Celibacy unbiblical?

A Jehovah’s Witness sent me this. If the apostles have a “right to marry”, then how can the Church prohibit bishops and priests from exercising that right? How can they prohibit what God has allowed? Thanks

Celibacy of the clergy

Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (Priestly Celibacy, 1967), endorsed celibacy as a requirement for the clergy, but he admitted that “the New Testament which preserves the teaching of Christ and the Apostles . . . does not openly demand celibacy of sacred ministers . . . Jesus Himself did not make it a prerequisite in His choice of the Twelve, nor did the Apostles for those who presided over the first Christian communities.”—The Papal Encyclicals 1958-1981 (Falls Church, Va.; 1981), p. 204.

1 Cor. 9:5, NAB: “Do we not have the right to marry a believing woman like the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” (“Cephas” is an Aramaic name given to Peter; see John 1:42. See also Mark 1:29-31, where reference is made to the mother-in-law of Simon, or Peter.)

1 Tim. 3:2, Dy: “It behoveth, therefore, a bishop to be . . . the husband of one wife “married only once,” NAB].”

Before the Christian era, Buddhism required its priests and monks to be celibate. (History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, London, 1932, fourth ed., revised, Henry C. Lea, p. 6) Even earlier, the higher orders of the Babylonian priesthood were required to practice celibacy, according to The Two Babylons by A. Hislop.—(New York, 1943), p. 219.

1 Tim. 4:1-3, JB: “The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times there will be some who will desert the faith and choose to listen to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from the devils; . . . they will say marriage is forbidden.”

There’s no way you could reasonably say it’s unbiblical. St Paul extols the virtues of celibacy quite a bit. Also that quote from Corinthians is simply wrong. In fact it’s mangled so much it’s obviously an intentional mistranslation.

But if Saint Paul says he has a right to marry like the other apostles, then why should celibacy be mandatory and not left to the priest to decide? The JW will argue that we’re imposing something that God Himself did not impose.

Also, the passage from Timothy seems pretty clear on the requirements for a bishop, and they include married (1 Timothy 3:2) and having kids (verse 4). Also Titus 1:6 (on Priests).

But that’s not what the verse actually says. It says nothing at all about a right to marry. And of course St Paul himself never married.

The practice of voluntary celibacy was a common practice among jewish people awaiting the coming of the Messiah. It was also common practice among early Christians. Saint Paul was celibate.

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 (Matthew 19:12).

Required celibacy for the clergy was a gradual discipline. Celibacy and poverty were encouraged in order to show that missionaries weren’t after anything. Celibacy and virginity were also signs of being completely focused on God.

Celibacy for the clergy is not a doctrine, so their appeal to scripture is a bit specious. It’s a discipline with a rich theological history.

Guys yall gotta start reading all of the Scriptures and not cherry picking verses. St Paul clearly says it’s better not to marry. Would he say it’s better not to marry and then turn around and tell Church leaders that they have to marry? That’s clearly not a logical understanding of what St Paul is saying. He is simply saying that if a bishop is married it has to be only once. It’s really quite simple. :wink:

Paul wasn’t a bishop, so he didn’t have to be married. But he says “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” (1 Timothy 3:2). It doesn’t say ‘or single’.

Also, 1 Corinthians 9:5 implies Peter was married, which is backed up by Matthew 8:14 “And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother lying, and sick of a fever:” (Douay-Reims)

This has nothing to do with whether or not St Peter was married. The consensus is he was. The question is whether or not celibacy is “unbiblical.” It clearly is not. And there is no way to construe the language in Timothy as a command to marry. Moreover many of the first bishops were not married. You can’t take verses in isolation from the rest of Scripture. That is the root of every heresy to ever afflict the Church. And you can’t divorce Scripture from practice.

Also you completely ignored my question.

Would he say it’s better not to marry and then turn around and tell Church leaders that they have to marry?

Would you like to address it?

I never said celibacy was bad, but the Scripture seems clear that bishops are required to be married and have kids.

Paul said celibacy was good, but not for everyone. Also, he spoke that by concession, not as a command. “Now as a concession, not a command, I say this” 1 Corinthians 7:6. Paul’s opinion was the unmarried focus better on the Lord, but God, through Paul, commanded church leaders to be married.

St Paul was a leader and he wasn’t married. Many early bishops were not married. Grammatically there is no way to construe that verse as a command to marry. The idea is not supported by the rest of Scripture. Just because you keep repeating something doesn’t make it true. :wink:

This should refute him. Priestly celibacy is unBiblical. NOT!

Needanswers. Celibacy is NOT “unbiblical”.

CCC 1619 Virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is an unfolding of baptismal grace, a powerful sign of the supremacy of the bond with Christ and of the ardent expectation of his return, a sign which also recalls that marriage is a reality of this present age which is passing away.116

CCC 1620 Both the sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord himself. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will.117 Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdom118 and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other:
[INDENT]
Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.119 [/INDENT]

TxGodfollower. You said (bold mine):

QUOTE:
(From post 10)
the Scripture seems clear that bishops are required to be married

(From post 4)
Also, the passage from Timothy seems pretty clear on the requirements for a bishop, and they include married (1 Timothy 3:2) and having kids (verse 4).

