CEP: The Next Triad of Replies

Two are short, so I’m grouping this morning’s bunch together.  A Catholic pastor, verdict: indeterminate/negative.  A Church of the Nazarene pastor, verdict: positive.  A Lutheran pastor, verdict: negative.

The Catholic first:

Thank you for inquiring, Mr? or Ms? S.

You can leave my gender out of this.

Since these are rather complex issues, I’d prefer to dialogue with you in person.

I’d prefer to not.

However, in brief, being that we are part of the Catholic Church, under the guidance of the Holy See and in communion with our Holy Father, our stance is that of the Catholic Church.

Again, thanks for asking.

[name redacted]

…Well what does that mean?  Since when does the Catholic Church have a specific stance on asexuality?  Or is this answering the part about nonsexual marriages?  …I’m not aware of Catholicism’s opinion on that, but I’m not hopeful.  Hezekiah informs me that Catholicism does not approve of nonsexual marriages (because marriage is for procreation), something I’d heard before but wasn’t sure about.  Well, count this one as a loss, then.  Apparently not necessarily?  I don’t know at this point.  The Bard argues in the comment section that Catholic nonsexual marriages are feasible, which may be true, but I’m assuming that this priest was implying otherwise.

The same pastor cc’d some other people from his church, and one of them responded to say:

That’s not one I’ve encountered though I guess shouldn’t be surprised.

Good response Padre.

[name redacted]

…Okay.

Anyway, here’s the email from the next guy, who’s the lead pastor at a Nazarene Church.

Hi, I hope you are having a blessed morning and I hope that I get an opportunity to meet you.

You’re nice, but no thanks.

I want to you to know that I will love you no matter your orientation. For the asexuality stance, I will love you. I don’t see any reason that it is out of the will of God biblically.
If a man and a woman choose to marry into an asexual or celibate relationship and adopt or have children, Praise God.

Aww.

This is actually kind of surprising, considering the church described itself as “family-oriented” on one page.

Sorry this is short :-)
I hope I get to meet and talk to you more

[name]

See, look, folks.  It’s not that hard.

At this point, I’m worried that all the “you should come talk to me in person” dudes (and it’s all been dudes, for the record) might just be trying to trap me in public so they can tell me I’m a lost soul.  Why else would they refrain from giving their opinion, when it’s so easy to give the opinion “we don’t care, God loves you, do what you want, it’s not a problem” …?  I’m not hopeful that that’s what I’m going to hear if you think it’s too difficult to say online.

Last and least, here’s the response from the Lutheran pastor.

Good morning, “S”:

I commend you for your honesty and your desire to know more about how the Bible addresses asexuality.  The two web links which you gave me were very general, and in fact, muddied the waters rather than clear them for me.

I… don’t know how those two links [1, 2] could have been confusing, unless you couldn’t figure out how to toggle the answers on the FAQ page.

Given that he doesn’t specify what part he doesn’t understand, I’m assuming this is just one of those general “This is confusing because I didn’t know humans could be this way” responses.

Rather than give you sweeping generalities on asexuality, what do you want to know about your specific questions which apply to you?

Regarding, your other questions–

“Also, what is this church’s position on permanent celibacy/singlehood and celibate marriages?”  Permanent celibacy and singlehood has always been a Biblical response to one’s sexuality, which does not allow itself to be expressed in a God pleasing manner.

…This is confusing, since I don’t think a priest would say that all human sexuality “does not allow itself to be expressed in a God pleasing manner” (unless he were a Shaker or something — but this guy’s a Lutheran, and his online bio says that he’s married and has children, so that’s not it).  I assume what he meant here is that, if one has a deviant sexuality/a sexuality which would be sinful to express, permanent celibacy and singlehood would be “a Biblical response”.  Setting aside the anti-gay vibes in that, it doesn’t sound like he understood the point of the question.  I’m not asking about people who stay single in order to resist what their sexuality compels them to do.  I’m asking about people who stay single because that is what their sexuality compels them to do.

Celibate marriages are oxymoronic as the Biblical definition of marriage has as a part of it, the opportunity to procreate between a male and a female.

