Why the Church no longer teaches the superiority of celibacy over marriage


I feel like I remember it being said that chastity reminds the world that there is more after this, a higher calling than primal urges or something like that


Well, a vocation SHOULD BE whatever it is that God wants you to do, and as such, indeed if God calls you to marriage, it is good to do this.


This is true, but the Church is still stuck with the reality that if everybody managed to be totally chaste as in celibate, and consecrate their virginity to God, there would quite soon be no children to grow up and be priests, members of religious orders, or laity sitting in the pews.

It’s rather silly to pretend that each status of life doesn’t have its place in God’s plan. I’m willing to say that being called to be celibate for God is an awesome commitment or sacrifice to make, but no one in their right mind is going to expect everybody to do it. The Pope himself had a mother and father, he didn’t just hatch. Same for every saint and Father of the Church and Doctor of the Church we ever had.


Yes, of course.
Marriage is a sacrament after all.


Catechism 916 The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.


it took a simple google search to find many places where it’s still taught.



This used to be one of those truths I had a hard time wrapping my head around. Isn’t it better to receive a sacrament (in this case, Matrimony) than not? We wouldn’t say those that choose not to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation are more blessed than those that do receive it–quite the opposite!

I think the Catechism is helpful in this regard. Virginity signifies that the bond with Christ is supreme to any other human bonds–even a sacramental one. Where marriage is only for this world that is passing away (there is no marriage in heaven),virginity and celibacy anticipate the supremely blessed heavenly state.

1618 Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social.113 From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming.114 Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:

"For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."115
1619 Virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is an unfolding of baptismal grace, a powerful sign of the supremacy of the bond with Christ and of the ardent expectation of his return, a sign which also recalls that marriage is a reality of this present age which is passing away.116

1620 Both the sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord himself. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will.117 Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdom118 and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other:

Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.119

I’m guessing where the superiority of this state in life is emphasized more, there are more vocations answered, than where there is given an implicit (or explicit) equivalence to marriage…again, just a guess.


our priest has given homilies on this. Usually when they church is praying for vocations. But he doesn’t publish his homilies. He’s too busy being a priest. But I’ve always heard that it is best to give oneself to the church, if one can. And that this is a calling from God and should not be sought as a means of personal gain but rather personal sacrifice.

But since the vast majority of people end up in the vocation of marriage and since marriage is under great social pressure I’m not surprised to see the church focus on marriage more and less on vocations.


In a vacuum, celibacy is the more “holy”, “Superior”, whatever adjective you want to use. However, vocations never exist in a vacuum. God calls you to a certain vocation and that vocation you are called to is superior vocation for you. If you are called to marriage, then marriage is the superior vocation for you personally.

I think one of the reasons the Church has been emphasizing marriage lately is because of the Sexual Revolution that happened, oh, around the 50s and 60s. Marriage began to be viewed as archaic so the Church stepped up to the plate and gave it what for. The Church emphasizes what it needs to at different times. If no one ever steals, then you won’t hear the Church talk about it much. It will focus on other things.


But why would a document on marriage and chastity talk about celibacy?

The overwhelming number of people are called to marriage. Celibacy is a calling, not something the Church actively recruits for.

Talking about superiority of celibacy doesn’t do much good to the people in the pews. It would really only help those who are actively discerning a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life (or their family & friends who are having difficulty understanding).

It’s not something that needs to be preached on.

After the sex abuse scandal, the last thing the Church needs is people choosing the priesthood because he thinks it’s “subjectively superior” to matrimony – which it isn’t. It’s “objectively superior,” as Pope John Paul II has stated; and it’s a “higher calling.” By the way, the phrase “higher calling” is most likely what you would hear more in the english speaking world instead of “superior.”

BTW - another reason for this is the word “superior” has changed it’s emphasis over the years. Superior used to mean larger, higher, etc. Today, most people consider “superior” to mean “better.”

Celibacy is a “higher” calling than marriage, but it’s not a “better” calling. To say celibacy is “better” than marriage is to imply that there is something wrong with marriage. There isn’t. However, to say that celibacy is a “higher” calling is 100% correct and most people would understand that (esp Catholics).

However, since most people today consider “superior” to mean “better,” you are rarely going to hear a priest or bishop preach that celibacy is “superior” to marriage because most people are going to totally misunderstand what he’s saying.

I hope this helps.

God bless.


these links speak more of the consecrated life in the religious orders or in the priesthood, and not of the sacred virginity that can be lived in the secular state. by a lay person.
In short, it maintains the confusion that
Celibacy / sacred virginity = priest or religious


He speaks of the consecrated life in the religious orders or in the priesthood, which is totally different from the virgnity or sacred celibacy that can be experienced by a lay man.
The consecrated life is superior to marriage, of course. But a lay man who consecrates his chastity to God is in a better state than a layman who marries. This truth is less obvious because it is only rarely taught.


Of course, there is also a sacrament for the sick, but that does not mean that being sick is an excellent state.
So it is not because we give a sacrament for those who marry that necessarily marriage is something excellent.


Marriage is a sacrament. So is the priesthood. Being single isn’t.


So what? there is also a sacrament for the sick does that mean that being sick is excellent?
A sacrament is given to one who needs a particular help from God, because of a particular weakness or misery in which he finds himself


I was not saying that. I am just stating what I reaf from Alice von Hildebrand. Yes I have read that the Church believes that celibacy is superior over marriage.

I think it is superior if the person took vows like a private vow or a religious. For de facto singleness, I do not see how that can be superior over marriage.

Being single is not a sacrament.


Thank you for this testimony, to confuse those here who say that the Church always teaches the same truth about it.
Pope Francis himself in AL says practically that, that there is no superiority, even the catechism of the Catholic Church says that!


People talk about the will of God as if it was a mystery while it is perfectly known, it boils down to 6:

  • Follow his commandments
  • Follow his advices if you can, if not follow them in spirit
  • Accept everything that happens as the will of God
  • To obey the laws of society where we are when they are just
    I forget the last two.
    But to return to celibacy and marriage by following the will of God, as perpetual virgnity is an advice of God, all things being equal one should prefer celibacy to marriage


I think if various things were different in my life, marriage would have worked out and I would have gladly chosen it over being single. But it’s a consolation to have a close relationship with God and know that celibacy has special value for the kingdom. In any case, I have no desire to argue with anyone over the issue but believe what Saint Paul said and everything in the rest of the Gospels. :grinning::thinking:

Marriage is still a possibility for me, but it seems less likely at this point.


because the marriage and celibacy, are intrinsically ordered to the virtue of chastity… In the same way that in teaching about marriage we will speak of sins against chastity, we must also speak of what is excellent in chastity.
Remember, Jesus in the Gospels and St Paul, had spoken of sacred celibacy when they gave teaching on marriage

Recalling that sacred celibacy is better, we show in what sense is excellence.
Excellence is not in the enjoyment, even moderate, of the goods of marriage, but in the sacrifice of these goods for the love of God

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