Celibacy and 1 Tim. 3:2–5


#1

Could somebody give me a better explanation of 1 Tim. 3:2–5?
In a way, I’m discontented with the explanation on catholic.com/library/Celibacy_and_the_Priesthood.asp
I want someone to explain this verse to me… The article above showed me verses that justify celibacy, but what I want to see is a better explanation of the verse itself. The Bible is inerrant, and I want to see how to explain this verse along with the verses that seem to contradict it (if interpreted incorrectly). I just want to know how I should answer a fundamentalist who might ask me to explain this verse, thankyou.


#2

How’s this:
2Now a bishop must be above reproach, [if he is married, he must be] the husband of one wife [neither a polygamist nor divorced and remarried nor widowed and remarried], temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, keeping his children, [if he has any,] submissive and respectful in every way; 5for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?


#3

Well, lets get it all in context then:

Matthew 19:10-12
"10 His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.11 Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it. "

1st Corinthians 7:6-9
"6 But I speak this by indulgence, not by commandment.** 7 For I would that all men were even as myself: but every one hath his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. 8 But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I.** 9 But if they do not contain themselves, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to be burnt." (Emphasis mine)

Priestly celibacy is discipline not doctrine of the Latin Rite Church. There are other branches of the Catholic Church that do not follow this discipline. The discipline may be changed if the Latin Rite Catholic Church decrees.

It has never been “doctrine”, since doctrine can never change.

Now, does that help any?
Pax tecum,


#4

I think that the cultural circumstances of the time might give some insight into the passage. When Paul says that a church leader must be the “husband of but one wife” (other translations might read, “married only once”), he may not be emphasizing marriage over celibacy so much as marriage over illicit sexual affairs. You have to remember that Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles and that many Gentile converts were still culturally seeped in paganism, which was in many cases less oriented than was Judaism towards strong monagamous unions. (It was strong monagamous unions which provided the Jews a firm family structure to which many Gentiles, even before Christ, were attracted. Such family structures provided high moral standards and better ensured stability.) It is therefore clear that Paul wants as leaders of his church men who have proven themselves to be worthy leaders of their family. Men who live their lives among several women, and who are the fathers of many children among them, are less likely to maintain order and to instill genuine virtues than men who have but one wife.


#5

[quote=paolo90]Could somebody give me a better explanation of 1 Tim. 3:2–5?
In a way, I’m discontented with the explanation on catholic.com/library/Celibacy_and_the_Priesthood.asp
I want someone to explain this verse to me… The article above showed me verses that justify celibacy, but what I want to see is a better explanation of the verse itself. The Bible is inerrant, and I want to see how to explain this verse along with the verses that seem to contradict it (if interpreted incorrectly). I just want to know how I should answer a fundamentalist who might ask me to explain this verse, thankyou.
[/quote]

Paul himself was unmarried. He was a mighty hypocrite if he meant that bishops must marry. Rather, the import of the sentence is that those bishops that are married cannot remarry, and that as visible leaders of the community must oversee their household with extra vigor, after all, what kind of an example is a bishop who tries to shepherd a church but can’t so much as lead his family?


#6

Originally Quoted by RobNY:

Paul himself was unmarried. He was a mighty hypocrite if he meant that bishops must marry.

Agreed.

Originally Quoted by RobNY:
Rather, the import of the sentence is that those bishops that are married cannot remarry, and that as visible leaders of the community must oversee their household with extra vigor, after all, what kind of an example is a bishop who tries to shepherd a church but can’t so much as lead his family?

I don’t know Greek and therefore can’t read the original text, but if I am to judge from the translations I’ve read, I don’t think that we can positively affirm, from this text alone, the proposition that Paul is restricting bishops from all remarriage; we cannot draw this conclusion in the strictest sense from this passage (Paul is not necessarily saying that a bishop can *never *remarry. What if the bishop’s wife dies?)

However, as evident from the other quote posted on this thread, Paul thinks it best that “widowers” be like him and refrain from marriage. So, practically speaking, we may venture to say that remarriage is out for a bishop whatever the case.

This said, Paul clearly demonstrates his concern that the leader be a proficient father before becoming a leader of the church. I firmly agree with you on that one.


#7

[quote=Madaglan]Agreed.
[/quote]

Good to know.

