I found this news item interesting. Apparently, Brazilian RC priests have asked the Pope to drop the requirement for clerical celibacy. Here is a second site mentioning the requested change.
That’s all marriage is?
Perhaps the priests simply want an acknowledgment of the reality in Brazil – that a great many purportedly celibate priests do, in fact, live as married men.
This line in the first story confused me:
“The priests also raised concern about allowing divorced church members to have the right to religious sacraments as well.”
Does this mean that want or don’t want them to have access? Poorly written.
However, the second item makes it more clear: they in fact do want divorced people to be given the sacraments. Ah.
Speaking for my (Protestant) self, I’d be more willing to entertain the notion of relaxing the celibacy requirements if its proponents didn’t seem to always combine it with a raft of other sexual “reforms.” It seems to me to be a fairly good idea in principle, but it often seems to function as a Trojan horse for certain, shall we say, less reasonable propositions.
>>Speaking for my (Protestant) self, I’d be more willing to entertain the notion of relaxing the celibacy requirements if its proponents didn’t seem to always combine it with a raft of other sexual “reforms.” It seems to me to be a fairly good idea in principle, but it often seems to function as a Trojan horse for certain, shall we say, less reasonable propositions.
It’s because the various propositions are usually founded on the same assumption: That people have an uncontrollable need for sex, and consequently that it is unreasonable not to allow for the satisfaction of that need — hence liberalized views of masturbation, fidelity, remarriage, homosexuality, whatever. It’s a simple, sound natural law argument, albeit invalid.
Many of the tangential arguments against mandatory priestly celibacy [MPC] are also cleverly designed to affirm the average joe’s felt need for sex. (1) MPC was a conspiracy of greedy bishops who wanted to prevent priests’ families from appropriating Church wealth. This reason, widely cited by scholars and texts, is based on almost no primary material. (2) MPC reflects the maturation of insidious Augustinian doctrine that sex is evil. (3) MPC reflects the power-mad ambitions of Western popes seeking to control their clergy, in contrast to a more relaxed and decentralized Eastern approach. That is to say, Western ecclesiastical developments we don’t like are ipso facto invalid.
The truth, of course, is somewhat different. (1) The more rigorous enforcement of MPC in the High Middle Ages reflects heightened *popular* expectations of the clergy. (2) The ordination of unmarried men (arising in the late Patristic era) reflects an greater appreciation for marital sex than the prevenient practice of imposition of continence on ordained, married men. (3) MPC has biblical foundations, arose naturally in the West, and from a Western theological perspective makes more sense than Eastern unrealized ideal of celibacy for all Christians.
More can and should be said about the value of MPC, but as this thread is about the Brazilian antics, I’ll spare you the further expenditure of pixels.
“MPC has biblical foundations, arose naturally in the West, and from a Western theological perspective makes more sense than Eastern unrealized ideal of celibacy for all Christians.”
Did I miss something here? Am I misunderstanding you? Did I sleep through that part of the Liturgy or something?
>>Eastern unrealized ideal of celibacy for all Christians.
Sorry! This is a good reminder of how hazardous it is to write of others.
First, I meant “continence” here, not “celibacy.” This was simply a typing slip on my part.
Second, the ideal is explicit among EOs for married priests, which is the point of my comparison. Whether or not EOs apply the ideal of continence (however unrealized) to the laity is something for Easterners to expound on, not for me. I withdraw the broader claim, and thank Mr. Gardner for calling my attention to it.
Gene, that was a problem in late medieval Saxony as well, which is part of the reason Luther relaxed the unBiblical (1 Tim4:1-5) discipline of celibacy- the priests were living with concubines, causing the villagers to not take marriage seriously.
The protestant, (and I suppose the other 22 Catholic Churches apart from the Latin Rite, and the other apostolicly-founded churches) base their rejection of the teaching of demons on the basis that they don’t want to teach a doctrine of demons, and because marriage is a high and godly estate, commanded by God from the very beginning, not due to some notion of uncontrollability that neo-platonic heretics are likely to throw out. (presuming we all agree that neo-platonism is heresy)
Would someone please define what ‘continence’ means in this context? is it being faithful to ones’ spouse, or is it breaking the command of God regarding married couples (1 Corinthians 7)?
the unBiblical (1 Tim4:1-5) discipline of celibacy
Paul to Timothy:
1 Now the Spirit manifestly saith, that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error, and doctrines of devils, 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy, and having their conscience seared, 3 Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by the faithful, and by them that have known the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be rejected that is received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
And the associated Douay-Rheims commentary:
3 “Forbidding to marry, to abstain from meats”… He speaks of the Gnostics, the Marcionites, the Eneratites, the Manicheans, and other ancient heretics, who absolutely condemned marriage, and the use of all kind of meat; because they pretended that all flesh was from an evil principle. Whereas the church of God, so far from condemning marriage, holds it a holy sacrament; and forbids it to none but such as by vow have chosen the better part: and prohibits not the use of any meats whatsoever in proper times and seasons; though she does not judge all kind of diet proper for days of fasting and penance.
The “unBiblical” exegesis is almost as recent an innovation as the spelling “unBiblical”. Was Paul’s recommendation to stay as he was (unmarried) also “unBiblical”? What about Jesus’ “eunuchs for the Kingdom”?
By Labrialumn’s reasoning, the Lord Jesus himself violated the command of God by his celibacy and his teaching of celibacy. At this point in the conversation, it’s appropriate to shake the dust off one’s feet and walk away.
