Little-Known Bible Verses VIII: Priestly Celibacy

Today’s edition of “Little-Known Bible Verses” is specific to the Roman Catholic denomination of Christianity. This is because, of all major Western denominations, Roman Catholicism is the only church that still requires that its clergy members remain celibate. The Catholic church to this day believes that this is a biblically supportable doctrine. But in fact, the opposite is true, as we can see from two little-known Bible verses.

Both the verses in question come from the epistle of 1 Timothy, which is accepted by the Catholic church as canonical and appears in the Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible. First, 1 Timothy 3:2:

Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher…

This verse does more than just say that marriage is compatible with being a bishop; it actually says that a bishop must be “the husband of one wife”. (Note also the sexist language – the text clearly assumes that only men are suitable candidates for bishophood – but I’ve discussed that elsewhere and won’t belabor the point.)

The Catholic church, in keeping with their practice of reinterpreting the Bible to match what they’ve decided, has issued a statement, The Biblical Foundation of Priestly Celibacy, which claims that this verse is actually meant to indicate some sort of allegorical “marriage” between the priest and the church:

Yet the symbolic and spiritual meaning of the expression unius uxoris vir remains ever the same. Indeed, since it contains a direct reference to the covenant, that is to say, to the marriage relationship between Christ and the Church, it invites us to attach much greater importance today than in the past to the fact that the minister of the Church represents Christ the bridegroom to the Church his bride. In this sense, the priest must be «the husband of one wife»; but that one wife, his bride, is the Church who, like Mary, is the bride of Christ.

No doubt, this mystical nonsense shows the interpretive genius of apologists. Faced with the unchangeable text of a biblical commandment, they get around it by inventing new meanings for words in that text and substituting them for the commonly understood meanings. (It’s almost as clever as the stroke of genius by which the church evaded the biblical prohibition on divorce – that is, dissolving an existing marriage – by inventing the concept of annulment, retroactively declaring that a marriage had never existed in the first place.)

But there’s another verse which that document never discusses or even mentions:

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”

—1 Timothy 4:1-3 (RSV)

This verse is a direct attack on Catholic notions of celibacy, explicitly claiming that such doctrines are invented by demons and are departures from the faith. It’s not surprising that this verse is little-known among Catholic believers, although it’s often (correctly) cited by Protestant polemics.

UPDATE: A Roman Catholic commenter helpfully points out that according to the Bible, Peter the apostle, considered by Catholics to be the first pope, was married (Matthew 8:14).

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Steve Bowen

    Ebon
    Perversley, I’m commenting on this post to say that I don’t think this is issue is particularly comment worthy. Catholisism is so full of self evident contradictions, hypocrisies and downright lies, that trawling through the bible to find one more is practically a redundant exercise. You wax so eloquently on so many aspects of religion and contempory morality that nit picking at such an easy target is obviously a waste of your talent. Comment made with genuine respect.

  • http://blog.myspace.com/ozzyrules Chris

    I don’t agree with Steve at all, I think every example possible should be brought up and examined, no matter how small or insignificant compared to others. Keep up the good work Ebon!

  • konrad_arflane

    but that one wife, his bride, is the Church who, like Mary, is the bride of Christ.

    Isn’t that, like, incest or something? Ewww.

  • Samuel Skinner

    Actually since Cathlotism is the largest branch of Christiandom, every bit helps.

  • Steve Bowen

    The problem with the bible, as we all know is; that it is a work of fiction, written by many authors, bequeathed through several translations and differently interpreted by different traditions. When Ebon and others make very salient points, it is in my opinion about the fundemental contradictions between the percieved morality and goodness of god and the actual text of the book he is supposed to have inspired (written?). When it comes to a particular sect (Catholics would hate that designation but..) hanging its internal doctrine on a semantic foible of a translation of a translation of a ..well, it’s just another example of the farce that religion is. As an Atheist,duh! I ‘m not that interested in playing the same semantic games the apologists do. The big picture is enough and Ebon’s essays are the most informative and pursuasive around on this level. Two verses from Timothy feels like clutching at straws and, frankly, I ain’t drowning! I have a forest full of great big logs to keep my dis-belief afloat and enough amunition from here and elswhere to argue the point. Of course a celibate priesthood is absurd. If it is to perform the pastoral function that it is pretending to, it would have to be fully engaged with the life that most of us lead; work a proper job, have sex, go to bars, pay a mortgage and deal with children (not in the paedophilic sense that catholic priests apparently turn to). I’m sorry but this post sounds like the atheist equivalent of navel gazing, which is why I came in so negatively.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    While I do somewhat agree with Steve that this is somewhat like hunting flies with a sledgehammer, I too feel that all silliness should be exposed in due course. Having said that . . .

    “it actually says that a bishop must be “the husband of one wife”. (Note also the sexist language – the text clearly assumes that only men are suitable candidates for bishophood – but I’ve discussed that elsewhere and won’t belabor the point.)” — Ebon

    Implicit also in this passage is the acceptance of bigamy for the larger culture.

