DOES THE BIBLE TEACH CELIBACY?
Does the Bible teach Celibacy? The purpose of this study in God's word is to answer the question on the controversial subject of celibacy among the clergy in the church. In other words, does the Bible teach that the priest, Bishops, Cardinals, and Popes of the Catholic church must be CELIBATE in order to be leaders in the church?
Now the SHORT answer is that there are verses and passages of scripture in the Bible that do indeed teach that it would be better if the apostles were unmarried so that they could devote their time to the ministry and not be distracted by carnal things such as a wife. But the Bible ALSO teaching that the “bishop” or the pastors and elders of the churches should be MARRIED to ONE wife and proven to be a good HUSBAND and father to his wife and family BEFORE he is given the care of watching over the church or specific congregation that has been placed in his care.
So again the SHORT answer is BOTH yes and no. The Bible does indeed teach that SOME elders in the church were made eunuchs and that they did not marry a wife, but rather they were married to the church or there work in the ministry to the church. But the Bible ALSO teaches that the BISHOPS in the church should be MARRIED and that the married be a GOOD marriage as well.
So then, the more specific question now becomes does the Bible teach the MANDATORY CELIBACY of the clergy of the church as does the Roman Catholic church teaches today?
Let us begin this study in God's word by reading the passage of scripture found in 1 Timothy 3: 1-15, which CLEARLY and plainly teaches us the QUALIFICATION the both a BISHOP and a DEACON must meet FIRST in order for them to become either a bishop or a deacon in the church, and one of these QUALIFICATIONS is that they be MARRIED to ONE WIFE and be shown to be a good husband as well.
11. Even so must their WIVES be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.(this verse clearly shows us that the WIFE is PLURAL meaning that these verses cannot be correcting interpreted at the ONE WIFE being the CHURCH and the children as being Christians and their OWN house as being the specific CONGREGATION that the deacons and the bishops have been placed in as overseers and ministers to the widows and the poor. But rather these verses are CORRECTLY interpreted as the Bishops and the deacons having their OWN wife each one and that they be good care givers to their OWN families BEFORE they be entrusted the office of caring far a particular flock of the whole flock of believers all over the know world, which is far too large for ONE man to oversee the ENTIRE flock or the entire church if Jesus Christ.)
Now this ONE passage of scripture ALONE should be more than enough CLEAR, PLAIN, and SIMPLE evidence from God's word of TRUTH to show the ERROR of the Roman Catholic church that dogmatically DEMANDS that ALL the clergy in the Catholic church remain CELIBATE in order to be come a DEACON, which in the Catholic church is a man who is seeking or learning to become a PRIEST, which is this next step in the rank of offices within the Catholic church. So obviously each advancement in the rank of authority in the Catholic church is also required by the laws of the Roman Catholic church to remain CELIBATE their whole life.
But is this teaching within the Roman Catholic church a SOUND BIBLICAL teaching?
Obviously this Roman catholic teaching of CELIBACY does NOT AGREE with 1 Timothy chapter 3. So then where does the Catholic church get I support from the Bible for their teaching of CELIBACY? Please read the words of the apostle Paul found in his letter to the church at Corinth regarding both marriage and celibacy in 1 Corinthians chapter 7. Now it is necessary to read the ENTIRE CONTEXT in order to arrive at a CORRECT interpretation of what Paul is actually and truly teaching us, because the Bible does NOT contradict itself, but rather it it the INTERPRETATIONS of MEN that contradict themselves. This is why we must always compare what we ourselves conclude that a particular verse means with the REST of God's word in order to see if our own personal INTERPRETATION does indeed AGREE with the REST of God's word. This is what I mean by the TRUTH of the WHOLE word of God.
“Now concerning the things whereof you wrote unto me: (so evidently there was a CONTROVERSY within the church and they were writing Paul to settle this controversy of whether or not it was a sin to marry or not, and the following chapter is Paul's answer back to the church.) It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
5. Defraud you not one the other,(in other words, do NOT without intimacy from each other fro any reason) except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. (or voluntary abstinence from sex while you were fasting and praying for that AGREED upon amount of time)
6. But I speak this by permission, and NOT of commandment. (in other words, it is permissible and good that those who are married abstain fro sex from time to time and give themselves to fasting and prayer, but NOT for so long a time that they be TEMPTED of the devil to sin, and again this is my own personal opinion that I speak this to you and NOT a COMMANDMENT of God or the church itself)
9. BUT if they cannot contain, let them MARRY: for it is better to MARRY than to burn (now this verse to mean that it is BETTER to MARRY than to BURN with LUST. But some have interpreted the word burn here as meaning to burn in the fire of JUDGMENT the last day. Now I would agree that if a person who does burn in LUST to commit sin and does NOT repent of their sin shall indeed burn also in the fire of judgment the last day, but I lean more to the interpretation of burning with LUST in this context).
