Much religious celibacy stems from the same neurotic impulse that gives rise to eating disorders. The idea that one is purer for not having had sex belongs alongside the belief that one is purer for not eating, or for endlessly washing one’s hands. There are plenty of good reasons for remaining celibate, but purity is not one of them. It is possible to do much good for the world if one does not have a family to care for, but it is also possible to want to be alone with God because one is afraid to be intimate with human beings.

Religious celibacy is often the anorexia of the heart.