Consecrated life as the preferred state?


Why does the church teach that virginity consecrated to Christ as a religious is the preferred state, and yet also claim that this doesn’t mean that marriage is inferior? Also, why is it preferred? I know what St. Paul, said but this teaching makes no sense to me. God said to be fruitful and multiply. If virginity is the preferred state, and everyone who can should do it, the implication is that people who marry do so only because they aren’t strong enough to be consecrated. This implies marriage is not as good. I also am confused because I’m pretty sure God does not want everyone to stop reproducing and for the human race to die off–yet this would happen if everyone was in the “preferred state.”. But virginity is the preferred state and marriage seems like a backup for all those who can’t do the religious life. Like God just made the sacrament where we create new life with Him as a backup?? I’m so confused about the logic behind all of this.

I ask bc recently I wondered about being a nun and felt all the sacrifice would entail; but realized after that God merely wanted me to realize that marriage entails just as much commitment and sacrifice to Christ, so I will be spiritually ready to marry when the right person comes. I think I want to be married so badly because it is how I can best serve God and His kingdom, and anything else would waste my gifts to some extent. Not bc I’m just not cut out to be a nun! But I explained this to some priests and now I’m afraid they think I should be a nun. But the thing is I’ve always been specially formed and inclined to create life, be a wife, and mother, more than most women I know.
I feel called to give myself totally as a spouse to Christ but I don’t feel called to be a religious. I have always wanted to be a wife and mother and raise children with my whole heart and more than most people I know. I am very close to Jesus and while I’m single I am spending this time giving myself to Him forever. But I have a hard time believing that the desire to marry, and all the life experiences He put me through to make me good at mothering / desire to create life are not “preferred.”. I just don’t get it…I’m so confused. I’m feeling pressure from priests to be a religious but the thought of giving up family life is too much, and I thought that creating new life is a huge deal not an afterthought. Can someone explain this all to me :frowning:


All vocations (priesthood/religious, married, single) are considered to be the Will of God and, therefore, important and valuable. I guess it comes down to discerning what God’s plan is for you. :slight_smile:


If you see anything we give to Jesus as a sacrifice then there is something very wrong going on. A giving is all it is anda privilege to give; and none of us will ever be fulfilled outside that giving wherever we give.

Each life we follow in Jesus is a fulfilment; none is better than another.

Each is consecrated in Baptismal Vows…

Please. do not let anyone pressure you. If this is how you feel then religious life is not for you/ And that is a wonderful thing to know, so bravo!
You are right to follow your heart now so be at peace/
Sometimes those in the Church as priests are can have tunnel vision!


Nothing whatsoever is higher than God's Will for a person.
The three signs of vocation (or that it is God's Will for a person) are:

Attraction to the life
Ability to lead the life
Acceptance into the life

Clearly, the first sign is missing - hence God is not calling you to religious life. We are espoused to Christ at our Baptism. He is the spouse of our souls.
Religious life is termed the most perfect, or best, because it is the state of perfection. This does not mean at all that those outside religious life are not called to perfection for we are, but not within the state of perfection, which is religious life. Our perfection, outside religious life as lay people, will be different in expression to that within religious life in the main. We are not called to radical poverty, chastity and obedience - but we are still called to these counsels as expressed in lay life. For example, we are not called to radical poverty but to spiritual poverty and spiritual poverty is superior to radical povery in that the radical poverty of religious is a means of acquiring spiritual poverty.


Dear Erine,

I will not be too harsh on those priests who are encouraging you to be a nun. They probably see something beautiful in your soul that make them think that you would be a good religious - a sister or a nun. But you are the one who must make the decision, not they. From the short post that you made, I personally think that you will be a better wife and mother than a sister or nun. But that is just my opinion.

Do not have any scruples about following God’s Will in the married state. Remember what the Mother Superior told Fraulein Maria (in the Sound of Music)? She said that when you love a man, it does not mean that you love God less. How true!

When you read from books or hear from theologians that the consecrated life is a higher state of perfection than the married life, you need to understand the sense in which they are using the term “higher.” They are speaking in the “absolute” sense, not in the sense “relative” to your present condition. Gold, absolutely speaking, may be more valuable than a piece of bread, but obviously there are certain conditions when a loaf of bread can be more valuable than gold (because you can’t eat gold). As a material object gold is more precious than bread because it is more difficult to find, and it takes a lot more labor to extract from the mines, than making bread. But relative to certain condition, such as in an emergency or a condition of famine, bread can be more valuable than gold. I think that is how we should understand the idea that the consecrated life is higher than the married life. Absolutely speaking, the self-giving involved in the consecrated life is more total or complete (on account of the vow of obedience that the religious has to make). So from the standpoint of consecration - then yes, the consecrated life is higher than the married life. This does not mean that this is the preferred state of life for everyone. Because in a relative sense, that means, relative to how you are able to fulfill God’s Will, you might find the married state more suitable for you than the consecrated state.

I will not argue needlessly with anyone about this point. I only stated one way of understanding the statement that the consecrated life is "higher: than the married life. It is higher in a sense, but not in all possible senses. The bottom line for all of us, like what other posters had already said, is how we in our present situations and conditions, can fulfill God’s Will and serve Him best.

I hope you find a loving husband.



Speaking objectively and theologically, the consecrated state is a higher state and the state of perfection; however speaking subjectively, nothing can be higher than God's Will for a person. This is the way God is calling an individual to journey to holiness with all the Graces necessary to do so.
Because a person is in the state of perfection, or a consecrated religious, does not mean that that person achieves holiness though certainly they have all the means within that state to do so and it is the sole objective of this state in life. Certainly, they are in the most perfect state (objectively and theologically speaking) of life to achieve holiness if God calls them to this state. "To whom much is given, much is expected".
Because a person is not in the state of perfection, or consecrated religious life, does not mean that the person cannot achieve holiness as our saints who were not religious attest. God would not call any person to a state in life that denied them holiness. The very purpose of God's Will in life is to draw a person to achieve holiness, no matter to where He calls a person or to the role and function within the Mystical Body of Christ, The Church.


Thanks everyone, this helped SO much. I want to respond more later when I have time. Btw HopeMercy everything w Jesus is a sacrifice in the sense of sacrificing my own will and having life on my terms; it’s an offering. It’s a privilege like you said but all I meant was that as a single person w my own schedule etc, it will be a big change when I marry and a big commitment that I don’t have an equivalent to right now. Jesus was just reminding me that despite our pop culture’s pervasive message, marriage is not intended to just make me happy and serve me; but I’m marriage as all vocations we serve God and are often happier in the process. I already knew this but I gained a deeper understanding of it in the experience I mentioned.


Joan of Arc was a saintly little girl. If she had lived near a big city like Paris she might have ended up being a nun, but she lived in the tiny remote village of Domremy, on the eastern border of France. Nobody had ever heard of the place.

Joan was called by God to go to war and turn the Hundred Years War around to France's favor. She saved France as an independent nation and as a result set up six hundred years of European and New World history as we know it.

God calls us to all kinds of vocations.


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