13. And the woman which has an husband that believes not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
17. But as God has distributed to every man, as the Lord has called every one, so let him walk. (in other words, do as your sincerely believe that the holy Spirit of God is directly you PERSONALLY to do in all that I have spoken to you about whether to marry of to remain celibate or to marry again IF SO BE that your UNBELIEVING spouse departs from YOU, but be assured that I do Not teach that your yourself should depart from your unbelieving spouse, because how can you know that God will not use you to save them?)And so ordain I in all churches.
28. BUT and IF you MARRY, you have NOT sinned; and if a virgin marry, she has not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.(in other words, it is my personal opinion that if you are already single even as never have been married or now a widow or widower, then it is good or better that you do not marry even as I Paul have remained celibate, because if you do marry then you will have trouble or problems in the flesh wanting to serve earch other rather than the Lord)
29. But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remains, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; (in other words, time is running out before the Lord comes so even those who have a wife let it be as if you are not married so you can devote your time to the ministry)
32. But I would have you without carefulness (in other words, do not have so much care for worldly things, bu make your priority the things of God). He that is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
33. But he that is married cares for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. (in other words, all Paul is saying in this entire passage of scripture is that it is good and even better if ALL Christians be SINGLE and NOT married, because then they could spend MORE TIME serving the Lord and opposed to serving each other. But truly and honestly is this the case withing the Roman Catholic church. Do the priest spend ALL their time serving God day in and day out 365 days a year? Be HONEST! Does the mere fact of their not being married truly cause them to spend ALL their time serving the Lord? I once had a conversation with a priest asking him how much TIME he spent preparing his response to the reading of the gospel. In the Protestant church it is called a SERMON. The response of the priest was that he spent about a hour preparing for what he would say in his sermon on the passage of scripture that is already decided by the Church at Rome that will be read by every Roman Catholic church that particular Sunday or Saturday evening mass. ONE hour of study per week. Yes I realize that they also visit the sick and such and that the few hours a week that they give to the church offering the sacrifice f the mass is not all that the Catholic priest do. But my point is this do they really do MORE for the Lord than Protestant ministers who are MARRIED? Also please keep in mind that Paul is speaking to ALL believers and NOT just to the so called CLERGY that it is good but NOT DEMANDED or COMMANDED by God to be virgins rather than to marry. HOWEVER if any man or woman INCLUDING an apostle desires to marry then he should NOT be FORBIDDEN to MARRY!)
34. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married cares for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.
35. And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that you may attend upon the Lord without distraction. (just because a wife SEEMED to be a DISTRACTION to Paul does NOT mean that wives nor husbands are distractions to all men and women in the Lord. This was Paul's PERSONAL OPINION and NOT a COMMANDMENT of the Lord)
36. BUT if any man think that he behaves himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sins not: let them MARRY. (in other words, IF a man and a woman who are NOT married should be overcome by their love for each other and they have premarital sex, then they have not sinned if so be they MARRY. Please do not misunderstand what the word of God is saying. God is not saying that premarital sex is not sin, but rather that Christians should not come under condemnation if they were overcome by their love for each other and came together before they were married, because their INTENT was to marry anyway. So let them now marry so that they do not burn in lust toward each other. It is my own personal opinion that the coming together of a man and women it the actual act of marriage in the eyes of God and this is WHY God forbids fornication)
37. Nevertheless he that stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, does well. (again this is speaking of one's OWN personal choice and NOT a dogmatic demand to FORBID Christians or more specifically to forbid the clergy NOT to marry)
38. So then he that gives her in marriage does well; but he that gives her not in marriage does better. (again Paul is speaking in his own opinion and he is also speaking to the WHOLE church, as in, EVERY believer, and NOT specifically to the elders in the church. Also Paul is CLEARLY NOT forbidding any one NOT to marry whether they be clergy or the laity.)
40. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I THINK also that I have the Spirit of God. (in other words, Paul THINKS that he has God's direction as to what is best based upon his OWN personal experience, but again Paul does NOT dogmatically demand that all Christians should NOT marry. He only SUGGEST that it would be better in his eyes that all Christians remain single if so be that their spouse should die)”
However the Roman Catholic church INTERPRETS verses 1, 7, and 8 out of context to mean that Paul is teaching AGAINST marriage of the elders of the church so that they can give their FULL attention to the Lord and NOT be DISTRACTED by a WIFE.
But is this INTERPRETATION a CORRECT understanding of the WHOLE word of Almighty God? In other words is the Roman Catholic church teaching on the FORBIDDING of marriage among the CLERGY of the church a SOUND BIBLICAL teaching that does NOT contradiction any part of God's word?
The answer to that question is an ABSOLUTE NO!
Please read 1 Timothy 4:1-6, which was ALSO written by the apostle Paul after his letter to the church at Cornith and this time Paul say that the Holy Spirit of Almighty God speaks EXPRESSLY leaving NO DOUBT that there will arise FALSE teachers in the church that will FORBID Christians to MARRY.
3. FORBIDDING to MARRY, and COMMANDING to abstain from MEATS, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (now the Roman Catholic church seems to IGNORE this passage of scripture and she FORBIDS her clergy to MARRY and she commands her followers to ABSTAIN for MEAT on every Friday of the week and also on certain holy day that she has ordained as being holier than other days and makes the claim that TRADITION is equal to scripture when forming church doctrine.)
6. If you put the brethren in remembrance of these things, you shalt be a GOOD minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of GOOD doctrine, where unto you have attained.”
Here in this passage of scripture it is CLEARLY and PLAINLY seen that to FORBID any Christian to MARRY is a doctrine of the DEVIL and therefore should NOT be followed.
So then, since the word of TRUTH, the Holy Bible, the very word of Almighty God himself, CLEARLY and PLAINLY teaches us as Christians NOT to FORBID any Christian MARRY, then WHERE did the Roman Catholic church get this doctrine of CELIBACY, which FORBIDS any of the clergy in the Catholic church to MARRY? I mean how much clearly could God's word be?
Now some will argue and say that 1 Timothy 5:11,12 teaches that virgins who seek to marry bring damnation upon themselves.
Paul is NOT saying that these young virgins have DAMNATION because the MARRY, but rather they have damnation because they have cast off their faith and have begun to LUST and SEEK to be MARRIED. They have become IDLE in their work for the Lord. They have become busybodies and gossipers. You have to KEEP the verse or verses in question in their CONTEXT in order to understand their true meaning. Please read 1 Timothy 5:11-15, where we CLEARLY see that they word of truth teaches us that it is better that a young virgin MARRY than fro her to be drawn into SIN and commit fornication.
15. For some are already turned aside after Satan.”
So then, CLEARLY the word of TRUTH does NOT teach the FORBIDDING to MARRY as does the Roman Catholic church. But rather the Bible teaches that IF a person is able and they desire to be celibate, then it is PERMISSIBLE to do so. Nevertheless at ANY time they can MARRY if they so choose to do so. In other words it is up to the INDIVIDUAL person as to what they themselves feel that the Lord is directing THEM to do and NOT a BLANKET COMMAND that ALL who serve the Lord are FORBIDDEN to MARRY. This is CLEARLY a doctrine of DEVILS and NOT a teaching from God's word of TRUTH.
Now the questions becomes, WHEN did this false teaching of forbidding to marry enter into the church? And WHERE did this doctrine of MANDATORY CELIBACY come since it did NOT come from the BIBLE?
You see my dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ that the belief of priests being celibate began long before Christianity came to be. The priests of the ancient pagan Druid religion are to believed to have been celibate. Also the Aztec temple priests of South America and Mexico were expected to remain sexually abstinent. And some other pagan religions also mandated that the priests who were chosen to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods must be pure and therefore they were forbidden to engaged in any sexual activity.
Yes it is true that Jesus himself lived a celibate life and that Jesus himself never married. In Matthew 19:12 it seems that Jesus is teaching his disciples to be celibates or eunuchs. Now a eunuch is one who abstains form sex, but not necessarily a single male. In other words, a eunuch can marry, but a eunuch does not or cannot have sex either by choice or because it is no longer physically possible to have sex due to total castration.
Here is what Matthew 19:3-13 actually teaches when left in context.
