Thursday, November 08, 2007

Defending Priestly Celibacy: Part 3

When asked why we couldn't use Paul as an example, Devin simply reiterated his position. Here is my response to that reiteration. Also see Parts 1 and 2.

Pax Christi,
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because Paul wasnt a bishop or deacon.he did not serve in that office. that is why we cant use him as an example.
On the contrary, all of the apostles (including Paul) were also bishops. James was the bishop of Jerusalem, yet he is an apostle. The position of Judas, another apostle, is described as "the bishoprick" in Acts 1:20 (KJV).

What's interesting is that the word for shepherd in the NT, poimen, is translated as "pastor" in Eph 4:11, and the KJV Greek Lexicon says that the word can be applied to "the overseers of the Christian assemblies." Our English word "pastor" comes from the Latin pastorem, which means "shepherd." This shows that the bishops were shepherds and pastors.

The role of the bishop, or "overseer," is compared to that of a shepherd in Acts 20:28, and Jesus gave Peter the task of shepherding in Jn 21:15-17. Peter is also traditionally considered the first bishop of the Church at Antioch, and the bishop of Rome shortly before his death. So, this too shows the pastorship of an apostle.

Finally, Paul, at the end of his life, is seen passing on a ministry to Timothy (cf. 2 Tim 4:1-6), and that ministry is "the office of bishop" (cf. 1 Tim 3:1). Paul also calls his position an "office" in Col 1:25. What's interesting is that, in this same verse, he applies the Greek word diakonos to himself, which is where we get "deacon" in the Bible.

Now, I do realize that there was some fluidity to the hierarchical positions in the early Church. They were not always as concretely defined as we have them today. But, that Paul was a part of this ministerial structure and a true pastor/shepherd of the churches is readily apparent. So, when we are trying to determine how pastors should live today, we can't simply ignore Paul when he says, "I wish that all were as I myself am" (1 Cor 7:7) and "he who refrains from marriage will do better" (1 Cor 7:38).

now maybe im wrong on rather or not deacons and bishops MUST be married. maybe its refering to them not having multiple wives. BUT i still think it would be wise for them to be married.
Well, from Paul's words in 1 Cor 7, it appears that the wiser of the two positions is the celibate one.

today alot of Pastors give marriage counseling. i certaintly wouldnt want advice on marriage from a guy that isnt even married himself. LOL.
I honestly mean no offense by this, but that is just an ignorant statement. I don't have to be a married man to provide marriage counseling anymore than I need to be addicted to drugs to do substance abuse counseling, or a wild teenager to counsel teens.

I counseled couples in a professional setting for 2 years before I went back to school for theology and I had relative success at it. Of course, experience is always helpful, but it's not necessary and you can certainly be just as successful without it.

For marriage counseling, you need to know what a good marriage looks like. You need to have a grasp of gender differences, how men and women typically communicate and handle their thoughts/feelings. You also need to know what the Church teaches about human sexuality and what a properly-ordered sex life looks like. Finally, you need a general understanding of sin and of the human condition. If you know these things you will do very well as a marriage counselor, and you can acquire the necessary knowledge w/o being married at all. I certainly did.

Often times, priests make the best marriage counselors b/c they are on the outside looking in. They gain much from their objective standpoint, by being able to observe what makes good marriages good and bad marriages bad. If I ever need marriage counseling, the first person I'm going to is a priest.

Pax Christi,

PS: Also see Part 4.


Sincerity of Heart said...

I like how you say that his argument about priests offering marriage counseling is ignorant. If we were to follow his thought, a white woman like myself would not be able or knowledgable and empathetic enough to counsel a Black male or for a heterosexual to see a homosexual therapist (keeping in mind people do not know about their therapist's personal life, this is a likelihood in this day and age).

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful that I found your blog. A non Catholic friend of mine brought up priestly celibacy not too long ago, and I was struggling for a defense. I don't mean to sound ignorant, but where was Paul a bishop? It would be a handy piece of information to have when my friend and I get back into our little debates.

phatcatholic said...

Well, I know that Paul founded the church at Corinth and Thessalonica, and he undoubtedly founded churches in other places as well. Whenever an apostle founds a church, he acts as the overseer, or bishop, there until the time is right to leave the church in the hands of someone else and move on to the next town/region. He then continues to oversee that church by writing letters to it after he has gone. So, while Paul was never a permanent bishop (b/c of his apostolic mandate) he did act as a bishop whenever he established the various churches and wrote to them.

Since Paul acted as a bishop, it makes since that his successors should look to his life as a model of how a bishop, and by extension, a pastor, should live. It would be silly then to say that we should simply ignore what Paul says about how a bishop/pastor should live, or that we should not see Paul's life as a model.

That's how I understand it. I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,

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