I don’t know Greek and therefore can’t read the original text, but if I am to judge from the translations I’ve read, I don’t think that we can positively affirm, from this text alone, the proposition that Paul is restricting bishops from all future remarriage; we cannot draw this conclusion in the strictest sense from this passage (Paul is not necessarily saying that a bishop can *never *remarry. What if the bishop’s wife dies?)

An alternative reading is as an injunction against polygamy. But I would also say that I see in this the root of the discipline in which bishops are chosen from among the celibate, even in the East where celibacy is not mandatory for the rank and file priest. You’re right, though, I wouldn’t quite take it to absolutely prevent remarrying, although it could be argued strongly in that direction, I would imagine.

However, as evident from the other quote posted on this thread, Paul thinks it best that “widowers” be like him and refrain from marriage. So, practically speaking, we may venture to say that remarriage is out for a bishop whatever the case.

Indeed, a soldier for Christ cannot be consumed by civilian pursuits.

This said, Paul clearly demonstrates his concern that the leader be a proficient father before becoming a leader of the church. I firmly agree with you on that one.

Which ends up being another argument for a celibate priesthood. It simply is a scandal to the church if the priest is in a bad relationship with his wife, especially if it moves towards divorce. It’s very hard to be a good leader when providing bad example.


#8

This is 100% true. Still, I wouldn’t count on it changing any time soon. There is very good reason for priestly celibacy.


#9

Originally Quoted by RobNY:

Which ends up being another argument for a celibate priesthood. It simply is a scandal to the church if the priest is in a bad relationship with his wife, especially if it moves towards divorce. It’s very hard to be a good leader when providing bad example.

While it is quite possible that a married priest may encounter this ever-real difficulty, and while a married priesthood is by no means perfect, there are various problems associated with a mandatory celibate priesthood. The problem of men with homosexual tendencies using the celibate priesthood as a means of protecting themselves in one way or another has long been a problem with the Latin Rite. Recently, it has become such a problem that just a few months ago the Vatican sent investigators to U.S. seminaries to ensure that individuals of homosexual tendencies are not being ordained to the priesthood. Granted that most Latin priests are not homosexual, and that the investigations are likely at the prompting of the sex scandals, I still think that men with homosexual tendencies oftentimes enter the priesthood for the wrong reasons. Another more spiritual difficulty is division created by the mandatory celibate priesthood. In my opinion, it tends to merge priest with monk, and it can potentially lead to a gap between the married laity and the unmarried clergy. Not that this in all cases happens, but I believe it does happen in some frequency. Such a gap may further lend to clericalism, by which the holy Church is identified with the clergy.

The Orthodox churches do not have a mandatory celibate priesthood, and therefore they do not seem to suffer these problems as frequently, even though they have their own sex scandals.

Personally, I don’t think that the time is ripe for the Latin Rite to commonly allow married men to become ordained priests. The tradition of having a celibate clergy is so long-established that, were it dropped now, it might endanger in people’s minds the credibility of other long-held traditions.


#10

Thanks for the clarifications :slight_smile:
Your posts helped me a lot… It’s nice talking to people like you, people who well understand the Catholic faith. :smiley:


#11

[quote=Madaglan]While it is quite possible that a married priest may encounter this ever-real difficulty, and while a married priesthood is by no means perfect, there are various problems associated with a mandatory celibate priesthood. The problem of men with homosexual tendencies using the celibate priesthood as a means of protecting themselves in one way or another has long been a problem with the Latin Rite. Recently, it has become such a problem that just a few months ago the Vatican sent investigators to U.S. seminaries to ensure that individuals of homosexual tendencies are not being ordained to the priesthood. Granted that most Latin priests are not homosexual, and that the investigations are likely at the prompting of the sex scandals, I still think that men with homosexual tendencies oftentimes enter the priesthood for the wrong reasons. Another more spiritual difficulty is division created by the mandatory celibate priesthood. In my opinion, it tends to merge priest with monk, and it can potentially lead to a gap between the married laity and the unmarried clergy. Not that this in all cases happens, but I believe it does happen in some frequency. Such a gap may further lend to clericalism, by which the holy Church is identified with the clergy.

The Orthodox churches do not have a mandatory celibate priesthood, and therefore they do not seem to suffer these problems as frequently, even though they have their own sex scandals.

