Sunday, May 19, 2013

Priestly Celibacy, Part 2

People seem confused by what I said about priestly celibacy two days ago, so let me try rephrasing things.

1. Priestly celibacy was a practice of the Church at the time of Jesus.
2. Mandatory celibacy became a practice of the Church hundreds of years later.
3. It is untrue to say that celibacy was invented by the Catholic Church, just because it was formally instituted long after Jesus' death.

That's the main point I'm getting at.  I'm sick of people saying the Catholic Church is full of sex-hating weirdos who made up the idea of celibacy.

The truth is that celibacy was not something people made up in the Dark Ages.  Celibacy has been around since the beginning of the Church.  In fact, the practice of priestly celibacy existed long before the Catholic Church; it happened in the ancient Greek religious practices.

One of the commentors asked me to give Scripture passages, to back up the practice of celibacy.  The best place to learn about this topic is 1 Corinthians, Chapter 7, where St. Paul contrasts married life and virginity.  The general premise is "married life is good and pleasing to God, but the celibate life is better".

Now, if you prefer something that comes directly from Jesus, take Matthew 19 (specifically verses 10-12).  Here, Jesus discuss people who live celibate lives, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Many translations use "being a eunuch" in place of "celibacy" for this passage.  And while you're on Matthew Chapter 19, read alll the way to the end of the chapter where, again, Jesus talks about those people who give up important things (including wives) for his sake.

The best recommendation Jesus gives for priestly celibacy is the fact that he himself never married.  The Virgin Mary is the second major figure of the early church who lived a life of celibacy.  The other major figures include Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Paul.

People debate whether St. Joseph (the foster-father of Jesus) or St. John the Baptist were celibate. Some say that St. Joseph was a widower who had children from a previous marriage, and others say that St. John the Baptist was married to St. Mary Magdalene.


Anonymous said...

Michael, can you please talk about more casual things, from now? I like to hear more commentary about Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies, or you could guess what the next Nancy Drew game is going to be about. Please, Michael, serious posts are good, but it's going on and on now...

Anonymous said...

Michael i hope that you're reading from the king james version because in 1 corinthians it says in chapter 7 verse 9 For it is better to marry than to burn. Also in hebrews 13 verse 4 it says Marriage is honourable in all and more but i'll leave it at that.

Casey said...

Thank God for the comment on marriage above mine someone really knows the Bible.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I understand where you're coming from, but you're still not getting the point the original poster made.
No, the Catholic church didn't invent celibacy, but they did, hundreds of years after Jesus like the poster said, make it mandatory. Most other churches find this idea offensive, and while Jesus said that he honored people who took these steps, he did not make celibacy mandatory for his followers.

And frankly, while the Catholic church hates this argument, there is a lot of evidence that both Jesus and his mother were not celibate. In fact, Jesus has younger siblings, so even if Mary was a virgin at the time of Jesus's birth she did not dedicate her life to celibacy in the name of God.

I know most of this comes from evidence that is not in the scripture so you're probably just going to ignore it, but that's where a lot of your readers (and presumably the one you were originally arguing against) are coming from.

Anonymous said...

So I have another question. Do Catholics pray to God directly or do they just pray to the saints? This is something I never fully understood.

Anonymous said...

I'm Christian, not Catholic, so I'm not about to start arguing with your theology, but I do have a question that won't leave my mind, and I can't be the only one asking it. If you are/becoming a priest, how can you have a gf, with the whole celibacy thing? I've probably just been misinformed of your occupation?

Balin said...

Anon 5/19 10:34 - The verse Michael references basically says "Marrying is a good thing, but setting that aside to live celibately is better." Neither are designated as sinful. Regarding 1 Cor 7:9, Paul is saying that if one cannot overcome their own sexual desire, they should marry (and thus channel that desire properly) rather than fall into sexual immorality and thus fall into sin. Neither marriage nor celibacy is presented as a bad thing.