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What is Christian Humanism?

Frequently I am asked to try to explain Christian Humanism in a few words, so as I thought how to begin writing again after a long hiatus ...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Homophobic Christians Attack Lutheran Ministers

Newspaper websites frequently allow comments on news articles and I comment regularly on both national and local websites to try to get a voice of reason and compassion into conversations that are most often illiterate and hate-filled tirades, usually by Christian fundamentalists, who seem to rant without reason and blame it on their Christian outlook and their literalistic interpretation of the bible. A recent news article announced that a particular Lutheran denomination planned to remove a restriction against ordaining gay clergy, and that of course got homophobic Christians riled up enough to make their usual ill-considered and mean-spirited comments.

One writer, a small town politician and outspoken layman in a “Bible church” attacked my comments about the unchristian and uncivil nature of the verbal barrage they unleashed on the Lutherans, by questioning my “right” to speak on the subject of religious values and for my “foolishness” in trying to defend a church that “sinned” by allowing homosexuals to be “preachers” – So, I decided to take him on with some comment of my own.

Mr. Barber said: “It never ceases to amaze me how atheist, agnostics, secular humanists and the lot of you are such experts on religion.”

I am surprised at your statement for two reasons: first, because so far as I understand you are not an expert in religion, having no particular background or training; and second, because a number of people who regularly comment on this website do have a background in religion and philosophy far exceeding yours. In your list above you forgot to include “Christian humanist” but it is obvious that you intended to include me because you mentioned a particular phrase I used.

So I guess I should let you know that even though I am a non-theistic humanist, I have a background in religion, with advanced degrees in theology and philosophy and I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. So do you think maybe I am qualified to comment? [If you want details of my background you can check my website at http://www.christianhumanist.net ].

You said: “Where the strife lies is when you all try to dictate the mind of God in each of our lives.”

I don’t think any of us knows “the mind of god” assuming there is such a thing, but it is not clear to me where you are going with that thought. Whatever is in the mind of god, it is unlikely to be hateful. You believe that god is homophobic, like you. It seems to me that I have been arguing that it is not up to you, or those who think like you, to try to tell homosexual Lutheran ministers that their sexual orientation is “sinful” – if you believe that it is sinful for you, abstain from what you believe is sinful behavior, but have the grace and the humility not to try to push your views on others. It is pretty clear that most Christians believe that homosexuality is an ingrained biological sexual orientation to which moral judgments do not apply. That is certainly true of many Christian denominations, including the Lutherans that are the subject of this article.
Mr. Barber had quoted a biblical verse as justification for his anti-gay views. I had countered with a verse from the same chapter that spoke about sharing your bounty with those in need, and observed that he objected to helping those in need so why was he concerned about the anti-gay passage? He responded: “[When the bible] speaks of sharing your bounty [it] means "your bounty" not the collective government’s bounty.”

I have to disagree with you, at least in part. The “you” here is the collective “you” that was addressed to Israel by its god. It was intended to apply to the whole people collectively and has always been interpreted that way. Of course it was not addressed to Americans, but by analogy it simply makes sense to say that god intends for our society (just as for Israelite society) to take care of its poor. Of course you must realize that our government is the collective “we” as in “we the people.” If you believe some portions of the bible apply to our society today, then you cannot arbitrarily say this directive does not apply to our society. To come to that interpretation you have to be reading scripture through Republican-tinted glasses, and conforming your biblical interpretation to your political philosophy.
“As each of us grows in the Lord things such as homosexuality will eventually be placed in prospective to our growth spiritually.”

[I think he meant that if I were a real Christian growing in the Lord I would understand that god rejects homosexual behavior, but I intentionally misread him, and commented…] So, if that is true, and since you believe that god made us the way he wanted us to be, because he made some people biologically homosexual [either he intended it, or it was an accident], don’t you believe that as you grow in perspective and in grace and love that your sin of homophobia should give way to acceptance and affirmation?

