Understanding the Sex Scandal in the Church

  • Christianity, Judaism, celibacy, family, imperfect man


Understanding Sex Scandals in the Church Today

Sex conflicts in life exist from the time of Adam and Eve and are not new.  Today there is a controversy about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.  Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is not new but in the past was covered up.  There are two ways of building a spiritual life with marriage and without marriage. 

A spiritual life without marriage is dangerous.  It can lead to sexual abuse.  Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were tempted by the snake to listen to their inclinations to try sex.  First he convinced Eve by testing her to touch the forbidden tree of knowledge to show her it would not kill her.  She was warned by God not to eat from the tree but was given no warning about touching the tree.  Eve told the snake that she was forbidden to eat and even to touch the tree of knowledge.  She touched tree and it felt sensual and good and she didn’t die.  Afterwards she ate from the tree and she did not die immediately. She gave to Adam and he ate also.  Some say the snake and the tree of knowledge were both the same. The snake was tricky and stood on two legs.  We know that in seduction first comes gentle touching, followed by hugging, kissing and intercourse. Any contact with the tree of knowledge through which is derived sensual pleasure can lead to intercourse.  It says afterwards, Adam knew Eve which means that they had intercourse.  They gave birth to children naturally in pleasure. 

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden were celibates like a priest and nun.  They were not born naturally like their children.  God encouraged them to remain celibates to eat only from the permitted trees principally from the tree of life which gave them spiritual pleasure.  The Tree of knowledge gave them physical pleasure and brought into the world death.  Their children would be mortals.  Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden with their children.  Only in the Garden of Eden was immortality.  Now they were living in the real world where there is life and death, good and evil.  Adam and Eve were the first priest and nun to desecrate their vow of celibacy.  Priests and Nuns are born naturally through a natural father and mother through intercourse where the parents receive in the act of sex pleasure when they conceive their child.  According to the Zohar, the principle work in Jewish Spirituality which is also a commentary on the Torah, every human being is born with a blemish which he receives from his parents that conceived him through the pleasure of sex.  This blemish is called in the Kabballa the bite of the snake relating it to the snake which tricked Adam and Eve in the Garden.   Remaining celibate was difficult for Adam and Eve who were created almost perfect so much more so for their children.

The snake is called the evil inclination in man.  Every human being is born within him the snake.  It takes great will power to deny the snake the pleasures of this world.  The three main pleasures in life are the pleasure of food, wealth and sex.  Moses fasted forty days and forty nights to achieve perfection to give the Jewish people the Torah.  It also says that Elijah the prophet fasted forty days and forty nights to become immortal by going up into heaven on a cloud body and soul together.  King David it says killed his evil inclination through fasting.  Only special souls have been successful through the way of self denial.  Catholic Priests become spiritually inspired at some time in their life to take upon themselves the life of a monk.  They have good motives but they are also faced with many tests in their lives.  Some priests may fall to the evil of money and receive bribery.  Other fall to sexual abuse.  Life in a monastery is much safer for a priest then the life going out into the world to help other people make success in family life.  They may be tempted when they see the happiness in family life which they have denied themselves.  Priests and Nuns are not perfect. 

It is a great idea to emulate Adam and Eve who lived in the Garden of Eden.  Through not having a family it gives Catholic Priests the ability to avoid prejudice in working with mankind.  Adam and Eve are the father and mother of all of mankind.  They made a family after sinning which has grown up to billions of children through the course of history.  However Catholic Priests have to favor Catholics since through them they receive their livelihood.  They have to eat and need a shelter like all people.  They enjoy the pleasures of life which God permits them which is not the pleasure of sex. 

Christianity is a product of the bible.  Their New Testament includes in it the Old Testament.  The family of Adam and Eve which includes in it the children of Esau and Ishmael needed guidance to live a good and healthy life.  The Jewish people the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were leaders in bringing mankind to the religion of the One God on earth.  Abraham circumcised himself and his two children Ishmael and Isaac.  Ishmael became one great family on earth continuing the tradition of circumcism.  Isaac had two children Jacob and Esau.  He gave blessings to both of them to become great families on earth.  Jacob is the father of the Jewish people the twelve tribes of Israel.  Esau is connected to Edom which are the Greek and Roman Empires. 

