vows reflected the new way of being presented in the Gospels. The monastic community was a sample of the “kingdom” or new world that Jesus taught. So it was a utopian attempt to model a better world.
Oddly, I’ve deepened my thoughts about monasticism in the many years that have elapsed since I lived the life. My appreciation for celibacy has only increased, and as a married man I still try to keep the monastic spirit alive in my life, including celibacy. Obviously, I’ll have to explain what I mean.
My dictionary defines celibacy as “abstaining from marriage and sexual relations.” That’s the vow that I lived many years ago. But now as a married man I also find myself abstaining from sexual relations most of the time.
I go on trips. I get sick. My wife gets sick. She goes away. Either of us may not be interested for a while—never very long. As we get older, the erotic is ever present but not as persistent. Whatever the situation, we’re not having sex all the time.
In my experience today, celibacy is part of my sexual rhythm. At moments I’m very interested in sex, but other times there may be a lag, or it may be impossible due to circumstances. I know, this doesn’t sound like celibacy, a commitment to not having sex, but it turns out to be something very similar. As far as I’m concern, I’m still a celibate most of the time.
I think couples have to respect the spirit of celibacy as part of their sexual flow. They can even enjoy those times when they are apart and live for a while like real monks. I mean that in a very positive way. It might be better to really get into moments of celibacy than to treat them as deprivations.
You incorporate your times of not having sex as part of your sexuality. I’m a psychotherapist. I know that some people in a couple feel guilty because they can’t always be available to their partners—sickness, loss of libido, too much travel. Of course, they have to consider how much this enforced celibacy impacts the relationship, but they can also be temporary, situational monks.
Sometimes normal people don’t feel like having sex. Maybe if they made celibacy part of their couples vows, they could affirm those feelings rather than feel bad about them or overrule them. I think the acceptance of ordinary celibacy would actually add to and complete a person’s sexuality. Celibacy and sexual activity could be the yang and yin of sexuality.
Back to the question “do monks have sex?” Maybe you agree with me that not having sex can be a positive and even joyous decision on the part of a monk. It isn’t all that difficult in the right context. Of course, it can cause problems, and it’s not for everyone. But it can be an intelligent, psychologically healthy choice.
In the monastery I found that the joys of community life, and maybe even its tensions, created such a bond that I didn’t miss sex. I didn’t think about it much. I certainly didn’t feel bad about my vow.
Now as a married person I enjoy the rhythm of togetherness and separateness, which is played out in the yin and yang of sex and celibacy. I can still be a monk in spirit. I can still honor my vow of celibacy as part of my dedication to be a good sexual partner. I can still be a married man and enjoy the spirit of a monk’s life.
Complete Article HERE!
Computer model sheds light on how male homosexuality remains present in populations throughout the ages
Around half of all heterosexual men and women potentially carry so-called homosexuality genes that are passed on from one generation to the next. This has helped homosexuality to be present among humans throughout history and in all cultures, even though homosexual men normally do not have many descendants who can directly inherit their genes. This idea is reported by Giorgi Chaladze of the Ilia State University in Georgia, and published in Springer’s journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. Chaladze used a computational model that, among others, includes aspects of heredity and the tendency of homosexual men to come from larger families.
According to previous research, sexual orientation is influenced to a degree by genetic factors and is therefore heritable. Chaladze says this poses a problem from an evolutionary perspective, because homosexual men tend not to have many offspring to whom they can provide their genetic material. In fact, they have on average five times fewer children than their heterosexual counterparts.
Chaladze used an individual-based genetic model to explain the stable, yet persistent, occurrence of homosexuality within larger populations. He took into account findings from recent studies that show that homosexual men tend to come from larger families. These suggest that the genes responsible for homosexuality in men increase fecundity (the actual number of children someone has) among their female family members, who also carry the genes. Other reports also suggest that many heterosexual men are carriers of the genes that could predispose someone to homosexuality.
Based on Chaladze’s calculations, male homosexuality is maintained in a population at low and stable frequencies if half of the men and roughly more than half of the women carry genes that predispose men to homosexuality.
“The trend of female family members of homosexual men to have more offspring can help explain the persistence of homosexuality, if we also consider that those males who have such genes are not always homosexuals,” says Chaladze.