Usually there is not much point in responding with logic to people who have ingrained emotional attitudes that affect their beliefs that are probably not subject to change, but sometimes I do it anyway, and I think it is because I like to mess with their heads by approaching them in terms of their own belief system, no matter how naïve, simplistic and ignorant it is. It frustrates them, and it amuses me. I’m a really bad person at heart.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Be Afraid - The Imminent Danger of Socialism

Angry attacks against the health care reform bill that just passed Congress and signed into law by President Obama are being fed by wildly-untrue statements by the leadership of the Republican Party and their Tea Party allies, the ignorant buffoons on talk radio and the pundits on Fox News. Among the charges heard time and again are claims that the health care reform bill will (in the words of a letter to the editor published this week) “convert our republic into a socialist, communist or dictatorial nation ….” Wow, that’s scary, I had no idea that one bill could do all that.

But shouldn’t people who make public statements or write public letters have some working knowledge of the subject they write about? People who make such foolish statements as the letter writer demonstrate their ignorance when they obviously do not know the basic facts of political theory or government and, unfortunately, they do not know that they do not know what they are talking about.

Socialism is a theoretical economic structure in which the government owns all business entities (“means of production”). Socialism does not exist anywhere in the world.

Communism is a form of government structure in which all political power is vested in local political committees (communes). It also involves an economic theory that everyone should contribute to society to the extent able, and should receive from society according to need. Unfortunately it is too idealistic and as a practical matter it has failed, primarily because it fails to deal with motivation and self-interest.

A dictatorship is a political structure in which all power resides in one person (or a tightly controlled group). Anyone who thinks that Obama is a dictator or could become a dictator in our dysfunctional government is appallingly ignorant of the realities in the seat of our government—no one is in control in Washington, no person, no party. Just watching the news illustrates that fact.

All Western economies today [U.S., Canada, countries of Europe] are “mixed” economies, with elements of socialism intermingled with primary capitalism. Pure capitalism does not and cannot work as an economic system any more than pure socialism can work, for reasons too complicated to explain in a short essay. Think about the political realities of the economics of nations as a line with capitalism at one end of the line and socialism at the other. All countries are somewhere along that line between the two extremes, some leaning to the left of center, some to the right of center.

The economic issue to sort out in the United States is the proper balance between the two polar extremes and that is what the current dispute is about, although from listening to the angry rhetoric it would be hard to determine that. The discussion about something so essential as health care reform is being held in a very hostile political environment that has been so poisoned by angry partisanship that rational discussion has now become impossible.

It is difficult to carry on an intelligent conversation with people who do not understand the issues in health care reform and yet engage in verbal combat with criticisms of the bill that are not accurate.

Most of the right wing protesters who are so against “socialism” as a concept seem quite happy with the reality when they profit from it. For instance, small business owners like the Small Business Administration, because it invests government money in their businesses. Business owners and homeowners like FEMA because it socializes their business and property losses. Republican governors complain but hold out their hands for stimulus funds to generate new employment and to subsidize their shrinking budgets and unemployment reserves. Republican mayors look for pork projects in their districts, including funds for private athletic stadiums. Republican city councilors in my town are quite happy operating a for-profit power plant competing with free enterprise that subsidizes local taxpayers with funds generated with profits earned from non-residents, as well as operating a profitable marina and several golf courses—all socialist enterprises that compete with free enterprise. Republican bankers and financial institution managers, heads of corporations including GM and AIG, want/need public money to save them from collapse but otherwise believe in free enterprise and want government to leave them alone to do as they please without regulation or interference.

The real objection to government policy under the Obama Administration is not that it is socialist, but rather that it advocates “social programs”—help for the economically disadvantaged, tax relief for the working poor including the “unearned income credit,” unemployment compensation payments, food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance and other social welfare programs. Their objection is that people should not get something for nothing, that there are jobs for all who want them and those that do not have jobs are too lazy to work at menial jobs or to get an education so they could be employed, services go to illegal immigrants who want benefits they have not earned including free health care, that those who cannot carry their own weight in society should not be allowed to take from the “hard working Americans who have jobs and have to pay taxes to support benefits for others.”

Social welfare programs may be a prominent characteristic of socialist states, but there is a big difference between social welfare benefits and socialism as government policy, and these critics do not understand the difference.

They also reject the premise that members of a society have a duty to the less fortunate among them—the social contract theory of economic and community organization. Somehow in kindergarten they did not learn sharing and playing nice with others.