I dunno, I’ve had people retreat from me in a cloud of dust here and learned nothing from it. I’d like to learn whether there’s a remotely plausible-sounding explanation for why this type of biblical interpretation passes muster in some quarters.
The phrase “teaching of demons” suggests a deliberate confusion of mandatory priestly celibacy with a rejection of marriage itself. It’s not the biblical interpretation which is passing muster. Instead, the interpretation is summoned to justify a judgment already made. Were the judgment in conformity with the great Tradition, you might argue that it’s “spiritual exegesis,” but in this case, it’s not exegesis at all.
“I’d like to learn whether there’s a remotely plausible-sounding explanation for why this type of biblical interpretation passes muster in some quarters.”
Let me offer a slightly different approach. Nowhere in Scripture is celibacy required of pastors, priests, or bishops. The only command is that elders (or overseers or bishops) be the husband of one wife. (Titus 1:6.) That would seem to imply that such persons should, or at least may, marry. We know that the Apostle Peter himself (as well as the other apostles) followed this rule, and not the present day Roman Catholic strictures. (I Cor. 9:5) This seems to have been the tradition of the church, east and west, for most of its history. And today, for most of the church outside of Roman Catholicism, it still is (at least for parish pastors). The example of our Lord is, I submit, sui generis. In any event, His observation that some become eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom is but an observation, not a command. Paul’s comment is expressed as a desire, or at most as a recommendation. Besides, Paul himself argued that he had the right to have a believing wife! (I Cor. 9:5) And no one today would require marriage for those who indeed have a gift of celibacy. They may offer that gift in service to the Kingdom. But it is something altogether different to argue that none may be pastors but those who are celibate. I do not see that that position has any Scriptural support whatever.
I’m sure Bonobo and DGP will correct me if I’m wrong here, but Labrialumn’s criticism of MPC as a “doctrine of demons” falls on its face because MPC is, in fact, not a doctrine but a discipline. I grant that there are some traditionalists who view it as a doctrine, but I’d say they are mistaken. The critic is thus attacking a straw man.
Whether or not MPC is a valid or even helpful discipline is a matter worthy of examination. But let’s not allow lousy hermeneutics and an inaccurate description of the thing to cloud the issue.
There are a few problems with your construal. (1) The “nowhere in Scripture” argument is far too blunt. Recall how often it is abused. (2) The “husband of but one wife,” interpreted intertextually in parallel with the Levitical preisthood, precludes serial monogamy, and this seems to me to be its prima facie meaning. (3) The example of the apostles proves that they were married, and says nothing of the imposition of continence. (4) The recommendations of the Lord and of St. Paul are not commands, but as ideals of behavior they may indeed be required of the clergy, just as many other ideals recommended to the faithful become mandatory for the clergy. (5) The example of the Lord ought not be waved off so easily; he is the standard. (6) Your argument applies just as well to bishops as to priests, and thus opposes the universal tradition — not a great starting point for biblical exegesis.
Unlike Labrialumn, you at least concede that the celibate life is consistent with Scripture. Thank you. You argue that the Church is forbidden to slect clergy solely from the ranks of the celibate, presumably because there is no explicit biblical formulation of such a law. This is perhaps just another instance of an old Catholic-Protestant dispute, whether the Church in her received tradition and ongoing development can establish disciplines beyond blackletter Scripture. Depending upon how narrowly one reads Scripture, one might as well argue against churches mandating Sunday worship, offerings, observances of Lent & Easter, minor orders as prerequisites for the majors, the celebration of Christian weddings, etc.
The Pony Express, when it advertised for riders, specified young single men, “preferably orphans”. The Marine Corps, as recently as WWI, discouraged married men from enlisting, and a recent Commandant (nineties, if I recall correctly) made waves by suggesting a policy restricting married men’s enlistment…
Perhaps MPC’s meant to function in a similar way – as Kipling noted, “Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,/ he travels the fastest who travels alone.” But if it is, really, a “discipline, not a doctrine” then it could be changed to fit current situations and priorities, like the Marine Corps policy, right?
As a Protestant, I’ve always viewed priestly celibacy the way I view Christian pacifism; one must respect the individual fellow’s commitment, and it even seems an expression of holiness – even though it makes precious little sense.
I don’t have much argument with your points. I don’t necessarily argue that the church is “forbidden” to impose celibacy; my argument is more prudential, namely, that it seems evident (admittedly to me) that many men have a pastoral gift who nevertheless have no corresponding gift for celibacy.
“This is perhaps just another instance of an old Catholic-Protestant dispute, whether the Church in her received tradition and ongoing development can establish disciplines beyond blackletter Scripture.”
I didn’t intend that, but perhaps it’s inevitable. But the key word is “discipline.” A discipline can be an ideal, but not necessarily a requirement. I quite agree that the church may prescribe (without proscribing) a number of practices or disciplines that are decidedly helpful. The difference (and I’m not fully persuaded that it is at base a C vs. P dispute) is the issue of whether one may proscribe marriage for the pastorate where there is no clear Scriptural precedent (the Rabbinic tradition was quite to the contrary), and where the scant Biblical evidence we have tends to point away from this or is ambiguous.
>>where there is no clear Scriptural precedent (the Rabbinic tradition was quite to the contrary), and where the scant Biblical evidence we have tends to point away from this or is ambiguous.
I would say the exact opposite of the Biblical evidence — that it tends toward continence rather than the exercise of marital privileges. And I note your use of the rabbinic precedent as opposed to the Levitical priesthood — another stereotypical Catholic/Protestant divergence.
“Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” I Corinthians 9:5 (ESV)
Sounds like the exercise of marital privileges by the original apostles to me! It was the first thing Paul thought of after food and drink. And if anyone thinks these wives lived as housekeepers to continent husbands, well, what can I say?
I’m done. Last word to Fr. DGP, if he likes.
I’ll try for the last word, if I may: as Rob G noted above, celibacy is a discipline, not a doctrine. However, the Church may (indeed must) impose disciplines.
She’s been given some liberty in regard to the whole area of binding and loosing.
And indeed, from later in the “eunuchs” passage:
“Let him accept it who can”.
>>Sounds like the exercise of marital privileges by the original apostles to me!
Yes it does, but you’re shifting goalposts. We were talking about the *tendency* of the biblical evidence, not an absolute conclusion.
It’s the same indecisive tendency through the entire Western tradition: There’s an ideal of continence, with modest exceptions varying through the centuries. I include this most recent, which was the first century to see unlimited license for the ordination of married deacons without a promise of continence.
>>And if anyone thinks these wives lived as housekeepers to continent husbands, well, what can I say?
From what I’ve heard, there are quite a few women who wish they had it so good. :)
You argue that the Church is forbidden to slect clergy solely from the ranks of the celibate, presumably because there is no explicit biblical formulation of such a law.
A minor quibble, DGP: the Church does not, in fact, select clergy, priests and deacons, solely from the ranks of the celibate, even in the Latin rite, even today. This is to say nothing of all the other rites of the Catholic Church. For all I know, the Church might very well be forbidden to do so… Clerical celibacy is, as such, a complete red herring in Protestant/Catholic discussions… all the more so in disputes between orthodox Catholics and dissenting ones. I’d personally like to see more married RC priests as it would almost surely drive many gays out of the seminaries: by-n-large they can’t stand married men with children because they represent a pure and normative image of manhood, to which they’ve refused to aspire. Celibacy (with continence, and all other manly attributes well-oiled), I’ll grant, is a purer image still, but when things get as bad as they’ve gotten, well… perhaps a dispensation is in order.
Ethan (C?) was right to begin with: arguments against mandatory celibacy (some of which are perfectly well ordered and sensible) almost always get attached to the most harebrained suggestions to reform irreformable doctrine.
when things get as bad as they’ve gotten, well… perhaps a dispensation is in order
Perhaps this is the same counsel of despair that caused Luther to “relax the discipline” as Labr. frames it above. A very apostolic loosening arrogated by the same Martin, forsooth!
Should we also go back to the Mosaic divorce permission, because we are so hard to teach?
I think not. Root out the concubinage (I think that was on the Tridentine agenda), root out the homosexualizers (I know this is on B16′s agenda). That’s the solution, not yielding to the crisis of authority.
“Should we also go back to the Mosaic divorce permission, because we are so hard to teach?”
De facto, we have. But as to the error of this way, we have clear dominical authority.
In the matter of a counsel of perfection, dominical authority is not so much required as dominical encouragement: “Let him who can…”
Not all are called to follow this counsel. Priesthood is, after all, a specific vocation.
It would be an error to chip away at the Lord’s clear recommendation on this topic.
>>A minor quibble, DGP: the Church does not, in fact, select clergy, priests and deacons, solely from the ranks of the celibate, even in the Latin rite, even today.
True. See my post about varying exceptions through the centuries.
>>This is to say nothing of all the other rites of the Catholic Church.
True again. Nothing in my theological argumentation was intended to apply to the East (except the one remark that *from a Western perspective* our discipline makes more sense than an unrealized ideal of continence even for the married clergy).
>>For all I know, the Church might very well be forbidden to do so…
In the sense that the West has no authority (not to mention power) to impose this on the East, she is indeed so forbidden.
>>Clerical celibacy is, as such, a complete red herring in Protestant/Catholic discussions… all the more so in disputes between orthodox Catholics and dissenting ones.
I don’t know where Labrialumn falls here — more of a red flag than a red herring, to my mind.
>>I’d personally like to see more married RC priests as it would almost surely drive many gays out of the seminaries: by-n-large they can’t stand married men with children because they represent a pure and normative image of manhood, to which they’ve refused to aspire.
Yes, and those same married priests (with accompanying expenses, kid problems, divorces) would probably drive our laity to wish for the good old days of unmarried priests. :)
The proper comparison is not between our celibate clergy and the “pure and normative” manhood allegedly to be found among married priests, nor even between Eastern married priests and Western celibates. Our married men will never be ideal, and Westerners will never be Easterners.
Instead, the proper comparison is between our celibate clergy and the married clergy of the Protestant “sacramental” denominations. I’d guess the latter are the best approximation of what we RCs would have if we routinely ordained married men. From their example, I judge that a married clergy offers no great boon to the RCC.
(I intend no offense against Protestants in this respect. In some sense, we are all suffering from the same curses, simply manifest in different respects according to our circumstances.)
>>Celibacy (with continence, and all other manly attributes well-oiled), I’ll grant, is a purer image still, but when things get as bad as they’ve gotten, well… perhaps a dispensation is in order.
Like the Israelites of the amphictyony begging for a king, you may yet get your wish. :)
De facto, we have. But as to the error of this way, we have clear dominical authority.
