Dissent over Celibacy - Nothing New

Jimmy Tuten, Jr.
Indianapolis, Indiana

The Roman Catholic Church has tried for years to defend her position regarding the celibate state. Men like James Cardinal Gibbons would have us believe that prohibiting Priests to marry is a virtue, filled with chastity and purity, making the celibate state holier than the married state (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 327-333). Priestly celibacy is condemned by history, is no part of primitive Christianity, and is completely unknown to the New Testament. The verdict of nature, history and the Bible renders imposed celebacy of Catholicism hideously deplorable.

Opposed From Beginning

It is certain that up to the fourth century after Christ ecclesiastical celibacy was not required nor generally practiced. While some supported it, the majority opposed it. It did not become a fixed law until the seventh century. Paphnutuis, a Bishop in Egypt, influenced the council of Nicea (325 A.D.) to refuse to pass a law enforcing Priests to live unmarried. Tertullian in the second century, the council of Elvira (305 A.D.), and the council of Neocaesarea (314 A.D.) supported marriage as honorable and right for the "clergy." This is common knowledge.

It is no small wonder therefore that dissention over the question continues. In 1907 3,000 Roman Catholics appealed to Pope Pius X to abolish celibacy. According to the St. Louis, Missouri Post-Dispatch {April 25, 1969), Pope Paul VI, in Rome, pleaded with a Jesuit order of 31 members in New York, who with a high-ranking member, resigned avowing they would disregard the papal directions on marriage, to "come to the aid of the church." Pope Paul said the Catholic Church was undergoing a "possible decisive moment for its spiritual and historic vitality." He maintained that Catholics must preserve its conception of the priesthood and particularly what he called "the sublime law of celibacy."

The very next day one of the highest Jesuits (a regional assistant for Jesuit affairs in several European countries), Mario Schoenenberger, left the order affirming that he could no longer accept the way authority was being exercised in the Jesuit order and the Catholic church. Jan Hermans, provincial superior of the order in Holland, has also resigned over the issue. While the opposition should be over the scripturalness of this practice, the 31 New York dissents strike a familiar note: they question the validity of "a law that seems to be doing so much damage to the church (italics mine, JTT).

A History of Corruption

The words, "so much damage," are the key to Catholic opposition. They know that history supports the fact that the decree making celibacy a "virtue," thereby making marriage a crime for Priests (yet the Catholic Church has the gall to call marriage a "sacred sacrament"), unleashed rampant immorality, profligacy and concubinage. It almost succeeded, and may do so yet, in overthrowing Catholic hierarchy. Such publications as Catholicism Against Itself (0. C. Lambert, Vol. 1), and A Manual of Church History (Alzog & Ludwig, Vol., II, Pp. 368, 172-173, 928-931) demonstrate how deplorable and hideously deforming the morals of Priests have been as a result of this decree. The darkest side of Catholic Church history is infected with gross immorality on the part of certain topics while occupying the pontifical throne. Since space forbids citing illustrations, we ask, what else could anyone expect as a result of enforcing the law of ecclesiastical celibacy? Many present day examples of priestly corruption are hushed up, but enough leaks out to demonstrate that priestly celibacy is indeed doing "so much damage" to Catholicism.

Celibacy is Unscriptural

There is nothing in marriage rightly contracted that is inconsistent with sanctity of the highest state (Heb. 13:4; I Cor. 7:9, 28; Eph. 5:23-33). To argue that any man can only reach the highest state of holiness and perfection if he is unmarried is foreign to the Bible. Most, ii not all, of God's greatest servants were married men (Mk. 1:30-31; Ax. 21:9; I Cor. 9:5). This is true of Noah, Isaiah, Hosea, and others. A bishop in a scriptural sense must be a married man (I Tim. 3:2-4).

Celibacy is sinful and wrong, generally speaking (as imposed by Catholics) for the following reasons:

(1) It is against the laws of God and nature. It prohibits a union for which God made preparation in all humans. When God made man He said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Gen. 2:18). The New Testament says: "nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband" (I Cor. 7:2). The nature of man is such that he needs a wee. This is the way God willed it.

(2) It is one of the cruelest laws ever imposed upon man. It leads to hypocrisy, despair and incredibility. As far as the human mind is concerned, it is the most infamous and demoralizing decree that ever polluted it. Because of the celibacy law, human hearts have been withered and seeds of immorality have been sown in earthly families. The evils and scandals resulting there from are too numerous to mention.

(3) The Law is not attributed to teaching of our Lord, nor HIS apostles. It came from the minds of demagogues and ecclesiastical tyrants as prophesied in I Timothy 4:1, 3: "Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith forbidding marrying.

(4) It is contrary to everything the Bible says about the honorableness of marriage. It has never been proven true that unmarried men can serve the Lord with less restraint and hampering than those who are married.


Man is absolutely free to marry or not to marry (I Cor. 7:1-2). He may do as he pleases or circumstances demand. If he marries, his marriage is honorable and in accordance with the laws of God. If the single state is chosen in the place of marriage, that too is man's privilege. It is an individual freedom. We stand opposed therefore to any effort to bind man-made decrees and laws upon the consciences and hearts of mankind. The celibacy of the priesthood is a man-made law, and those who bind it upon man sin against God.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 41, pp. 10-11

August 27, 1970