The point is obvious so we offer this advice to the political right: don’t make ignorant statements that government programs you don’t like—including health care reform—are “socialist” while enjoying the benefits of “socialist” programs from which you benefit. It makes you look self-serving, ignorant and foolish.

Torture and Ethics: Defusing The Ticking Time Bomb

A curious act of political theater of the absurd played out on the House floor last week when Republicans discovered that the intelligence funding re-authorization bill provided criminal penalties for “any officer or employee of the intelligence community who, in the course of or in anticipation of a covered interrogation, knowingly commits, attempts to commit, or conspires to commit an act of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.”

The furor among Republicans was predictable knee-jerk response to anything that impacts Republican fear-mongering about terror and terrorism—that where our “war” on terrorism is concerned, no treatment of prisoners is reprehensible or out of bounds regardless of our traditional national values or our Constitutional niceties, and that any reasonable restrictions on what the CIA or military intelligence officers can do to prisoners [called “enhanced interrogation procedures”] to extract information from them endangers our national security.

According to CNN, the section of the bill in question dealt with specific prohibited acts, namely “beatings, electric shock, water-boarding, deprivation of food, water or sleep and violations of the suspect’s religious beliefs” and provided that “responsible intelligence officers would face up to 15 years in prison or life behind bars if the detainee dies.” According to the bill’s supporters, those acts are already prohibited by the Army Field Manual and by Presidential Order reinforcing those existing prohibitions. We note that if terrorist suspects being held are “enemy combatants” captured on the field of battle in our “war on terror” then they are “prisoners of war,” and those proscribed acts are prohibited by international treaty. Alternatively, if the terrorist suspects are criminals, these acts are prohibited by American law. So it is hard to see how the Republican objections make any sense.

House Republicans objected that the interrogation provisions of the bill would result in intelligence officers fearing to interrogate prisoners because they might face prosecution, resulting in less useful information and further endangering our country. That claim would be worth considering if it were true, but both the FBI and former CIA officials have said that “enhanced interrogation” (torture) does not result in reliable information because prisoners will say whatever the torturer wants to hear. We know that false confessions were routinely obtained by torturers from a variety of nations without scruples [North Korea, China, Japan, Germany, East Germany] and used as a basis for executing prisoners, and we can point with some shame to the Inquisition as the classic historic example of false confessions being extracted.

Regrettably, after the Republicans objected, the Democratic controlled Rules Committee pulled those provisions from the funding bill. I do not know whether I am angrier at the Republicans for their blindness to the ethical issue that such treatment violates our sense of proper conduct, or at the Democrats for once again backing down under pressure and failing to stand for principle. I conclude that both parties are a disappointment and beyond redemption.

One comment in particular on the CNN blog got my attention because it raises an ethical dilemma worth considering, a theoretical problem sometimes called “the ticking time bomb” scenario. The comment: “Imagine your child is held captive by a violent criminal and you have his accomplice. Please tell us what you would do to get him to tell you where your child is. Is there anything you wouldn’t do? You can hate me all you want, but there is nothing I would not do. Nothing.”

That may be true. Any of us in a similar situation might do something that violates the law, but that does not excuse any of us from the consequences of the law. That is the concept of civil disobedience, which is based on the premise that an ethical dilemma arises when there is a difference in what the law requires and what the demands of justice (or duty) require, setting up a conflict of values.

From an ethical standpoint, there are some circumstances where impending or potential evil compels us to a decision or action that may be, at least from the standpoint of the person faced with the dilemma, the lesser evil. However the moral principle is that you then accept the consequences of your action, you don’t get a free pass. To see the moral dilemma posed by the conflict between obedience to law and the demands of justice, recall the Civil Rights era and the laws supporting inherent racism, and the decisions made in civil disobedience to intentionally and knowingly violate the law and a concomitant willingness to accept the consequences of doing so.

My wife and I discussed the issue faced by CIA, MI5 and other intelligence agencies about what to do when there is a situation of such consequences that, arguably at least, breaking the law becomes necessary in the circumstances of the “ticking time bomb” —and we concluded that the intelligence agent might have to break the law and hope that he was right but only if he felt strongly enough about the urgency that he was willing to bear the personal consequences of breaking the law.

