Is it practical to remain celibate in order to avoid pregnancy? While there is no doubt that this is the most effective birth control method, not everyone can do it. This is because normal sexual desires are strong and may be difficult to control.
Those who succeed in becoming celibate usually do so by overpowering their sex drive through time-consuming activities. They may become obsessed with a particular hobby or distract themselves by means of hard work, meditation, exercise, dieting or prayer. However, this trick doesn’t always work, given the vast range of sexual feelings humans have.
Celibacy entails a lot of self-control and determination – something most couples, especially the husband, cannot cope with. One study of contraceptives used by married women in urban poor communities found that those who relied on natural methods such as withdrawal and the calendar method were often forced to have sex on “unsafe” days by their drunken husbands. This makes it highly unlikely for the same couples to practice celibacy.
Even among the clergy, complete celibacy does not exist. This was proven in a landmark study by Margaret H. Halstead and Dr. Lauro S. Halstead of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. The results of their study published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy might shock you.
After interviewing former priests and nuns, the two researchers found that most had sex just like everyone else. Before being ordained, the most common sexual activity reported was masturbation (47 percent) followed by intercourse and homosexuality (both 11 percent). Oral sex was practiced by 9 percent.
While in orders, masturbation climbed to 57 percent. So did homosexuality (21 percent) and intercourse (15 percent). After leaving orders, these sexual activities, further increased with masturbation at 85 percent, intercourse at 82 percent, and oral sex at 75 percent.
“The percentages given refer to those who replied. In many cases, the individual engaged in more than one activity. Therefore, the figures are not intended to add to 100 percent,” said Albert B. Gerber in “The Book of Sex Lists.”
The respondents added that they were more sexually satisfied while in orders than after renouncing their sacred vow of celibacy. The most frequent reasons cited for decreased satisfaction were the lack of partners followed by religious and/or moral reasons, feelings of not being desirable, and communication problems.
The same study said celibacy was practiced by 46 percent of the respondents before they were ordained. That figure went down to 32 percent while in orders and finally dropped to 10 percent as the respondents left the ministry. These figures clearly show how difficult it is to become celibate. (Next: Effects of celibacy.)
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