  • http://stargazers-observatory.blogspot.com/ Stargazer1323

    I had always heard (though I’m not sure of the specific accuracy of the information) that priestly celibacy only came about in the Middle Ages, and that it was put in place so that the church could claim inheritance rights over all of the clergy’s property when they died. Though I am not sure of that story’s accuracy, it always made sense to me, because there were many clergymen, especially bishops and higher, who became very wealthy as a result of working for the church. If they had been able to marry and have children, then their wealth would have naturally been passed on to their heirs when they died, and all of the money that they had made in service to the Church would not go back to benefit the church. Considering that Catholics are having to scramble to find justification for priestly celibacy in the face of modernization, the practices of other religions, and even the Bible verses mentioned above, I would not be surprised to find a much more earthly reason for priestly celibacy rather than a divine one. Does anybody else know when the Catholic church adopted priestly celibacy? Do the stories I was told have any truth to them?

  • mikespeir

    I can sympathize with Steve. In debates with Christians I make a point of not getting involved in doctrinal minutiae. I’ll let them slug it out between themselves over things like that. Rather than snipping off leaves at the crown, I’d rather go for the trunk with an ax. Then, when that gives way, the leaves will come down with the rest.

    On the other hand, between us here I think it’s good to look into these things. Even if we don’t plan to actually debate about priestly celibacy with Catholics, delving into the matter will give us insights into how they think. That’s always useful.

  • SteveC

    Of course, it’s all a big mistake…

    A young monk, new to the monastery, noticed that the scribes were copying the scriptures from copies, not originals. He expressed his concern to the abbot that any mistakes in the copies would be passed on, and the scriptures would become corrupted. The abbot replied that this is the way it had always been done but the point was valid, and he would check it out. He descended into the vaults to look over the originals, and he was gone a long time. With some concern, the young monk went looking for him and found him sobbing with abandon, his tears pouring upon his frock. “What is the matter, my good abbot?” asked the monk, to which the abbot choked out, “In the original, the word was ‘celebrate’!”

  • John K

    This proves the old saying, “Scratch an atheist, uncover a fundamentalist”.

    I won’t waste too much of your time, but you should consider this verse doesn’t mean what you think it means. You might want to start off by considering that Paul (who wrote this letter) was himself unmarried.

    You really must have better things to do with your time don’t you?

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    Celibacy is not a dogma or doctrine (a central and irreformable part of the faith) rather a discipline that could change.

    Celibacy is not the rule for all Catholic priests. In fact, for Eastern Rite Catholics, married priests are the norm, just as they are for Orthodox and Oriental Christians.

    Regarding 1 Timothy

    The Catholic Church forbids no one to marry. No one is required to take a vow of celibacy; those who do, do so voluntarily. They “renounce marriage” (Matt. 19:12); no one forbids it to them. Any Catholic who doesn’t wish to take such a vow doesn’t have to, and is almost always free to marry with the Church’s blessing. The Church simply elects candidates for the priesthood (or, in the Eastern rites, for the episcopacy) from among those who voluntarily renounce marriage.

    Most Catholics marry, and all Catholics are taught to venerate marriage as a holy institution—a sacrament, an action of God upon our souls; one of the holiest things we encounter in this life.

    In fact, it is precisely the holiness of marriage that makes celibacy precious; for only what is good and holy in itself can be given up for God as a sacrifice. Just as fasting presupposes the goodness of food, celibacy presupposes the goodness of marriage. To despise celibacy, therefore, is to undermine marriage itself—as the early Fathers pointed out.

    Celibacy is also an eschatological sign to the Church, a living-out in the present of the universal celibacy of heaven: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:30).

    Cite

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Yeah, I was going to say what Adam said. As a former Catholic (one of the ironies in my life is that studying Catholic theology and earning a degree in it is what played the largest role in my losing faith), I know a bit about the intricacies of the Catholic world.

    Adam is correct. Celibacy is a practice, not a doctrine (e.g. not like belief in the Trinity or deity of Jesus).

    Also, I think interpretive charity would lead to me to interpret the Timothy verse not as implying bishops must be married, but that if they are married, it can only be to one wife (and not to two).

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    John K:

    This proves the old saying, “Scratch an atheist, uncover a fundamentalist”.

    I can’t say I’ve ever heard of this “old saying”, but whatever. So, your point is that any criticism of different viewpoints makes one a “fundamentalist”?

    You might want to start off by considering that Paul (who wrote this letter) was himself unmarried.

    Critical scholars are in broad agreement that the Pastoral epistles were not written by Paul.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Also, I think interpretive charity would lead to me to interpret the Timothy verse not as implying bishops must be married, but that if they are married, it can only be to one wife (and not to two).

    I don’t see how you reach that conclusion, Mathew. When I read this:

    “Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible…”

    I can only assume that all these things are considered to be requirements for a bishop. Surely the author of this verse wasn’t suggesting that temperance, sensibility, or being above reproach were optional. How then would you arrive at the conclusion that he meant something different for one particular clause embedded in the middle of those other ones? I’m not attacking you, I’m genuinely curious as to what your reasoning is.

  • Eric

    I know the old “Scratch an atheist…” adage is meant to be insulting to atheists, but I think there is a kind of truth to it. A great many fundamentalists are trying to take their texts seriously, they are seeking coherence and clarity. Most atheists also take religious texts seriously, but do not find the coherence that the fundamentalists assert is there.

    As an atheist, I have a lot of respect for many fundamentalists. They are at least trying even though they are just plain wrong. This is unlike liberal Christians who are not even wrong.

  • http://wildphilosophy.blogspot.com Mathew Wilder

    Yeah, Ebon, I parsed that one out wrong.

    Additionally, verses 4-5 of that same chapter clearly imply that the bishop will have a family.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    One more reply tonight, for Adam’s comment:

    The Catholic Church forbids no one to marry.