That does not imply that mistreatment of prisoners should be condoned in law; on the contrary, it requires that enhanced interrogation methods be declared out of bounds and subject to penalties. It is too bad that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats grasped the importance of this issue. The proposed law would have eliminated routinely using “enhanced interrogation.” If the situation raised by Dick Cheney were to arise, that we were faced by imminent ticking bombs that put the country in danger, we would expect that the seriousness of the situation would lead courageous interrogators to make the moral decision as to whether their country or their personal legal jeopardy was their immediate priority.

Humanist Perspectives On The Abortion Debate

The abortion debate can and should be held without reference to Christian belief [which I think humanists would prefer] but it rarely is because most of the anti-abortion advocates base their argument in religion. So I will comment from the Christian Humanist perspective by reminding readers that not all religions or even all Christian churches and denominations are part of the anti-abortion movement. The religion-based anti-abortion crowd is pretty much limited to the Roman Catholic Church and various evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant groups that make common cause with them.

Among the various Christian denominations, churches and advocacy groups there are three fundamentally different approaches to the controversial issue of abortion and abortion right.

The anti-abortion Christians largely consist of the Roman Catholic Church and the extreme right of Protestant Christianity (the fundamentalists and the evangelicals), including Southern Baptists.

The middle group consists of some denominations that take a “nuanced” stance, neither supporting nor opposing abortion but stressing the duty of Christians to recognize that there are valid arguments on both sides of the issue and that each Christian must make his own decision on the specific facts and circumstances and in the light of his or her faith conviction. This middle group includes most Lutheran denominations, the American Baptist Association, and southern Presbyterians.

The third group supports abortion rights. This latter group consists of the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Lutheran Women’s Caucus.

A check with the web sites of these various denominations and groups will provide the specifics of each group’s position. However, individual Christians within each of these denominations often differ from their denomination’s position. For example, there are groups of pro-choice Catholics and anti-abortion Lutherans.

When I was a student in theological school in the late 1950s abortion was not an issue. Curiously until 1980 the Southern Baptists, a conservative evangelical denomination with a history of supporting individual rights, took the position that the right to abortion was a matter of individual freedom. Everything changed with the culture wars that began in the 1980s when the Republicans wanted a foothold among southern conservative Democrats and allied themselves with religious conservatives, using abortion as a wedge issue. It worked. The South is now largely Republican and anti-abortion rights.

The majority of Protestants do not accept the argument of the anti-abortion religionists that a fetus is a human being, or an “unborn baby.” Anti-abortionists have been trying to argue the point (unsuccessfully I think) that terminating a fetus is the same thing as killing a child. We beg to differ on that point for a number of common sense reasons and, for those whose beliefs are presumed to be Christian, for theological reasons as well. We affirm strongly that a fetus is not a child.

Some Christians (including your non-theistic writer!) hold that a human life comes into being at birth when the “breath of life” enters the child and it begins breathing. Traditionally it has been understood that a human being becomes such at birth when it is independent of the mother and breathing on its own and is then considered a child or a baby. Prior to birth it is a fetus, not a child. Consider that a fertilized egg is not a chicken, and we could extend that analogy to note that tadpoles are not frogs, larvae are not grasshoppers, and pine cones are not pine trees.

Traditionally the reason that a human being becomes recognized as such at birth goes back to the Genesis birth stories and is an element of Christian theology. In the Genesis story a human being was born when god breathed the “spirit of life” or “breath” into the new human being. Traditionally this is the point in theology that the “soul” (which is another name for the spirit of life, or ruach in Hebrew) enters the body and a new living human being is born. The issue of when a new human being comes into existence becomes complicated to the point of absurdity by the theological issue of the “soul” and whether the soul comes into being at the birth of a human child, or whether it is pre-existing and enters the body at birth, and how the “soul” relates to the fetus.

I do not understand why fundamentalist Christians, who say they believe quite literally in the Bible, seem to be unaware of this concept, which is a very traditional part of Christian theology. [This is not my belief, but is noted for those who hold that belief. I am a humanist, who happens to believe that the teachings of Jesus are worth taking seriously as an ethical guide, thus a Christian Humanist.]

