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DOES THE BIBLE PROHIBIT CATHOLIC PRIEST MARRIAGE?

July 19, 2018

I haven’t found a single biblical reference where the marriage of members of religious leadership is prohibited, or celibacy is required. In fact, in almost all spiritual institutions, male authorities are married; and if they decide to be celibate, it's a totally discretionary determination. In my opinion, no church should deny its representatives the right to swear a voluntary vow of chastity. If your love for God asks you, or prevents you, to love a woman; and to repress your sexual desires, that determination must be respected. It is mostly the Catholic Church that requires its leaders to be celibate, based on scatological, Christological, and pastoral reasons. The scatological reasons are the ones that justify celibacy by saying that it comes from the beginning of the church, since the Angels, and all the inhabitants of heaven are asexual. The Christological ones tell us that Jesus Christ lived that way, and therefore, his priests must do the same. And finally, the pastoral reasons, according to which, if the priests were married, they would have to pay attention to their wives and children, depriving the Church of that exclusivity. Some scholars of the topic insist that the above are not reasons but justifications.

The problem is to clarify the reasons that gave rise to the compulsory withdrawal of priests, because, in the Bible, there is no strict reference determining that those who serve God must be celibate. The closest thing to celibacy is what the apostle Paul says when he declares that it may be useful to the Ministry (1 Corinthians 7:32-24); And when he tells us that the priests are still not married for the love of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 7:7-9). As to whether it is obligatory, we can say quite surely that it is not. It is an option, but the Catholic Church, for its operational reasons, convinces candidates to "opt" to be celibate; If they do not, they cannot be ordained Catholic priests. However, Saint Paul himself, based on 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Tito 1:6-9, assumes that church dignitaries will marry and have children. The Bible is relatively clear when in Titus 1:6 tells us that "the priest must be irreproachable, married only once." In Timothy 3:2 the Holy Scriptures declare that "the Bishop be unblemished, married once, sober, and sensible," and in Timothy 3:12 they require "deacons to be married once, and to educate their children well." All this tells us that the authors of these texts assume that the religious authorities are married. Moreover, referring to the first pope, Simon Peter, the Bible tells us that Jesus had to intervene to heal his mother-in-law, demonstrating with certainty that Peter was married. While these qualifications should not be seen as an indication that, in order to serve in the leadership of the church, priests must be married, or at least have a family, they are undoubtedly addressed to married men who would serve as leaders of the religious institution. The reality is that the Bible doesn't even require priests. When Jesus Christ ends the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, the need for individuals whose main function was to direct the rituals of animal sacrifice disappeared. In fact, Hebrews 4:14-16, and 1 Timothy 2:5, clearly establish that the mediator between us and the father is his son Jesus Christ; Therefore, any other intermediary is totally unnecessary. Even within the Catholic Church, some priests question the validity of celibacy because, for them, being married does not preclude serving Christ, and the two positions, consequently, are not exclusive.

If we analyzed one Corinthians, chapter VII, verse 1, it says, "As for the things, you wrote me, it would be valid for man not to touch a woman." However, if we are based on the First Epistle to Timothy, 3:2-5, "it is necessary for the bishop to be irreproachable, married once, chaste, owner of self, of good manners, to be hospitable, and with capacity to teach. Who knows how to govern his own house and keep his children obedient and well-bred, for if he does not know how to govern his private house, how can he guide the assembly of God? " And if we go to Genesis, 2:18, "and Jehovah God said: It is not good that man is alone; I'll make him suitable for him.“ Therefore, there is no biblical motive that strictly establishes priestly celibacy. Nevertheless, some more conservative sectors of the Catholic Church interpret the verses quoted differently and proclaim that celibacy is something like a sacrifice that the priest makes to God by giving up the pleasures of the flesh to surrender entirely to him. Personally, I am convinced that if Pope Francis says tomorrow that the church does not prohibit priests from marrying, most would marry promptly to alleviate the sadness of their souls; however, many of them would opt to remain celibate because they believe they belong with God. The true reason, in my humble opinion, is much more materialistic, and is kept covered by the blanket of time, growing thicker and darker. It refers directly to inheritance regulations. The religious dignitaries accumulated great wealth that were subsequently controlled by their heirs, which represented enormous economic losses to the church, with the consequent loss of political power. At first, there was no rule ordering clergy to be celibate, or married; So, it is difficult to give the exact date, or the reasons, why celibacy became obligatory for all the priests of the Catholic Church. Some historians claim that celibacy began in the fourth century, became apparent in the Council of Elvira, and was reiterated at the first Lateran Council in 1123, although such regulation was not strictly followed. At the Council of Trent, started in 1545 and lasted until 1563, was established in a compulsory manner, as it is known today. This was an apparent response to the Protestant Reformation that allowed, and even promoted, the marriage of priests, while suppressing religious orders, and their vows.

