Jovinian was an intellectual in the ancient Christian world who scandalized everyone by suggesting marital relations and celibate virginity were on the same level. Jerome responded. And what a powerful, if hilariously wrong, response it was.
Now, I believe Jovinian had the better exegesis. To quote Kelly, when Jerome has a useful card he overplays it, and when he doesn’t have any evidence, he engages in the wildest reasoning (Kelly 186). Further, I reject a lot of the metaphysical and ethical assumptions behind Jerome’s defense of celibacy. (Ironically, however, Jovinian’s view of baptismal regeneration was much closer to later Catholicism than Jerome’s view).
Still, there is something Jerome can teach us. Sex and feasting don’t exist for themselves. Even if one doesn’t hold the view that sex is only for reproduction, that doesn’t mean sex is for sex’s sake. It’s for the uniting and binding together of husband and wife.
We can add another point. Sex isn’t a panacea for mental illnesses. This brings us back to the CREC scandal. The Wilsonistas are wrong to think that:
(1) “marrying” him off will provide a safe outlet for one’s urges.
I think many critics of medieval celibacy used to think that. Sadly, this is not the case. If it were, one could save a lot of people heartache by simply introducing these people to their right hands. Crude, yes, and some could argue that such an act is immoral, but at least no children are harmed.
Therefore, we have to add another line of reasoning:
(2) The problem is not built-up sexual tension, but mental-spiritual.
(2a) The problem is what the Fathers called “The Passions.”
If it is true that pedophiles are “wired” differently, then it is hard to see how (1) will solve the problem.
Is the “fallen” (defined as someone who committed a terrible sin but has repented) Christian guaranteed equal access to the marriage/family life?
Many “Wilsonistas” say it yes. They assert it but never argue it. This doesn’t appear to be the Apostle Paul’s position. The Wilsonistas say, “If you can, and why can’t you?, by all means get married.” Paul said if you aren’t married now, then you might not need to get married (1 Cor. 7:7-8, 26-28). We can now add another premise;
(3) There are many good reasons for staying single.
(3*) The Church is not obligated to provide you with a family.
The Wilsonistas will say that married sex provides a legitimate outlet for sexual passion. That is true in normal cases. But psychology and counseling have shown that men/women who are addicted to porn do not become unaddicted because they get married. The problem is still there, even if there is an “outlet” for it. And the outlet does not solve the problem.
This is also true if the spouse is a convicted pedophile. Where is the wisdom in his “outlet” providing him with more victims? Wilsonistas will respond, “Would you deny him the opportunity for a family?”
There are alternatives. None of them fun, but they are noble and workable. He can join a monastery in the desert and spend the next 30 years denying himself. Surround himself with a handful of elderly, cantankerous men who do not put up with nonsense. And who knows, he might be able to find peace and stillness in a way that he wouldn’t in Moscow, ID.