A series of articles born out of critically thinking on the works of several Catholic Apologists and comparing their work with Scripture.


Celibacy for Clergy

There is absolutely nothing wrong with celibacy. There is nothing wrong with being married. A problem comes when the clergy is required to be celibate. This should not be a big issue in a church, however, many Catholic defenders of the faith have invested so much time into this issue that I feel like I need to present what I believe Scripture says in the subject and let the readers think upon things for themselves. Let's examine a few verses and see what God has to say on the subject..

Matthew 8:14 And when Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. - It was Peter's mother-in-law that was sick. Surprisingly, that means that the first pope was married.

In actuality, God gives warnings about those who forbid marriage:
Timothy I 4:1 Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Timothy I 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Timothy I 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
Colossians 2:20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as,
Colossians 2:21 Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!
Colossians 2:22 (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) -- in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
Colossians 2:23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.

Paul actually tells Timothy that one of the qualifications of church leaders (bishops in this case - the Greek word for "bishop" (episkopos) means and overseer, superintendent) is that they be the husband of one wife:
Timothy I 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach
Titus 1:5 For this cause left I you in Crete, that you should set in order what remains, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed you:
Titus 1:6 If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

Other verses speak of the need of deacons to be husband of one wife also (see Timothy I 3:12)

While the book of Ecclesiastes does not address clergy in particular, it is interesting to note that marriage is certainly encouraged:
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he does not have another to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Concerning nuns, God encourages younger women to marry:
Timothy I 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give no occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

1Cor7
An apparent argument for celibacy is often cited by basing it upon 1Cor7. The strongest statement that Paul makes about the subject is found below with some observations found after them:
Corinthians I 7:6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.
Corinthians I 7:7 For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But every man has his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.
Corinthians I 7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
Corinthians I 7:9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
My comments:
V6 - Paul opens his comments by saying that he speaks of permission, not commandment. That is, he (God speaking through Paul) is not commanding that clergy be celibate, but that celibacy is not a bad thing.
V7-8 - He would prefer that all men (not just clergy) be unmarried as he is because they would be able to devote all of his time to God, and not be distracted by family duties.
V9 - He suggests that if they cannot maintain their celibacy, then, they ought to marry.
Nowhere in these verses is Paul commanding clergy not to marry nor do I see him forbidding clergy to marry. There is nothing wrong with celibacy, and it is to be desired as long as it does not become a burden (Corinthians I 7:9). To forbid married clergy based upon the above verses is reading something into these verses that simply is not there. If it is considered a tradition, then let the tradition take a back seat to the Scriptures in spiritual matters. The tradition is not in agreement with the Scripture. Both Scripture and Tradition cannot be correct since they are diametrically opposed to each other - one says it is ok to be a married clergy while the other forbids it. One is correct and the other is not. They cannot both be right. Choose this day which you think is right.

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