I’d say we’ve actually done far worse than going back to the Mosaic divorce permission: we’ve made annulments too easy… scandalously easy. It would be better (in the sense of the right ordering of society) to simply slap divorcees with a year or two of penance, and then let them live in peace and communion with the Church, in a non-sacramental marriage. There should be some space, in our theology, between ideal conjugal love and fornication.
Okay, it’s all because of the hardness of hearts, true. But the alternative? For those lucky enough to be granted an annulment: perfect freedom in spite of their failures, in spite of separation from children, &c; and for those not so lucky… an almost impossible (but not, of course, impossible) barrier to communion; or, in the case of lax parish standards, a cheery welcome to eat and drink one’s own damnation.
This is one area where RC doctrine could use a bit of undevelopment.
Well, first it was celibacy, now the permanence of marriage that’s proving onerous. What shall we have to row back on tomorrow?
Using grammatical-historical exegesis with attention to the Greek text, rather than letting someone’s commentary added to a translation of a translation of a translation, I have read the text differently than you have interpreted the commentators of a translation of the Vulgate translation of the classical Latin translation of the Bible.
Paul wrote specifically to widowers and widows that they might do better if they didn’t remarry, but if they did, they did not sin. To the unmarried, earlier in the same chapter, he tells them to marry, and forbids the married from withholding sex from each other.
Jesus clearly was responding to the sinful comment of the disciples “if that is the case between a man and a woman, it would be better not to marry” Their sin, their desire to be able to divorce their wives (and they were all married men) was not Jesus’ teaching. His teaching was the inviolability of marriage. So in that context (and texts without contexts can be pretexts) He is telling them that if you can’t commit to life-long marriage, then you shouldn’t get married.
Jesus is engaged to the Church, He wouldn’t very likely marry additional brides.
So to you, the men of the church are without error, and cannot be weighed by the Word of God? That is one of the errors that the evangelical movement of the Augsburg Confession rejected. Exegesis is reading the -text-, not failing to read the text in order to obey self-designated infallible commentators on that text. Mandatory priestly celibacy, a DISCIPLINE not a DOGMA, and only in the Latin Rite, IS a forbidding of marriage to priests. And hence falls under that condemnation in Scripture.
Bonobo, the Church has no authority to impose a discipline which is contrary to the Word of God. That would be elevating the Church above God, and thus a gross idolatry.
The Bible -commands- that married couples NOT practice continence, if continence here refers to the neo-platonically inspired practice of not engaging in marital relations.
Bonobo, and would that be the belief of the disciples that they wished they could abandon their wives, or Jesus teaching that they may not, and so strongly teaching that, that if we can’t be faithful, we oughtn’t marry, and that in a society where it was considered sin not to marry? What sort of exegesis is -that-?
“Using grammatical-historical exegesis with attention to the Greek text…”
There’s part of your problem right there. Neither the writers of the NT nor the Fathers used the GH method, or some ancient version of it. It’s a helpful tool, of course, but as many Protestant Scripture scholars are coming to understand, it is just that, a tool, and not the sine qua non of exegetical studies. It has too much of an Enlightenment foundation to be a sort of magical key to unlocking the Biblical text.
“So to you, the men of the church are without error, and cannot be weighed by the Word of God?”
I’m not a supporter of MPC by any stretch, but your argument against it here has no weight. Why does your reading of Scripture trump theirs? Because you supposedly use the HGM, allowing the text to speak for itself with no presuppositions? Well guess what? A text NEVER speaks for itself. Upon being read, it is being interpreted, and the interpreter ALWAYS brings presuppositions to his reading of it.
“That is one of the errors that the evangelical movement of the Augsburg Confession rejected. Exegesis is reading the -text-, not failing to read the text in order to obey self-designated infallible commentators on that text.”
Was not the Augsburg Confession written by fallible men? How then does it become a standard for interpreting God’s word? Methinks you are hoist by by your own petard.
The “permanence of marriage” is made a mockery by the application of RC “theology” to the annulment process: If you did not really, really intend to marry or really, really understand what that means on the exact day of your marriage, then you were not, ipso facto, ever married: An incredibly difficult, or incredibly easy, thing to prove after the fact depending on how you look at it… and the Church of the West all too often these days looks at it in the latter way.
Look, all I’m saying is that people, far and wide, blessed with God’s special revelation and not so blessed, have been pairing up and doing the “wild thing” for a long, long time. Societies, long-lived, well-ordered ones at any rate, demand faithful monogamy, and require no special confirmation from Christ or his Church to do so. But when the first demand of society fails, then what is to be plan B? Currently the Church’s “theology” only allows for: B) leave your current “spouse”, thereby screwing up another “marriage”, in which you may have had children; or B) rub the magic charm and the Church will say your first marriage never really happened and presto.
Does anyone REALLY believe that fewer than 98% of annulments (allowing for the maybe 2% that are genuine) differ in substance from good ol’ serial monogamy, anyway? I say, permit the serial monogamy, with due penance (a year or two), and thereby preserve the rational coherency of the Church’s teaching. Stop pretending that that first marriage never happened. Either that, or stop granting so many annulments… or both.
As for celibacy, Bonobo, I think it merely a matter of prudence. It just so happens we live in a day when the celibacy requirement has been (unfortunately) divorced from the chastity requirement, and by that fact become an attractive cloak for men of certain unmanly dispositions. Don’t lump me in with the Party of Laxity: I want married men in the priesthood only so they can go all whoopass on the Lavendar Mafia.
>>I want married men in the priesthood only so they can go all whoopass on the Lavendar Mafia.