    To help calibrate the accuracy of this statement, please note that the Vatican decreed in 2006 that any member of the clergy who marries is automatically excommunicated (i.e., latae sententiae) under church law. This proclamation was in reference to the case of Emmanuel Milingo, an archbishop who suffered exactly that penalty.

    Why can’t a priest who wants to get married just resign, you ask? Well, that would be a good solution, except that the Vatican has already foreclosed it. As About.com’s Catholicism section puts it:

    Once a man has been ordained, he is spiritually changed, which is the origin of the saying, “Once a priest, always a priest.” He can be dispensed of his obligations as a priest (or even forbidden to act as a priest); but he remains a priest forever.

    In fact, this is canon law. You cannot resign from the priesthood, and you cannot give up celibacy without express permission from the Pope:

    Can. 291 Apart from the cases mentioned in can. 290, n. 1, the loss of the clerical state does not carry with it a dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, which is granted solely by the Roman Pontiff.

    So, to sum up: Catholic priests are automatically excommunicated if they marry. Once you become a priest, you cannot resign voluntarily. Ergo, priests are forbidden to marry. See how easy that was?

  • Samuel Skinner

    Fundamentalists- the bible is the word of god
    moderates- the bible is the word of god; but only when I feel like it
    Chris Hedges- the bible isn’t the word of god; but it is still divine

    Atheists- This is like http://www.stardestroyer.net/ but crazier.

  • Brit-nontheist

    Adam:

    The Catholic Church forbids no one to marry. No one is required to take a vow of celibacy; those who do, do so voluntarily. They “renounce marriage” (Matt. 19:12); no one forbids it to them. Any Catholic who doesn’t wish to take such a vow doesn’t have to, and is almost always free to marry with the Church’s blessing. The Church simply elects candidates for the priesthood (or, in the Eastern rites, for the episcopacy) from among those who voluntarily renounce marriage.

    You have a strange definition of voluntary – it’s like saying “my company doesn’t require me to wear a suit, it simply only employs those who volunarily wear suits”. (It may be true that the company doesn’t require me to wear a suit 24/7, but I’m not at work 24/7 – a Priest is a Priest 24/7). Theists often need to use strange definitions, however, in order to justify-away odd bits of their faith, so I’m not really surprised.

  • MisterDomino

    I had always heard (though I’m not sure of the specific accuracy of the information) that priestly celibacy only came about in the Middle Ages, and that it was put in place so that the church could claim inheritance rights over all of the clergy’s property when they died.

    I was taught much the same thing, though the evidence that exists to back it up can easily be argued both ways. The councils of Ancyra and Neocaesarea (both early 4th century A.D.) are perhaps the earliest existing records of clerical celibacy, though this more often applied to isolated monastic communities, appealing to those seeking aesthetic purity.

    Additionally, the idea of priestly celibacy went to an extreme in Byzantium, where high-ranking ecclesiastical figures in the imperial court were castrated, serving the emperor as eunuchs. So while there exists circumstantial evidence for this idea, we have no kind of written record that comes out and says, “Ye who serve God shall be stripped of thy loins, for thy lucrative office shall not be passed to thine offspring.”

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    John K, I don’t recall reading anywhere that Paul was a bishop.

    Not reading the passage Ebon cites in context, I got the impression that it meant that if a bishop was married, that he should only have one wife, so as to set a moral example for others.

  • http://lostaddress.org Ray

    This is another example of the “pick and choose” method of belief. You could trawl all the way throught the Bible and put the sections into 2 columns: things that are followed and things that are not.

    The fact is that, for all the arguments and deabtes put out by christians, the Bible is the rule book and must be followed entirely or not at all. It’s not optional. If you can ignore the bits about priestly marriage, which other bits shoudl be ignored?

    Moreover, if the original big book of odd shaped rules isn’t something which needs to be adhered to in it’s entirety (and if that is the case, why have it?) which other rules should we skip? The rules of the road? The laws of the countries we live in?

    As I grow older, I find more and more inconsistencies with christians and more and more bullshit to be avoided.

  • Chris

    In fact, it is precisely the holiness of marriage that makes celibacy precious; for only what is good and holy in itself can be given up for God as a sacrifice. Just as fasting presupposes the goodness of food, celibacy presupposes the goodness of marriage. To despise celibacy, therefore, is to undermine marriage itself—as the early Fathers pointed out.

    By that logic, human sacrifice presupposes the goodness of human life. So why isn’t it likewise venerated? (Martyrdom presupposes the goodness of one’s own life and it still *is* venerated by some.)

    In fact in some cultures human sacrifice *was* venerated for precisely that reason – what did Abraham have that was more precious than his son? – but most modern people, whether they are theists or not, would regard this as horrible.

  • goyo

    In the southern baptist tradition, the Tim. scripture is used as a requirement for deacons to be the husband of one wife, and they even go so far to say that means never having been divorced before. Now, if the wife has passed away, he can remarry and become a deacon.
    Again, interpreting scripture, and adding a little bit.

  • mikespeir

    That’s the way I was taught in the Assemblies of God, too, goyo.

    Myself, I taught it as prohibiting polygamy among the clergy. I say that in light of the eastern culture of the time, where polygamy was accepted. Even the New Testament doesn’t explicitly prohibit it for the average believer.

    I see no reason we can’t assume an implicit “only” between “of” and “one.”

