Why priests don't marry

I’ve written this little piece on the celibate priesthood and wondered if someone would like to give me their opinon of it.

The celibate priesthood has long been a tradition in the Catholic Church. It comes from the teachings of Jesus, echoed in the writings of St. Paul.

Jesus said, ‘There are eunuchs born so from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.’ (Matthew 19:12, NJB). Celibate priests are such eunuchs for the kingdom of Heaven.

St. Paul states a preference for the single life. ‘I should like you to have your minds free from all worry. The unmarried man gives his mind to the Lord’s affairs and to how he can please the Lord; but the man who is married gives his mind to the affairs of this world and to how he can please his wife, and he is divided in mind.’ (1 Cor 7: 32-33, NJB)

The celibate priesthood, then, is a state in which the priest can be single-minded in his service to the Lord. This is not to say that one can not serve the Lord in marriage, but in marriage one primary concern is primarily for the one’s spouse and children. In the celibate life one is free to a much broader service and the life of the priest is a life of such service and is therefore best carried out in the celibate state.

The celibate priesthood, then, is the stated preference of Jesus and developed by St. Paul. However, it is not a commandment. St. Paul says in the same letter to the Corinthians (v. 28), ‘However, if you do get married, that is not a sin.’ So the Catholic Church could lift its prohibition on married priests without contradicting any of its fundamental teachings. The only thing it would be going against is the expressed preference of Jesus.

As a postscript I could add;

The question of priests marrying raises the question of why not let anyone in any religious order marry, i.e. nuns, etc. Would a nun (or sister) still be nun if she had a husband and kids? Perhaps the same could be said about married priests.

There’s probably a lot more to the issue of celibacy in the religious life than an untrained, very secular layperson like myself would have any knowlege of, but that’s how I see it. What do you think?

Excellent post, it was very descriptive and even gives reference to where in scripture it supports celibacy, bravo! But I would like to point out that in the Eastern Catholic Churches married men are aloud to become priests. In the Latin Church (Roman Catholic Church), Priests stay celibate.

God Bless!

Tradition of the Church speaks to the issue loud and clear, for Wisdom of the Issue points out that its a choice to be either Married or to be of the Ordained . Either to be Married to Women or to be Married to God…
Jesus is the ultimate example of recognizing and setting the ultimate example of focus to be Married and to live to total obediance to his Father… the Priesthood is that same discipline that lives on in recognition to put Nothing in Front of God is the greatest of Commandments.

Proble the saddest realization to the issue is the mere discounting away of the Sacrament of Marriage to what it comes to be a mere association, not recognized as the Sacrament that God invented binding by God…
To recognize Jesus as the ulitmate human focus to put nothing in front of God, his discipline and unwavering force to set the example as the ultimate dedication to God his Father and our Father as well, recoginzes he could have not done what he did, and also been married and fullfilled his oblgation to his Father at the same time.

To recognized the Truth of Tradition of what it means to be a Priest and what it means to be Married, both of those sacraments recognizes you cannot full fill both at the same time.

The saddest realization is, the discounting away of what it means to be of the Sacrament of Marriage calls Catholics to, is discounted away when somebody mentions that Priest should be married. what we would consider more so a sin to the defiance to what the Sacraments call us to… God cannot be discounted away, the Church of Truth stands against that, evil calls for God to be discounted away…

That discipline, understanding, and call to put nothing, before God. For to put anything in front God and to teach to put something in front of God, is all wrong…
To discount the Sacraments, in any fashion, mind or idea, is also wrong, for that is putting in front of God what is not Good…

no one can come to serve two masters, nor can one come to serve both the Sacrament of Marriage and the Priesthood at the same time… tecnically impossible to fullfill both…

contemplating that Jesus could not do both at the same time…

We have as Catholics came to be numed to the realization that Many are called to Eternal salvation, but few answer the call. Denial of we represent the Many who are in denial and seek not God, but false Gods has been discounted away…in focus of Mariage alone…

When the Eastern Church is viewed , the phrase and comprehension of War on Religion has tobe recognized, and to that religion has lost the war…

My problem with all this is the wisest and most prophetic man I’ve met was a Presbyterian (Methodist trained) pastor who was married and had six sons. Mind you he told me he lived below the poverty line for years, and “nearly starved” in his own words. John Wesley was married, CH Spurgeon was married, Billy Graham was married, etc. etc. Yet they put the Catholics in the shade when it came to spreading the word.

And when I see just how effective some other married Protetant pastors can be, I’m not sold on the issue of a celibate priesthood. I personally think there should be an order of married priests, who may not for example have the honorific “Father”. Maybe “Reverend” or “Pastor” or whatever, but I’m not convinced the Church couldn’t live with an order of married priests.

The Eastern Rite Catholics are already allowed to be married, and the Orthodox Church has married priests, although I believe their bishops are celibate.

I’m afraid an ounce of experience discounts a lot of dogmatism, in my opinion. And at least they’d know first hand the challenges of marriage and raising a family.

St. Paul did indicate that the celebate life is one he wished others could accept. For then they are not divided in their attention or time, but focus singly on God.

Dedicating one’s life to God is varied just as the gifts of the Holy Spirit are varied.
Some are prophets, some teachers, some…,

But some are prayerfull, very prayerfull. And in doing so, their prayers rise like incensense to God for all of mankind’s salvation. The more holy they become, the more holy the whole church becomes, for we are all one body, and what profits one, profits all. The church recognizes the single dedicated life to God is a better way of life to holliness.

Celebacy is an act of love for God, consecrating one to God, not only for the work of God.
It is a testimony for all to see God in a special way lived in one’s life.

Marriage is also holy, but does not call for the complete giving of one’s life to God without exception, body and soul. The other is a higher calling, and that is why St. Paul wished it for all.

But having said that, nevertheless, there is more to holiness than just being single or married.

As a Catholic, I see this testimony lived out in my clergy, a commitment that is another sign of the hand of God.

Just some thoughts.

It’s all here:



Thanks. That does say it all.

IF the Church allowed priests and religious sisters to marry I would assume it would be up the each order to determine if they want to allow their brothers or sisters to marry.

In the Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests, who do not belong to a religious institute. While regular clergy take religious vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and follow the rule of life of the institute to which they belong, secular clergy do not take vows, and they live in the world (saeculum).

Even if the Church allowed all clergy and religious sisters to marry, I highly doubt regular clergy orders and religious sister orders would change. There may be new orders created which allow marriage, but not many. The idea of allowing priests to marry is more focused on the secular clergy (aka diocesan clergy).

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.