Good luck with that. It’s at least as likely you’ll wind up with married men divorcing their wives to move in with their gay lovers.
>>It’s at least as likely you’ll wind up with married men divorcing their wives to move in with their gay lovers.
Strike that: It’s probably *more* likely. Married men will turn out to be very much like unmarried men — a few good ones, a few bad ones, and most muddling in between. The odds that they’ll go “whoopa**” on the Lavender Mafia are about the same as the married clergy of TEC rising up to ban gay ordinations. That is to say, it isn’t going to happen without a renewal of faith among the clergy themselves. Such a great renewal, I dare say, would obviate the problems folks associate with MPC.
Bill R on Feb 7 quotes St. Paul to Corinthians 9:5 to argue that the apostles traveled with their wives. The inspired Greek does not have St. Paul using the word “wife” in this passage, rather he uses the word “woman.” And why would St. Paul opt to carry about a “wife,” as you allege, since he did not have a wife as he himself affirms in another epistle? The obvious meaning here is that pious women accompanied the apostles at times, to minister to their needs no doubt. And why would St. Peter in Matthew 19:29 ask Jesus about the future reward for following him and “leaving all things” if he took along his wife? It does not make sense. Nor does it make sense that Jesus promises in His reply to reward a hundredfold those who have left home and “wives” for His sake.
As all posters probably know, in the eastern-rite Catholic Church, a married man can be ordained a priest, but an unmarried priest cannot get married after ordination. There’s a difference. Too, there’s a large percentage of eastern-rite priests who are monks, and these do take a vow of celibacy. Finally, in the eastern-rite a married priest cannot be ordained a bishop.
The Latin discipline goes back to apostolic times, but of course there had to be ordinations of married men just to take care of the churches which were established by the apostles.
“The obvious meaning here is that pious women accompanied the apostles at times, to minister to their needs no doubt.”
Obvious to you, Brian, but not to everyone else. The commentators I’ve read indicate that Paul’s wife likely died between the writing of the various epistles. We can all speculate. Do you know of a translation that substitutes “woman” for “wife” in this passage?
“And why would St. Peter in Matthew 19:29 ask Jesus about the future reward for following him and “leaving all things” if he took along his wife? It does not make sense. Nor does it make sense that Jesus promises in His reply to reward a hundredfold those who have left home and “wives” for His sake.”
Houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children, and lands are all mentioned in Matthew 19:29. Not wives. Apparently what God has joined, He will not put asunder.
“And why would St. Peter in Matthew 19:29 ask Jesus about the future reward for following him and “leaving all things” if he took along his wife?”
Because a wife is not a “thing.” Rather wife and husband are one flesh. The Lord does not ask that you leave your flesh behind in order to follow Him.
“The Latin discipline goes back to apostolic times, but of course there had to be ordinations of married men just to take care of the churches which were established by the apostles.”
That there were celibate priests from apostolic times no one doubts. But we’re talking about mandatory celibacy, which is much more recent.
I have read the text differently than you have interpreted the commentators of a translation of the Vulgate translation of the classical Latin translation of the Bible.
How very snotty of you, Labby. I too have read the bible in Greek. Probably without getting so puffed up with my own erudition (real or imagined) that I ignored the lessons of history.
Apparently what God has joined, He will not put asunder.
Dam’ right. But as a counsel of perfection, stet.
Don’t lump me in with the Party of Laxity: I want married men in the priesthood only so they can go all whoopass on the Lavendar Mafia.
Don’t imagine I did, that would be very unfair. I’m painting with a broad brush here.
The “permanence of marriage” is made a mockery by the application of RC “theology” to the annulment process: If you did not really, really intend to marry or really, really understand what that means on the exact day of your marriage
Being married to a US citizen, I’m pretty clued in on the grossly imprudent marrying habits of citizens of that fine country. Many of my wife’s friends marriages, entered into at younger than twenty, I would never be tempted to regard as valid. The idiot husband in question more than once decided to be gay, instead.
Because a wife is not a “thing.”
Etymologically, a “thing” is not an object. Better “an affair” or “legal case”, like a marriage contract.
Either Simon Peter was a widower, or his wife had to put up with considerable disruption. I wouldn’t have wished that on any woman unfortunate enough to hook up with his successors.
You, like many RC’s are reading way more into the disruption of pastors wives than what exists. Yes, their life is not easy, but who’s is? Even if it was blisteringly hard that is not an argument for mandatory celibacy and is just as bad as any bad logic put forth by Labrialumn. It is a despicable and weak argument.
There is plenty of (T)radition, east and west, for married clergy. There is also a biblical allowance for presbyters that can only be read in a positive light. After all, how can they care for the Church if they can’t care for their household? This discipline of the West is an innovation and one without Traditional or Biblical mandate. That is why the West has been unable to codify it into a dogma. It simply knows it can’t, as the popes have all admitted.
>>This discipline of the West is an innovation and one without Traditional or Biblical mandate.
Not an innovation, but an extrapolation of a certain trajectory. Continuity *is* important.
>>That is why the West has been unable to codify it into a dogma. It simply knows it can’t, as the popes have all admitted.
It’s rather insidious of you to imply that the Church is even *trying* to do this.
if it was blisteringly hard that is not an argument for mandatory celibacy
That is not my argument. Making a counsel of perfection mandatory is indeed controversial and indeed reformable. But I accept that the Church has the authority and good reason to do so. I do not accept that a change in this regard will improve matters.