Oh.

“Do you believe that all lay people are called to marry and raise children?”  As long as the marriage is between a male and a female.  If the individual is single they can raise children, of course.

So… the answer is yes.  Yes, you believe that all people are called to marry and raise children, unless they’re gay.

I would look forward to speaking with you face to face, if possible.

[name redacted]

Don’t count on it.

This is the second failed verdict for the Lutherans.  Y’all better step up your game.

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15 responses to “CEP: The Next Triad of Replies

  • Hezekiah the (meta)pianycist

    The official Catholic doctrine on sexless marriage (which I suppose the priest might have meant by “stance on asexuality”) is that it’s oxymoronic because the purpose of marriage and sex are procreation and only procreation.

  • Calum P Cameron

    You know there’s something wrong with the world when it’s RARE for a “family-oriented” organisation to be cool with people wanting families.

  • The Bard

    Catholic ace here- I just found this blog today, and I think it’s pretty cool! I wish you the best of luck with this email project. :)

    I think one can make a solid case for nonsexual marriages from an orthodox Catholic perspective. For one thing, Mary is an eternal virgin (meaning that Catholics believe she never had sex with Joseph), yet her marriage to Joseph is considered a model for everyone to follow, and is of course a valid marriage. There’s even an obscure tradition of “Josephite” marriages, AKA marriages without sex. I don’t know whether there’s ever been an official declaration on whether they’re a good idea, but it’s something. A marriage is valid even before consummation; all that’s necessary in that department is that both parties be physically able to have PIV sex with each other. That’s because if either party decides they don’t want their marriage to be nonsexual any more, their spouse is obliged to have sex with them.

    So in summary our official stance is annoyingly vague, but I do think (and hope) that nonsexual marriages are a possibility, so long as both parties are physically capable of sex should the need arise. I’d also like to note that while procreation IS a purpose of Catholic marriage (and all couples must be “open to life”, meaning not using contraception), it is not the only purpose (the other is helping each other grow in holiness).

    • acetheist

      Good to know. Although…

      “That’s because if either party decides they don’t want their marriage to be nonsexual any more, their spouse is obliged to have sex with them.”

      So this means that if one person wants to have sex and the other doesn’t, then they’re supposed to?

      • The Bard

        ‘Fraid so. While it’s fine to say “no” in a given instance (and a spouse should respect that), it’s my understanding that consistently denying a spouse is a sin. However, there hasn’t been a whole lot written on this issue of nonsexual marriages (that I’ve been able to find, anyway, and I’ve been looking for a while), so that’s just my current understanding, not necessarily Catholic doctrine.

  • Siggy

    I would guess that people aren’t responding because they don’t want to spend time on lengthy e-mails, especially if it’s to tell someone that they won’t fit in their congregation. They may also be afraid of the e-mail getting out onto the internet, like if someone were writing a blog series about it. ;-)

    Yeah, I would be worried about selective bias. So far it appears as if LGBT-friendly churches have the highest response rates.

    • acetheist

      Oh definitely. But, given that as a possibility, it’s kind of surprising how many pastors have responded. The very first three emails I got back were all long, detailed replies.

      It’s not empirical by any means. But I think it’s useful for consideration, and it evidences that both the attitudes I hope for and the attitudes I’m afraid of exist in real people in positions of power.

  • Mission

    Day late and a dollar short, but Catholic gray ace chiming in here. I studied catechisms et al extensively growing up, though it was a fairly liberal parish, and I’m actually fairly shocked by the responses you received here–celibacy is the goal, the absolute best and holiest way of life, for Catholics, and while ace =/= celibacy, for the purposes of the Church they seem very similar. Sex within the confines of marriage is good too, because it produces new little Catholics, but it’s still very much second best. There were several couples in my parish growing up who were voluntarily celibate despite being married, and they were very much admired by the rest of the parish, especially as two of the men were deacons (which means both they and their wives had to be judged to be in good standing with the Church and leading appropriately devout Christian lives before they could become a deacon).

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