Celibacy and Adam


My understanding of consecrated celibacy is that it is a charism of the priesthood, in that the priest gives up sexual relations “for the good of the kingdom”, in anticipation of what we were made for: true union with God.

Celibates “skip” marriage in anticipation for the True Marriage: the marriage of the Lamb.

However, if Adam was created sinless, fully human in the way God intended for all of us, why did he need Eve? Why was it “not good for him to be alone”? Why was he not complete, as a celibate male (that is, THE celibate male), in that he was united wholly, fully to God (prior to the Fall, of course).



Deep thought!

I would suggest that the most prominent of all purposes for consecrated celibate life now is a prophetic one - to point to the life to come, to life above where there is, as you know, no marrying or being given in marriage because God is our all in all. Remember that this is a lesson that was not necessary pre-fall as man’s relationship with God had not been disrupted.

But still the question remains: If man’s relationship with God was “perfect” before the fall, why the need for a pre-fall spouse?". The answer to this, I believe, lies in understanding the difference between life in the garden and life in heaven. Both were/are “perfect”, but Heaven, I would suggest, in a higher and “more complete” way. You mentioned man being “fully, wholly united to God” before the fall. While there was no disruption that comes from sin before the fall, I’m not so sure that what you are implying was completely true either - to the degree that you’re implying it, that is.

Does this help?



Ahh, yes! It helps immensely!

What you’re saying is that life in Eden, pre-fall, was idyllic, perfect, but not yet truly heaven. Thus, while Adam was sinless, he was not yet perfectly united to God, and union with Eve was necessary in order to fully unite with God.


I would just add that, when Adam was created there was no “marriage of the Lamb” in the future (though of course God knew that the Fall would occur and how he would reconcile fallen humanity with himself).


Mmmmmmm…No. Not quite, I don’t think.

There are two different kinds of “perfect”. There is “without flaw” and then there is “maximally complete”. Those two are not the same thing. One (the second) is greater, more, than the other.

Think of it in terms of dimensions. Something that is two-dimensionally perfect and something that is three dimensionally perfect are both perfect things, but there is more to the three dimensional object than the two dimensional. Right?

Life in the garden (pre-fall) was without flaw. It was not maximally complete. It was, we might say, “two-dimensionally perfect”. Life in the garden never was going to be three dimensionally perfect, short of falling in brokenness and then being elevated to something higher.

Thus we speak every so often of our “happy fault”.

Does that help clarify?



Sorry, I wanted to elaborate on what I said at the end of my last post but couldn’t at the time. Had to cut it short.

Above, I mentioned that life was never going to be “three-dimensionally” perfect. A perfect marriage between Adam and Eve was not the way to a three dimensional perfection. There was no way for a third dimension to enter the picture, except by a completely unmerited decision on the part of the Lord to first allow the fall of man and then to mend the wound by infusing that third dimension Himself, or by sharing His life with us in a way that He did not before the fall. (Sanctifying grace.) We might imagine life before the fall along the lines of Limbo. Perfect “natural” (but not supernatural) happiness.

Man chose to disobey God and “two-dimensional” creation “broke” as a result. But, rather than simply put the glass back together and “re-heat” it to make it fuse back together just exactly like it was before, God chose to infuse a bonding agent into the glass that leaves the pieces broken but radiant and unified with a new beauty that the glass did not have before. (An agent [grace] that is not not proper to the glass itself, but shines brightly through the glass nonetheless.)

Thus, as I mentioned, on occasion we speak intriguingly (almost paradoxically) of original sin as our “happy fault”.

Sin is sin is sin. It is all contrary to the will of God and should never be perpetrated. However, Scripture tells us that where sin does abound, grace also abounds all the more. Not because the Lord wants to promote sin, obviously. Grace is not in any way a “reward” for sin. It is added precisely because the more sin in the world, the harder it is for man to achieve his proper end (harmony with God before the fall, union with Him after). God is rich in mercy and thus sends greater aid to those in greater trouble.

In the “grand scheme” of things then, God offers us an amazing gift. But the more He extends His hand, the more we must pay heed. God offered man one form of life, one level of happiness, and man disobeyed and fell from that. Amazingly, God now offers something greater than the life he offered before, subsequent to the fall; however it is also more difficult now than it was before the fall to abstain from sin and to apply ourselves to doing God’s will. Thus, while the grace is greater, so are the dangers and, because of that, for man it would have been better that he simply obeyed the Lord in the garden and left things at that. (If I do happen to make it to heaven some day, I’m certainly not going to complain about being there. :wink: But we must note…)

Hope this continues to clarify.