    “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of ONLY one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” and so on.

    That pretty much eliminates the problem where “must” demands marriage. It’s the “only” that becomes mandatory, not marriage itself. In other words, IF a bishop is going to marry, he MUST marry ONLY one wife.

  • OMGF

    Even with the “only” in there, it creates a situation where the bishop must be married and it must only be with one wife. You’ve created an “and” not an “or” with the insertion of the word “only.”

  • mikespeir

    Tell your child, “You must have only one cookie.” Are you insisting he must have one? I think not. The reason for the “only” is to set an upper limit, not a lower one.

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    Thank you for all of those reference. I agree. A priest is changed forever when he voluntarily becomes a priest. Once a priest always a priest, you are correct. Roman Catholic Priests are not allowed to marry.

    I said:

    The Catholic Church forbids no one to marry. No one is required to take a vow of celibacy; those who do, do so voluntarily. They “renounce marriage” (Matt. 19:12); no one forbids it to them.

    I think you took my quote out of context. I was saying that no one is required to take a vow of celibacy, therefore no one is forbiddin to marry.

    But you are right, when they become a priest (which is something they wanted to do) they can not marry after that. These are sacrifices they know about going in. It’s a sacrifice, a giving of oneself for Christ and for the good of souls.

    Brit-nontheist,

    You said: You have a strange definition of voluntary – it’s like saying “my company doesn’t require me to wear a suit, it simply only employs those who volunarily wear suits”.

    That is not what the Church is saying at all. It is saying, “if you are willing to sacrifice married life for the good of the Church, and for Christ, then join the Priesthood and become a Fisher of Men

    Ray,

    This is another example of the “pick and choose” method of belief. You could trawl all the way throught the Bible and put the sections into 2 columns: things that are followed and things that are not.

    The Church does not use a pick and choose method of belief. The Bible is not the soul authority of the Church, because the Bible is not meant to be ONLY a rules book. Rather it is the Bible and Sacred Tradition that passd on the Catholic Christian Faith.

    Chris,

    By that logic, human sacrifice presupposes the goodness of human life. So why isn’t it likewise venerated? (Martyrdom presupposes the goodness of one’s own life and it still *is* venerated by some.)

    I am not sure I am following you. What your saying is, it is OK to Kill people because people are good?? That is not at all what I am saying. The sacrifice I am talking about is not murdering people. Married is good, there to not be married is a good sacrifice if done for God. Food is good, not eating is a good sacrifice if done for God. That is what I am saying.

    Matt Wilder,

    What did you see in Catholic Theology that made you beome an Athiest??

  • OMGF

    Mikespeir,

    Tell your child, “You must have only one cookie.” Are you insisting he must have one? I think not. The reason for the “only” is to set an upper limit, not a lower one.

    Must or may? If you say, “must” you are issuing a command to do something. You are not giving an option to maybe do something if you feel like it. If I tell my child that she must have a cookie, then she is obliged to have a cookie even if I tell her she can only have 1. If I say that she “may” have a cookie, then it is up to her to have 1 or zero cookies.

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    I am not sure I am following you. What your saying is, it is OK to Kill people because people are good?? That is not at all what I am saying. The sacrifice I am talking about is not murdering people. Married is good, there to not be married is a good sacrifice if done for God. Food is good, not eating is a good sacrifice if done for God. That is what I am saying.

    If I can clear up what Chris was saying here…

    He’s saying that your argument is that is something is good, then it is a good thing to give it up for god. If life is good, then isn’t it a good thing to give up for god? Shouldn’t we perform human sacrifice to give up a good life for god? (And, for my own part, I don’t see why we shouldn’t commit suicide for god, since we would be giving up for god something that is good.) He’s not talking about murder, but about sacrifice for god, and sacrificing something that is valuable. If life is the most valuable thing we have, then it’s the best sacrifice we can make for god.

  • mikespeir

    “Must or may? If you say, “must” you are issuing a command to do something. You are not giving an option to maybe do something if you feel like it. If I tell my child that she must have a cookie, then she is obliged to have a cookie even if I tell her she can only have 1. If I say that she “may” have a cookie, then it is up to her to have 1 or zero cookies.”

    Oh, nonsense! “You must have only one cookie” means “You must have no more than one cookie.” That’s all. The “must” becomes imperative only as to the “only.”

    If you still want to quibble, how about we have a show of hands?

  • OMGF

    It’s academic anyway, since the “only” isn’t even in there. Either way, the prohibition on marriage and the idea of celibacy is still destroyed by even allowing the bishop to marry. I’m still saying that “must” means a condition that has to be fulfilled. “May” would denote a condition that can be fulfilled at the option of the person receiving the “may”. I don’t care if you do a show of hands or not.

  • mikespeir

    “It’s academic anyway, since the “only” isn’t even in there. Either way, the prohibition on marriage and the idea of celibacy is still destroyed by even allowing the bishop to marry.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    “I’m still saying that “must” means a condition that has to be fulfilled. “May” would denote a condition that can be fulfilled at the option of the person receiving the “may”. I don’t care if you do a show of hands or not.”

    That’s not the way it’s used. But never mind. I imagine everybody else thinks the whole thing’s too %@#* asinine to get involved with.

