Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Keep in mind the blogs are posted in reverse chronological order.


The controversy in the Catholic Church has gotten a lot of people to think about celibacy and in particular the idea of requiring the pastorate to be celibate. For my own edification, I decided to review what scripture has to say about this. First of all we have the words of Jesus:

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery." The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.
"For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.
" (Mat 19:9-12, NASB)

Paul also wrote about celibacy:

But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. (1 Cor 7:8-9, NASB)


But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. . (1 Cor 7:32-34, NASB)

As I understand it, some also use:

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1 Tim 3:2, NASB)

as support for celibacy, where the "one wife" is taken to be the church. To assert that “wife” is used here, in any other than the normal sense of the word requires, in my view, far too much violence to be done to the text.

Conclusion: no surprise here. There is no scriptural support for the requirement that a pastor (priest) be celibate.

On the other hand

We Protestants are usually taught that “Paul says that while celibacy is Okay for him it is not for everyone.” This is true. Yet when I read the scripture it appears to me to be somewhat stronger than that – more like celibacy would be better (but not required) -- but most men couldn’t handle it.

I wonder what I would do if I were on the search committee for a pastor and was presented with a candidate who was strong in every aspect. Now suppose he was single, so we asked him about his plans for marriage. How would I react if he answered : “I am not a homosexual so don’t be concerned about that, but I have decided that I can serve the Lord better if I stayed single and celibate.” Would alarms start sounding? Probably. Should they? Probably not.

Membership: declined

I was denied membership on a predominantly Catholic blog ring. The rejection letter from the owner was very gracious and polite. He pointed out that in one of my posts I accuse the Catholic church of apostasy. That I did, and will discuss it more in the future. However I did want to point out that the Council of Trent in the 16th century concluded:

Canon 9. If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.

As I understand it, this states clearly that those of us who proclaim "Justification by Faith Alone" are in fact accursed by the Catholic Church, and this charge of apostasy has never been repealed. Correction is welcome.

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