Bonobo, Simon Peter’s wife went along with him, as did the wives of all of the apostles, except for the (likely) widowers Paul and Barnabas, who had the -right- to marry.
So, part of my “problem” is being able to read a book? Is the Bible, in your estimation, something that requires a special gnosis to understand?
I am saying not that my interpretation trumps others, but that such things can be presented for observation and correction.
I am not hoist by any petard, for I am not saying that Melancton’s AC was inerrant. Nor is it a teaching on exegesis. The rule for exegesis is that for reading -any- book, any post.
Brian, proof of the Latin rite discipline, which goes back about 1,000 years, going back to apostolic times is needed for your assertion to be taken seriously.
I see more and more of the neo-platonism that has infected the Church since the days of Simon Magus and his disciple Nicolas, as this thread continues. 1 Timothy 4:1-5 really does apply.
Romans 9:5, what lexicon gives an exclusive translation of ‘woman’ rather than ‘wife’ The word used is gunaika, not parthenos. Which an unmarried godly woman would be called, unless she was a widow.
Bonobo, I wasn’t being snotty or puffed up, but apparently you’ve run out of arguments so you are resorting to mud-slinging.
There is no perfection in what God called “not good”
>>There is no perfection in what God called “not good”
Once again, Labrialumn neatly dispatches the Lord.
The “Latin Rite” is, in its origins, the rite of the Church of Rome. We know a fair amount about the Roman discipline. We know, for instance, that Pope Siricius, writing to Himerius, Bishop of Tarragona, in 385 AD, said that the Roman discipline was that no one ordained to the diaconate, priesthood or episcopate could marry under any circumstances after ordination, and that those married men who were ordained to those orders in the Church were expected to practice total continence (i.e., abstain from marital relations) once ordained.
It also seems that there was a long “progress” in holy Orders in Rome in early centuries. Married men might appointed to any of the “minor orders” (extending up to, and including, the subdiaconate) quite young, and might stay in these orders for many long years, until (in a few cases) advanced to the diaconate (Rome long had only seven deacons, plus an archdeacon, the pope’s “right-hand man”) or (in most cases) the presbyterate. I have a vague impression that the Roman deacons tended to be celibate, and the presbyters married. Very often archdeacon after archdeacon ascended the papal throne, and these were some of the most forceful popes, e.g., Leo the Great. But from time to time presbyters or “ordinary” deacons were elected, and thus we hear that Pope Silverius (536-37) was a son of the widowed deacon Hormisdas, who was elected pope in 514 and died in 523.
How far back this extends it is hard to say. One of the accusations that Hippolytus, the rebellious Roman presbyter and possible first antipope, makes against Pope Kallistos (d. 222) is that the latter premitted “certain presbyters” to marry after ordination, “against the tradition of the Church.”
Insofar as the Western Church adopted the “Roman discipline” along with the Roman Rite, it can be said that “the Latin Rite discipline” is at least something like 1750 years old.
And since the Roman Church no more accepts today the novel fancy of “sola scriptura” than it did 1750 years ago, and certainly does not accept the authority of Christian scribes to instruct her in the genuine meaning of her scriptures, I doubt that that discipline will be altered anytime soon.
And that is, folks, where it’s all at. Amen.
The Bible -commands- that married couples NOT practice continence, if continence here refers to the neo-platonically inspired practice of not engaging in marital relations.
I was looking back over the posts and this struck me as worth discussion. I have no problem with an ordained married man continuing to exercise his marital right. This is the position in the RCC today, most famously among Anglican priests who “pope”. However, if there was to be a general imposition of clerical celibacy (which I believe the Church entitled to promote, with St. Paul) then there must have been a period where married men were asked (even commanded) to relinquish this right. They may even have responded: “if this is the way it is, it is better not to marry…” and they would not have been the first.
This is purely on the assumption (which may take a lot of justification) that celibacy was an imposition rather than the original ideal to be met as soon as possible. That is certainly (pace those who pore over the Greek forest and miss the plain-english trees) the tendency of the NT.
>Once again, Labrialumn neatly dispatches the Lord.
That is an odd comment.
>>>Once again, Labrialumn neatly dispatches the Lord.
>>That is an odd comment.
Sorry. It fits with what I wrote earlier, “By Labrialumn’s reasoning, the Lord Jesus himself violated the command of God by his celibacy and his teaching of celibacy.” I mean that the hermeneutic Labrialumn uses results in a strong elevation of marriage above celibacy — so strong, in fact, as to render the Lord’s own celibacy as suspect. Most recently, the remark “There is no perfection in what God called ‘not good,’” presumably linking man’s original solitude with the state of celibacy, is too broad a dismissal of celibacy.
Scripture is indeed a two-edge sword. Among other things, this means it sometimes cut both ways. Unfortunately, some are so hamhanded that they attempt surgery with the flat of the blade.
>Sorry. It fits with what I wrote earlier, “By Labrialumn’s reasoning, the Lord Jesus himself violated the command of God by his celibacy and his teaching of celibacy.” I mean that the hermeneutic Labrialumn uses results in a strong elevation of marriage above celibacy — so strong, in fact, as to render the Lord’s own celibacy as suspect. Most recently, the remark “There is no perfection in what God called ‘not good,’” presumably linking man’s original solitude with the state of celibacy, is too broad a dismissal of celibacy.
Okay, I follow that…
Jesus’ bride is the Church. An engaged man stays faithful to his bride. I said that before in this discussion.