  • Jim Baerg

    Somehow this talk about ‘must’ vs ‘may’ reminded me of the line from the last panel of the comic strip at the bottom of this page. ;-)

    http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/narbonic/series.php?view=archive&chapter=9763

  • http://lostaddress.org Ray

    Adam

    Ray,

    This is another example of the “pick and choose” method of belief. You could trawl all the way throught the Bible and put the sections into 2 columns: things that are followed and things that are not.

    The Church does not use a pick and choose method of belief. The Bible is not the soul authority of the Church, because the Bible is not meant to be ONLY a rules book. Rather it is the Bible and Sacred Tradition that passd on the Catholic Christian Faith.

    But the Bible is the Word of God, surely. If it’s in there it must be followed, or else the whole thing is unnecessary. At which point in the book does it say that you should treat some rules as rules and others as suggestions?

  • Adam

    Ray,

    At which point in the book does it say that you should treat some rules as rules and others as suggestions?

    Again, the Bible is not a rules book only. It is the sacred word of God, but the Christian faith is not based solely on the Bible. In the bible is never says that you should treat some rules as rules and others as suggestions, but it does say to “Hold fast to the Traditions we have taught you.” Tradition and Scripture are what pass on the faith.

    The Bible denies that it is sufficient as the complete rule of faith. Paul says that much Christian teaching is to be found in the tradition which is handed down by word of mouth (2 Tim. 2:2). He instructs us to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess. 2:15).

    This oral teaching was accepted by Christians, just as they accepted the written teaching that came to them later. Jesus told his disciples: “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me” (Luke 10:16). The Church, in the persons of the apostles, was given the authority to teach by Christ; the Church would be his representative. He commissioned them, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).

    And how was this to be done? By preaching, by oral instruction: “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). The Church would always be the living teacher. It is a mistake to limit “Christ’s word” to the written word only or to suggest that all his teachings were reduced to writing. The Bible nowhere supports either notion.

    Further, it is clear that the oral teaching of Christ would last until the end of time. “’But the word of the Lord abides for ever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:25). Note that the word has been “preached”—that is, communicated orally. This would endure. It would not be
    supplanted by a written record like the Bible (supplemented, yes, but not supplanted), and would continue to have its own authority.

    This is made clear when the apostle Paul tells Timothy: “[W]hat you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Here we see the first few links in the chain of apostolic tradition that has been passed down intact from the apostles to our own day. Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the oral teachings (traditions) that he had received from the apostle. He was to give these to men who would be able to teach others, thus perpetuating the chain. Paul gave this instruction not long before his death (2 Tim. 4:6–8), as a reminder to Timothy of how he should conduct his ministry.

    What is Tradition?

    In this discussion it is important to keep in mind what the Catholic Church means by tradition. The term does not refer to legends or mythological accounts, nor does it encompass transitory customs or practices which may change, as circumstances warrant, such as styles of priestly dress, particular forms of devotion to saints, or even liturgical rubrics. Sacred or apostolic tradition consists of the teachings that the apostles passed on orally through their preaching. These teachings largely (perhaps entirely) overlap with those contained in Scripture, but the mode of their transmission is different.

    cite

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    He’s saying that your argument is that is something is good, then it is a good thing to give it up for god. If life is good, then isn’t it a good thing to give up for god?

    Life is a great thing, yes. To give up one’s life for God by committing to the Priesthood is much different then killing someone in the name of God. I think your logic is the one that needs a little reworking.

    I am not talking about killing, rather giving something up. Maybe you do not understand because you’ve never given anything up for someone else?

    I do not think that you want to go down this road. To say killing someone in a human sacrifice in the name of God, and fasting or sacrificing marriage for God, is the same, is a little off. I think it is plain to see that these arguments are unrelated.

    Shouldn’t we perform human sacrifice to give up a good life for god? (And, for my own part, I don’t see why we shouldn’t commit suicide for god, since we would be giving up for god something that is good.) He’s not talking about murder, but about sacrifice for god, and sacrificing something that is valuable. If life is the most valuable thing we have, then it’s the best sacrifice we can make for god.

    Maybe you should start your own Mayan cult and start human sacrifice all over again if this is how you think. I on the other hand do not think this way.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    The Bible denies that it is sufficient as the complete rule of faith.

    Whether that’s the case or not, I greatly doubt that the Catholic church would claim license to ignore the Bible where something it says flatly contradicts Catholic practice. Yet that is exactly what they have done with regard to the verses quoted in this post.

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    The Practice of celebacy is a Church disapline, not a doctrine. Therefore the Church is not ignoring the Bible. Your whole post is based off of this error.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    I don’t know why you think calling it something different helps you in any way. The Bible says a bishop must be the husband of one wife. The Catholic church does not permit bishops to be married. The Bible says those who forbid others to marry have departed from the faith. The Catholic church forbids clergy to marry.

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    Life is a great thing, yes. To give up one’s life for God by committing to the Priesthood is much different then killing someone in the name of God. I think your logic is the one that needs a little reworking.

    Ah no. It is you who needs to actually understand the argument that has been put forth. If one “gives up one’s life for the Priesthood” they haven’t actually given up their life, since they still live, do they not? The only way to give up one’s life is to die. If life is good, then dying by intentional sacrifice of one’s life should be very pleasing to god. Do you understand the objection yet?

    I do not think that you want to go down this road. To say killing someone in a human sacrifice in the name of God, and fasting or sacrificing marriage for God, is the same, is a little off. I think it is plain to see that these arguments are unrelated.

