Are Buddhist monks celibate?

At a science fiction convention, I once heard Spider Robinson perform his song “Belaboring the Obvious,” and explain how he came to write it: He was missing his wife, Jeanne, who was away. Jeanne is a Zen Buddhist monk, she’s satisfied with private observance at home most of the time, but every once in a while she feels a need to go on retreat to a monastery to “get a shot of the straight stuff.”

I was surprised – not by the use of the male form “monk” instead of “nun,” but because Jeanne is married, and I thought Buddhist monks, like Catholic monks, had to be celibate. I asked Jeanne about it (she was there) after the performance and she said, no, they don’t.

Is this true? I thought Buddhists considered sex and marriage to be just the kind of attachment that binds us to the world of illusion and suffering. The first important step Gautama took on his path to enlightenment was to leave his wife and child.

Is monastic celibacy required in some Buddhist sects but not others?

This article doesn’t say.

Now, I believe religion is a personal thing and it doesn’t particuarly bother me what one calls oneself.

…But if Jeanne wants to try telling people in predominantly Buddhist parts of the world that she is “a Zen Buddhist MONK”, she is going to get some funny looks.

I don’t know about Buddhist monks, but the Buddhist priests in Japan (which I guess would be as close to Zen Buddhism as you’ll find in Asia) certainly do not refrain from sex. Management of temples is frequently passed from father to son.

One of my friends in Hamamatsu, in Shizuoka Pref. was a Buddhist priest in training (so he could inherit the family temple), and while he occasionally went off to monasteries for a few weeks of asceticism and meditation, most of the time he was a smoking, drinking ladies’ man.

No, she isn’t.

Depends on the individual sect, they would normally be single celibate people but its certainly possible for a Buddhist Monk and an Hindu Swami for that matter to be married. It even possible to be a married Cathodic Priest if you covert from a Christian sect that allows marriage.
I’m certainly aware of married Tibetan monks but it would be unusual in somewhere in southeast Asia.