I was in a discussion with some Protestant friends of mine (on non-denominational and a Presbyterian), and the question came about about the regulations concerning marriage for deacons. I knew that deacons can remain married if they are already married at their ordination, but could not get married if they were not or if they became widowers. Can anyone give me some insight on why this is. I know that it is in Canon Law, but am looking for more practical and or biblical reasons for it (something that would make sense to my friends).
As for practical, ask them is they know any stories of unmarried clergy and eligible (or not:eek: ) women in the congregation.
As for scritpture:
I Corinthians 7:24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.
He is here taking about being called to be a Christian, but it also applies to the call to the priesthood. Note that the description of the qualifications (I Timothy 3:8-13, esp. 12) talks about the wife and the children, and how they run their own home (the argument that they MUST be married doesn’t hold water, as if they are called to monastic life, their would be no household which to examine. It says “Let,” not “Must.”) It may just be St. Paul’s own opinion, but the Church has ALWAYS followed it.
I should think the reason is the same why the Orthodox as well as Oriental Catholics don’t allow priests to marry after their ordination. It might seem inappropriate for a clergyman to engage in courtship activities.
It has never been permitted in Catholicism as far as I know for people already ordained to get married. As someone else pointed out, allowing this creates all sorts of practical problems. But the primary reason is that ordination has been seen as involving such a complete commitment to God that seeking for a human spouse would be inappropriate, as per 1 Cor. 7 and Matt. 19. That is of course why the Latin Church eventually made things simple by requiring celibacy of all clergy, period. Before that, there were a lot of rulings saying that clergy should not have sex with their wives, but these rulings were widely ignored. There are two ways you can go from there–simply allow clergy to keep their spouses, or forbid them to have any at all. The Eastern Church went in one direction (I’m not sure that the tradition of telling clergy not to have sex had as strong roots in the East anyway), and the Western Church in another. With the reinstatement of the permanent diaconate, the Latin Church reasonably decided to impose the same rules on deacons that the Orthodox impose on both priests and deacons.