    It is essentially the same, except I’m not talking about killing, but someone giving themself up for human sacrifice. Your argument is that giving up something good for god is a good thing. By extension, life is good, so giving up life for god should be good. Hence, you are hoisted by your own petard.

    Maybe you should start your own Mayan cult and start human sacrifice all over again if this is how you think. I on the other hand do not think this way.

    Of course I don’t think this way. I don’t believe in god, remember? You, however, are being shown an inconsistency in the way that you believe. You believe that giving up good things for god is good, yet you don’t think it’s good to give up your life for god. Why not? It is inconsistent.

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    I don’t know why you think calling it something different helps you in any way.

    There is no other way to say this, celibacy is a Church discipline.

    The Bible says a bishop must be the husband of one wife.

    The bible also tells us that St. Peter was married. Why did Christ allow him to be the First Pope??

    The Catholic church does not permit bishops to be married.

    The Roman Catholic Church no longer permits any priest to be married that is correct.

    The Bible says those who forbid others to marry have departed from the faith.

    Not all men are called to the Priesthood. The few that are, feel a calling in their hearts to seek something greater. They give their lives for people, saying mass, hearing confessions, teaching, ect….They know going into their decision to become a priest they willfully have to never to marry. Right now (and this could change) the Church forbids priests to marry.

    According to the bible verse you quote, the Church has lost its faith.

    What you must not be seeing is that the Church (Tradition) and Scripture combined are in charge of the deposit of faith. If there were no Church, there would be no answers to these questions; Christ built the Church to make sure all of mankind could know Him and his true teachings; the Church can infallibly teach many things including:

    Who is Christ?
    of Creation
    Reasoning God’s existence
    Divine Mercy
    Apostolic succession
    The Holy Spirit
    Mary

    Without understanding all of these things, how can one answer these questions:

    What is the bible saying?
    Is the Bible a rule book?
    When should we take the Bible literally?
    What books belong in the Bible?
    What does the Bible mean?

    This is where you and I will always hit the wall. The Bible alone is not the authority on matters of Christian faith and morals.

    The Catholic church forbids clergy to marry.

    Correct.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    So, it seems Adam concedes every point I’ve made. Anyone else?

    The bible also tells us that St. Peter was married. Why did Christ allow him to be the First Pope??

    A superb point. I’ll add that to my article.

  • James B

    Christ built the Church to make sure all of mankind could know Him and his true teachings; the Church can infallibly teach [underline added] many things including:

    If the church (or any Authority) can teach infallibly, this must surely mean that they never change their minds. If someone changes their mind about something, they were either wrong before or they’re wrong now, unless the facts have changed. I could say, “It is raining” and later say “It is not raining” and be right in both cases.

    The Bible however, doesn’t change. So to say, “The Bible teaches that X is good” then later, “The Bible teaches that X is bad” shows a lack of infallibility. Presumably if god(s) is/are infallible he/she/it/they don’t change either.

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    I do agree with you except when you said this:

    The Catholic church, in keeping with their practice of reinterpreting the Bible to match what they’ve decided…

    I am trying to show you that the Church does not do this, and that the Bible is not the lone authority. “To match what they’ve decided” sounds to me like you think they’re just making things up. This is false. If I am wrong, and you do not think this way (that you believe the Church and the Bible together are the authority) then I would ask why would you attack the Church with the Bible and not look also at Tradition, to try convince everyone that the Church should not continue this discipline.

    So I do agree with you when I said “I agree” But I do not agree with your attack on the Church.

  • Adam

    OMGF,

    I think I am getting confused with your wording, and I do not know exactly how you are defining your terms.

    If one “gives up one’s life for the Priesthood” they haven’t actually given up their life, since they still live, do they not? The only way to give up one’s life is to die.

    This is what I am saying: Just as fasting is giving up food for God, so is the priesthood giving up one’s life for God.

    Yes, I understand that they haven’t actually given up their lives, because they are still living.

    Further, to die for God in a Just war, is a good thing. Giving up your life for another is a good thing. In fact this is what Christ did for all man kind.

    But I do not think you are talking about Justice. You are talking about suicide, and human sacrifice. Is that correct?

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    I’ve deleted a long, rambling sermon about infallibility from Adam that had nothing to do with the topic of this thread.

    “To match what they’ve decided” sounds to me like you think they’re just making things up.

    That is precisely what they are doing. And in this case, the rule they have made up (that clergy members must remain celibate) is contradicted by the clear instructions of the Bible. Unless you’re saying that church tradition can overrule the Bible, claiming that “the Bible and tradition together are the authority” is a self-contradictory and meaningless statement, because on this point the two clash with each other.

  • OMGF

    Adam,
    I’m not talking about serving as a priest.

    Further, to die for God in a Just war, is a good thing. Giving up your life for another is a good thing. In fact this is what Christ did for all man kind.

    To be consistent, you have to say that dying for god is a good thing, whether the war is just or not. And, no, that’s not what Christ did. Jesus died in order for him to convince himself that he could forgive us for the crimes that he caused us to commit. It’s not considered dying for someone else if you put them in the position to be in peril in the first place.

    But I do not think you are talking about Justice. You are talking about suicide, and human sacrifice. Is that correct?

    No, I’m not talking about justice. You stated that food is good, so if one gives up food (fasts) for god then one is doing good. Life is good, so therefore if one gives up ones life for god it is a good thing. If one commits a sacrifice for god, it is a good thing. If one gives oneself up for a sacrifice for god, it is a good thing. If one commits suicide for god, it is a good thing. This is all according to your assertions based on your theology.

