Summary: Here are some separate topics that can be included in one message about Romanism, and how it is quite different from Biblical Christianity. Celibacy, Mary, Inquisition and more.
Biblical vs Romanist Approaches to Celibacy
(Presentation given at annual AFEC conference)
When I was first assigned this topic, several questions occurred to me, the answers to which form the heart of the following message. I trust they are your questions too.
Question ONE: What is celibacy, and what does GOD say about it?
Answer: Celibacy is the deliberate abstention from the married state and its physical privileges. Through His holy apostles and prophets, God has quite a bit to say about it.
Genesis 2:18-24. Here the state of marriage is established. From this time on, marriage will be the norm, for the reasons given. There is no matching Scripture establishing a state of celibacy. The unmarried man or woman is considered the exception to the norm.
Classic examples of Biblical celibates are Daniel, Jesus, and Paul. Daniel was made a eunuch by men. Jesus was empowered by the Father to overcome this desire. We are not sure of the nature of Paul’s “gift.”
Matthew 19:8-12. Jesus here responds to his disciples’ shock about a victimized partner of marriage with a radical statement about not only celibacy, but castration. Those contemplating the single holy life should consider the extreme to which Christ may call them.
Celibacy without self-control is disaster. The “gift” referred to later by Paul may be lack of sexual desire, or it may be the “grace” of lacking necessary equipment.
I Corinthians 7:1-2, 7-9. Paul’s classic treatment of the subject praises celibacy only for those who “can receive it”, those who are so gifted. He does not imply that it is for everyone, as well-meaning as one might be. He also does not exclude leaders on the basis of their decision, only implies that leaders will have less time to spend on matters of the flock if they are married.
I Timothy 3:2, 12 . Married “bishops” (elders) are the norm, as are married deacons.
I Corinthians 9:5. Yes, even among apostles, having a wife was the accepted practice.
Hebrews 13:4. Marriage is to be held in high esteem by all. Already the apostle seems to be aware that there will be a mentality that will enter the church one day that will suggest that marriage , at least for some, is a scandal, and not an honor.
I Timothy 4:1-3. Yes, there will come a time of departure from the faith. People will depart because they will listen to doctrines that come from Satan’s camp. These are people who have lived in sin for so long that they no longer have a conscience, and are willing to accept a form of godliness, rather than deal any longer in the power of God that emanates from His Word and His Spirit.
One of the lies they will hear and pass on is that marriage for the leaders of the people of God is somehow inferior, and to be avoided if at all possible. That lie is with us to this day, and we can see its demonic origin by looking at the fruit it has produced and is producing.
The Scripture then is clear. Let’s see what Rome says.
Question TWO. What does ROME say about celibacy?
Answer: (Much of this material is quoted or at least suggested by our brother Richard Bennett in his latest work on the subject at hand.) Sadlier’s Catechism of the Catholic Church 1994, p. 395:1579: “All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate ‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven’.
Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to ‘the affairs of the Lord’ , they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church’s minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the reign of God.”
They have taken Jesus’ words regarding eunuchs and applied them to celibates of all kinds. And they have taken Paul’s words of suggestion and invitation and applied them by rigorous law to all men who would lead the flock of God. These are enticing words, but they lead to no good.
Austin Flannery’s Vatican Council II, 1975, pp 892-893 , Presbyterorum Ordinis, Dec 7, 1965 . 16. “Perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven was recommended by Christ the Lord. It has been freely accepted and laudably observed by many Christians down through the centuries… It is true that it is not demanded of the priesthood by its nature… ...There are many ways in which celibacy is in harmony with the priesthood...By preserving virginity or celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven priests are consecrated in a new and excellent way to Christ. They more readily cling to Him with undivided heart….They are less encumbered in their service of His kingdom…