The question of whether God obeys the Church or the Church (ought to) obey God does seem to once again, be the issue between the Roman Church after the Great Schism, and the rest of the Church.
Church (ought to) obey God
Labrialumn’s misinterpretation of God’s will, that is.
Let him who can accept it, do so.
You’re not alone, Labrialumn, in thinking that the majority of Christians fell away at some stage. Call it the great schism; place it earlier or later if you will.
Joseph Smith had exactly the same idea and it leads to exactly the same place: the third of the stars dragged with a tail from the sky.
>>Jesus’ bride is the Church. An engaged man stays faithful to his bride. I said that before in this discussion.
I think I’ve read that before somewhere. :) But I call attention to your unwritten presumption that we priests are *not* to be like the Lord at least in this respect; otherwise, you cannot conclude that celibacy is always an imperfection. Your presumption opposes both Scripture and Tradition — Scripture, in so far as being a “eunuch” is recommended, and Tradition, in so far as some ideal of continence and/or celibacy is found both East and West for the first 1500 years of Christianity.
“Obvious to you, Brian, but not to everyone else. The commentators I’ve read indicate that Paul’s wife likely died between the writing of the various epistles. We can all speculate. Do you know of a translation that substitutes “woman” for “wife” in this passage?”
Whether or not Saul of Tarsus had a wife who died, who knows? It was not a sin to live a single celibate life unless without her consent one walked out on his wife to do so. Certainly Elias and Eliseus and the prophets of Carmel were celibate. All the fathers of the Church make note of it. Certainly John the Baptist had no wife. And what was Jesus referring to in Matthew 28 when, in reestablishing the indissolubility marriage in the face of the Jewish toleration of divorce, He spoke of the eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of God, if not voluntary celibacy? Our Lord set the example. “Let him take it who can take it.” Holy Matrimony is a sacrament, which a vow of celibacy, of course, is not. But every sacrament is not for every body.
As far as 1 Cor. 9:5 is concerned, the Greek gunaika, can mean either wives or women. From the Cross Christ calls to His Mother: “Gunai” (Woman). And, again, to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection: “Gunai!” In the Latin Vulgate, composed by one who had access to no longer extant codices, and who lived so much closer to the time of Christ, the word is sometimes translated “women” and sometimes “wives.” St. Jerome certainly knew better than you or I if St. Peter had a wife accompanying him, even if just for a while. Or, are we going to say Jerome gave his own spin on this verse because he “wanted” that the apostles be celibate after they were called by Christ? Rather, it was the tradition, which Jerome had received, that such was the case. Tertullian, Hilary of Poitier, and, of course, Augustine all taught the same. Jerome wrote two treatises in defense of virginity as a state in life, one to certain Eustochium, and the other to Hevidius, who was the first heretic to attack the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God. He refuted both handedly. That latter essay is available on the web. The former probably also.
I wish to stress that clerical celibacy (chastity) is an evangelical counsel, as is poverty (for order religious) and obedience. It is not a doctrine of the Church that her priests be celibate. It is not a doctrinal matter, but a discipline. The matter of the sacrament of Holy Orders is a matter of doctrine. Hence one cannot be a priest if one is not a baptized male.
Bill R writes: “Houses, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, children, and lands are all mentioned in Matthew 19:29. Not wives. Apparently what God has joined, He will not put asunder.”
Well, here we have not only a matter of translation but of omission. The Vulgate has “uxorem” (wives) for the Greek gunaika in this passage. If your Bible is missing the word “wives” in Matthew 19:29, that’s strange indeed. Selective scissor-work perhaps on the part of ESV’s “word for word” translators? If you want a literal word-for-word translation you’d be better off with the Douay. It’s the best there is in English.
“Apparently what God has joined, He will not (sic) put asunder.” Since you mean to say that He will put asunder, I answer “not so.” The apostles who left their wives (and marital relations) in following Christ and preaching to the nations, did not put asunder their marriage. They simply forfeited their marriage rights over the body of the wife, in order to obey the call of Christ. I mean when Jesus challenged the rich young man, telling him to sell all that he has and to come follow Him, would you have preferred that Jesus add: “And bring along your wife.” By the way, Jesus already knew the wives of five of the men whom he called to be Apostles, excepting John whom tradition has it was only eighteen when he called. How is that? Because Simon, James the Less, and Jude were His cousins, and James the Greater and John were nephews to at least one of these men, if not all three. These were His “brethren.”
This is God who is calling His twelve apostles. That is the main point. God can (and does) sometimes demand a lot more sacrifices at times than leaving one’s wife to do His work. Who is anyone to tell God He could not have required celibacy in His twelve apostles after the calling? The only command the All Good God cannot give His creature is a command to do something intrinsically evil. To kill another man is a sin, yet it is not intrinsically evil or we could not even do so in self-defense. Yet when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, without giving him any reason, Abraham obeyed unto justice. Therefore, what you are alleging is that Christ could not have given the Apostles a command to leave their wives when they were called to follow Him, because it would have been intrinsically evil for them to leave their wives. [Keep in mind, too, that marriage in the Old Testament was not a sacrament.] There was no “till death do you part” in the espousal. A man could send his wife away for adultery, for instance, or he could dismiss himself from her, but neither of them could marry again if they would be true to the original design of God. Moses permitted such to remarry after being issued a bill of divorce, but that, as our Lord, said “was due to their hardness of heart. In the beginning it was not so.” Am I wrong here in my reasoning?
