Does celibacy, as the Church understands and proposes it, demand the renunciation of the joys of human love in pursuit of other, perhaps greater, forms of human fulfillment—say, contemplative union with God (for those who are more contemplative) or the dedication of oneself to serve the poor and the needy (for those who are more active)? In other words, does the call to give oneself entirely to God, flesh and soul, entail the complete annihilation of the most intense of all human passions (Gregory of Nyssa), namely, human love, understood as man and woman’s natural desire “to beget in the beautiful” (Plato)? Today, more than ever, the way that we answer this question is critically important. Not only for practical and moral reasons, but because this question is inseparable from another, more profound and fundamental one: Does following Jesus Christ unreservedly require the complete renunciation or, even worse, castration of one’s (God-given!) humanity? Or does it rather bring about our full flourishing and fulfillment, the display of our full potential?
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