Anti-abortion supporters have a right to their views, to abstain from abortion if they believe it is morally wrong, and to try to persuade others of the legitimacy of their position. They do not have a right to force their beliefs on the rest of us, to compel others to act or not act in accordance with their values, or to deprive the rest of us of our right to act in accordance with our beliefs. In a pluralistic society it has to be that way. Both the pro-choice and the anti-abortion positions are religious interpretations that have support from Christian believers, but they are religious beliefs and the secular laws of the land should not interfere with the religious rights of either side.

Those who believe that abortion is wrong and wish to abstain from abortion are free to refrain, and those who believe differently (for whom it is a private and often painful decision) should also be able to act on their beliefs without interference from the law. We live in a secular democracy. We do not believe, as do the Taliban whose views we are fighting, that religious views of one group should be written into law.

We should make the point here that because we support the right of women to have an abortion if their personal circumstances make that decision desirable or necessary, that does not mean we are “pro abortion” any more than we are “pro appendectomy” or “pro heart surgery.” Abortion is a medical procedure. Sometimes it is advisable. It needs to be available, as any other medical procedure is available.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Sad Strange Story of Samuel Patronus

When I was a kid I liked my old Uncle Samuel. He wasn’t actually my uncle, he was an old family friend, an old boy friend of my old maid aunt Irene, my father’s sister. But, as they say, that’s another story.

My Uncle Samuel was someone we liked to have around. He was a relaxed, easy-going guy, living a comfortable suburban life in a town about 25 miles from where we lived. He came to lots of family picnics at 4th of July celebrations and George Washington’s birthday. He was liked and respected—even loved. He was a pillar of his community, a man who worked hard, earned a good living with a comfortable surplus in the bank, paid his bills on time, was interested in education and supported the arts and cultural events, cared about the less fortunate, volunteered at soup kitchens and homeless shelters, was civil in his politics and friendly with his neighbors.

Sometime over the years he changed. The change was gradual at first, but he became noticeably worse when he began to hang around with a new gang of friends. He began to act and think like them. That’s when he began to go wrong. It’s a truly sad story.

He started going to a new church. On the surface it sounded pretty much like the same traditional Christian church he had grown up with. But as he got into it more he learned that there were some differences and he bought into those differences. Samuel used to be humble, and he believed that humility was a virtue, but in his new church he learned that humility was for weaklings and he was taught the arrogance of power, that might makes right, that political power is necessary to bring about rule by those who believed as he did, and that with the exercise of power he could dominate others and change the laws to support his religious beliefs and values, and that with perpetual power and control he could destroy all political opposition—he could perpetually dominate others and control their lives. He could tell them what to believe, and what TV programs to watch to get the “right” views. He learned that religion was a tool to be used to obtain and hold on to power and to control the lives of others.

At one time he was compassionate, but his new friends convinced him that compassion was wasted on the poor, that God made the rich and the poor and that he rewards all according to what they deserve—so that the rich are sharing God’s blessing and the poor are such because they have not exerted the energy to lift themselves out of poverty and so they deserve their condition. In God’s wisdom he has made the strong and the weak, and the strong are destined to rule over the weak. That is God’s will. That is God’s way.

He began to work against the institutions of our society that feed the hungry, and shelter the homeless, and clothe the poor, and he did all this in the name of his new religion that taught there was no legitimate place in our society for common community effort in support of the weak and powerless in our society because such efforts would place an unfair burden upon the rich, who were ordained in their status and must not be compelled to share their bounty with those who had less.

I remember Sam in the old days before he was converted to the new state religion, when he valued education and supported science and the arts. But his new friends convinced him that education was dangerous unless it was under control of those who believed as he did and that education needed to be managed so that dangerous ideas did not undermine the values of the new religion. So he worked to undermine education, particularly in science. He weakened science programs by requiring mythology to be taught along with evolutionary science, as if they were somehow equals, the mythology masquerading as another version of science. He fought against sex education with the odd argument that knowledge would encourage immoral behavior. He fought against academic programs for the gifted on the grounds that such programs were elitist and he worked to require endless testing of trivia in the schools so that schools did not have the time or the energy to devote to academic performance or to encourage the best students with rigorous work. He fought against programs to educate the best and brightest to the level they could attain and he encouraged mediocrity and teaching to the bottom of the class so that no one would feel left out or left behind and all could be equally mediocre.