Personally, I don’t think that the time is ripe for the Latin Rite to commonly allow married men to become ordained priests. The tradition of having a celibate clergy is so long-established that, were it dropped now, it might endanger in people’s minds the credibility of other long-held traditions.
[/quote]

This is a problem with holiness, not celibacy. Is adultery any more or less grave than homosexuality? They are both intrisically disordered. You are barking up the wrong tree for an answer to the “crisis” in the priesthood.


#12

[quote=Madaglan]While it is quite possible that a married priest may encounter this ever-real difficulty, and while a married priesthood is by no means perfect, there are various problems associated with a mandatory celibate priesthood.
[/quote]

It is usually the case that, “there are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

The problem of men with homosexual tendencies using the celibate priesthood as a means of protecting themselves in one way or another has long been a problem with the Latin Rite. Recently, it has become such a problem that just a few months ago the Vatican sent investigators to U.S. seminaries to ensure that individuals of homosexual tendencies are not being ordained to the priesthood. Granted that most Latin priests are not homosexual, and that the investigations are likely at the prompting of the sex scandals, I still think that men with homosexual tendencies oftentimes enter the priesthood for the wrong reasons.

This is more of a cultural problem then a problem with the celibate priesthood, specific to our modern culture especially. In the past the problem of having a large amount of homosexuals in the priesthood simply didn’t exist, so it can’t be a problem with the celibate priesthood in particular. I think we should focus on altering the culture before a long-standing tradition such as the celibate priesthood (not that you’re advocating it). I also think your logic is invalid on these grounds: the Orthodox take all of their bishops from the celibate. If this problem with homosexuals is indicitive of the celibate clergy, then how come the Orthodox bishops don’t have the problem as well? Note, I realize the priesthood in general isn’t, but you would expect the bishops which have this rule enforced to mirror that of the Catholic priesthood which has the rule enforced.

Another more spiritual difficulty is division created by the mandatory celibate priesthood. In my opinion, it tends to merge priest with monk, and it can potentially lead to a gap between the married laity and the unmarried clergy. Not that this in all cases happens, but I believe it does happen in some frequency. Such a gap may further lend to clericalism, by which the holy Church is identified with the clergy.

How else would the Church be identified? Without priests she could not function.

And as another note: aren’t the clergy supposed to be ‘set aside,’ to do God’s work?

Not being argumentative here, just… putting my thoughts out.

The Orthodox churches do not have a mandatory celibate priesthood, and therefore they do not seem to suffer these problems as frequently, even though they have their own sex scandals.

We’re referring to the problem of homosexuals in the priesthood?

Personally, I don’t think that the time is ripe for the Latin Rite to commonly allow married men to become ordained priests. The tradition of having a celibate clergy is so long-established that, were it dropped now, it might endanger in people’s minds the credibility of other long-held traditions.

It would be similar to the sneering that accompanied the plans to abandon limbo. People think limbo is Catholic teaching, but it’s just theological speculation, but the vast majority of people don’t know the difference between the two. You’re very right about perception here.


#13

Originally Quoted by RobNY:

This is more of a cultural problem then a problem with the celibate priesthood, specific to our modern culture especially. In the past the problem of having a large amount of homosexuals in the priesthood simply didn’t exist, so it can’t be a problem with the celibate priesthood in particular.

I am not sure if we can ascertain one way or another how many homosexuals existed in the priesthood in the past. If human beings were the same in nature as they are now, then I imagine that there were some problems, even if it were not explicitly because of the mandatory celibate priesthood.

When you say “culture” I presume that you mean “secular culture.” There is also “Catholic culture,” which has its own traditions and often interacts with “secular culture.”

I also think your logic is invalid on these grounds: the Orthodox take all of their bishops from the celibate. If this problem with homosexuals is indicitive of the celibate clergy, then how come the Orthodox bishops don’t have the problem as well? Note, I realize the priesthood in general isn’t, but you would expect the bishops which have this rule enforced to mirror that of the Catholic priesthood which has the rule enforced.

You argue well, and I appreciate your proposition. I am sure that the Orthodox have some incidents of homosexual priests. Please don’t think that I’m trying to limit this problem simply with a mandatory celibate priesthood. To be honest, I probably over-stated this as a “problem,” since it can be found in the mandatory monastic celibacy, too. But here’s what I was thinking, and perhaps you can give me feedback.

