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Does Celibacy Work?

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People choose to be celibate for a number of reasons, including health issues, personal experiences, and moral beliefs. Celibacy does not refer to a temporary or involuntary period of abstinence from sexual contact, but rather the informed choice to live an unmarried life. In most cases, the celibate lifestyle is motivated by the search for a more pure state of being.

Of course, celibacy is not always easy. It’s kind of like being on a diet; it’s not that you don’t want to eat, you're just choosing not to. Sexual intercourse is as natural as sleeping, drinking, and going to the bathroom. There are no long-term health consequences if you choose to abstain from sex, but it is very difficult to rid yourself of amorous feelings completely.

The problem with celibacy is that it calls upon an extreme level of discipline and requires you to hold yourself to a very high standard. If you’re on a diet and you slip up and eat a brownie that’s okay – you can still be on a diet – but if you have sex after taking a vow of abstinence then are you truly celibate? Or has all your hard-earned work gone down the drain?

The most public celibate individuals are arguably the priests of the Catholic Church. Since the 12th century, all men entering the priesthood have been required to forgo a romantic relationship. However, recent scandals surrounding widespread sexual abuse within the church made headlines around the globe, leading many to doubt the efficacy and feasibility of such a lifestyle.

After all, of anyone on Earth, Catholic priests should have the most motivation and most number of reasons to abstain from sex. So what's the deal? Does celibacy really work?

It leads me to wonder what would have become of these men if they had chosen another profession. Would they have simply enjoyed a lifetime of sexual contact with a consenting adult or would they have still perpetrated the crimes they did? We’d like to believe that most priests don’t enter the clergy to molest children, so was it the celibacy that put them over the edge? It's like the chicken and the egg conundrum; what came first, the deviancy or the celibacy?

I think most people would agree that human sexuality is vital in terms of overall health and well-being. We’ll never be able to escape the fact that while we are here on Earth we have a duty to our physical selves. Grasping for spiritual enlightenment while neglecting one's body is not only unhealthy, it's counterintuitive.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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