Must bishops marry?


#1

1 Tim. 3:2 “Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher…”

In 1 Timothy 3:2, a protestant argues, Paul’s use of the word “must” clearly means bishops are required to marry. Well, beyond the obvious ridiculous nature of such a claim, it clearly contradicts 1 Corinthians 7:38; that is, if Paul is demanding marriage.

To refute his idea of the word “must,” I can think of a few possible ideas. First, in verse 12 Paul continues with the requirements of deacons saying “Let deacons be the husband of one wife…” I believe the word “let” has as much force as Paul’s use of “must.” It appears as a freedom Paul is giving, not a demand.

Second, I am not sure of the accuracy of such a comment, but I have heard polygamy was an issue in those times. If it was, then Paul would clearly be condemning polygamy, stating one must only have one wife and no more than that. Would this be accurate?

Aside from the contradiction in 1 Cor. 7:38, what do you all think of the word “must” in Pauls writing here?

Peace,
Michael


#2

“Must be the husband of one wife” as opposed to the husband of many wives (serially or simultaniously), a common practice then (and now, in some places… like America!)

Paul was meaning to prohibit polygamy, generally for all believers, but emphatically for the leaders.


#3

ANSWER: NO

"The one who stands firm in his resolve, however, who is not under compulsion but has power over his own will, and has made up his mind to keep his virgin, will be doing well. So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better. " (1 Cor 7:37)

I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Cor 7:32)

Further, Jesus himself estates that there are people who don’t marry for the sake of the kingdom.

Pio


#4

[quote=bengeorge]Paul was meaning to prohibit polygamy, generally for all believers, but emphatically for the leaders.
[/quote]

Above and beyond polygamy (which would have been prohibited for Jews already), it was an injunction against *re-*married bishops. But regardless, it was a limit, not a requirement.


#5

It’s amazing how often this comes up!

From Re: help me explain to someone why preists aren’t married

[quote=RocketScientist]I’d recommend Cardinal Stickler’s Book . Priests in the early Church were expected to practice continence, that is, they had to completely abstain from sex after ordination.

The statement in 1 Timothy, that a bishop must be faithful to his one wife, is often misinterpreted as meaning a bishop ought to be married. Actually, the intent is that he not have more than one wife. Was this a prohibition against polygamy? No, that was already forbidden to all Christians. Was it a prohibition against divorce and remarriage? No, again, that was already prohibited, and back then all Christians understood it to be prohibited. It was actually a prohibition against allowing a man who was widowed and remarried from becoming a bishop.

Why the prohibition? Well, the Cardinal explains that to have remarried after being widowed was evidence that continence would be a difficult lifestyle choice for such a person.

He also explains that the Council of Elvira, in approximately the year 305, adopted continence in canon law. He argues further that this couldn’t have just been adopted out of the blue. It had to have been widely understood to have been the longstanding tradition of the Church, or there would have been widespread rebellion among the priests.

By the tenth or eleventh century, the Church was finding more noncompliance with the continence requirement, in part, I think, due to widespread ignorance. At the same time, monasterries were growing, which provided a pool of never married men who could become priests, so they eventually decided against allowing married men to become priests.
[/quote]


#6

[quote=RocketScientist]It’s amazing how often this comes up!

From Re: help me explain to someone why preists aren’t married
[/quote]

Thanks for the links. I found another good site: catholicmind.com/articles/celibacy.htm


#7

Other proof would be that St. Paul himself was both a Bishop and unmarried.


#8

Paul himself was not married so he would have been disqualifying himself from what he already was if he was intending to disqualify single people from being bishops. I agree that it is more likely a statement against remarried bishops or those in polygamous unions which were not unheard of at that time. There is some evidence for the latter in the Church Fathers.


#9

Please excuse my ignoreance (an elminate too), Paul Was a Bishop?


#10

We know that St. Paul went to meet the rest of the Apostles in Jerusalem. There we can assume he was ordained as a high priest of Christ; just as the apostles ordained Judas’ replacement.

The episcopal power of St. Paul is demonstrated in him ORADINING St. Timothy as episcopus (Bishop): “For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands.” (2 Timothy 6)


#11

[quote=michaelgazin]In 1 Timothy 3:2, a protestant argues, Paul’s use of the word “must” clearly means bishops are required to marry.
[/quote]

When this comes up I always ask if the bishop then ceases to be a bishop if his wife dies. That at least gets them to acknowledge that the literal meaning of the passage may not be the right meaning.


#12

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