Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Peter, the Married Pope

What follows is a short exchange I had on Peter's marriage and the implications (if any) of this for his role as the first "pope", so to speak. I'm responding to two different people here, but I don't feel like designating a color for each one. Since it's not a debate per se, I don't think it's all that important to know who said what. But, if you are really curious, you can just read the thread here.

Pax Christi,
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My pastor talked about Peter's character this past Sunday and I noticed that Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law in Luke 4:38-39. It showed that Peter had a wife. Was it because he wasn't assigned as a pope yet and was merely a disciple at that point in time?
Quite simply, Peter had a wife b/c he got married before Jesus chose him to be one of His apostles. However, we have reason to believe that once Peter decided to follow Christ, he gave up relations with his wife. In Matthew, we read:

Mt 19:27-29 (KJV) Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

The implication is that Peter gave up all the things that Jesus listed. So, it appears from this that Peter did take on a life of celibacy once he answered the call of Christ. But, even if he didn't give up relations with his wife, this does nothing to invalidate his position as the primary apostle and rock of the Church. Like "Hidden One" pointed out, celibacy in the priesthood is not a dogmatic issue. Plus, technically speaking, the pope can be any Catholic man in good standing with the Church. He doesn't even have to be a priest.
Actually you would have to only ASSUME that Peter left his wife.Notice the usage of the words "OR".you dont see "AND" in there.But "OR".To say that you believe Peter left his wife to follow Christ is mere Assumption.Not fact.And i dont think Jesus is just speaking of his Disciples.
Read my post again. I never asserted it as fact. I modified my language, saying things like "we have reason to believe...", "The implication is that...", "It appears from this..." in order to say that, while I think it is plausible and in fact highly probable, I don't think it's something that I can definitively prove. Note also that, whether Peter was celibate or not, his authority is maintained for the reasons that I have already provided. So, this whole thing is kinda of a moot point.

Perhaps you would like to respond to posts #14 and 15? For whatever reason, "The Expositor" hasn't responded to them yet. You all had a lot to say while I was gone, but since I've been back everyone has been conspicuously silent.

[UPDATE: "The Expositor" just posted to inform me that he's taking his time, formulating questions and reading/considering everything I've said so far]
thats cool.would it be right to say that even IF its true that Peter left his wife then he couldve actually been sinning?Because if he got a divorce for any reason other than a divorce then he comitted adultry.Or if he just Left his wife without a divorce but seperated then wouldnt he STILL be in Sin somehow?wouldnt he be depriving his wife?when you mention MT 19:27-29 is that a Literal meaning?like should Christians leave their wives in order to follow Christ?
im not saying Peter didnt do that or that he is in Sin.BUT that is something we have to examine.
Well, since Jesus himself says that if anyone forsakes his wife for Jesus' sake, he will inherit everlasting life, there must be some circumstance in which leaving one's wife would be a laudable thing to do.

Pax Christi,


Anonymous said...

Hi. Interesting read. I've been doing very light research on this issue.
You're argument said we may assume that Peter left his wife, and that is a possibility. 1 Corinthians 9:5, though, seems to indicate that Peter stayed with his wife or took a different, believing wife, which doesn't seem as probable.
"Don't we have a right to take along a believing wife, even as do the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?" - 1 Corinthians 9:3 (NASB).
Just adding another wrinkle to the discussion. Thanks for the article!

phatcatholic said...

In the last paragraph, I hypothetically entertained the idea of Peter leaving his wife, but my actual argument was that he gave up sexual relations with her. To respond to 1 Cor 9:3, it appears from this that the wives of the apostles often accompanied them on their missionary journies. I don't think this compels us to believe that Peter continued sexual relations with his wife.

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