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What's the most important thing in life? An orgasm?

Is an orgasm the most important thing in life?

By connecting celibacy with pedophilia, people are saying that they believe that, denied the opportunity for an orgasm, they would likely violate the moral imperative not to harm innocents. This is the logical conclusion of those who claim that life would not be worth living if they were to be denied this physical pleasure.

That one would be unable to sustain a growing and mutually beneficial relationship with a partner if they were unable to have their sexual needs serviced is another conclusion that flows from this flawed premise.

If someone could violate as deeply an ingrained prohibition as for adults to abstain from sexual activity with children rather than be deprived a regular orgasm, is it be hard to believe that a spouse would also violate their marital obligations to their ‘life partner’ under similar situations? If celibacy deforms priests, then surely those married individuals who find themselves in denied sex with a partner would also be so deformed. Is this not a logical conclusion if indeed a celibate life does cause the psychological damage that those who identify celibacy with pedophilia?

Thankfully for spouses (and religious celibates) the initial premise is flawed. There is no evidence that celibacy inflicts any form of damage upon those who live it, be it by choice or because of life’s events. Study after study demonstrates that those so heinously harmed as innocents are statistically less likely to be abused by celibates than at the hands of offenders who  lead a ‘normal’ sex life. Just as with rape, child sexual abuse is not about sex... it is about  power. The power to dominate and control another individual completely. It is not a misguided attempt to  achieve an orgasm because they are denied it by ‘normal’ means. It is an insidious and sometimes violent assault upon another to satisfy an essentially non-sexual desire to control, dominate or violate another.

There is a secondary consequence of this assumption that sex is the ultimate reason for life. The Catholic church in particular has been accused of being unduly fixated on the subject of sex. Catholic sexual morality is stock in trade material for satirists and comics searching for a subject to ridicule. We, of a certain age, need only recall the appearances of Fr. Guido Sarduchi, a regular character in the early days of SNL to understand the enduring popularity of mocking Catholic sexual teachings in the face of the full force of the ‘sexual revolution’ that surged across western cultures. Yet is it not those who have raised the orgasmic experience to the elevated status as being essential for meaningful human existence who are fixated with issues that are (to steal a common insult from the mockers camp) ‘below the belt line’?

The Church encouraged and demands that sex be seen in its procreative and unitive elements, respecting it within the totality of human experience as social, rational and spiritual beings. Those who grant undue influence to either their sexual identity or activity are the ones who today are failing to raise their attention higher than their genitals in the search for the truths of life. It is not the Catholic Church that has fixated on sex. For her, it is the difference between looking in a mirror or looking through a window. Rather than gazing only upon herself in search for life’s meaning, the church encourages believers to look out through the window of faith to find the answers to life’s vital questions. Clearly not all atheists are genitally fixated and many do orient themselves to finding life’s ultimate reward through their love others and of creation. Yet for many, this misconception of the Catholic understanding of the role of sex has been the pry bar used to persuade many to abandon the teaching of the Church in its totality.


  1. "The Church encouraged and demands that sex be seen in its procreative and unitive elements..."

    Yes. The problem for most people is that that's where the Church's sight stops, and wants everyone else's to stop as well.

    "Rather than gazing only upon herself in search for life’s meaning, the church encourages believers to look out through the window of faith to find the answers to life’s vital questions."

    Fine for those who are searching for "life's meaning," and are content to look out only that one window. But there are other windows. And not everyone is on the search for meaning. Some folks -- most of them, in my experience -- simply want to be left to direct their own lives, wherever their destination might be. Sometimes you walk to go somewhere. And sometimes you walk just for the sake of feeling the earth beneath your feet.

  2. Anonymous13 May, 2011

    Every time a little boy or girl masturbates, it's an offense against god. Every act of sex outside of church sanctioned heterosexual marriage with the express intent to procreate, an offense against God. Every use of contraception, an offense against God. Any termination of pregnancy, from fertilization of the egg to natural birth, not only an abomination but murder.

    You, of course, because you are celibate, are blameless.

    If anybody believes that, they deserve to have you as a priest.

  3. Larry Green15 May, 2011

    Fr. Tim, are you saying that the definition of celibacy includes within it’s formula abstinence from masturbation and if so then do you know anyone who claims to be celibate within the terms and parameters of this condition?
    P.S. I am not disputing the substance of your argument,it is for the reasons you pointed out and others , strong and valid as far as I am concerned.

  4. Larry: Celibacy means not being married. Chastity contains the commitment not to masturbate. So if a priest lives in perfect continence, then he will respect fully his commitments to celibacy and chastity, but solitary masturbation is not an offense against celibacy.

    It's not an easy life but it does get easier with age and practice.

    Fr. Tim

  5. "The Catholic church in particular has been accused of being unduly fixated on the subject of sex." Almost without exception the only time a Catholic is denied communion, a teacher dismissed from a Catholic school, or a Catholic politician denounced by the Catholic Church it is almost invariably due to a sex related issue.

  6. Andrew Sullivan poses a similar question on Rick Santorum

    "What are the odds that they will consider denying him communion for backing the torture of terror suspects?"

    Practically none, would be my answer.


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