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Priests And Marriage

I am a Christian.

I am not a "bible thumper", nor do I go to church as much as I probably should. And my prayer routine is somewhat lacking of late.

Nevertheless, I believe that morals and teachings passed on from the church are based on goodness and healthy living. If you live by these morals, you will succeed in obtaining a peaceful and happy life.

That's what I believe, anyway.

I feel that adhering to the will and traditions passed down through the centuries from Christian beliefs are meant to enrich and guide a persons existence. This is especially true in regards to marriage.

Which brings me to a question I've often pondered.

Why is it that Catholic priests cannot be married?

I understand that you cannot serve two masters, but if you are a Christian, your life is supposed to be devoted to the Holy Spirit alone. So if I or anyone else who is not of the cloth can be married, why not a priest?

I see no conflicts or dangers in allowing them to marry. It is purely born out of an old belief of celibacy and a fear of separating from the norms of familiarity.

I can only see benefits.

In all probability, it would help to increase the number of men who believe they have a calling to serve God, yet cannot because they are married. As it stands now, there is a shortage of men joining the priesthood, and this would help to be an acceptable avenue to "grow the ranks."

I often hear of couples seeking advice from their priest concerning marriage counseling. While it is not necessary to be married to give counsel to a couple concerning marriage (I doubt every marriage counselor is married), it would lend a unique insight to obtain counsel from a priest who has devoted himself to God while loving another human being. Having the knowledge of all the frailties, joys, possibilities, and trials that a couple is subjected to would be a unique amalgamation which would likely give rise to emotional well-being that would otherwise be lacking in celibacy.

Now, I know someone will put forth the notion that this would lessen the horrid act of sexual abuse in the church. This is bogus. If you feel the urge to engage in acts of such despicable nature, than it would not matter if you are a priest, a doctor, or a garbage man.

In addition to marriage within the Catholic church itself, I also see no reason why women should not be allowed to become priests.

If you are called by God to do his work, it should be deemed a blessing, and not denounced within the prism of human judgment. A woman who devotes herself to God and feels such a desire to preach His message and the teachings of Christ should be looked upon with the same reverence and respect as a man.

Celibacy is not a condition decreed by God. It is one of human creation.

It may be time to change.


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Comments (26)

Actually in some cases prie... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Actually in some cases priests can be married. usually the marriage comes first though.

Because the celibate priest... (Below threshold)

Because the celibate priest most closely models Jesus Christ, who was also celibate

Shawn,I can't spea... (Below threshold)


I can't speak about the Catholic faith, but the passage that comes to my mind re: not marrying is in 1 Corinthians 7. It talks about marriage in general, not just the unmarried.

For the unmarried, Paul seemed to speak well of being single/unmarried because it allows one to completely and totally devote their time to the Lord.

However, it isn't a command to celibacy. When looking at the Bible as a whole, I think there is a greater benefit for marriage than celibacy.

I'm sure that the Catholic Catechism (sp?) speaks to why priests are to remain unmarried.

Shawn,<a href="htt... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:


Here's a good explanation of why catholic Priests cannot marry after they become Priests. Some critics claim the real reason was so that the Catholic Church would inherit the property of priests when they died (at one time priests had property).

As for women being barred from the clergy, even some Protestant Churches follow that rule, which flows from the teachings of the Apostle Paul.

The thing to remember is that no Church that confesses that the Bible is the word of God changes it's doctrine based on popularity or human politics. Churches that are swayed from sound doctrine by the ways of the world are really just social clubs; good for networking, but not necessarily good for salvation.

If I am not mistaken, Catho... (Below threshold)

If I am not mistaken, Catholic priests were allowed to marry at one time. I forget when the edict was issued, but believe it was in the middle ages.

I am not Catholic, so I speak only from memory of things I have read.

You cannot minister to peop... (Below threshold)

You cannot minister to people, be available to drop anything to go somewhere to minister and be successfully married. Too much of a burden and stress for the priest.

If Paul, the apostle was married with kids, we probably would not have heard of Christianity. ww

IIRC, the vows of celibacy ... (Below threshold)

IIRC, the vows of celibacy were more for monks (some were priests, but not all - they all had the celibacy vow) than for parish priests. I have seen references to this in various places over the years, and it even gets a bit of play in _Pillars of the Earth_, by Ken Follet.

Nuns seemed to have longer been celibates (if not always), as they lived together just like the monks did. In their vows, the Catholic Church included the concept of Bride of Christ to emphasize the celibacy part.