Yup. Thank you…

Question: we did not have (or need) sanctifying grace prior to the fall?


The short answer to this is no.




Yes, we (man/Adam and Eve) did have (and need) sanctifying grace prior to the fall. The fall (Adam’s sin) caused the loss of sanctifying grace from the souls of Adam and Eve - and for all their future posterity. That is what it means to be born in the state of original sin - to be born without the presence of sanctifying grace in our souls.

Adam and Eve were created in the state of sanctifying grace:
CCC #373 The Church, …teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice.” This grace of original holiness was "to share in…divine life."
They lost it through sin.




Your post touches on an important but (in my opinion) very difficult subject to articulate precisely, “precisely” because it deals with things both spiritual and infinite.

This granted, while I may have misrepresented Adam and Eve’ s original state by implying that they did not operate on grace at all, I think it is also equally untrue to suggest that they had “sanctifying” grace. There are different kinds of grace. “Sanctifying” grace is the life of Christ within us, the life he lived out on the earth in the flesh in a perfect yes to the Father.

As is demonstrated in Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, just because Jesus had not yet “arrived” on the earth in terms of chronological time does not mean that sanctifying grace could not be applied to man “retroactively”. However, the whole purpose and nature of sanctifying grace is something “greater” (to use a painfully vague term) than the friendship with God that Adam and Eve had in the garden. (See CCC 374. CCC 373 in my catechism is actually CCC 375, so keep this in mind. By 374, I am refering to the paragraph starting, “The first man was not…”)




Hi SK,

It’s 375 in my CCC too. My typing error.

The following are areas where clarification is needed so as not to be misleading:

“Sanctifying” grace is the life of Christ within us, the life he lived out on the earth in the flesh in a perfect yes to the Father.

It is too restrictive to define sanctifying grace as the “life of Christ”. Sanctifying grace is a share in the divine life of God (Triune). (“Christ” always refers to the Second Divine Person united to our human nature.)

Jesus merited the restoration of this divine life for us. It comes to us because of Him, in and through Him.

#1239 …It (Baptism) signifies and actually brings about death to sin and entry into the life of the Most Holy Trinity.
#1265 The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:

I think it is also equally untrue to suggest that they had “sanctifying” grace. There are different kinds of grace.

Sanctifying grace is the supernatural gift of participation in the life of God. Adam and Eve were created with this grace in their souls. (CCC #375)

This life of God is a habitual grace; it has more than one effect. It sanctifies, justifies, deifies…

(We’re away from home, and I tie up the phone line when I’m on the computer here. Husband needs to use the phone, so being a good subservient wife :slight_smile: , I must get off temporarily - right now!)



Looking forward to the rest of your post whenever you have the time to get to it…




Sorry for the abrupt departure - didn’t even have time to preview my post. But I see I did cover the important points. And I don’t mean to downplay Our Lord’s role in restoring us to the state of sanctifying grace. There is the sense in which that grace first came to man directly from God (in His Divine nature only). Whereas after the fall, it comes to us only because of Christ; thru Him. After the fall, sanctifying grace also cleanses from sin.

If you haven’t read it yet, I would suggest looking at CCC section titled “Grace” ----- #1996-2005. Very good.

I liked your comparison to glass broken and bonded back together - giving it a new beauty as the light shines thru. Reminded me of the Council of Trent Catechism which compared the effect of sanctifying grace on the soul to light:

“Grace is … as it were a certain brilliance or light which cleanses all stains from our souls and makes them more beautiful and more brilliant”.




Thank you for your thoughts. I completely understand being cut short. (As you can see in this very thread above. :slight_smile: )

The section in the catechism on grace is indeed beautiful, as is the quote from Trent.

If I may, I’d like to draw your attention to some other sections of the catechism that would seem to back what I am suggesting when I say that Adam and Eve did not (pre-fall) operate under “sanctifying” grace, that the grace in which they lived was different and “less” in some way.

