Priests and marriage - more Biblical than not

I seem to see more support for priests being able to marry than not. Came across 1 Timothy 3:2 today:

“Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, and apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentile, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money.”

Not saying a priest should have to marry, but having the option seems to have huge Biblical support - more so than not given that Peter was married as well.

Any chance this could change in the near future in the US?

However, there’s a creeping anachronism in your analysis. If you’re at the beginnings of the Church, and you need presbyters and episkopoi, what will the pool of potential candidates look like? If you don’t have a celibate priesthood in the predecessor religion, then you don’t have a pool of celibates from whom to choose elders. So, at the inception of the Church, there’s a practical consideration – single elders just ain’t out there!

However, as young Christian men grow into adulthood, you suddenly begin to have a pool of men who are able to step into those roles – and who are unmarried.

Any chance this could change in the near future in the US?

Not likely. In order to make the case for a change, it would be necessary to provide sufficient theological rationale to abandon celibacy, as well as sufficient practical arguments (cost/benefit – not only financial, but also in terms of quality of family/marital life for families with married priests). It happens, of course, in certain circumstances in the Church today, but isn’t the norm.

This is a discipline so yes it could change.

There are plenty of protestant ministers who say they envy priests because they dont have to take care of family, they can focus exclusively on God and the sheep.

The priesthood celibate life is not for everyone. The Church vets candidates before hand to try and avoid problems later on. Because as Paul says, if you burn its better to marry.

Overall i wish priests were given the option, but i understand why the Church takes this position

Even Paul did not hesitate in one letter to address his consort. The only reason why he did not take her about with him was that it would have been an inconvenience for his ministry. Accordingly he says in a letter: “Have we not a right to take about with us a wife that is a sister like the other apostles?” But the latter, in accordance with their particular ministry, devoted themselves to preaching without any distraction, and took their wives with them not as women with whom they had marriage relations, but as sisters, that they might be their fellow-ministers in dealing with housewives. I t was through them that the Lord’s teaching penetrated also the women’s quarters without any scandal being aroused.

Clement of Alexandria in this letter defends the goodness of marriage, but it’s interesting to note that Clement speaks of the Apostles refraining from relations with their wives “in accordance with their particular ministry.”

Tertullian and Origen also later write about how the ministerial priesthood practiced sexual continence, and early Church councils also require it, speaking of it as an apostolic tradition. In the west, married men were expected to give up carnal relations with their wives upon ordination.

What Paul writes to Timothy and Titus is an early recommendation on finding sound men for the priesthood in a time when the Church was not as well established, when vocations from the community was not an established process, etc . . . But when people see a celibate priesthood is ONLY a discipline, that doesn’t seem to really capture the point. In a way, it’s a reaffirmation of the early tradition of clerical sexual continence.

I guess I feel that the scriptural basis is heavier in favor of allowing it than preventing it.

I think it should be an option. One of the best pastors I know is a Baptist, married with six kids. It has extra responsibility, but it also provides a type of personal growth and life experience that you just don’t get when you are single.

I have seen clergy that seem really not connected to where people are, because they don’t have the same life experience.

I am not saying all priests should marry, but having some would probably bring a missing balance and perspective to the church.

The early church permitted it, scripture supports the option, and I think we should too.

It supported ordaining married men. Even ante-Nicene, though, it was expected that anyone ordained stop having relations with their wife. That is early Church teaching. Do you support that?

I used to think we should just allow it. Increase vocations. It’s only a discipline. But the early church taught it as apostolic in origin, and I’ve really come to value the importance of traditions in our respective Churches. Not little t or big T traditions, but just those oldest practices we have in general. They’re of great importance to our Churches.

Priests and religious should commit themselves to celibacy or virginity for the sake of the kingdom do something significant. 1) they imitate the life of Christ in a radical way, by not marrying and serving God alone 2) they point towards the eschatological reality of God’s relationship with Man, in heaven, there will be no marriage. 3) They give their lives solely to God and his church.

This is more than a discipline, while the policy of married clergy can change through the centuries, the practice of celibacy comes from Christ himself. (not discipline)

As you can see by my info, I’m currently studying to become a priest. I’m not going to be a celibate because God is calling me to be a priest, I’m going to be a celibate because God has called me to be a celibate. God’s call to celibacy is directly tied into the call to the priesthood. Men in the seminary don’t only discern priesthood they discern celibacy at the same time. A man who says “God is calling me to be a priest, and because the church demands celibacy I’ll do it.” needs more formation. When I make my promise of celibacy at my diaconate ordination it is something that I have prayed over and made a decision over.

I think some in our culture just see priestly celibacy as a rule you have to follow, rather than a call from Christ to follow God in a radical way.

That’s a great way to view things, and I have a deep respect for it.

I do have to say that Jesus could have chosen to give the Keys of the Kingdom to anyone - an he chose to give them to a married man. One could argue that to totally follow his lead would be to only allow married men.

I think that leaving the option open is very reasonable, and if Jesus thought it was a good idea to give the keys to a married man, so do I!

It’s already happening in the US for Eastern Catholic priests. But no priest is allowed to marry. Married men are allowed to be deacons, then priests.

Yes, I agree. Look what St Paul said.

1 Corinthians 9:5

Do we not have the right to take along a Christian wife, as do the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

Thankfully the church doesn’t bend to every “opinion” that comes along.
The celibate clergy is a discipline.
And it’s a good one.
The parishes can barely support their lay staff, and mostly do so at a rate that is not consistent with similar salary cases. There’s no way most parishes could support an entire family. The pull away from their ministry would be very hard for these men to deal with.
The ministers of other faiths who are not married also carry other, full time jobs. A priest cannot do this. He is on call, so to speak 24-7. Already we have parishioners who demand to know where Father is on his day off, like they are entitled to him and to his privacy.
Most people have no clue what all a priest does in a typical day.

And remember, those married apostles left their families to follow Christ.

Any chance this could change in the near future in the US?

Nope, it either changes worldwide or not at all.


Markie, keep in mind that this is a discipline and not a dogma or doctrine, so there are always possible exception to this discipline of the Roman Rite.

However, I have a blog article that should help you with this.

Priestly celibacy is unBiblical. NOT!

Priests are doing this, married men are priests in Catholicism, Orthodoxy and the Assyrian Church already. The married priests I know, their wives are extremely supportive, work a recent paying job with health and benefits, and don’t need much money or financial support, mainly prayers

As GEDdie said, it would have to happen worldwide.

But I think it is unlikely. The Church is not a democracy. We are not going to have a vote based on what people think should happen. It’s never worked that way and I doubt it ever will.

    1. When it comes to the Bible, those at the head of our Church forget more about it than we average sinners will ever know. If the celibate priesthood were “unbiblical,” the Church would never have incepted it.


We know. He’s referring to the Roman Rite. Which is what I am also referring to. :slight_smile:

I understand, the example just goes to show that its doable, but a lot of changes from the current practice would be needed for it to be normative in the Roman Church

I always find it interesting that lay people always think this is great an innovative idea…but the priests and men in formation??? not so much.

It’s actually sister-wife, and see my first post with a quote from Clement of Alexandria.

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