You were giving everybody on this thread your private interpretation of 1st Timothy 3:2b and 1st Timothy 3:4b.

1st TIMOTHY 3:1-5 1 The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. 2 Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3 no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; 5 for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church?

So if a man cannot have children, does his sterility disqualify him from the Bishopric (because after all, if he were sterile, how can he be “keeping his children submissive”)? Is that what you are saying?

FIVE possible interpretations of 1st Timothy 3:2a (Now a bishop must be . . . the husband of one wife)

  1. If this Bishop is married, no more marriages (ONE wife and ONE wife ONLY) but this doesn’t mean he has to have one wife MINIMUM. People who have had more than one wife (even for licit reasons—such as the passing of his first spouse) are not to be considered for the Episcopacy or Bishopric.

  2. If this guy wants to be a Bishop, he MUST get married first.

  3. Wife/schmife. You not only don’t need a wife, you don’t even need to be a man. A Bishop can be a woman.

  4. The guy who is a Bishop not only doesn’t need a wife, but he can have a homosexual partner or “husband”.

  5. The Bishop can have many “wives”.

Your answer is number two.
Other Bible-only interpretations include number three.
Yet other Bible-only interpretations include number four.
Some present-day Mormon offshoots who say they are following the Bible (among other writings), say a Bishop should have MORE than one wife.

But the Catholic Church has held to number one above for 2000 years.

CCC 1618b . . . .From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.114

Why should I believe you and answer number two. Or why should I believe Bible groups that assert number 3 or 4? Or the groups who hold to polygamy (number 5)?

Incidentally. If you don’t think St. Paul was a Bishop, WHY was he ordaining men? Why would he have ordained Timothy (the man from which letter you quoted was sent to) by the laying on of hands?

St. Augustine in the 300’s repented from his concubine situation but he never had a wife. Why did none of the other Bishops figure out your tradition’s prohibition and condemn St. Augustine at the Council of Carthage or Hippo?

What do you think “virginity for the sake of the Kingdom” is?

Why would Jesus live out a virginal life?

Why would St. Paul call virginity a “better way”?

Is the “one wife” aspect a “minimum” as you would say, or a “maximum” which the Church, history, and others say (and fits with the live of Jesus and St. Paul).

When the Book of Revelation talks about people who “follow the lamb wherever he goes” we both know, St. John wasn’t talking about “trail hiking”.

The people who “follow the lamb wherever he goes” was in the context of virginity.

REVELATION 14:4 (New Jerusalem Bible) These are the sons who have kept their virginity and not been defiled with women; they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; they, out of all people, have been redeemed to be the first-fruits for God and for the Lamb.

TxGodfollower. In your paradigm, concerning the people described in Revelation 14:4 who “follow the lamb wherever” Jesus went, . . . . should these people be out of consideration for the Bishopric or the Episcopacy?

Hopefully these questions that are immediately raised from the traditions of men and interpretations you seem to be holding fast to, helps provide insights as to WHY this interpretation of 1st Timothy 3 is implausible if not impossible.

God bless.

Cathoholic

A couple of thoughts here:

First, celibacy is a decision that’s left up to a man – if he decides that God is calling him to married life, he may choose married life. However, if he decides that God is calling him to the priesthood, he freely chooses celibacy. The Church isn’t exactly going around, pinning single guys to the ground and forcing celibacy on them!

Second, as Seraphim has already mentioned, the translation “right to marry” is a poor translation. The Greek looks more like “to have a sister wife”, which is a concept open to greater interpretation.

Third, to suggest that the “right to marry like other apostles” means that the other apostles were all married is a poor understanding of that verse. Paul is talking about rights, and not making the assertion about whether others have *exercised *those rights! In fact, in context, he asserts that he is not going to exercise those rights – rather, this is a discussion solely about whether he holds the same rights as the apostles!

Finally, Jesus himself talked about those who have chosen to be eunichs for the sake of the kingdom. The key here is that it’s freely chosen, and explicitly not imposed by God! Now, in the old system, under the Mosaic covenant, men were born into priesthood; if the requirement for celibacy existed there, then you could claim an imposition of the discipline. But, since the new priesthood under Jesus is not a hereditary vocation, there’s no notion of being forced to do anything!

Celibacy and the Catholic Priest

Many people believe that the Catholic Church violates the Word of God because it forbids people to marry (cf. 1 Timothy 4:3) or that it is wrong for priests to remain celibate. To get a clearer picture of this issue, let’s examine what the Bible has to say about the subject of celibacy.

Matthew 19:11-12
11Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Jesus offers the celibate life as a gift and tells us that “The one who can accept this should accept it.”

1 Corinthians 7:1
1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.

1 Corinthians 7:7
7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Paul reveals his own celibacy and offers an earnest wish that more people would follow his example.

1 Corinthians 7:8-9
8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Paul concedes that getting married is better than struggling with sexual temptation; for those that “cannot control themselves, they should marry.”

