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The joy of celibacy

Kathleen Norris on how people who give up sex can exudea sense of freedom and teach something about friendship

By Kathleen Norris   December 1996

The Christian Century

20th March 1996

Celibacy is a curiously political subject. Conservative catholics often regard it as an idealised, angelic state, while feminist theologians, such as Uta Ranke-Heinemann, view it as synonymous with hatred of women. Practised properly, celibacy is not about hatred of sex; but it may help us address the sexual idolatry of our culture.

For the past ten years I have been affiliated with the Benedictines as an oblate. This has allowed me to observe celibacy that works, practised by people who are fully aware of themselves as sexual beings, but who express their sexuality…

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