On Mount Sinai was the greatest revelation of God on earth in history.  On Mount Sinai God revealed himself on earth after Moses had redeemed the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt.  Moses gathered the Jewish people together at the bottom of Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God himself.  At Mount Sinai the Jewish people were united together like one man with one heart.  After this event the Jewish people were again divided into two parts and two spiritual directions.  Moses came down from the mountain and broke the first tablets containing the Ten Commandments when he saw the worship of the Golden Calf.  He replaced the first tablets with the second tablets containing the Ten Commandments which became the Jewish religion.  Judaism today continues the tradition of the teachings of Moses related to the second tablets.  The children of Israel went into Israel under the leadership of Joshua practicing Judaism in the way taught to them by Moses.  They conquered the land and established the Torah Nation of Israel with the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

Not all the Jewish people went into the land of Israel with Joshua.  They wandered forty years in the wilderness before entering Israel.  Only the children of the fathers of Israel which went out from Egypt went into the land of Israel.  The Elders of Israel remained in the wilderness.  They are called the generation of the wilderness.  The generation of the wilderness lived on a high spiritual level eating food Manna called the bread from heaven being immersed in a Cloud of Spiritual glory. Moses who remained in the wilderness and did not enter Israel is forever the leader of the generation of the wilderness.  The souls of the generation of the wilderness lived without the pleasures of physical life.  Their children that entered the land lived a natural life governed strictly by Torah law.  In the wilderness the Jewish people did not do circumcism.  It is possible to relate the generation of the wilderness to Christian monks who also do not circumcize.  Zimri a leader of Israel in the wilderness was killed by Pincas for sexual abuse with a gentile woman.  Also the Torah relates that the children of Israel in the wilderness had given over themselves to the evil inclination for sex.  It had caused a plaque which through the act of Pincas was stopped.  The generation of the wilderness were completely spiritual but vulnerable to the evil inclination of sex immorality.  From this can be learned that there is a religion which isolates itself from the world called the generation of the wilderness.  Throughout scripture especially in the Kabballa it teaches that there are two ways of spirituality.  In the book of Samuel in the first chapter is related, God is a God with knowledge in the plural.  These two approaches toward spirituality are with physical pleasure and without physical pleasure, the way of the monk and the way of the family man.     

The Jewish people the children of the generation of the wilderness entered the land of Israel with the spirituality of the Torah, the law of the family and the nation.  The Torah law of the nation of Israel was very extreme to deny and prohibit the other way, the way of the monk.  In the wilderness a Jew could be a monk but not in the Nation of Israel.  The Torah teaches against the way of the monk in relation to the sin of Zimri who could not control his evil inclination to have sexual relations with a gentile woman.  Celibacy could lead to desecration and destruction of the sanctity of the Jewish nation.  The sons of Aharon were priests that were destroyed by fire from heaven on the day of the dedication of the tabernacle because they were not married and wanted to live the lives of a monk.  The way of the celibate was not allowed in the Jewish Nation to teach or to practice.  A Kohain, a priest that served in the temple is required to be married.  The High Priest was required to have two wives just in case one died when he was in service.  

The Jewish Religion is a family religion.  A menstrually unclean woman in Jewish law is called a Nidah.  It is forbidden to have sex with a Niddah until she has immersed herself in a Mikva a ritual bath.  Torah law teaches Jewish family purity.  Girls are educated in the importance of modest dress and to protect their purity to remain virgins until marriage.  Men are also instructed not to have relations with woman until marriage.  Young men learn together in the Yeshiva, Torah center with the plan in life to eventually get married and have a family.  The age for marriage in Judaism is eighteen years old.  It is even encouraged to marry earlier to prevent sexual immodesty.  Men are educated not to look at woman or speak with girls when walking in the streets.  The foundation of Judaism is sexual purity.  Judaism can also be extreme in protecting their children from sexual immodesty.  The Story of Dinah in the Bible is an example.  Dinah the daughter of Jacob was molested by Shecem the son of Chamor.  The children of Jacob took upon themselves to massacre their entire family in revenge. 

Jewish law requires men and woman to marry publically under a canopy.  The Rabbi officiates the ceremony blessing the bride and groom with seven blessings.  A ring is placed by the groom on the finger of the bride and he says, with this ring you are sanctified to me.  There is written a marriage contract which is read in front of two witnesses.  Adultery is punishable by death.  After the Jewish people established their monarchy it became forbidden for all sexual relations out of wedlock even for older couples who could not have children.  In this way the possibility of being celibate was made even more difficult.  Pope Francis recently commented on the controversy at the borders of Mexico which separated families.  He said, family is the cradle of life.  Separating children from their families was a desecration to God.  In the holocaust children were separated from their families. 

Preservation of Jewish lineage was more important sometimes than family unity.  Those Jews who were born from incest including woman who did not receive a proper divorce were forbidden to marry other Jews.  Their families were no longer part of the rest of Israel.  There became two congregations, the congregations careful about their lineage and those with mixed lineages.  Usually the Ultra Orthodox prefer to live separately from Jews less religious.  Even though Judaism is a family religion, it has been difficult throughout history to keep the Jewish people together and to prevent assimilation.  The State of Israel has complicated this situation since Jews living in Israel have the rights to be secular and can remain secular Jews for many generations. In this way they grow into a strong anti-religious block.  In the past Jews that became less religious assimilated quickly and became naturally separate from religious Jewish blocks.  Lubavitch Chassidism works to bridge the gap between religious and secular Jews.