The possibility that many heterosexual men are carriers can also explain why estimates of the number of men who have reported any same-sex sexual behavior and same-sex sexual attraction are much higher than estimates of those who self-identify as homosexual or bisexual. According to Chaladze, non-homosexual male carriers might sometimes manifest interest in homosexual behavior without having a homosexual identity.
The possibility that a large percentage of heterosexual people are carriers of genetic material predisposing to homosexuality has implications for genomic studies. Researchers should therefore consider including participants who do not have homosexual relatives in such studies.
Complete Article HERE!
According to recent scientific research, more than 450 different kinds of animals engage in homosexual activity. St Thomas Productions has taken this research, and combined it with never-before- seen film footage, to produce this compelling and groundbreaking documentary. Animal Homosexuality explores the various ways homosexuality is expressed in the animal kingdom through courtships, affection, sex, pair-bonding and parenting. A covert revolution has been taking place in nature, and has gone unnoticed until now. With the help of scientific research, international stock footage and location shoots all over the world, Saint Thomas re-examines and revises the fundamental paradigms of nature.
Christianity’s history with sex is much more complicated than you might think.
Growing up in a conservative Christian church, I was taught that the gospel was one, complete, and indestructible whole — particularly as it applied to human sexuality. But it’s not that simple.
The idea that is still taught in some churches today is that the Christian sexual ethic came to earth fully formed, straight from heaven, about 2,000 years ago. Throughout all that time, there was exactly one way for Christians to express their sexuality — by staying abstinent until they got married to a person of the opposite gender. And then, you could have at it all you wanted.
But what I wasn’t taught in Sunday School is that the Bible’s teachings on sex have been interpreted in many different ways. I didn’t know that the early Christians actually started practicing celibacy because they were convinced the end of the world was near. No one told me that marriage wasn’t always defined and controlled by the church. And that even within marriage, sex wasn’t always something that Christians were taught to enjoy and cherish.
And the truth is that the standards on what it means to be a sexual person and live a Christian life have changed. A lot. Here are 6 facts to prove it.
1. Jesus had very little to say about sex.
Other than a some heavy admonishments against lust and against divorce, the Jesus of the Bible didn’t have a lot to say about issues of sexuality. (My guess is that he was too busy hanging out with the poor and healing the sick to care. Just a guess). He also had nothing at all to say about homosexuality or sexual identity as we understand it today.
Most of the instruction about sex comes from Christian leaders who started spreading the religion after Jesus’ death.
2. To be a truly devoted Christian during the earliest days of the church, you needed to stop having sex altogether.
Early Christians’ belief that Jesus’ second coming was imminent created an environment that exalted celibacy over marriage. It was a radical departure from Jewish teachings that the disciples would have been familiar with. But it makes sense — what was the point of getting tied up with worldly responsibilities, like taking care of a spouse, children and a household, when the end of the world was near?
St. Paul, a celibate Christian leader who wrote most of the New Testament, thought of practicing celibacy as taking the higher road towards God, since it allows Christians to concentrate wholly on things of the spirit.
3. For the first 1,000 years of Christianity (that’s at least HALF of its existence, people), many Christians wouldn’t have considered getting married in a church.
Marriages in the West were originally just economic alliances made between two families, with both the church and the state staying out of the proceedings. This meant that weddings didn’t require the presence of a priest.
The church got involved in regulating marriage much later on, as its influence began to increase in Western Europe. It wasn’t until 1215 that the Church formally put a claim on marriage and hashed out rules about what made children legitimate.
4. For much of the church’s history, sex within a marriage was only tolerated because it produced children.
Christian leaders didn’t just disapprove of premarital sex. Sexual desire itself was seen as the problem.
After St. Paul, one of the most prominent Christian early church leaders who had an impact on the way Christians view sex was St. Augustine. Influenced by Plato’s philosophy, he promoted the idea that untamed sexual desire was a sign of rebellion against God. It only became honorable when it was placed in the context of marriage and the possibility of children.
Augustine was one of a long line of theologians to promote the idea of sexual desire as a sin. Other Christian leaders have argued that being too passionately in love with a partner, or having sex just for pleasure, was also a sin. This idea would continue to gain momentum over the next few centuries. And it wasn’t long before things got really, really weird.
5. The Church developed some rules about sex that would seem strange to even the most conservative American Christians today.
