I’ve been hearing from Protestants and even Eastern Orthodox that “celibacy is bad.” I am wondering why they think celibacy is bad? I think the argument that I hear from Protestants at least, is that there is no instance anywhere in the Bible that forbids anyone from marrying (I think this is used in reference to priests). Eastern Orthodox say that intentional celibacy is never a good thing or at least, should be observed only by monastics.

I have no idea if any of the above is true because I have not journeyed into this subject matter myself. Both arguments seem pretty weak to me, to be honest.

For one thing, no one forced me to be celibate and I am wondering why such a concept is absolutely shunned by parts of mainstream-even apostolic-Christianity. I can see celibacy being shunned by western, secular society but by other Christians?

If anything, I think being celibate can add more to your spirituality and faith in God.

Celibacy is a very “Catholic” thing, but it is also a important matter in many peoples life. Some are living in celibacy more or less against there own choice, some do it because they want to, there are many reasons and also many answers. However, celibacy is almost always our free choice. It should however, IMHO, be made only for religious reasons.

The “bad” part is that celibacy do increase the risk of prostate-cancer. It also cause problems with urination (I suffer from that.) but it is a very common thing people like me, over 50, must deal with, but it affect only us who are men.

However, to live in celibacy [chastity] must be a free choice and one who want to do it must be aware of the fact that it may take years and many prayers to stay in celibacy. And in my opinion, nobody who are married should make that decision lightly. But I am sure that you will get better answer from members who know more about it then I do. I live in celibacy, not quite my free will choice but the only possible way to maintain my right to Communion. I was married to a woman who was divorced and I would have converted to the Catholic faith much sooner then I did because as long as I was married I did live in sin and could not receive Communion and that is the only way to become a Catholic so I had to wait for her to say “I think we need to divorce”. And now, if I should marry again, I would lose my right to Communion, I think.

Celibacy is not a Church teaching so its not relevant if it is in the bible or not (and its not in the Bible as a teaching).
It is a discipline and like all disciplines it can be changed. In fact the Catholic Church has many married priests so you might want to mention that to any protestants who raise the subject.

I think you may be going too far, there.

Remaining unmarried, as a concept, is commended by both Church and Scripture as a spiritual path for those who are called to it.

Monastic life, which includes remaining unmarried, is a longstanding tradition in both East and West, with roots in the New Testament (Paul’s officially-enrolled widows and virgins).

That Christian priests should be ordained only from those who are unmarried is the distinctive Western/Catholic discipline, but that is distinct from the general idea of deliberately forgoing marriage as a spiritual vocation.


Yes, but it is not a teaching from The Bible. It is mentioned as a possible way to live, and a possibility can not be a teaching. (?)

If we read the Bible, we see that St. Paul strongly encourages celibacy for God’s sake.

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 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.

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 is offered by God; those who choose to accept it do so freely.

Or they are priests of the Eastern Catholic Churches, in which ordination of married men is the norm, rather than the exception (at least in their traditional territories).

You will have to ask them. There is no universal response to this question, because they do not speak with a unified voice.

Orthodox have celibacy in their tradition so I am not sure why you would get that reaction from them.

And neither does the Catholic Church. Celibacy and the priesthood are voluntary. If one is not called to it, one is free to seek the vocation of marriage.

Uh, no Orthodoxy does not say that. Maybe some individual people do.

Christ himself, and Saint Paul, laud celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom and even encourage it.

Correct. I was thinking of converts to the Latin Rite, but precision is important, and I will amend my document to reflect these distinctions. Is this acceptable:

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 Latin Rite Catholics when they begin to discern their call to the priesthood must remain celibate. In other rites, Catholic priests may be married.

True, if by “not a teaching” you mean “not mandatory for everyone.” God created marriage and commanded reproduction, too, so celibacy is indeed only an option.

The earlier remarks, though, seemed to be downplaying the importance of celibacy by reducing it to a Catholic quirk that could go away at any time, when in fact it is held up in Scripture and Tradition as a praiseworthy path, even more difficult and potentially more rewarding than marriage. I was trying to point out that celibacy as a concept is much larger than the question of a celibate priesthood.

Possibly I am too sensitive because I have encountered folks who strongly oppose celibacy even as a voluntary option – not only secular libertines who focus on the “not having sex” part, but even Christians who deny or reinterpret the evidence that Jesus and Paul praised celibacy and practiced it themselves.


Yes, except, of course, that Orthodox priests are already validly ordained, so should they convert to Catholicism, they would have no need of being ordained.

Granted faculties?

Yes, they would need to be granted faculties.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.