Friday, November 16, 2007

Defending Priestly Celibacy: Part 6

Here is Part 6 in my debate on priestly celibacy. I realize that this debate probably has too many parts too it, but if I make my posts too long then nobody reads them. I hope that this has been easy to follow so far and that it has been helpful. With Part 6 we pick back up with "Devin" again. Also see Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (or just peep the original thread for yourself).

Pax Christi,
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how can you judge rather or not someone is best suited for the role?
Ask Paul that. He did the same thing in 1 Cor 7. Have you read that chapter yet?

theres no scriptural mandate saying that the man MUST be celibate.
I never said that men must be celibate, at least not how I think you understand it. You need to read my words carefully here b/c my position is nuanced.

The Church isn't forcing anyone to do anything. You make it sound like the Jesuits are kidnapping people who are called to be married and forcing them to refrain from sex for the rest of their lives. That's not what is going on here. All the Church is doing is choosing for the priesthood those men who have been given the gift of celibacy, and then asking them to live according to that gift. Would you rather the Church encourage people to be unfaithful to God and the calling he has upon their lives? It's actually loving and charitable to ask men who haven't been given this gift to step down. The Church isn't in the habit of forcing people into a lifestyle that they haven't been called to live.

Also, if you have the gift of celibacy and you answer God's call to the priesthood, then you're going to want to live a celibate lifestyle. We find fulfillment in life when we live according to the gifts we have been given and the calling that God has for us. So, to require a man w/ the gift of celibacy to live a celibate lifestyle isn't actually a requirement or a restriction at all. What's interesting is that most men who enter the seminary have already been living lives of celibacy for several years, before it was ever an actual requirement for them.

All the Church wants people to do is live out there vocation.

neither does it mention it being "better" than marriage.
It does to, dude. Did you read the specific verses from 1 Cor 7 that I cited? Here they are again:

1 Cor 7:1,7-8,17,26-28,32-35,38 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. 17 Only, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is well for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. 38 So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.

You may want to read that whole chapter again. Paul even says that it is only "by way of concession, not of command" that he allows marriage (cf. vs. 6).

its only a wish to Paul but he knows not everybody has that kind of gift. thats not the same as saying celibacy is better. am i wrong here?
Yes, I think you are. The very fact that he would rather people be as he is then to be married shows that he considers his lifestyle to be the more preferrable one. There are many other verses that express that same sentiment. Also, I know that Paul realizes that not everyone has that gift. The Church realizes that too, which is why she doesn't require men to be celibate if they haven't been given that gift.

Pax Christi,

PS: Also see Part 7.


  1. In Mathew 19, 10 Jesus' disciples say to him; "If that is the case between man and wife, it is better not to marry."

    And Jesus responds; "Not everyone can accept this teaching, only those to whom it is given to do so."

    It would seem to me (and I believe it is the teaching of the Catholic Church) that Jesus' response does indeed prove that it is better "to renounce sex for the sake of God's reign."

    In the married state, intimacy is the binding force and brings about the blessing of children. But in service to God, man should have his focus on one thing... God.

    I have to say from a personal perspective... as the wife of a parish director of music, I will never understand why anyone would want to juggle full ministry to God in His church with family. It is a burden no man should bear to be so divided between two vocations.

    And that is the real point isn't it? There is a difference between a vocation and a job. The Catholic Church so holds up marriage as a vocation that it recognizes a married man can never put his family second. So too, a priest must always put his ministry, his vocation first.

    It is not that those in the married state are less holy than priests, but because they are already fulfilling their holy vocation, they are not called to live out a second.

    Peace and Love... *Linda*

  2. That's a good point, Linda. Catholics are often accused of degrading marriage or having some beef with marriage b/c of the stance we take on the celibate priesthood. But, as you have pointed out, our stance actually elevates marriage b/c it acknowledges the devotion that one should have towards his marriage, and the primacy that the marriage should have in his life. God does not want a man divided.


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