  • Jeff T.

    The image of an omnipotent being asking little ole me for a sacrifice is rather laughable. His thinking about my sexual appetite or its abstinence must take up a great deal of his omniscient mind. Even as M31 is racing at unbelievable speeds to strike the Milky Way, my sex life and priesthood qualification must weigh heavily upon his broad invisible shoulders.

    With all of the legitimate threats to our race’s survival, I am glad to see that we are lead by the religious who are concerned about such mind boggling concepts as mating and intercourse. Our future is assured.

  • lpetrich

    I checked on the original Greek version, and I think I can read Greek well enough to tell that it clearly means “husband of one wife”. But why “husband of one wife”? Why not “husband of only one wife” or “husband of at most one wife”?

    Some of the writers of the Bible did not think through very carefully what they wrote, it seems to me.

    And the word “bishop” in that one is a borrowing from Latin episcopus, in turn a borrowing from Greek episkopos, which literally means “overseer”; some English translations do use “overseer” or some similar word.

  • James B

    If only they’re written it in Z notation. Things like the precise number of wives a priest should have could have been expressed unambiguously.

  • Arch

    Jeff T,

    The image of an omnipotent being asking little ole me for a sacrifice is rather laughable. His thinking about my sexual appetite or its abstinence must take up a great deal of his omniscient mind. Even as M31 is racing at unbelievable speeds to strike the Milky Way, my sex life and priesthood qualification must weigh heavily upon his broad invisible shoulders.

    Your value and mine is so much greater than you state here.
    And the way you reference God’s “omniscient mind” sounds like you are saying that God has a high-powered super mind–that is thinking of God in human terms. God does not have a human mind.

    With all of the legitimate threats to our race’s survival, I am glad to see that we are lead by the religious who are concerned about such mind boggling concepts as mating and intercourse. Our future is assured.

    As the family goes so will go society and the world. Therefore issues of marriage and intercourse have a huge impact on us and the direction we are going.

    Peace.

  • goyo

    Arch: So when the bible says that man is made in the image of god, what does that mean exactly? Obviously it is not the physical image.
    If it is not like minds, then how are we like him?

  • Jeff T.

    The use of a scale analogy may help me here, or maybe not. Assume that god is to me as I am to my cat. I give my cat some cat food. Using my analogy and the bible’s teaching that god loves a sacrifice from his created ones, I should now expect to see my cat sacrifice 10% of that cat food by burning it to me. Sorry, this just does not do anything for me. Maybe I am not sadistic enough? I hope this analogy helps clear things up.

    We are genetically programmed to reproduce and survive. We are bombarded by the mass media with sexual messages all of the time. Humanity has been infatuated with the phallus since the dawn of civilization. It does not surprise me to see the church (organized religion) once again reflect the opinions of the society of its time. If you and god are literally focused on what is going on inside of a man’s underwear, then you have serious issues that are probably preventing you from seeing the bigger picture in the world. I would ask that god and men stop thinking about the phallus for just a few moments and see what is else is going on around them. I could care less if brother so-and-so has a hard or soft one because in the big scheme of things it doesn’t really matter. It is a shame that god and the church cannot understand this.

  • Arch

    goyo,

    Thanks for the response. To say that man is created in the image of God means first that we are given a greater dignity than all other creatures. We are imbued with gifts that, though not ultimate in us as they are in God, offer us the opportunity to be in unique relationship with God. These include the capacity to love and to be loved, the will, and the ability to reason… and to be conscious of and contemplate the fact that we are thinking/reasoning.

    Jeff T,

    Based on your response, I would like to offer the following question: is there any human thought, word, or action that has meaning? If yes, what gives it meaning? What is the origin of that meaning?

    Peace.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    We have been over this many times. This thread is not the place for stale Christian preaching.

  • Arch

    If that is what you choose to label it… My post was a straight forward response to the questions presented to me and an invitation to dialogue.

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    That is precisely what they are doing. And in this case, the rule they have made up (that clergy members must remain celibate) is contradicted by the clear instructions of the Bible.

    The Bible is not the lone authority. How can I explain this to you so that you can better understand this?

    Unless you’re saying that church tradition can overrule the Bible, claiming that “the Bible and tradition together are the authority” is a self-contradictory and meaningless statement, because on this point the two clash with each other.

    Traditon and the Bible work together.

    Sacred Tradition is God’s Revelation regarding faith and morals which were not written down by the Apostles in Scripture, rather passed on orally through teachings and preaching. [good] In 2 Thess 2:15 St. Peter commands them to keep to the traditions he has taught them; In 2 Thess 3:6 St. Peter shuns those who are not keeping to the traditions; 1 Cor 11:2 St. Paul says, hold fast to the traditions I have handed on to you.

    Thus Sacred Tradition has two purposes: 1) it functions as the key to unlocking the Holy Scriptures; without it error would persist in interpretation. For example, before Luther asserted sola scriptura in 1517 and the ensuing protestant reformation, Sacred Tradition was the standard defining authority on the Holy Scriptures. Without this Tradition the Protestant church has since split into over 20,000 different denominations; 2) it contains truths not explicitly in the Bible. St. John’s gospel ends with, “but there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were all written, I suppose that even the world itself would be unable to contain all the books that would be written” (21:25).

