Celibacy in the early Church


#1

Hi all,

I’ve come up against this argument on an evangelical board.

The early Church imposed celibacy on the priests because they were afraid of sex.

Ridiculous, I know, but she quoted the Council of Elvira, which took place in Spain around 306. Here it is:

“Bishops, presbyters, deacons, and others with a position in the ministry are to abstain completely from sexual intercourse with their wives and from the procreation of children. If anyone disobeys, he shall be removed from the clerical office.”

Does anyone have any background info on this canon? And was this the case in the entire church or just in this province?

Thanks in advance for your help,
Gene


#2

Canons of Elivra. See canon 33 in particular. It seems that the canon is being quoted correctly.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a brief article on the council.


#3

How does she read being ‘afraid’ of sex, esp. seeing as those who were married presumably had marital relations (gasp!). The first thing that comes to mind, besides the above, is that they were trying to fully live out the gospel as written by Matthew 19:11-12: “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.”

Anyway, that is what come to mind…


#4

From the earliest period the Church was personified and conceived of by her disciples as the Virgin Bride and as the pure Body of Christ, or again as the Virgin Mother (parthenos meter), and it was plainly fitting that this virgin Church should be served by a virgin priesthood. Among Jews and pagans the priesthood was hereditary. Its functions and powers were transmitted by natural generation. But in the Church of Christ, as an antithesis to this, the priestly character was imparted by the Holy Ghost in the Divinely-instituted Sacrament of Orders. Virginity is consequently the special prerogative of the Christian priesthood…

HISTORY OF CLERICAL CELIBACY


#5

*If we consider the general aim of the Council of Elvira alongside the concept of law, which in that period of Spanish history was dominated by Roman legal culture, it is impossible to hold that in canon 33 (along with canon 27) we have a new law. It was instead a reaction to the prevalent nonobservance of a traditional obligation that was well known, and to which now was also added a sanction: either observe the obligation that had been undertaken or renounce the clerical office. Clearly if this had been an innovation - which in effect included a retroactive sanction against an acquired right - it would have caused a storm of protest against what would have been a clear infringment of rights. *-Cardinal Stickler, Alfons Maria The Case for Clerical Celibacy: Its Historical Development & Theological Foundations, pg. 23

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#6

Just can’t agree with any statement from any source that promotes celibacy.
God’s first commandment was “increase and multiply” which is a natural law which He made.
If God’s desires are not static then where did all this celibacy and eunuch talk come from ?
When one thinks of all the men and maids that entered convents and the like it staggers the mind to consider how humanity could have benefitted from natural reproduction.

Celibacy takes the natural and turns it into unnatural. Some ot the effects of that are with us now.
It was my understanding that priestly celibacy was not imposed until around 1000 A.D. So what was the problem with the first 1000 years ?
Married priests produced in many cases children that became priests themselves, was that a problem ?

Could it be that its all a giant conspiracy to limit the production of the just ???


#7

[quote=BM5]If God’s desires are not static then where did all this celibacy and eunuch talk come from ?
[/quote]

Umm, that would be the bible. (Jer. 16:1-4, Matt. 19:12, 1 Cor. 7:8, 32-35, 1 Tim 5:9-12, 2 Tim 2:3-4)

[quote=BM5]When one thinks of all the men and maids that entered convents and the like it staggers the mind to consider how humanity could have benefitted from natural reproduction.
[/quote]

What staggers my mind is all the spiritual benefit that came from all those men and maids.

[quote=BM5]Celibacy takes the natural and turns it into unnatural.
[/quote]

No, celibacy takes the natural and turns it into the supernatural.

[quote=BM5]It was my understanding that priestly celibacy was not imposed until around 1000 A.D. So what was the problem with the first 1000 years ?
[/quote]

Clearly the previous posts have shown that not to be the case.

[quote=BM5]Could it be that its all a giant conspiracy to limit the production of the just ???
[/quote]

I don’t think that’s the case.