10. His disciples say unto him, IF the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. (in other words IF so be that a man puts away his wife without cause of her committing adultery, then it is not good for THAT man to marry because he would be committing SIN if he does marry again)
12. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (in other words, some eunuchs were BORN in a way that prevents them from having sex. Others were either FORBIDDEN to have sex or they were surgically made where they could not have sex period. And then there are some who by their OWN personal choice have abstained from sex so that they could serve God more fully in their own eyes.)”
In other words, from the very beginning Almighty God has instituted MARRIAGE and then when once married they should NOT depart from each other. But in the New Testament Jesus teaches us that in the case of ADULTERY, then a man and woman my depart, but ONLY the one who has NOT committed adultery is free to marry again. In other words, if the wife cheats on her husband, then the man is allowed to get married again after a legal law abiding divorce between man and God has been accomplished. But the women is guilty of sin until she repents and remains celibate the rest of her life. Now IF so be that the husband has NOT remarried and is willing to receive back his wife who sinned against him and God, then let them remarry each other and all is in the past. Now if the man cheat on his wife and they get divorced, then the wife is free to remarry, but the man is in sin until he repents and either remarries his wife or he remains celibate the rest of his life.
So yes Jesus himself was celibate by his OWN personal choice. And yes at least the apostle Paul was indeed celibate by his OWN personal choice. But SOME of the apostles of Jesus were indeed MARRIED and some had children.
But the early Christian church as a whole had no such hard and fast rule against clergy marrying and having children. Peter, who was a Galilean fisherman was married. Please read Matthew 15:14, which clearly and plainly teaches us that the apostle Peter was married and had a WIFE.
Now keep in mind that the Roman Catholic church highly exalts Peter to be the FIRST Pope of the Roman Catholic church where the Catholic church dogmatically teaches that ALL the clergy are FORBIDDEN to MARRY. Also in the history of the Popes it can be seen that some Popes were indeed married, because their the sons later became Popes themselves. Please read the study called “WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE” to get a sound Biblical teaching that clearly shows us that Peter was NOT the first pope.
You see my dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, who are in the Catholic church that this Catholic teaching of FORBIDDING to MARRY did NOT come into existence until AD 304 where it was first written that the clergy should abstain from sex if they were already married and future priest could not marry.
Canon 33 of the Council of Elvira stated that all "bishops, presbyters, and deacons and all other clerics" were to "abstain completely from their wives and not to have children."
Then a short time later in 325 AD. the Council of Nicea, convened by Constantine, REJECTED this earlier ban on priests marrying requested by Spanish clerics.
But as time went on this practice of celibacy began to spread in the Western Church in the early Middle Ages. And GRADUALLY over many centuries the CELIBACY of priest and the rest of the clergy became accepted. But is was NOT until the early 11th century Pope Benedict VIII responded to the decline in priestly morality by issuing a rule prohibiting the children of priests from inheriting property.
Then a few decades later Pope Gregory VII issued a decree against clerical marriages.
So then it was over a thousand years before Roman Catholic church definitively took a firm stand in favor of celibacy in the twelfth century at the Second Lateran Council held in 1139.
It was then that a rule was approved forbidding priests to marry. Then this dogmatic dogma of CELIBACY and the FORBIDDING of the clergy to MARRY in the Roman Catholic church was reaffirmed in the Council of Trent in the year 1563.
So you see my dear brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, who are in the Catholic church, that this MAN MADE doctrine of the Roman Catholic church of FORBIDDING their clergy to MARRY is totally and completely AGAINST the clear plain and simple teaching of the word of TRUTH, the Holy Bible, bet yet the Catholic church EXALTS herself ABOVE God's word and claim that TRADITION teaches that the church has ALWAYS taught CELIBACY.
Now while it may be true that celibacy itself was practiced and taught by some that it was GOOD if so be that a person could receive this teaching and voluntarily make themselves celibate for the work of the Lord. But it is NOT true that the church ALWAYS taught the FORBIDDING of the clergy to marry.
The TRUTH of the matter is that once again the Roman Catholic church is proven guilty of MIXING the pagan practices of worship with Christianity to pervert the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore her teachings should NOT be followed, because they CONTRADICT the very word of Almighty God himself.
Thanks for reading. And may God bless you richly as you continue to seek the TRUTH of the WHOLE word of Almighty God.
Your brother in our Lord Jesus Christ,