Must those who are all right with being celibate/virginal take that path?


Salvete, omnes.

In the Scripture passage where Jesus is teaching on the various types of “eunuchs” and when He says that some make themselves thus for the Kingdom of God, He later says that not all men can accept this and that whoever is able to accept it, let him accept it.

So, does this mean that anyone who is in fact able to remain celibate/virginal is required to do so? Is someone who can “survive” being a virgin absolutely required to remain so, even if he might want to get married? Is marriage, then, only for those who absolutely cannot live without a partner/children, but, for anyone else, they should remain celibate/virginal? Please explain your answers.

If the above is NOT what is meant, can someone please shed some light on what is actually meant by Jesus’ statement?

Was Jesus perhaps here saying that what He says would be hard to accept because remaining virginal in that society was indeed considered unusual and, indeed, frowned upon? I recall reading somewhere that, in Jewish culture, certainly at that time, marriage was at the very least considered quite the norm. Perhaps Jesus is here saying that it is even possible for someone to give up their very married life for the Kingdom of God --something perhaps shocking in that day?

If there is indeed some other meaning(s) I’ve missed that you think are accurate, please le me know.

And, certainly, if the Church has already infallibly interpreted this particular part of this text, please do tell.

Please do let me know what your thoughts are on this passage.

(Also, apologies if I placed this topic in the wrong forum. Feel free to move the post if such is required.)

Gratias vobis.


Living singly is a stepping stone to all vocations at whatever time they begin to take fruition. One is single before one marries or becomes a religious and/or takes any other kind of vow.

I happen to be single (so far, at age 60) and my vocation is Christian layman.

I may marry and if so, my vocation will be married Christian layman.

There aren’t set times of life one has to move on from one phase to another.


It means not everyone should feel pressure to marry if they don’t want to. Period.


EVERYONE is able to stay celibate for as long as necessary. This whole “some people can’t help it” thing is a load of male-cow-manure if you catch my drift. What God is getting at is that some folks aren’t made for marriage. Many great saints were very sexually inclined and yet remained chaste because that is what they wanted to be. I know other people, however, who are married and really were made to be celibate/religious. Neither way is bad, but total devotion to Christ is always a good option for those who are so inclined.


Referring back to the Greek of Matthew 19:12 (reference: Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition; emphasis mine):

12 εἰσὶν γὰρ εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες ἐκ κοιλίας μητρὸς ἐγεννήθησαν οὕτως, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνουχίσθησαν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ εἰσὶν εὐνοῦχοι οἵτινες εὐνούχισαν ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν. ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν χωρείτω.

ὁ δυνάμενος - the one who can/is able (nominative)

χωρεῖν - to accept/make room for (verb whose subject is the nominative, in this case “ὁ δυνάμενος”)

χωρείτω - (reflexive) accept/make room for; essentially “let them (ὁ δυνάμενος χωρεῖν - one who is able to accept/make room for it) make room for it”

The “acceptance” is not mandated, but encouraged.:thumbsup: Think of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:25-40), which employs similar language:

25 Now in regard to virgins I have no commandment from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. 28 If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that.

29 I tell you, brothers, the time is running out. From now on, let those having wives act as not having them, 30 those weeping as not weeping, those rejoicing as not rejoicing, those buying as not owning, 31 those using the world as not using it fully. For the world in its present form is passing away.

32 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. 33 But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 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. 35 I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

36 If anyone thinks he is behaving improperly toward his virgin, and if a critical moment has come and so it has to be, let him do as he wishes. He is committing no sin; let them get married. 37 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. 38 So then, the one who marries his virgin does well; the one who does not marry her will do better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whomever she wishes, provided that it be in the Lord. 40 She is more blessed, though, in my opinion, if she remains as she is, and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

(Reference: New American Standard Bible: Revised Edition;

Really, it’s simply practical advice: one who is unmarried is going to have an easier time keeping their sights on the Lord, as they simply do not have the responsibilities of married couples toward one another. :smiley:

Another way you may find some answers is by researching the Evangelical Counsels.:wink:


There is nothing in Catholic doctrine that says this. People are free to choose celibacy or marriage.


Sounds like a should and not like a must. But to reject a advice of Jesus is a bit naja…


Thanks for your responses thus far.

When I first saw this passage, I did also look it up on the Greek and it did seem to say whomever is able to “make room” or “accept” the celibate life, “let him” do so.

This seems a pretty strong, if not suggestion, even command that those who are able to live celibately should or even must do so.

So, then, that would suggest that far fewer people should be married than presently are, I would argue…

I mean, the text to me seemed pretty clear.

Yet, while I think I could live celibately, still, I long for a lifelong companion.

So, what am I to do with verses like this?

Since I can live celibately, should I give up any dreams of ever marrying?


The Catholic answer would be that all are called to chaste lives, which outside of the context of marriage are lived in celibacy.

Those who are called to marriage are those who enjoy the marital act, although still chastely (in that case, the marital act is both unitive and procreative; cf. Humanae Vitae).

All people enjoy a vocation (or calling) from God, it is for us (in conjunction with the Church) to discern what God is calling us to in this life.

Again, one might revisit the underlying question though: what is the “end” (in the philosophical sense) of celibacy, especially for you? :compcoff:

As to what one is to do with verses like this… The Catholic Church has spoken on the subject throughout the ages, but most accessibly through the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Bit of a sidenote, but, might I say that I really like the way your mind works? :slight_smile: It is especially nice to meet someone else who has a good working knowledge of the original Greek text! Very cool.


Indeed, it is good to have working knowledge of the source languages, and I wish I knew more… :o

Nevertheless, I think to move the question further, you need to identify an answer to the point (either rhetorically to your self, or here, or in a private message) I had brought up previously. :thumbsup:

Those of us who are so inclined (and, frankly, able) at the seminary make it a point to keep up on these things… :cool:

Just read the first letter of each paragraph, and that might give you a clue about the first part of your sidenote… :smiley:


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