I don’t want to belabor this issue because I think that very little has been revealed about it from Above for a reason, if you know what I mean. But to take things just a bit further…

Your post:

It is too restrictive to define sanctifying grace as the “life of Christ”. Sanctifying grace is a share in the divine life of God (Triune). (“Christ” always refers to the Second Divine Person united to our human nature.)


Sanctifying grace is the grace merited by Christ via his incarnation, human life, passion, and resurrection, as we agree. I myself do not separate Christ’s life (even here on earth) from the rest of the life of Trinity since (obviously) they are one and the same Being.

Adam and Eve were created with [sanctifying] grace in their souls. (CCC #375)

That isn’t what the Catechism says. :wink:

First off, as I’m sure you already know (especially after reviewing the catechism’s section on grace), there are different kinds of grace: sanctifying grace, graces of state, “actual” grace, the grace of perserverence, etc. (See CCC 2003, 2004 for a partial list.)

CCC 375 does state that “The Church…teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original ‘state of holiness and justice’. This grace of original holiness was ‘to share in. . .divine life’.”

Sounds suspiciously like sanctifying grace, right? However. There is a reference at the end of 375 to a portion of Lumen Gentium, which states the following:

I don’t know what the Latin rendering is, but the English certainly makes it appear as if the state of grace of Adam and Eve was not “sanctifying” if sanctifying grace is a full participation in the life of God. If something has to be raised to a certain state, this of course means that it was not in that state originally. The word “raise” implies a progression, an advancement.

There is plenty to add to this, but I have to run for now. (Here’s that whole interruption thing again…:slight_smile: ) With all that I have to accomplish tonight, I may not be able to get back here for about 24 hours or so. So, please be patient…




Ok, sorry for the long delay!…Where were we?

CCC 375 & Lumen Gentium.

Look again at the paragraph in light of Lumen Gentium, which it quotes. One can interpret the final sentence in one of two ways. “This grace of original holiness was ‘to share in…divine life’" could either mean “The definition of original holiness included sharing in the divine life”, or it could also be interpreted, “This grace of original holiness was destined to eventually be elevated to a share in the divine life…” also. I would submit to you in light of several more paragraphs from the catechism, statements from Aquinas and others, and this particular section of Lumen Gentium itself, it is the latter interpretation that is the correct one.

CCC 460 states that, “The Word became flesh to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature’: ‘For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.’ ‘For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.’ ‘The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods’."

Notice the terminology: “The word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature.” Not, “…to restore us to divine sonship.” This sentiment is repeated over and over again in the paragraph. Thus, Adam and Eve may have been created in a “state of grace” but that grace does not appear to have been sanctifying, or a participation in the divine life.

As CCC 376 explains, “As long as he remained in the divine intimacy, man would not have to suffer or die. The inner harmony of the human person, the harmony between man and woman, and finally the harmony between the first couple and all creation, comprised the state called ‘original justice’.”

“Original justice” is how the catechism describes the state of Adam and Eve before the Fall, over and over again in paragraphs 375, 376, 399, 400, 405, 416, and 417, all the while never (to the best of my knowledge) using “sanctifying grace” as a synonym.

CCC 374 states, “The first man was not only created good, but was also established in friendship with his Creator and in harmony with himself and with the creation around him, in a state that would be surpassed only by the glory of the new creation in Christ.” Notice, it does not describe a state that would be “restored” only by the glory of the new creation, but “surpassed”, again suggesting that sanctifying grace and the grace of Adam and Eve were two different things, sanctifying grace being greater.

CCC 398, “Constituted in a state of holiness, man was **destined to be **fully ‘divinized’ by God in glory. Seduced by the devil, he wanted to ‘be like God’, but ‘without God, before God, and not in accordance with God.’" In contrast with what I said in an earlier post about God not originally having designs to elevate man to a higher state than that in which he found himself in the garden, this paragraph would seem to suggest otherwise, illustrating at the same time that man was not “divinized” (did not share in the divine life) before the Fall.

CCC 399, “Scripture portrays the tragic consequences of this first disobedience. Adam and Eve immediately lose the grace of original holiness. They become afraid of the God of whom they have conceived a distorted image - that of a God jealous of his prerogatives.”

CCC 400, “The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination.”

CCC 405, “Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called ‘concupiscence’. Baptism, by imparting (SK’s note: Not “restoring”) the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.”