Because of the foregoing, it is completely anti-biblical for any church, Catholic or not, to require the celibacy of its leaders. Moreover, I dare to propose that the non-biblical requirement that priests be celibate is a primordial cause of sexual abuse, including pedophilia, that have taken place in the Roman Catholic Church. It is not possible to hide the sun with your fingers. Since celibacy was instituted as an obligatory "option" to become a priest in the Catholic Church, thousands of them have been accused of sexually abusing members of the church, particularly children, which makes the wickedness even more repugnant. Unfortunately, instead of expelling them from the church, the offending priests, in most cases, have been transferred to different parishes in order to cover up the visible cases of sexual abuse and pedophilia. For the priests of the Roman Catholic Church, opting for celibacy, a non-biblical requirement, is a factor that contributes to the priest being subjected to an unnatural sexual tension and, consequently, to a high dose of stress. Forcing them to obey an "option" that was never categorized as mandatory, breaks with the natural behavior of the human being. Man, by nature, was created to grow and multiply, not to be celibate. When celibacy is imposed, we get the above results. Similarly, when the church decides that abusive priests would be transferred to different parishes in order to evade the legal consequences of their sexual offences, it creates a condition of impunity that motivates the same immoral behavior to be repeated over and over again. It has become visibly clear that to cover up the culprits, not applying laws, or doing it so loosely, have encouraged pedophiles, and other sexual deviants, to see the Catholic priesthood as a means of easy, unsupervised access to children, and other victims of their abuses. The scandal of pedophile priests in the Roman Catholic Church is absolutely horrible. There is nothing more unethical for the message of Christ than priests who sexually abuse children. May God use this scandal to awaken the Church of Jesus Christ to the presence of apostates within the church, and to strongly motivate the church to be fully biblical in all its beliefs and practices.

The mandatory abstinence within the Roman Catholic Church attracts a disproportionate number of individuals with anomalous sexual tendencies. These potential members of the priesthood believe that compulsory chastity will allow them to maintain their perversions under control. For the wicked, Catholic teaching that priestly ordination cannot be invalidated aggravates the problem. It has contributed to the church’s reluctance to dismiss priests with sexual deviations. In the end, the strict celibacy rules imposed by the Church do little to contain sexual acts caused by temptations that, in another environment, would be normal. Ecclesiastical regulations have no power over the natural instincts of these individuals, and therefore, there are unnatural acts such as homosexuality, pedophilia and abuse.

However, it is important to note that we should not take the horrible evil actions of some Catholic priests, and attribute them to all representatives of that institution. Although I disagree with much of the doctrine, and practices, of Roman Catholics, I have no doubt that many of its priests truly love the Lord Jesus Christ. I am sure they sincerely want to minister to people and are willing to control strictly their sexual instincts to devote themselves to the worship of the Lord. It is impossible to discover how many homosexual priests, pedophiles, or sexual abusers, have been, or remain, active in the Roman Catholic Church. Whatever the number is, it's definitely a very small percentage. The vast majority of Catholic priests would never molest or harm a child.

Whatever the cause of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, pedophile priests, and other perpetrators of sexual offences, must be arrested and punished like any other criminal. Anyone who covers or, by negligence, allows sexual offences to occur within the scope of the church must be prosecuted and brought to justice. A priest who has sexually abused someone should never be allowed back in the leadership of the church, as it would definitely not be considered "above reproach" (1 Timothy 3:2).

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