With numerous sex scandals within the church, some are calling for the church to take a more in-depth investigation and rethink the criterion of celibacy and the priesthood.
Long before Christianity began the idea that spiritual men should remain celibate was questioned. Additional pre-Christian sects mandated that their priests and ministers live pure, meaning that they had never engaged in sex. This dates back to the Ancient Druid priesthood from the 3rd century.
The Catholic Church has examined the negatives and the positives of celibacy since the 11th century.
It has been an ongoing debate.
Celibacy has relevance in the scriptures. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul gave instructions on the subject. In 1 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul endorses celibacy for those capable of it: “To the unmarried and the widows, I say that it is well for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion,” (7:8–9).
The Scripture enforces some men are to marry, and others are to remain single. Most men willing to lead celibate lives truly believe God has given them the discipline of remaining both celibate and unmarried.
1 Cor 7:6–9
…This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. To the unmarried and the widows, I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.
Celibacy is neither unnatural nor un-biblical. “Be fruitful and multiply” is not binding; rather, it is a choice for every individual.
Let us further note the Catholic Church forbids no one to marry. No one is obligated to take an oath of celibacy; those who do, do so voluntarily. They “renounce marriage” (Matt. 19:12); no one prevents it. The Church elects’ candidates as priests among those who voluntarily accept the value of celibacy.
Accepting celibacy as a lifestyle is a considerable measure. Every priest that is called by God must measure their passion level as a means to qualify or disqualify them for the occupation. A man with an intense sexual passion should deeply consider the cost before accepting an oath of celibacy.
The Elephant in the Room…
…Is the epidemic of sexual failure in the Catholic church due to men being unable to marry? The question is legitimate because it goes beyond being celibate and being Catholic.
Evangelicals and other denominations are likewise experiencing sexual failures among pastors and ministers. This includes married men as well.
“Focus on the Family” reported that 21% of Evangelical/Protestant pastors have also had improper sexual contact with members of their congregations. “Focus on the Family” also reported that sixty percent of married Evangelical pastors have an issue with some form of pornography.
This dilemma is not new.
Over 100 years ago, the Catholic Encyclopedia published; “We do not abolish Christian marriage because so large a proportion of mankind are not faithful to the restraints which it imposes on human concupiscence. No one believes that civilized nations would be cleaner or purer if polygamy were substituted for monogamy.” Neither is there any reason to suppose that the scandals would be fewer and the clergy more respected if Catholic priests were permitted to marry.” Some think if priests were married it would solve sexual abuse and moral decline within the church.
There is no evidence that having an outlet to fulfill sexual desires will prevent sexual abuse. Years of data have proven that celibacy is not the problem, nor should anyone conclude that celibacy is a contributor to sexual abuse.
The problem is sin and the depravity of humanity. Sin is an individual choice. Those involved in sexual abuse must take personal responsibility. They may hate what they are doing, but that will never validate the act of hurting others while personally satisfying sexual desires.
There is absolutely no room for sexual abuse, and especially against children. We must keep all children safe from abusers.
In the coming years, all churches must enhance their endeavors to implement a high standard of accountability and protection for both the ministers and the congregants. We must improve the vetting process.
Churches must become safe again.
It is also imperative that we show appreciation and honor to the thousands of priests and ministers who have served the church with virtue and fidelity.
Celibacy is not the primary culprit of sexual abuse, but sexual abuse is a travesty we must all stand against.
A portion of this article was originally posted at Fox News.