Friday, February 17, 2017

Is Mandatory Celibacy For Church Leaders A Biblical Custom?

  • Introduction:
          -For centuries, the Church of Rome has enforced strict regulations regarding the marriage of clergymen. Bishops and priests have been required to remain in an unmarried state as long as they practice their profession. But we must ask whether this custom has any biblical basis? Is it lawful for any church to establish as a discipline the prohibition of leaders from having marital relationships? If so, then why? Allow us to examine the validity of this Roman Catholic practice by weighing it against Scripture and history.
  • Consider This Quotation From The Roman Catholic Catechism:
          -"In the Eastern Churches a different discipline has been in force for many centuries: while bishops are chosen solely from among celibates, married men can be ordained as deacons and priests. This practice has long been considered legitimate; these priests exercise a fruitful ministry within their communities. Moreover, priestly celibacy is held in great honor in the Eastern Churches and many priests have freely chosen it for the sake of the Kingdom of God. In the East as in the West a man who has already received the sacrament of Holy Orders can no longer marry." (CCC, 1580).
  • The Second Vatican Council, In Its Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, On The Ministry And Life Of Priests, Says That The Celibate Life Is:
          -"...not demanded by the very nature of the priesthood, as is apparent from the practice of the early Church(35) and from the traditions of the Eastern Churches, where, besides those who with all the bishops, by a gift of grace, choose to observe celibacy, there are also married priests of highest merit. This holy synod, while it commends ecclesiastical celibacy, in no way intends to alter that different discipline which legitimately flourishes in the Eastern Churches. It permanently exhorts all those who have received the priesthood and marriage to persevere in their holy vocation so that they may fully and generously continue to expend themselves for the sake of the flock commended to them."
  • Consider This Excerpt From The Encyclopedia Britannica: 
          -"The first Lateran Council, the ninth ecumenical council (1123), was held during the reign of Pope Calisto's II; no acts or contemporary accounts survive. The Council promulgated a number of canons (probably 22), many of which merely reiterated decrees of earlier councils. Much of the discussion was occupied with disciplinary or quasi-political decisions relating to the Investiture Controversy settled the previous year by the Concordat of Worms; simony was condemned, laymen ere prohibited from disposing of church property, clerics in major orders were forbidden to marry, and uncanonical consecration of bishops was forbidden. There were no specific dogmatic decrees." (The canons of the First Lateran Council in 1123 AD during the reign of Pope Calixtus II)
          -"Canons 3 and 11 forbid priests, deacons, subdeacons, and monks to marry or to have concubines; it is also forbidden them to keep in their houses any women other than those sanctioned by the ancient canons. Marriages of clerics are null pleno jure, and those who have contracted them are subject to penance."
          -In 1079 AD, celibacy was first enforced for priests and bishops by Pope Gregory VII. Previously, they were permitted to marry.
  • What Does Scripture Say About The Matter?:
          -The New Testament teaches that a bishop (also known as an "elder" or "overseer") can be married and have children (1 Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 1:5-9). In fact, how a man raises his family shows whether he can handle a position of authority in the church. Clergymen at least have the right to make that decision for themselves without being required to give up their ministerial position.
  • Married Church Leaders In The New Testament:
          -The Apostle Peter was married (Matthew 8:14). This is significant because the Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter was its first pope. In addition, the Apostle Paul said that the other apostles (including Peter) and all brethren in the Lord have the right to marriage (1 Corinthians 9:5). Scripture always speaks positively of marriage (Genesis 2:18). It is not as though sex within the confines of marriage makes one unfit to uphold a position of leadership in the church.
  • A Route Into Apostasy:
          -The Holy Spirit warns that "forbidding to marry" and "commanding to abstain from meats" are "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1-4). Not only does the Roman Catholic Church forbid its leaders from marriage, but it also teaches adherents to abstain from meats for long periods of time such as Lent. In fact, the Church of Rome used to forbid all of its adherents from eating meat every Friday. However, no elder in the church has any authority to impose these kinds of restrictions on the people of God. Rome has therefore clearly been shown to be in error. These kind of things happen when leaders are not held accountable for their actions.
  • Any Scriptural Support?:
          -Biblical texts such as Matthew 19:11-12 that commend the concept of celibacy say nothing about making an entire profession only to celibate men or women. Rather, they affirm that marriage is a matter of choice. It is simply cruel and arbitrary to make a man choose between being a minister and becoming a husband and father.

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