My recent post Something Else led to some excellent comments by my readers. Two subjects were raised there that I think should be readdressed in a separate post- this one.
The first is the role of the Church in all of this. Deti left a comment on the subject, and here is part of it:
Zippy Catholic addressed this a while back, saying that “The Church is not your daddy”. The Church’s only job is to administer the Sacraments to the faithful and provide for education and training up in the faith. That’s it. It’s not to help socialize men, provide vocations for them, or help them find wives. So I think you’ll have to convince the Zippys of the world that the church should take up the banner of providing outlets to channel what is essentially untapped and unreleased sexual energy. You have to convince folks like Zippy that helping guys do things other than get laid is something the church should and must do.
He then linked to Zippy’s post on the subject. I would like to make a couple of points here.
First, when I speak of the Church I don’t mean only ordained clergy and the official hierarchy of the Church. I mean the whole body of Christ. Yes, I think the clergy has a role to play in all of this, but they shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden alone.
Second, the Church has historically done more than just administer sacraments and teach/train. From the beginning the Church was helping to take care of its members. The first deacons, Stephen the First Martyr among them, were ordained in order for them to help minister to the needs of the faithful. St. Paul was very active in helping ensure charitable relief. At the same time there is quite a difference between providing food to someone on one hand, and ensuring a vocation on the other.
This brings me to the second comment I want to cover, by feeriker:
This is a blind spot that the Body of Christ on Earth is never going to even acknowledge, let alone address. To do so would lead it to some very unpleasant places and demand some serious introspection, which in turn would lead to an obvious call to re-evaluate doctrine and practice in a variety of areas. Not gonna happen, or if it finally ever does when all [e]lse fails, it will be too little too late.
I disagree with feeriker here on a couple of points.
First, while the Church might not be acknowledging it now, it did in the past. Many of the Fathers of the Church argued against the criminalization of prostitution. While they called it out for the sin that it was, they recognized at the same time the problem of untapped male sexual energy. They knew the problems that would result if men didn’t have an outlet. Hence why prostitution was legal in so many Christian nations (until Progressivism had its way).
Second, the problem right now is not doctrine (at least for Catholic and Orthodox Christians). Rather, the problem is practice. What should be taught is not taught, and what should be encouraged is not encouraged, and what should be exhorted is not exhorted.
Now, I agree with feeriker that some serious introspection is required. And sadly, I agree with him that when it does happen, it will be mostly in the too little, too late scenario. Which I would argue is today.
Now, to try and put this all together…
It is not the responsibility of Church leadership to ensure that everyone is able to fulfill their vocation. Priests aren’t matchmakers (and neither are Deacons or Bishops). That is not only impossible to guarantee, but also outside its sphere of responsibility. Instead of being charged with ensuring “fair outcomes”, the Church hierarchy and clergy is charged with teaching and exhorting those things which are necessary to give everyone a fighting chance. Some examples:
- Teach and exhort the importance of young marriage
- Teach and exhort the importance of parents and family helping their children/relatives marry
- Teach and exhort an anti-materialist/consumerist mindset
- Teach and exhort parishioners that helping their brothers and sister in Christ to marry is charitable
The laity isn’t responsible for fair outcomes either. However, they are responsible for teaching their children these things as well. In addition, while not a duty to specifically help their fellow Christians marry, it is charitable to help them find their vocation, and thus the right thing to do. This can and should go beyond helping individual Christians to include group and community actions as well.
I should note that plenty of Churches have various ministries which help those in need. There is no reason why lay members of the Church cannot help minister in this area as well. Perhaps not directly as a matchmaker, but in other, more indirect ways. And of course, even if there are matchmakers, they will be limited by the pool of those seeking marriage. So other avenues need to be available. Reader MK mentioned lay orders, and I think that is one path that has a lot of merit.
In summary, there is a lot that can and should be done in this regard. Clergy and laity all have a role to play. Everyone can contribute. But such contributions aren’t taking place and that is a tragedy which will continue to harm many faithful men for a long time to come.