Where does the Bible say th... (Below threshold)

Where does the Bible say that Christ was celibate?

What? You said celebrat... (Below threshold)

What? You said celebrate?!

Hyper, go away, this is a s... (Below threshold)

Hyper, go away, this is a serious conversation. Where does it say in the Bible that Jesus liked Tuna? What a jerk.

Well, if nuns demand to be ordained and will leave their position, then I would think they had more of a pride issue then a serve attitude. ww

Ha! Imagine if for 2,000 ye... (Below threshold)

Ha! Imagine if for 2,000 years the whole of the priesthood has been under the misconception that they were supposed to be good people who enjoyed themselves, rather than what we have today. Poor schmucks.

Willie: no, seriously: why ... (Below threshold)

Willie: no, seriously: why do people assume he was celibate? What does that add to the story? Do you only respect demi-gods that are virgins?

Celibacy for Roman Catholic... (Below threshold)

Celibacy for Roman Catholic clergy is a discipline, not a doctrine. In other words, the Church decided for various reasons (to eliminate property inheritance, to ensure that a priest has the time and commitment to his parishioners, to create a more easily mobile clergy who could quickly go where the Church needed them, etc.) that Catholic priests should not be married, not because of biblical demands, but because of Church discipline. The Eastern Orthodox Church allows married priests, but bishops cannot be married. Some Anglican priests (allowed marriage in the Anglican Church) who have moved to Rome have received permission from the pope to become priests in the RC Church (and remain married, obviously) but these are few and far between and can only be okayed directly by the pope.

On the issues of female clergy, you don't even want to go there. The reasons for this from the Catholic Church are sacramental and deeply theological - this will never change in the Catholic Church, it's just not possible given their understanding of the priest's sacramental role as representing Christ.

The bible has several place... (Below threshold)

The bible has several places that speak of marriage. Like a previous comment, shares of either marrying or not. Not a denial to marry.

The first covenant with man was marriage, by God in the Garden of Eden. As to qualifications of those who are teachers, pastors, priests, deacons, bishops, in 1 Tim.3 one can read that they must be married to one wife(to not have polygamists) but also reveals that these positions can be filled by a married person.

As to if Christ was celibate, He was without sin, and sex outside of marriage was a sin(fornication) or with a married person not your spouse(adultery). If Christ was married we would have known about it. In the book of Revelation we read of Him one day coming for His bride(which is the body of believers- not a woman).

My mother was a Catholic, and she was taught that the priest did not marry because of the plague...in the middle ages. I never understood that but that is what she recalls.

I wonder if the Catholic church will ever change this position?

What CaliforniaGold stated ... (Below threshold)

What CaliforniaGold stated is basically the truth of the matter. There was a grass roots movement about a thousand years ago against priest corruption. Not only was there the matter of property, but some were having their sons' inherit the position, more or less (recall that at this time, if your father was a baker, you were a baker, and so forth). In part to deal with the issue of property, and in part to prevent the priesthood from possibly becoming hereditary rather than a calling, and in part to end the angry riots of those in the grass roots movement (as well as a few other reasons, although I cannot recall them at the moment) it was decided by Rome to declare priests be celibate as well as chaste. The Orthodox church split from the Catholic church sometime not too long before this, which is why priests are still allowed to marry in their version of Catholicism / Christianity.

As for not allowing priestesses - no one, not even the Pope, has the authority to change that rule. It was decided by Jesus, and only Jesus has the authority to alter it - as is true of all rules declared by The Christ.

It is possible that one day in the next few centuries that the rule regarding priest marriage will be overturned - I see it as likely if not certain if the Orthodox and Catholic churches recombine, for example.

But the Catholic church (and the Orthodox church, and many Protestant churches) will not be changing their view on Female Ordination; it is literally above and beyond their authority to do so.

The reason priests do not m... (Below threshold)

The reason priests do not marry, to build on what was said before is that they model Christ. Who was Christ's bride? Right. The Church. Not a woman in the congregation, the Church at large.

St. Paul also talks about a married man being divided between the affairs of his wife and the affairs of the Lord, yet this celibate role is not without teaching authority: 1 Cor. 4:15 shows Paul saying "I became your father in the gospel," the very same reason we call Priests "Father" today.


Hmmm, I was expecting some ... (Below threshold)

Hmmm, I was expecting some comments about same sex marriage here on his thread, being about priests and all. Whew!

RayYou said: "The ... (Below threshold)
etaoin shrdlu Author Profile Page:


You said: "The reason priests do not marry, to build on what was said before is that they model Christ."