#8

Why are some non Catholics so obsessed with the minutiae of Catholicism?

Some ideas spring to mind.

  1. They know deep down that there is something to Catholicism and so try to convince themselves that they are wrong.
  2. They have no theology, Tradition or tradition to talk about; like the people who live dull and boring lives and spend their time gossiping about their neighbours who live full lives.

The Council of Elvira was seventeen hundred years ago!!! Tell them to get a life!!

It was at that council I think that the mandatory requirement for clerical celibacy was introduced for the area covered by the council . It should be kept in mind that the Universal Church did not impose the discipline on the whole Latin Rite Church until much later.


#9

Beautiful


#10

[quote=Michael’s Sword]Beautiful
[/quote]

thanks


#11

[quote=Michael’s Sword]Beautiful
[/quote]

I wish it was beautiful but I"m thinking about the sorrow of God when He sees no increase of souls for Himself from the spiritual minded men and maids that had such great love.


#12

[quote=BM5]I wish it was beautiful but I"m thinking about the sorrow of God when He sees no increase of souls for Himself from the spiritual minded men and maids that had such great love.
[/quote]

And you know God’s mind in this, eh? :rolleyes:

These men and women in their fidelity to the celibacy that they embraced (in imitation of Our Lord, no less!) were often far more fecund in bringing souls to Him than the most prolific among the married.


#13

[quote=BM5]God’s first commandment was “increase and multiply” which is a natural law which He made.
[/quote]

Mind you, this was to the man and the woman whose vocation it was to subdue the earth. Secondly, God did not hold His Son to this commandment or the Blessed Virgin Mary, His mother. And what about the increase and multiplication of souls won for God through Baptism? There is a new order and a new life now which our first parents were incapable of passing on to us. Natural birth is no longer enough but super-natural birth in baptism.

[quote=BM5]If God’s desires are not static then where did all this celibacy and eunuch talk come from?
[/quote]

Christ himself even speaks of eunuchs in the Gospel - Matthew 19:12 "For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept *it.” *There are also places in the Old Testament where eunuchs are mentioned. They were servants of the king whose job it was to protect and serve the queen.

[quote=BM5]I wish it was beautiful but I"m thinking about the sorrow of God when He sees no increase of souls for Himself from the spiritual minded men and maids that had such great love.
[/quote]

Sorrow of God for no increase of souls??? Do you think that God is lacking in any way that He needs souls to continue coming into existence? God lacks nothing! He is the one who creates the soul in the first place - not men and women, they can only co-create.


#14

[quote=FCEGM]And you know God’s mind in this, eh? :rolleyes:

These men and women in their fidelity to the celibacy that they embraced (in imitation of Our Lord, no less!) were often far more fecund in bringing souls to Him than the most prolific among the married.
[/quote]

The answer is yes.

Does it make any sense to take the best and lock them up in a holding pen or corral ? Because that basiclly is what it is.
And I wouldn’t be bringing Our Lord into this at all if I was you. He is way above anthing to do with this stuff.

And as for the celibate clergy issue, the quote keeps coming about how Our Lord indorsed it with the eunnuch comment. Its written there and the Church and its members keep bringing it up so all I got to say is “If ya wanna talk the talk then lets see ya walk the walk” or “lets put your money where you mouth is”, The clergy want to be the distinct group of God, they give it all up for Him walk the narrow road, follow Him and do what He says etc.etc.
ALL FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD: RIght?
Now being a eunnuch isn’t just being celibate is it ? If you don’t know it look it up ! If you think that God sanctions this then why don’t ya start lobbying for a castrated priest-hood ? I can just see the headlines now : " C.W.L and Knights lobby for a sexually dysfunctional priesthood " Actually it might be a good idea at that because it would certainly protect the children and drive those homosexuals out. They would run like hell !
Why not take a poll of Clergy and see how many have actually followed this alleged instruction from Our Lord ?


#15

[quote=BM5]The answer is yes.

