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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Healthy celibacy

Maryknoll's Wellness Initiative welcomed Fr. Gerald McGlone, S.J., executive director of the St. John Vianney Treatment Center in Pennsylvania, who spoke to about 37 members in the Asia Room on  

"Models of Affective and Celibate Development"

In order to break the Great Silence about the whole area of sexuality, we sometimes need an outsider to come in and give us permission to talk with one another about these very important areas of love, intimacy, friendship, boundaries. (Unlike the usual conversations around here: my latest colonoscopy and the Yankees. Same-same IMHO.)

Most of us were "trained" not to even address these most important topics, so as a result we were our own frame of reference, without contact with an outside reality. The heart never found its way to the head. Thus we stay in our heads we feel safe...or so we think.

One guy said they were trained in formation by Bishop Comber to confine "morality" to abstract issues like "robbing the bank in Tarrytown." (I wonder if, looking back, that wasn't a euphemism, like "Hiking the Old Appalachia Trail"  is today?) back in the day, formation never addressed sexual issues besides "don't be alone with a woman."

There was an Anglo-Saxon interpretation of the law: See a red light and stop; and the Roman interpretation: do what is convenient and safe. The so-called "Third Way", popularized in the 1970s, said one could have a special relationship involving sexual intimacy but was still considered celibate if orgasm was not involved. A "Spiritual Relationship" with another person was expressed as asexual intimacy. 

In today's secular culture, "Bromances" and "Mandating" are common same-gender relationships without genital expressions. In days of old, there was a clear line between First Base, Second Base etc. Nowadays there are no clear expectations so many misunderstandings and cases of unintended date rape. Bill Clinton gave a Baptist spin on sex which said only intercourse constituted sexual relations.

"Rainbow Parties" are where women wear different colored lipsticks to paint rainbows on guys during oral sex. 

Silence on one side and Anything Goes on the other are two dangerous extremes.

What and where is the in-between state where healthy sexuality and celibacy abide?   (More will be posted of subsequent talks in the coming days.)

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