Sex, Money, Power, and … Celibacy?

Bobby Petrino’s recent all-too-public sexcapdes have gotten me thinking about, of all things, celibacy!  Wait, what?

Petrino’s situation isn’t terrifyingly unique; in fact, he’s a cliche. Media outlets have inundated American society with the sexual indiscretions of athletes, politicians, actors, and of course, the sexual abuse scandals of my own Catholic Church. As the media cycle presents it, lust and screwed up desires are the rule, not the exception. It’s our nature (and by “our” I mean men, of course) to do nothing more than sleep, eat, defecate, dominate, and fornicate.  It’s all about sex, money and power.

Sex & Money Sign by Scout Seventeen on Flickr

Sex, Money, Power — two out of three on a sign in Osaka

In a recent article on ESPN.com, Jeff McGregor satirizes the Petrino situation and our notion of humanity. He writes:

The true genius of mankind is not that we manage to raise cathedrals, write symphonies, create philosophies, travel to the moon and the stars and perfect the liver transplant — but that we do so entirely in our spare time. Mostly, by which I mean constantly, we’re figuring out how to [hook-up with] the surgical nurse and where to eat after.

Way to go, McGregor, you hit the nail on the head. This pretty much sums up my life as a celibate man. Prayer, community, contemplation and authentic relationships are all just ways to fill my time until I’ve had a Big Mac and a blond. Often times, they just get in the way. Why even consider humility, poverty, and transparency, when I can be taught how to be a master of seduction.

No, no, no!  There is so much more to being human than the drive for sex, money, and power.  The nature of human person is not defined by what we have an appetite for, but by what really gives us life, at least according to Ignatius in the Spiritual Exercises.

Both celibacy and monogamy can seem impossible to explain in the modern world.  Yet both in celibacy and monogamy, we are asking to be more than slaves to appetite, we are asking to be freed to create symphonies, cathedrals, and space travel — even freed to love.