Does it make any sense to take the best and lock them up in a holding pen or corral ? Because that basiclly is what it is.
And I wouldn’t be bringing Our Lord into this at all if I was you. He is way above anthing to do with this stuff.

And as for the celibate clergy issue, the quote keeps coming about how Our Lord indorsed it with the eunnuch comment. Its written there and the Church and its members keep bringing it up so all I got to say is “If ya wanna talk the talk then lets see ya walk the walk” or “lets put your money where you mouth is”, The clergy want to be the distinct group of God, they give it all up for Him walk the narrow road, follow Him and do what He says etc.etc.
ALL FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD: RIght?
Now being a eunnuch isn’t just being celibate is it ? If you don’t know it look it up ! If you think that God sanctions this then why don’t ya start lobbying for a castrated priest-hood ? I can just see the headlines now : " C.W.L and Knights lobby for a sexually dysfunctional priesthood " Actually it might be a good idea at that because it would certainly protect the children and drive those homo’s out. They would run like hell !
Why not take a poll of Clergy and see how many have actually followed this alleged instruction from Our Lord ?
[/quote]

Jesus was celibate. He was certainly capable to produce children since He is God and man, yet He did not. A priest’s job is to emulate God (not all do all of the time, because they are human too), and in this way they try to do so. St. Paul himself was celibate and spoke highly of celibacy. Please see 1 Cor. 7:8-9. Again, not all Catholic priests are celibate, just look at the Eastern Catholic churches which are in full communion with Rome and are fully Catholic. Celibacy is a discipline, not a doctrine and it stems from trying to emulate Christ. It is not “unnatural”. Are you saying Christ broke His Father’s commandment when He did not procreate? Maybe you should think of the implications of your words.

[quote=1 Cor 7:8-9]I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.
[/quote]

St. Paul’s suggestion here is that if you cannot contain your sexual desires, that you should get married to avoid fornication which leads to death because it is sin and all sin leads to death. But if you can contain yourself, then you should do so, as to emulate Christ.


#16

[quote=BM5]“If ya wanna talk the talk then lets see ya walk the walk” or “lets put your money where you mouth is”, The clergy want to be the distinct group of God, they give it all up for Him walk the narrow road, follow Him and do what He says etc.etc. … Now being a eunnuch isn’t just being celibate is it ? If you don’t know it look it up ! If you think that God sanctions this then why don’t ya start lobbying for a castrated priest-hood ?
[/quote]

So, IOW, according to BM5’s “reasoning” Christ Jesus was Himself a hypocrite since, as far as we know, he never castrated Himself as an example to others.

http://home.houston.rr.com/mchance3/rolleyes.gif

– Mark L. Chance.


#17

[quote=mlchance]So, IOW, according to BM5’s “reasoning” Christ Jesus was Himself a hypocrite since, as far as we know, he never castrated Himself as an example to others.

http://home.houston.rr.com/mchance3/rolleyes.gif

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

Yes, and He must be a hypocrite for never marrying or having children either, but expect us to. :rolleyes:


#18

[quote=BM5]If you think that God sanctions this then why don’t ya start lobbying for a castrated priest-hood ?
[/quote]

Because then it wouldn’t be a sacrifice, and therefore not as high a form of love had they remained uncastrated. You have to keep in mind that celibacy is a choice one makes to further serve God. I’m fairly certain everyone would agree that the thing God desires most of us is love. Now if He made us in a way where we were unable to not love Him, would that really be love? If it is, then how much more true would it be if we could choose and chose to love Him? This is how it works with celibacy; a man chooses out of love to devote himself entirely to his God. He is willing to give up, what is probably, the highest physical pleasure to achieve a spiritual pleasure. It is not an easy task, as Christ Himself points out (cf. Matt 19:11-12), but that’s the whole point. Self sacrifice is a wondefully, glorious thing, as our Lord showed us. After all we are called to be like Him; itsn’t that the definition of a christian.


#19

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