Uncle Samuel’s previously gentle nature disappeared and his strangest behavior began when he started to play video games regularly. Quickly he acquired a taste for violent war games. He could not get enough of them. He played them night and day to the exclusion of most everything else in his life. Playing war games made him feel big and powerful and patriotic. To feed his passion for war games he bought bigger and more expensive equipment on which to play his games, and because the games were expensive he borrowed heavily to fund his passion. He used up his line of credit on several credit cards and then he mortgaged his house to fund his games. His friends noticed that he became increasingly irrational. He became unreasonable and crotchety when anyone questioned his passion and his involvement. He got his friends involved in the games, sometimes reluctantly, but he pressured them into playing the games with him. When his friends indicated lack of interest, he became angry and abusive and cut off his contact and his friendship.

He picked fights with his neighbors, even with those with whom he had natural interests that would seem to require him to get along with them.. His neighbors began to dislike, disrespect, fear and avoid him. In the annual neighborhood association meetings they no longer listened to him or took him seriously.

He was deeply in debt and the financial mess he had created for himself led to his eventual bankruptcy. He lost his house. He lost his friends. He lost his respect.

The story of my Uncle Samuel is truly a sad story. We miss the uncle he used to be.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Celibacy Is The Problem!

The sexual abuse scandals of Europe put Germany center stage last week as several incidents came to light that involve many years of physical and sexual abuse at a boy choir school in Germany operated by the Pope’s brother, who said he had no knowledge of the abuse in the years before he was director, as well as another incident in Germany involving reassigning a molester priest to another parish (where he again molested a child) during the period in which the Pope had been the Archbishop of the diocese in Munich.

Neither the Pope nor his brother are directly involved in the scandal and both claim they had no knowledge of the molesting and abuse, which of course might be true, but which is troublesome because it implies a “see no evil, hear no evil” attitude, which has been precisely the problem the hierarchy of the Catholic Church has with respect to rampant sexual abuse problems which have gone on for decades. When I was a young adult (some 50 years ago) I was aware that there was a hidden sexual abuse problem in the Church in Western New York where I lived at the time (it was quite openly discussed), and I find it incredible that the Catholic hierarchy insists it did not have know what was going on throughout the Church when the rumors were so widespread and that once claims were made against the Church it tried so hard to conceal what was obviously a large and ever increasing problem.

These incidents follow the scandalous story widely-reported ten days ago that a high Vatican official was involved in a prostitution ring that procured young male prostitutes for Church dignitaries.

The Associated Press carried the story earlier this month that the Vatican hierarchy was trying to squelch discussion that the church’s celibacy rule had anything to do with sexual abuse, after “one of the pope’s closest advisers, Vienna archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn …. called for an honest examination of issues like celibacy and priestly education to root out the origins of sex abuse.” The article reported that leading prelates at the Vatican were strongly denying that celibacy had anything to do with molestation.

Well, I guess we can agree with the prelates that celibacy does not “cause” pedophilia or ephebephilia or homosexuality. Of course that is not the issue here. Celibacy is not a natural or healthy state and if that is a requirement for entering the priesthood it is obvious that the priesthood and orders will have a large contingent of men with unhealthy sexual needs and behaviors. Social scientists tell us that homosexuality and pedophilia are not related. Pedophilia occurs with both women and men, gay and straight, but there is a higher reported incidence of pedophilia with men than with women, possibly because men may be more inclined to act on their sexual inclinations than women.

That said, to say that there is no relationship between the celibacy rule and the frequency of aberrant sexual behavior among priests is just not credible.

Some have commented that the way for the frequency of sexual abuse by priests to be reduced is to increase the monitoring of priests and to have a zero tolerance policy by the Church hierarchy, but I doubt that will happen and I think it is naïve to suspect that anything will change given the fact that the hierarchy consists of the same sexually repressed males in which this culture of acceptance and cover up has been the model for generations.

Whatever the reason for having a celibate priesthood in the past, it appears that the Church may need to face up to the fact that celibacy may be the least of the difficulties for Catholics. As for any theological reason to maintain celibacy, that seems strained at best. Women played a significant leadership role in the early church but that role was dismissed as irrelevant by those who at a much later time in church history advocated for celibacy. The point is that there is no theological or practical reason to continue the outmoded and unnecessary practice of celibacy in the Church.

http://www.christianhumanist.net/