Is Paul completely opposed to marriage? Not at all. The book of Hebrews states:

Hebrews 13:4
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Why then does Paul recommend celibacy?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35
32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

From this passage, we can see Paul’s primary reason for advocating celibacy: he wants everyone to live in undivided devotion to the Lord, and in all of these verses, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus calls some men to the priesthood and offers them the gift of a celibate life to be lived in undivided devotion to God. Paul understands that not everyone is offered this gift and that not all to whom it is offered can or will accept it.

There are Latin Rite Catholic priests who are married; typically, these are men who were priests in the Anglican, Orthodox or other faith traditions and have converted to the Catholic faith after they were married in those churches. Under special circumstances, they may be ordained to serve as Catholic priests. Men who are already Catholic when they begin to discern their call to the priesthood must remain celibate. In other rites, Catholic priests may be married.

The Catholic Church forbids no man to marry. However, she does desire that those who will represent Christ, who will stand *in persona Christi *(in the place of Christ) when administering the sacraments as priests, be like their Lord as fully as possible. This means that like Jesus, they are celibate men prepared to sacrifice their own lives in the service of God and others.

The calling and the gift are offered by God; those who choose to accept them do so freely.

No, scripture says that a Bishop should have had only one wife. See? Divorce has NEVER been an option in the Church…just as Jesus said. Those who had been married more than once were not eligible for the episcopacy. Easy divorce is a Protestant thing.

Like Catholics, the Orthodox require celibacy for their bishops.

Paul said celibacy was good, but not for everyone. Also, he spoke that by concession, not as a command. “Now as a concession, not a command, I say this” 1 Corinthians 7:6. Paul’s opinion was the unmarried focus better on the Lord, but God, through Paul, commanded church leaders to be married.

Right. See post #15.

Post too long, had to split

Show me where Paul claimed to be a bishop.

The passage in Timothy and Titus is clear. Any dictionary will tell you what ‘Must’ means; its a requirement, not a maybe. Even if you take ‘one wife’ to mean not divorced, there is still the requirement for children; either biological or adopted. The 5 possible interpretations you give; only one of them is the plain literal words Paul spoke.

The passages in Revelation and Matthew aren’t directed at bishops, neither is the verse in 1st Corinthians. If God wanted to put bishops and church leaders to a different standard than average believers, He certainly could do so.

If Christ wanted single Bishops, why did he choose Peter who was clearly married?

Paul was ordaining people because he was an apostle. Show me where he claims to be a bishop and I will stand corrected. Likewise, Christ never claimed to be a bishop.

Even if you put the wife as a max, how do you address the requirement for children?

The audience here isn’t bishops or church leaders.

I have done a bit of studying on this and found that the Quinisext Council admits that celibate priests weren’t the Apostle’s original
Quinisext Council:
“Moreover, this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya, and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offence to the people. Since, therefore, it is our particular care that all things tend to the good of the flock placed in our hands and committed to us - it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind shall in any way occur. And we say this, not to abolish and overthrow what things were established of old by Apostolic authority, but as caring for the health of the people and their advance to better things, and lest the ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach…But if any shall have been observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed.”
They pushed celibacy to appease the locals.

So, if Catholics provide thorough albeit lengthy answers to your questions, you won’t read them because they take too long?

Silly me…I thought you were interested in learning what we have to say.

Show me where Paul claimed to be a bishop.

That would require a lengthy answer. I need your promise to read it.

The passage in Timothy and Titus is clear. Any dictionary will tell you what ‘Must’ means; its a requirement, not a maybe. Even if you take ‘one wife’ to mean not divorced, there is still the requirement for children; either biological or adopted. The 5 possible interpretations you give; only one of them is the plain literal words Paul spoke.

The passage is not laying down a rule that only married men can be bishops; it is saying that men (who are normally married) can only be married ONCE if they want to be a bishop.

If Christ wanted single Bishops, why did he choose Peter who was clearly married?

Christ chose Peter who WAS married. Can you prove that he still was during the time of his ministry? :nope:

But there is nothing wrong with an Apostle or Bishop being married because JESUS CHOSE PAUL, ALSO.

BOO-YAH!

Paul was ordaining people because he was an apostle. Show me where he claims to be a bishop and I will stand corrected. Likewise, Christ never claimed to be a bishop.

Paul refers to himself as a deacon which is lower than a bishop. Peter refers to himself as a Bishop. Jesus was God and does not refer to himself as a Bishop or Deacon for that reason.

Even if you put the wife as a max, how do you address the requirement for children?

How many children did Paul have? :wink:

I meant too long to post. ~9,000 characters and a limit of 6,000.

I read long stuff all the time, please enlighten me.

Citation for Paul saying he is a deacon?

Peter still being married: "St Clement of Alexandria:They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, ‘Remember the Lord’. Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them. Thus also the Apostle says, ‘That he who marries should be as though he married not’, and deem his marriage free of inordinate affection, and inseparable from love to the Lord; to which the true husband exhorted his wife to cling on her departure out of this life to the Lord. [p.541, Book 7, The Stromata, Clement of Alexandria, Ante Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2] "

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