And Christian laymen are NOT to be models of Christ??

Hebrew priests were married. The early Christians were mainly Jewish. Per Paul, Peter and the other apostles were married, and usually accompanied by their wives as they traveled. Elders of local churches are plainly stated to be required to "husbands of one wife." Deacons also had the same scriptural qualification. Tortuous interpretations of plain statements do not cut it.

as to the question of Jesus' celibacy, and all that Da Vinci horse manure, those who would fall for that sort of thing probably also believe that Erik van Daniken's flying saucer aliens built the pyramids, and the Passover Plot as well.

Fornication and adultery are condemned by the bible as sin. Jesus was deeply committed to the scriptures -- He said that "the scriptures cannot be broken." He challenged His bitterest enemies: "Which of you convicts me of sin?" Jesus was without sin. Alternatively, to argue for some bizarre secret marriage is what is known as an argument from silence, and just pitifully, pitifully weak proposition.

Another thought.Ca... (Below threshold)
etaoin shrdlu Author Profile Page:

Another thought.

Catholics might be able to confirm this, or even which it was, but it is my understanding that at the height of the wave of pedophile priest scandals early this decade, one of the American Catholic Archbishops publicly called for the Church to reexamine the subject of clerical celibacy. He was answered by crickets chirping. Does anyone have details on this?

Lots of interesting stuff c... (Below threshold)

Lots of interesting stuff came about because of that grass roots movement against priestly abuses about a 1000 years ago. So much so that Shawn will not have trouble finding a church that fits his beliefs.

I've never read the Da Vinc... (Below threshold)

I've never read the Da Vinci code. I just happen to think that any evidence that claims that Jesus was celibate is dubious by the very nature of it. Here's an honest question: we consider pre-marital sex to be "fornication" now, but was it 2,000 years ago? Was recreational sex always so irrationally and baselessly classified as a bad thing?

Look, I could care less whether Jesus was sexually active. I just think it's crazy to tell yourself that He certainly was; and to then extend that belief to a normative claim about every other person, e.g., that no unmarried person should ever have sex because the holiest or second holiest person ever (I always thought that it's His mother who was without sin) refrained from it.

Read your bible and pray EV... (Below threshold)
sowing a seed:

Read your bible and pray EVERYDAY! This is where I find my peace and joy. Everything seems to just fall into place when I am communing with God on a daily, sometimes a minute to minute basis.

God's intentions was for us to follow His Word - the Bible. Of course, man had to interfere and make things more difficult than they needed to be and make up his own rules and that's why we have 1,000's of different faiths. I was raised and schooled a Catholic. By choice, I left the faith because I realized once I started reading my Bible that the Pope enforces things that are not of God's word. Perfect example priests and marriage. We are by design set here to marry and procreate.

Mac Lorry the last paragraph of post #4 AMEN!

Hyperbolist (cool handle, b... (Below threshold)
etaoin shrdlu Author Profile Page:

Hyperbolist (cool handle, btw)

Just read about Jesus some, (try John's Gospel) and take it as just what it says it is, the honest account of an eyewitness who was very close to Jesus, and see if your skepticism about Jesus holds up unchanged. He had a lot on his plate -- He was a man, a real man, on a very serious mission, not a wanderer through life. Start with that.

Also Luke, who was a physic... (Below threshold)

Also Luke, who was a physician who wrote his gospel after speaking with eye witnesses. Very scientific for the day.

Fornication is wrong then as it is now. I am not professing that I have not gone that way, but I do know relationships change when that happens and usually not good. ww

When where priests banned f... (Below threshold)

When where priests banned from marriage?

Evidently the western church almost immediately reverted to the Bachannals and Dionysian feasts over which the Roman church was grafted.

Rebranding Dionysius as "St. Dionysius" didn't "take", for example.

Another problem: the Love Feasts based of the Greek word AGAPE does NOT mean brotherly love. (Brotherly love is PHILIA).

Long-short: Western Christianity tolerated a free-love subculture.

At the protestant reformation things had to change.

A celebate clergy was uniqu... (Below threshold)
Mark L:

A celebate clergy was unique to the Diocese of Rome in the ancient church. In the rest of the church -- which became the Orthodox Christian churches after the Great Schism, married men may be ordained as priests. (Priests may not marry however.) Married clergy are preferred for pastoral postings, as it is felt they better understand the needs of their flock.

Only unmarried clergy can rise higher than priest -- to bishop or patriarch. It is viewed that those positions consume so much time that putting a married man in those positions would cause him to neglect either his family or his job.






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