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On what moral pedestal do celibates condemn divorcees?

Saturday June 18 2011

 

By PHILIP OCHIENG

As a newspaper pontiff, I learned early that if you throw stones, you must expect stones (and become thick-skinned). That is why I reply only rarely to the critics of this column. Sometimes intervention comes from above.

The Israeli ambassador once published in this newspaper a heavy attack on a column published the previous week.

But, as I was girding my loins to reply, Wangethi Mwangi, then the group’s editorial pontifex, came down the stairs to tell me that I could “... not always have the last word ...”

A different kind of Jew — Betty Kaplan’s ultra-liberal ilk — might condemn such a step as “censorship”. But I readily granted the Editorial Director his duty to take any action — including against me — that might put his publications on an even keel, in ethical and intellectual terms.
Point accusing fingers

It is a lesson even the Vicar of Christ should learn. His cardinals habitually point accusing fingers at other people for iniquities of which the Catholic hierarchy is a major culprit.

Meek in their faith, their congregations are too timid to ask embarrassing questions.

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But last year’s referendum and this year’s history-making method of choosing our judicial chiefs should have reminded them of an ingenious weapon long ago invented by the Australian natives.

If you hurled it with too much force or too carelessly, it could boomerang disastrously on you.

Take this. Because Willy Mutunga is a divorcee, he cannot be the Daniel that our Supreme Court so pines for. This logical non sequitur is thrown to our faces to the point of disgust every day. And we must embrace it because, issuing ex cathedra, it is “infallible”.

We are supposed to judge even our secular rulers by certain extremely senseless strictures once imposed on the Church by European patriarchy — sexual rigidities, which have no religious or scriptural roots, but belong wholly to pre-Christian paganism, superstitions re-imposed by such demented patrisms as the Witch-hunts of Spain and Massachusetts and the Victorian pruderies that nearly derailed England’s sexuality.

Like female cut

All the laws against bigamy, fornication, adultery and prostitution were necessitated by the triumph of patriarchy over matriarchy.

Like patriarchal Africa’s female cut, “chastity” was demanded so as to suppress female sexuality so that the male could be sure that the child who was now inheriting his property and power was really his blood.

This is the root of Euro-Christianity’s ungodly misogyny. It is what informs the teaching that, after you “tie the knot”, you cannot untie it even if one spouse becomes a snake. In Marriage and Morals, Bertrand Russell — a male and a European, yet one of the world’s most objective moral authorities — condemns the ban on divorce as radical evil.

That Christendom’s entire sexual code was aimed only at the distaff side is self-manifest. Against females, those laws are implemented a hundred times more vigorously than against males. In the 21st century, it is an extremely sad commentary on our moral and intellectual education.
Patriarchal despotism

But why do our mothers, sisters and daughters put up with this atavistic thoughtlessness — especially in Europe, where, throughout the 20th century, women fought so valiantly to end patriarchal despotism?

Why do the priests themselves display such myopia in their own gender bigotry?

I take goodness to fellow humans — especially to our sexual offspring — as the kernel of all morality. On what moral pedestal, then, can a “celibate” machismo condemn a divorcee? I grant that divorce can deliver the joint offspring into excruciating suffering. That alone is why I might discourage it. Yet Catholic priests wallow in sex even behind the reredos.

But, because a whimsical European pope recently imposed celibacy on Rome’s priesthood, the priests procreate happily without ever taking any responsibility for their offspring. That is the cardinal question for Rome. What gives the celibate priest John Njue the moral authority to judge the divorcee Willy Mutunga?

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