Until recently, Christian culture looked shamefully upon individuals with homosexual tendencies. I would imagine that, given a certain time and historical context, if someone were of this class of individuals, he would be ashamed of himself and might even blame himself for his “disorder.” How might such an individual, especially one who is a devout Christian, cope with the expected sense of religious guilt as well as the fear of being known for one’s genuine feelings? One might think of becoming a Catholic priest, or even a Catholic monk. One would not have to do what is societally expected (marry), and since one could not engage in relations with members of the same sex, one could therefore use the priesthood as a pious vocational alternative to sinful living. Since both priesthood and monastic life mandate celibacy, the orientation of its members is moot to the outside world (it is believed by most on the outside that celibates contain many of a heterosexual orientation as well as homosexual). Whatever the orientation, the religious image dominates and pales those things considered disordered. Now, a traditional monastic lifestyle often requires many sacrafices: rules of silence, long hours of prayers, fasting, etc. While these are ideals for all Christians, not all Christians can perform these monastic duties to the maximum. While the priesthood still demands much in terms of parish and spiritual duties, more Christians can do these. So, if we assume that the majority of homosexuals are like many human beings who are incapable of a more complete sacrafice, then we can safely assume that more of them would be attracted to the priesthood than strictly monastic life. Whatever the individual enters, he feels vindicated to a degree and, rather than receive ignominy from a Christian culture which holds homosexuality as base, is held in high esteem for his vocation to God.

Now, you are correct in alluding to the cultural problem. Today, I see numerous conflicts, between “secular culture” and “Catholic/Christian culture,” which greatly varies in qualities.

So, perhaps the (relatively minor) problem I was speaking about, does not have as much force today because of “secular culture.” Then again, what if what was “Catholic/Christian culture” is strongly affected by “secular culture” to a degree that the latter’s spirituality and traditions are significantly compromised? Would such a hybrid culture say that homosexuality is ok and therefore would everyday Catholics as well as bishops thus lower the pressure against it, thereby allowing a greater number of individuals with homosexual tendencies to visibly enter Church ministry?


#14

In any case, I think that you are correct in pointing to the Orthodox example of pulling bishops from the monks. There is of course no fool-proof guarentee against homosexuality. I suppose that much of my argument is influenced by the fact that I haven’t heard of any gay-sex issues in priesthood or monastic life of the Greek or Russian Churches, whereas I have read about them in the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, much of the literature I have read on the matter comes from secular as opposed to Catholic sources, and therefore such sources may be tendentious against the Catholic Church. I have read about Greek sex scandals, however, involving bishops and young females.

I am not sure what certain individuals with homosexual tendencies would do were celibacy optional. I think many would still try to become celibate priests, but I think there would be fewer becoming priests with the purpose of avoiding suspicions of homosexuality, since the priesthood would then be varied with single and married priests, which would therefore reduce the protective effects of the former model, in which one’s orientation seems to be swept away by a uniform religious identity that invariably subsumes under it both orientations.

But then again, times are changing, and I would be surprised if the motivation of concealing one’s orientation and vindicating one’s sense of worth is as major a concern for today’s Catholics as it was maybe 100 years ago.

I personally think that things are so complicated in today’s global environment, that it is difficult to say for sure what exactly is going on, what is cause, what is effect, and what is the nature of the agents. You very well may be more correct than me. I shall leave it at that. Please don’t think this as a diatribe against those with homosexual tendencies. There are many heterosexual priests in the priesthood who are more sexually sinful than the former, especially when the former are able to restrain themselves whereas the latter are unable. I still see homosexuality as a deviation from what is dicated by natural law, although I hold no personal predjudice against those who are such, since all men are deviated from the natural law in their concupisence.


#15

Matthew 19:12
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Isaiah 56:3-5
3Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 4For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

If one chooses to be an eunuch for the Kingdom, whats the problem?

It is a choice.


#16

paolo90.

JP II in the Theology of the body explains that celibacy is lived out as a symbol of the eventual union with God in Heaven. The celibates are an icon of our solitude and the communion in Heaven with God (The beatific vision per St. Thomas) that they live out and anticipate concurrently. They are a sign to us lay people that our ultimate destiny is similar to the state that they are living-virginal yet unitive with God.

Thanks.

in XT.


#17

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