And the response I got after making that outrageous statement was: “A doctor doesn’t have to experience pain to understand pain. A Priest doesn’t have to have sex to counsel people about sex.”
My Catholic responder snapped back her reply. In fact, it was so succinct that it sounded like it was the kind of quick-draw speech she’d whip out whenever heathens like me resurrected this tired and old argument. It’s not hard to see why it’s dragged it out. After all, how is it possible for a celibate man to counsel anyone on physical intimacy? He’s uniquely qualified to comment on how to stay away from sex.
Nancy is a staunch Catholic. Defending her Faith comes automatically. She’s usually quiet about it. She pipes up when it comes to attacks on it. That’s when she steps in to educate the ignorant. She doesn’t shout. She keeps her words calm and short. If she wasn’t already a wife and mother, she would’ve made a perfect nun. Convent life would’ve suited her down to the ground.
Convents are a curious subject too but we mustn’t get distracted. We’re talking about sex, not the mysterious life that exists behind the robes. Nancy commented a theoretical doctor who feels no pain. She aligned it with a Priest who doesn’t have sex. She did it in the hope that I’d better understand Priests and their right to counsel others on the subject of sex.
I listened carefully and studied the words with much curiosity. Her use of modernized parables raised many questions, especially the new one about the medical fraternity. Are there many doctors incapable of feeling pain? Could a doctor who’s unable to feel pain become a proper, empathetic doctor? Without an intimate understanding of pain, would such a doctor be a good one? I have doubts about all of these questions — and I had to ask them. After all, Nancy opened the door. My gut tells me that any human being who couldn’t feel pain would lack the necessary skills to relate to patients who experienced it. It would be a rare find to find a good one.
Let’s apply the Doctor parable to the Priest one.
A celibate Priest as a sex counsellor? For me, the answer is no. Definitely not. The last person I’d trust for sex advice would be a Priest. I’m sorry, that’s my position. It’s firm and it won’t change.
If we’re using parables, let me try one of my own: It’d be like me teaching religious Faith. I don’t practice Faith or believe in God, but I teach it because I’m an empathetic person. It’d be shocking if someone accepted anything I said as Gospel. It’d be worse if I had a group of Nancys follow me around telling others that I was entitled to teach Faith because, like a medical doctor who’s incapable of feeling pain, I’m perfectly qualified. Yes, the whole thing sounds absurd but so too does a celibate Priest who counsels couples on sex — and this is why Nancy’s argument bolsters mine.
“Find me a doctor who has no experience feeling pain and you’ve found me a lousy doctor.”
Pain is the first qualification of a doctor!
Of course, mixing words like celibacy with modern Catholicism is like stirring oil into water. They appear to mix but, for the most part, they remain apart. Lies and assumptions protect Faith from breaking. Horny Catholics get laid and remain celibate every day of the week. Priests are just as celibate. If Priests aren’t chasing children, they’re banging each other, hookers or members of their church. But that’s a discussion for another time on another post, right?
For a moment, let’s pretend that they’re totally celibate (it supports my argument better if they do). Priests who stay away from bedroom activity should remain silent about bedroom activity. Not only are they unqualified but they’re counselling while under the influence of sexual frustration. A blue-balled Priest isn’t in his right mind to counsel others about sex. Anything he says is tainted. Christ, Himself would know how irresponsible he is. It shouldn’t take a heathen like me to explain what’s obvious.
If you’re reading this post, Nancy, you’re a bloody good nurse, probably the best one on this planet. You have felt pain in your life and I can assure you that this is what makes you who you are. Without it, you would’ve been a less empathetic nurse, less connected to those you treat. You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t know pain. Pain is as much a guiding light for you in your work as your Faith is to your soul.
I wrote more about my opinions on this matter in my novel. It’s fact wrapped in fiction… to protect the guilty.
Five women’s bodies are discovered after the nights of thunderstorms. Their spouses are suspected of the crimes, but it becomes clear that someone else is responsible. There’s no blood and few clues. A storm photographer specialising in taking lightning pictures may be the only witness.
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