Pages

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Catholic priests and celibacy

Roman Catholic priests/bishops, etc. are supposed to be celibate, and are forbidden to marry. Furthermore, RCs have certain days where they are not supposed to eat meat.

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;" -1 Timothy 3:2

Roman Catholic bishops are not allowed to marry, but the Bible commands that Christian bishops are supposed to marry.

October 4, 2008 KTH



The folks at Catholic Answers directly answer Candy's common attack.  I have some of the best excerpts below, but the entire article is a good read.  


Fundamentalists are often surprised to learn that even today celibacy is not the rule for all Catholic priests. In fact, for Eastern Rite Catholics, married priests are the norm, just as they are for Orthodox and Oriental Christians.

Even in the Eastern churches, though, there have always been some restrictions on marriage and ordination. Although married men may become priests, unmarried priests may not marry, and married priests, if widowed, may not remarry. Moreover, there is an ancient Eastern discipline of choosing bishops from the ranks of the celibate monks, so their bishops are all unmarried.

The tradition in the Western or Latin-Rite Church has been for priests as well as bishops to take vows of celibacy, a rule that has been firmly in place since the early Middle Ages. Even today, though, exceptions are made. For example, there are married Latin-Rite priests who are converts from Lutheranism and Episcopalianism.

As these variations and exceptions indicate, priestly celibacy is not an unchangeable dogma but a disciplinary rule. The fact that Peter was married is no more contrary to the Catholic faith than the fact that the pastor of the nearest Maronite Catholic church is married.



All of this is false. Although most people are at some point in their lives called to the married state, the vocation of celibacy is explicitly advocated—as well as practiced—by both Jesus and Paul.

So far from "commanding" marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, in that very chapter Paul actually endorses celibacy for those capable of it: "To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion" (7:8-9).

It is only because of this "temptation to immorality" (7:2) that Paul gives the teaching about each man and woman having a spouse and giving each other their "conjugal rights" (7:3); he specifically clarifies, "I say this by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another" (7:6-7, emphasis added).

Paul even goes on to make a case for preferring celibacy to marriage: "Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. . . those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. . . . The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband" (7:27-34).

Paul’s conclusion: He who marries "does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better" (7:38).

Paul was not the first apostle to conclude that celibacy is, in some sense, "better" than marriage. After Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19 on divorce and remarriage, the disciples exclaimed, "If such is the case between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry" (Matt 19:10). This remark prompted Jesus’ teaching on the value of celibacy "for the sake of the kingdom":


"Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom it is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of God. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it" (Matt. 19:11–12).



Celibacy is neither unnatural nor unbiblical. "Be fruitful and multiply" is not binding upon every individual; rather, it is a general precept for the human race. Otherwise, every unmarried man and woman of marrying age would be in a state of sin by remaining single, and Jesus and Paul would be guilty of advocating sin as well as committing it.



Another Fundamentalist argument, related to the last, is that marriage is mandatory for Church leaders. For Paul says a bishop must be "the husband of one wife," and "must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s Church?" (1 Tim. 3:2, 4–5). This means, they argue, that only a man who has demonstrably looked after a family is fit to care for God’s Church; an unmarried man, it is implied, is somehow untried or unproven.
This interpretation leads to obvious absurdities. For one, if "the husband of one wife" really meant that a bishop had to be married, then by the same logic "keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way" would mean that he had to have children. Childless husbands (or even fathers of only one child, since Paul uses the plural) would not qualify.

In fact, following this style of interpretation to its final absurdity, since Paul speaks of bishops meeting these requirements (not of their having met them, or of candidates for bishop meeting them), it would even follow that an ordained bishop whose wife or children died would become unqualified for ministry! Clearly such excessive literalism must be rejected.

The theory that Church leaders must be married also contradicts the obvious fact that Paul himself, an eminent Church leader, was single and happy to be so. Unless Paul was a hypocrite, he could hardly have imposed a requirement on bishops which he did not himself meet. Consider, too, the implications regarding Paul’s positive attitude toward celibacy in 1 Corinthians 7: the married have worldly anxieties and divided interests, yet only they are qualified to be bishops; whereas the unmarried have single-minded devotion to the Lord, yet are barred from ministry!

.





AddThis Social Bookmark Button

2 comments:

Saved Sinner said...

I always thought the point of the "husband of one wife" bit was that he shouldn't have more than one wife.

More Christ Like said...

Les McFall has an interesting way to deal with the exception clause in Matthew 19:9. He has written a 43 page paper that reviews the changes in the Greek made by Erasmus that effect the way Matthew 19:9 has been translated. I reviewed McFall's paper at Except For Fornication Clause of Matthew 19:9. I would love to hear some feedback on this position.