Regarding my point that Peter boasted that the apostles had left all “things” Bill R. writes: “Because a wife is not a “thing.” Rather wife and husband are one flesh. The Lord does not ask that you leave your flesh behind in order to follow Him.”
Good point. The inspired Greek word here, panta (all things) has the flavor rather of “everything.” The Latin omnia, which the Vulgate uses here, has the same meaning. But, rather, than quibble over what “thing” means, let me just say that philosophically speaking, everything that exists is a thing, even a subjective idea.
Again, the Catholic Church does not allow a married man to leave his wife to pursue a religious vocation. In the past the Church has tolerated it in certain very exceptional cases when both partners mutually consent. And this was only after the children were grown of age. Such as Emperor St. Henry and his wife St. Cunegunda, and St. Nicholas of Flue, who with the consent of his wife, after his children were reared, went off to be a hermit in the Swiss Alps. In modern times, I only know of only one case where it was allowed, I think it was in the late 1800s, and the husband went to be a Jesuit while the wife joined a convent. The husband ended up bitter and regretted his decision, leaving the priesthood and his religion. The poor wife persevered, even though it was the husband who originally pushed for the separation. The marriage could not be undone, but the marriage rights could be forfeited by mutual consent.
“And what was Jesus referring to in Matthew 28 when, in reestablishing the indissolubility marriage in the face of the Jewish toleration of divorce, He spoke of the eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of God, if not voluntary celibacy?”
Several times I’ve noted I have no objection to voluntary celibacy. I can even hold that in many or most instances it may be a noble discipline. My sole point is that mandatory celibacy for pastors is (a) not required by Scripture, nor (b) prudent as a requirement for the pastoral office (however wise it may be in individual circumstances). That’s all. So much of what you say I can agree with, and not disturb my argument at all.
“Well, here we have not only a matter of translation but of omission.”
The Textus Receptus has “or wife” but the older manuscripts do not. The New King James Bible notes: “NU-Text omits ‘or wife’.” The ESV, from which I quoted, is of course based on the NU-Text.
“”Apparently what God has joined, He will not (sic) put asunder.” Since you mean to say that He will put asunder, I answer “not so.””
No, I meant what I said. I meant that God will not (ordinarily) sunder that which He has joined (i.e., in marriage).
“The apostles who left their wives (and marital relations) in following Christ and preaching to the nations, did not put asunder their marriage. They simply forfeited their marriage rights over the body of the wife, in order to obey the call of Christ.”
Only if you believe Jerome got it right. Scripture merely tells us that the apostles either took their wives, or had the right to do so.
“[Keep in mind, too, that marriage in the Old Testament was not a sacrament.] There was no “till death do you part” in the espousal.”
Whether it’s a sacrament or not is irrelevant. As the Lord pointed out, marriage was intended by God to be indissoluable except by reason of death. (By the way, marriage isn’t a sacrament for Protestants. But that’s a side issue.)
“Again, the Catholic Church does not allow a married man to leave his wife to pursue a religious vocation.”
Well, by your reasoning, I don’t see why not. Is that because God has not commanded it? Or because it is imprudent? Oh, wait–those are my arguments!
I am sorry Bill R. I’m glad you answered my post. I must have confused you with someone else (don’t have time to check who now) who implied that since God said of Adam “It is not good for man to be alone” that celibacy was opposed to God’s will.
I apologize, too, for assuming that you meant to refute me by showing that if Jesus called an apostle to leave, along with all things, his wife, then He was sundering what He had joined together — hence contradicting Himself. Rereading your statement I see I misunderstood you.
One final thought regarding the “voluntary” issue regarding clerical celibacy. The rule was adopted as a canon for the western Church. I am not sure exactly when, but certainly by the fourth or fifth century at the latest. It was commonly taught by many early doctors that the disciplinary tradition came fomr the Apostles. Even the eastern father St. Cyril of Jerusalem affirms this. By the time of Pope St. Leo I (d. 461) it was the rule throughout the West. The reason was because a priest was called not only to follow Christ, but to be an alter Christus. When he offers the liturgy at the consecration he speaks in the person of Christ saying (not just narrating): This is My Body. It is a statement both of execution and fact. In imitation of Christ, long before the end of the first millenium, the Church decided to make celibacy a law for secular priests. It always had been for order religious. Celibacy was not forced upon the clergy. If you wanted to be a priest that was the rule you voluntarily accepted. There are plenty of other laws that the Church found it necessary to pass in her divinely given authority in binding and loosing.
The humble obey and joyfully make the sacrifice, oblation, of their whole being to God. If you are married, you are divided, as St. Paul teaches. So, celibacy is not forced upon anyone. It is voluntarily assumed by one’s deciding to become a priest in the first place. I am speaking of genuine vocations, not the usurpers who infiltrated our seminaries in the 60s and 70s and 80s.
Here is the prayer the bishop used to pray in the Old Rite before the cleric who is about to commit to celibacy in the subdiaconate:
You ought anxiously to consider again and again what sort of a burden this is which you are taking upon you of your own accord. Up to this you are free. You may still, if you choose, turn to the aims and desires of the world (licet vobis pro artitrio ad caecularia vota transire). But if you receive this order (of the subdiaconate) it will no longer be lawful to turn back from your purpose. You will be required to continue in the service of God, and with His assistance to observe chastity and to be bound for ever in the ministrations of the Altar, to serve who is to reign.
A fine discussion, Brian. I’m happy to leave you with the last word.
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