**CCC 412 **asks, “But why did God not prevent the first man from sinning? St. Leo the Great responds, ‘Christ’s inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon’s envy had taken away.’ And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, ‘There is nothing to prevent human nature’s being raised up to something greater, even after sin; God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good.’ Thus St. Paul says, ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’; and the Exsultet sings, ‘O happy fault,. . . which gained for us so great a Redeemer!’”

And finally, CCC 420, “The victory that Christ won over sin has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us: ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’ (Rom 5:20).”

Peace be with you all,



We’re still on vacation, so I won’t go thru your posts point by point. Perhaps the problem is arising because of the terminology. The words “sanctifying grace” were not used from the very beginning of Christianity as the term to express this “participation in the Divine nature”. Not sure just when the language came about (might have some luck checking out the encyclopedia on www.newadvent.org)).

Now, some quotes from “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”:

Our first parents, before the Fall, were endowed with sanctifying grace. (De fide.)

Our First Parents in Paradise sinned grievously through transgression of the Divine probationary commandment. (De fide.)
The Council of Trent teaches that Adam lost sanctity and justice by transgressing the Divine commandment (D 788). …

Through sin our First Parents lost sanctifying grace and provoked the anger and the indignation of God. (De fide)
In Holy Writ the loss of Sanctifying Grace is indicated in the exclusion of Our First Parents from intercourse with God. (Gn. 3:10, 23). …

Original sin consists in the deprivation of grace caused by the free act of sin commited by the head of the race. (Sent. communis.)
a) The Council of Trent defined Original Sin as the death of the soul (mors animae: D 789). The death of the soul is, however, the absence [not-being-present] of supernatural life, that is, of sanctifying grace. In Baptism Original Sin is eradicated through the infusion of sanctyfing grace (D 792). …As the justice bestowed by Christ consists formally in sanctifying grace (D 799) so the sin inherited from Adam consists formally in the lack of sanctifying grace. …

“Sanctifying grace” is the theological term that came to be used for the supernatural grace of “participation in the Divine nature”. When I grew up, the term “sanctifying grace” was used almost exclusively. In the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, other expressions are also used. I’ve wondered if it had anything to do with the ecumenical movement - because of the difference between Catholic and some Protestant views of how we are saved. In some Protestant denominations there is a distinct separation between being justified and being sanctified. In Catholicism that separation doesn’t exist; they are both part of the ongoing process of being saved from sin. Thus, the grace that accomplishes our salvation is referred to in various ways: as supernatural grace, sanctifying grace, justifying grace, deifying grace, participation in the life of the Holy Trinity, …

I wondered if there was concern that if only the term “sanctifying grace” was used, some Protestants might understand it as a grace providing only what they understand as sanctification (and not justification).



Wow, all these answers are good. It makes me regret thinking of my answer.

  • Adam was placed in Eden so that he could have a taste of heaven.
    Adam was given Eve so that he could have a taste of hell.*

In retrospect, I think all of your answers may be more accurate! :wink: I don’t know - maybe my logic is Not Worthy…

Hope ya’ll have a good day!


The parts I cited from “Fundamentals…” can be accessed on line. Scroll about 1/3 of the way down. Will be nice when/if they get the whole book online.

Here is the home page. www.catecheticsonline.com/Fundamentals.php

Where the “Click here” is underlined, that portion is available online. However, when you click on the “Click here”, an error message will pop up. Just backspace/delete the last four letters (html) of the web address and type in instead php.

There was one other comment I wanted to make for now - regarding the “raising up”. Sanctifying grace was never an integral part of human nature; it was a supernatural gift from God. Adam and Eve also were raised/elevated to a supernatural state when God infused sanctifying grace into them at creation.



Back to your original, and rather strange, question. Human nature as God intended it included both the masculine and the feminine. Although a cursory reading would indicate that God, looking at Adam with pity, realized the poor man needed some help, we know that something else was going on. One man, one God wasn’t the plan. God wanted kids, grandkids, etc. Adam wasn’t built for child bearing. I personally don’t believe that Eve was the improved version of Adam, just a different model.

Celibate priests don’t skip marriage. They’re married to the whole church. They give up sexual relations so they’re free to love everyone. Like God does.


Because if Adam was “THE celibate male” how would there have been any more human beings in this world? God designed us to need each other and for procreation to need a male and a female.

I do not understand how this question arises.

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