Celibacy of Priests

What follows is my response to a Catholic apologist; I'll call him Anselm, who had attempted to support the Roman cult's requirement that priests practice celibacy by quoting a passage from 1 Corinthians:

The passage I pointed out together with the fact that a person has the option to enter the religious life or not enter it is clearly in conformity with the Bible teachings. If they do not want to be celibate, then they can participate in the Church in another way.

Anselm, I think I understand where you are going with this. If a person feels called to serve the Roman Church, he must evaluate whether he is willing to endure a life of celibacy. Those who determine themselves unable or unwilling to enter into such a life seek ways other than the priesthood to serve. They might become deacons who can be married -- or oblates, or enter some other cloistered order.

It is clear, you say, that Scripture supports the requirement that priests live celibate lives. You even posted an out-of-context verse from Paul's First Corinthian Letter. Your eisegesis does not hold up, Anselm. Let's take a hermeneutical look at 1Corinthians 7:8, but let's look at it IN CONTEXT. The entire seventh chapter of this letter deals with the principles of marriage. In Verse 7, the Apostle acknowledges the special freedom and independence he, as a single person, has to serve Christ (Check out his clarifying comments in verses 32-34). However, Paul does not expect all believers to be single, or that single believers should remain unmarried. And he surely did not require that married believers be celibate as though they were single. As he wrote, both the single and the married state are gifts from God.

1 Corinthians 7:7-9, "For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." - 1 Corinthians 7:7-9

In Verse 8, to whom is Paul speaking when he refers to the "unmarried?" "agamos," the Greek word for "unmarried," is used but four times in the New Testament, and all four appearances are in this letter. The unmarried women Paul is talking about are those who have divorced their husbands -- he makes that quite clear in Verse 11. In fact, all four uses of agamos clearly refer to women who were formerly married, but now are single, but not widowed. It seems likely that some in the Corinthian church had asked whether they, as divorced women, could remarry. Thus his reply.

Paul was here identifying with the unmarried and widows. His first suggestion was that they remain single, in order to have more freedom to serve the Lord. In the next verse, however, he commands those who cannot live celibate to marry. If they cannot live happy lives and effectively serve the Lord because of unfulfilled sexual urges, better they marry.

Anselm, I am a bit confused here. RCC apologists have frequently told us the Church does not change the Scriptures, though it does clarify them. Help me with my confusion. Please Rome claims, by means of faulty exegesis of Matthew 16:18 (another well-explored subject) that Peter was the first pope (or head of the visible church). The RCC also claims, without any real proof that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome. What I don't understand is, overlooking the questionably validity of Romish claims for a moment, how could God be so hypocritical as to declare Peter the first leader of the visible church at one point in time and then later declare that marriage is out and celibacy is in for RCC clergy? I mean, Peter was married.

"And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them." - Mark 1:29-31

Peter's marital state apparently was not much of an impediment to his apostolic labor. He even took his wife travelling with him as he worked in the Lord's vineyards. In fact, reading Paul's words here, it would seem that Peter was not the only of the Apostles and early leaders of the visible church who was married.

"Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and [as] the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" - 1 Corinthians 9:1-5

I guess the explanation is a simple one. The Magisterium knows better than God Himself what God wants in those who serve Him in the priesthood. So they "fixed" God's oversight.

Besides, just as the Church changed the requirement for circumcision, the Church can change the requirement for celibacy. If and when they do, you would probably complain that the Church has changed a doctrine and therefore cannot possibly be infallible. One can't win with attitudes like that!

The "Church" (meaning, I imagine, the RCC) changed the requirement for circumcision? Now that really comes as a big surprise. Ever since becoming a Christian, I have thought that it was God Himself Who gave the Jews His Law and Who required that all Jewish males be circumcised as a sign of the covenant between Jehovah and His chosen people. When we entered into the new covenant with Christ's substitutionary atoning sacrifice, we came out from under the Law. No one who is under the new covenant of grace need bear the sign of the Abrahamic covenant. You Catholic apologists are arrogant in the extreme -- not even fearing to claim for your misguided church things accomplished by God Himself.

You needn't worry about the Church going broke, the Pope can simply sell some of the Vatican Treasures and bail out his cohorts.

That's really funny. Tell it to the people who have been victimized by predatory priests and nuns. Here in San Antonio, the Archdiocese is literally begging for money needed to pay court-ordered compensation to the victims of priestly play. Why? Because though the Archdiocese knew of the priest's depravity, they did naught but move him to a different parish. But even these deeds done in darkness eventually were brought into the light. I find it in keeping with the depraved nature of the Roman Church that those who claim to speak for her deal cavalierly with the injuries done to innocents who trusted in their priests.

But really, the problem is no more rampant than the sexual sins in the other supposed "Christian" denominations. The only difference is that since we hold the priesthood to higher standards than we do other clergy, we cannot as readily accept the fact that they sin also. And on top of that, it is always sensationalized in the media and that makes it appear to be something bigger than it is!

Yes, there are depraved individuals standing behind Protestant pulpits. And they are no less evil than those who wear the Roman collar. May they all be rooted out and led into the Light. A major difference is the RCC tends to protect its priestly depraved and, rather than remove them from opportunities to practice their abominations, merely pass them along to some other unexpecting parish.

You claim that such predatory behavior among the frocked of Catholicism is not so big a deal as the media would have us believe. Please explain why it is not possible for the Roman Catholic Church in America to purchase liability insurance to protect itself from lawsuits resulting from priestly misconduct? Before you move into a kneejerk response, I suggest you call your own diocese and ask whether it is protected in such a way. You may be surprised.

Besides, people just like to pick on the Catholic Church, it has been happening since it was founded by Christ on Peter and it will continue to happen in all walks of life - as evidenced by this BBS Forum!

Well, we have been going round the mulberry bush about Rome's flawed and self-serving interpretation of Matthew 16:18 for a long time, so I will not address that here. Suffice it to say that there is no reliable evidence to support such a claim and leave it at that. If you dispute, just pull down the archives of this board and read it for yourself.

As for us, the evil Protestants who attack the poor Romish hierarchy on this board, why not? Have you ever done a web search to learn how many Catholic websites and BBS there are which are dumping vitriol day and night on Protestantism and true Christian doctrines? Fair is fair, Anselm. Give it a rest. If you are not happy here, go somewhere else. Seems easy enough to me.

Just as people were afraid of Christ and misunderstood Him, so too people are fearful of the Catholic Church because they do not understand her.

Fear the Catholic Church? You have it all wrong. Those of us, in and out of the Roman church, who have truly given ourselves to Christ have nothing to fear from the demonic powers on the Tiber. As Scripture tells us:

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." - 1 John 4:1-6

25 July 1998

Open your Bible.

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