In medieval times, the church became deeply involved with controlling people’s sex lives. Virginity and monogamy were still prized, while homosexuality could be punished by death. The church also had very specific requirements for what type of sex married couples could have. Since all sex was supposed to be for the purposes of procreation, certain positions were banned (no sex standing up, the woman shouldn’t be on top, no doggy style, oral, anal, or masturbation). And then there were restrictions on what days of the week people could have sex (not on fast days, or feast days for a saint, or on Sundays, for example).
Sex was also discouraged when a woman was menstruating, pregnant, or breastfeeding, (which considering there was no birth control, could have been a good deal of the time). All of these prohibitions meant that on average, sex between married couples was only legal about once per week, if that.
6. Despite these varying standards for sex, love, and marriage, Christians have usually ended up doing their own thing.
In the Middle Ages and now, many Christians have admired and strived towards these standards and ended up looking the other way. It took centuries for the church to enforce a ban against priests getting married. The Middle Ages was also a “golden era” for gay poetry, especially between members of the clergy.
Not only are many Christians having sex before marriage (including 80 percent of people who self-identified as “born-again Christian, evangelical, or fundamentalist”), they’re also getting smart about it.
Data from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that religious millennials feel that it’s morally acceptable to use contraception and they don’t think that abstinence-only education is working. Most tellingly, only about 11 percent of today’s millennial Americans depend on religious leaders for information about sex.
It’s time to get real: There is no such thing as a traditional Christian sexual ethic.
I wish I’d known this earlier. The problem with teaching kids that the Bible is infallible and that Christian teaching has never changed is that the second they crack open a history book, or have sex, or fall in love with someone of the same gender, the carefully constructed house of faith that they’ve inherited from their parents starts crumbling apart. And that’s when doubt can come rushing in.
But that’s a good thing. It’s what I feel is missing in the way some Christians talk about sex today. If your faith calls you to abstinence before marriage, that is fine and good. But the problem for me is when people start preaching that their interpretation is the only way or the holiest way or the right way. From what I’ve witnessed, the fruit that this kind of teaching produces is often overwhelming guilt, anger, and pain.
On the other hand, acknowledging Christianity’s complexity can be life-changing. It can turn a faith assembled like a delicate house of cards into a faith that you worked hard to build from the ground up.
Complete Article HERE!
By Michael O’Loughlin
If you’ve ever felt unwelcome at Church because of your gender, race, or sexual orientation, a Massachusetts bishop has a message for you: I’m sorry.
Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski of Springfield used the occasion of Ash Wednesday to mark Pope Francis’ Jubilee of Mercy by apologizing to and seeking reconciliation with Catholics in Western Massachusetts.
Rozanski, sent from Baltimore to lead the 217,000-member diocese in 2014, said that ongoing fallout from the clergy sexual abuse scandal, shuttered and merged churches, and less than welcoming parishes have caused a rupture between the Church and some of the faithful.
He says he is seeking forgiveness.
“There are many people hurting in our Catholic community from the pain caused by our past failings as a diocese, as well as the grievous actions of some who ministered in our church,” he wrote in a pastoral letter on evangelization. “The reality of this pain is that it still echoes many years later, as was given witness in our recent diocesan survey.”
Through that survey, completed by 3,000 local Catholics, Rozanski said he learned that some Catholics don’t feel welcome in churches and thus stop participating in the faith.
“Still there are others who have distanced themselves because they feel unwelcomed. The reasons here can vary, but key among them are race and cultural differences, a sense of gender inequality as well as sexual orientation,” he wrote. “Others have been treated unkindly, impatiently, or rudely by clergy, religious, ministers, and staff of parishes — all which is unacceptable.”
I ask your forgiveness,” he continued.
He said parishes “must be inviting and energetic environments, founded both in our traditions but also the reality of everyday life,” and urged local Catholics to “to evangelize those who were once, but are no longer with us.”
“We need you, we need your presence, your gifts and your talents. We need you to complete our community, to enrich it, to make it better and more effective,” he wrote.
He quoted one of the people who took part in the diocesan survey, who wrote, “The gay community feels that they aren’t welcome. They don’t want to espouse another religion; therefore, they don’t attend church at all. Hopefully, a special outreach could be done to them.”
Rozanski said that revitalizing the diocese through evangelization would be a “daunting task,” but urged Catholics “to walk beyond our parish boundaries, without fear, to demonstrate the faith we celebrate in liturgy takes form in the reality of the world around us.”