In the wilderness, Jew were able to be more spiritual than those Jews that entered Israel with Joshua.  However they eventually died out in the wilderness.  In the same way if all Christians would be monks there wouldn’t be any children to follow them.  Christianity would eventually die out.  Today, the church is faced by the problem that attendance in churches has fallen.  Families in Italy have an average of one child per family.  Jesus preached that to be a monk is more important than to be a family man.  Being a monk, a Catholic priest may give a person a greater chance to isolate himself with God alone than to be a family man.  A family man has difficulty being alone with God since his wife may object to his lack of interest in her and the family. 

A Jewish Catholic priest from the Vatican came to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe in N.Y.  The Rebbe met with him and objected to his choice of becoming a Christian monk.  In the light of Judaism, to be a Jew and to make a family is a greater accomplishment than to become a Jewish Christian monk.  To decide to be a Catholic priest you take a great responsibility and to do acts of immodesty with men, woman and children makes a desecration of the name of God, the greatest sin.  There are two approaches to spirituality In the Bible, the family man and the Catholic Priest.  The Jew also wants to be close to God and reach the highest levels of unity of God.  Usually the time for the Jews to isolate himself with God alone comes after he has married and raised a family.  Judaism doesn’t make it easy for those to be close to God in the way permission is given to Catholics. 

Those Catholic priests which have found difficulties with celibacy can find their forgiveness in the Jewish bible in the story of Samson and Delilah.  Samson was a Nazarite who was forbidden to cut his hair and fell to the temptation of Delilah representing the Philistines the enemy of the Jewish people.  King David fell in love with Bat Sheva who was married to one of the commanders of his army.  He sent Oriel her husband into a battle which he knew would end in his death which would allow him to marry Bat Sheva. Bat Sheva became the mother of his son Solomon who became his successor to build the temple in Jerusalem.  King Solomon was a holy and wise man.  His writing are appreciated by all seekers of truth.  King Solomon’s kingdom fell because of lust for the daughter of Pharoah.  One of the holiest men today in Israel at the age of seventy was indicted for relationships with married woman of his congregation. 

The Torah teaches that it is not good for a man to be alone.  A man needs a woman not only for sex but also for companionship and to make a family.  A man who wants to be alone with God without a woman will for sure take upon himself suffering.  Catholic priests feel that the suffering is worth it.  Judaism teaches that God wants man to make a holy family to be fruitful and multiply.  After making a family is the best time to become celibate.  Christians were given permission from Jesus to skip this step.  As a result, in the news are these horrifying stories of Priests that have done sexual sins. 

On the other hand we have to give respect to the Pope and Catholic Priests that they have taken upon themselves the most difficult part of spirituality separating from women.  The Zohar teaches that someone has to take upon himself suffering for the sake of all of Israel.  The Zohar only requests one or two great saints in each generation to make this complete sacrifice.  In Judaism there are always some great saints who have lived a hidden life like monks.  These great saints and those Catholic priests that are completely sincere represent to the whole world that there is spiritual freedom to those that know and love God.  God took the Jewish people out of Egypt to give them freedom.  The word freedom is mentioned fifty times in the Torah to represent the fiftieth year when the slaves of Israel were released from slavery called the year of Jubilee.  The attainment of spiritual freedom also called spiritual liberation is a goal in life for every man according to his faith.  The path to spiritual freedom is sometimes dangerous but the accomplishment is the greatest of all accomplishments.  Even a greater accomplishment is for the great saint or Tzaddik to bring other Jews and human beings to spiritual freedom which is complete faith and trust in God. 

In World Faith all people and religions work together to achieve this goal.  Unity of God includes all faiths which believe in One God.  The Celibate is a part of world faith and also the family man.  These stories of Priests that have fallen in their path toward spiritual freedom and liberation or of Gurus in India which have been indicted for sexual abuse, or Rabbis today and in history should not discourage the seeker of complete faith and trust in God from giving up on completing the journey of soul to find the Messiah and God. 

The Zohar which was discovered in Spain in the 1200’s has given to Judaism and the world spiritual strengthening and enlightenments both God enlightenment and self realization which unite the Two Messiahs the Messiah the son of David, the Messiah of God Realization the Messiah of the mind and the Messiah the son of Joseph the messiah of self realization the messiah of the heart.  God has given man a way to find him his name is Shalom and Truth.  He has given man a way to live a true and righteous life with peace and happiness.  Choose the way which is best for you.  For some people it is better to work in the world raise a family and give charity.  For others it may be to become a Catholic Priest or Jews to be a Rabbi.



David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.

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