Rozanski opened the letter by asking several questions about love and forgiveness, urging Catholics to look the Pope Francis as an example of how to love like God, who “looks beyond our faults and failings and loves us just as we are.”
Pope Francis launched the Jubilee of Mercy in December, opening a special holy year during which Catholics are encouraged to go to confession and walk through designated holy doors in order to have their sins forgiven. The pope has made mercy and forgiveness the hallmarks of his papacy.
“Do you believe in a God who loves you?” Rozanski asked. “Do you believe in a God who forgives? Are you able to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt you? Are you able to ask forgiveness from them?”
Complete Article HERE!
by Justin McCarthy
- 60% are satisfied, up from 53% in 2015
- For first time, majority of Republicans (54%) say they are satisfied
- Sixty-seven percent of Democrats are satisfied
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new high of 60% of Americans say they are satisfied with the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the U.S. — up from 53% in 2014 and 2015. As recently as 10 years ago, satisfaction was as low as 32%.
The latest data, from Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation survey conducted Jan. 6-10, come after a landmark year in achievements for the gay rights movement. Most notably, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated state laws that banned same-sex marriage. Prior to the court’s decision last year, 60% of Americans supported gay marriages.
Gallup first polled on Americans’ satisfaction with acceptance of gays and lesbians in 2001, when about a third reported being satisfied. Over the next eight years, this figure hovered between 32% and 40%. The level of satisfaction climbed in each poll between 2006 and 2014 amid a state-by-state battle for marriage rights. During this time, the federal government also repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Supreme Court struck down much of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Gallup asks Americans who say they are dissatisfied with the acceptance of gays and lesbians if that dissatisfaction stems from their desire to see more acceptance or less acceptance. Similar percentages currently choose each explanation. Both of these figures have declined over the years as overall satisfaction has climbed, with a much greater decline in the percentage who are dissatisfied and want less acceptance.
Majorities of All Party Groups Satisfied With Gay Acceptance in U.S.
The latest poll marks the first time that majorities of Americans from within the three major political identifications report being satisfied with acceptance of gays and lesbians in the U.S. Democrats remain the most satisfied (67%), as they have been since 2012. Meanwhile, 59% of independents and 54% of Republicans report being satisfied on the issue.
Over the past 15 years, Democrats were least satisfied — ranging between 27% and 38% in satisfaction — during the administration of President George W. Bush, a Republican president who called for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage as he campaigned for re-election in 2004. But as Democratic President Barack Obama completed his first term in office in 2012, Democrats’ satisfaction climbed to 48% and has gained 19 percentage points in the years since.
Satisfaction among the GOP has been a lot tamer, ranging from 32% to 41% from 2001 to 2013. Though Republicans were generally more satisfied than Democrats during the Bush presidency and the least satisfied group during the Obama presidency, the percentage of those who report being satisfied has climbed quite a bit over Obama’s second term.
The past decade has seen significant progress for the gay rights movement in the U.S., and along with that, a greater acceptance of gays and lesbians in the country more generally. Now a new high of 60% of Americans are satisfied with the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the U.S., nearly doubling the 32% from 10 years ago.
But despite being in the minority, there are many Americans who are unhappy with the advancements made in gay rights, and there are judges, religious figures and GOP presidential candidates who seek to undo what gay rights supporters have achieved. Meanwhile, another faction of Americans are dissatisfied because they seek more acceptance for gays and lesbians — perhaps in response to continued efforts to walk back newly achieved gay rights, hate crimes against LGBT people and other acts of intolerance directed at the community.
Still, a stronger majority than ever before is content with the current state of gay acceptance in the U.S. Given the generational differences Gallup has found among supporters of gay rights, it is likely that satisfaction will continue to grow as younger generations supplant older ones.
Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 6-10, 2016, with a random sample of 1,012 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.
Complete Article HERE!
Father Joe is changing his congregation’s stance on homosexuality.
In Eric Kruszewski’s final video on the LEAD Ministry, a LGBT-friendly group within Saint Matthew’s Catholic Church, we meet Father Joe, the man who is helping to change his congregation’s stance on homosexuality. “I don’t think the institutional church realizes how hurtful they are to homosexual people,” he says.
Four years ago, Father Joe helped launch LEAD, which has since grown in numbers and visibility—even participating in Baltimore’s pride parade.
Watch Father Joe below:
Complete Article HERE!