    We’ve gone over this before but, an example of a teaching not explicitly in the Bible that sacred tradition has always held is the Churches teachings on abortion: 1) the Bible forbids innocent blood; “Thou shall not kill” (Ex 20:13). If there is an agreement that fetuses in the womb are “persons” then this commandment should be enough to dispel the notion that abortion is not in the Bible; 2) prenatal life is fully human, and precious to God (Ps. 139:13-16); therefore God does not want His children killed; 3) respect for the unborn (Ex 21:22-25); 4) laws of Justice and Mercy for the unprotected (Ex 23:7, Prov. 6:16-17).

    This is just a sample of the passages in the Bible that contain teachings against abortion. Although there are those who would say that these passages mean nothing, or should be interpreted differently, these persons’ main problem must ultimately be about Tradition and the Protestants who eradicated it the 1500’s. But, as shown, God has always intended both Tradition and Scripture to be the means for passing on the faith. Thus it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the Church and its 2,000 years of teachings must be who they say they are. God’s has entrusted the Church to take care of the sacred deposit of faith. In 2,000 years their teachings have never wavered. The Didache, written in the first half of the second century says this: “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (CCC, 2271). The Church has always been against abortion. As Dei Verbum 10 affirms: “sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the teachings authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others.”

    Finally,

    The Magisterium is also necessary. It is needed as a living and infallible authority to determine the authentic meaning of both Scripture and Tradition. Such a living authority is necessary to settle disputes concerning both Scripture and Tradition. Tradition and Scripture alone would be insufficient to guarantee the unity of the faith and of the Church, for violent disagreements could arise over the content of Tradition as well as of Scripture. There can be no private judgment either of Scripture or of Tradition.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Adam,

    Every single comment you’ve made in this thread so far has failed to address the basic point at issue, which is: what happens when the text of the Bible contradicts the traditions of the church, as it does in this case?

    Saying “tradition and the Bible work together” does not explain what happens when the two are at odds. Your meaningless recitation of this statement as if it somehow solved the problem accomplishes precisely nothing. The Bible says clergy are not to remain celibate. Do you grant the church the authority to overrule that command?

  • Adam

    Ebon,

    I know that saying ” “tradition and the Bible work together” does not explain what happens when the two are at odds. ”

    What happens when the text of the Bible contradicts the traditions of the church, as it does in this case?

    That is why I tried to explain to you how Tradition and Scripture work together. If you would have read on you would have seen the last part of the comment:

    The Magisterium is also necessary. It is needed as a living and infallible authority to determine the authentic meaning of both Scripture and Tradition. Such a living authority is necessary to settle disputes concerning both Scripture and Tradition. Tradition and Scripture alone would be insufficient to guarantee the unity of the faith and of the Church, for violent disagreements could arise over the content of Tradition as well as of Scripture. There can be no private judgment either of Scripture or of Tradition.

    Your meaningless recitation of this statement as if it somehow solved the problem accomplishes precisely nothing.

    ??? That is what I was trying to explain

    The Bible says clergy are not to remain celibate. Do you grant the church the authority to overrule that command?

    The Church has the authority to interperate scripture.

    Repeating that the Church is “overruling the command of the Bible” tells me that you do not care to listen, or want to learn, how the Church actually teaches things. The Bible is not the lone authority, therefore the Church is not overruling anything.

    Rather, when disputes happen concering scripture and tradition the Church is here to infallibly teach the Truth.

    Every single comment you’ve made in this thread so far has failed to address the basic point at issue…

    Your basic point of the tread, as I stated before, is faulty to start. I think this is a reasonable point I have made, and hope that the rest of the readers of this tread see it too.

    Celibacy is not a dogma or doctrine (a central and irreformable part of the faith) rather a discipline that could change. St. Peter was married and that is just fine because celibacy is a discipline that could change.

  • Arch

    The Bible says clergy are not to remain celibate

    The Bible contains no teaching that says “clergy must not remain celibate”. The Scriptures address married clergy because, as was stated, celibacy is not a doctrine or dogma but rather a discipline of the Church. It is a discipline that was respected in the early Church and eventually became a required constituent of the priestly life.

    Peace.

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    Thus it is beyond a reasonable doubt that the Church and its 2,000 years of teachings must be who they say they are.

    I’m sorry, but are you really trying to contend that the Catholic church is the one true church simply because you (erroneously as has been pointed out to you before) believe that they have stayed on message for almost 2000 years? Obstinance = correctness?

    Repeating that the Church is “overruling the command of the Bible” tells me that you do not care to listen, or want to learn, how the Church actually teaches things. The Bible is not the lone authority, therefore the Church is not overruling anything.

    The Bible says X, the church says not X. One must overrule the other because they are diametrically opposed. But, that you think they somehow go with each other is not surprising in that you don’t see the logical failure that I and others pointed out above about giving up what is good for god.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    The Magisterium is also necessary. It is needed as a living and infallible authority to determine the authentic meaning of both Scripture and Tradition. Such a living authority is necessary to settle disputes concerning both Scripture and Tradition. Tradition and Scripture alone would be insufficient to guarantee the unity of the faith and of the Church, for violent disagreements could arise over the content of Tradition as well as of Scripture. There can be no private judgment either of Scripture or of Tradition.

    Now I understand Adam’s answer. He is saying precisely what I proposed – that the Catholic church grants itself the authority to overrule the Bible. He’s just putting it in slightly more obfuscated terms by saying there can be “no private judgment” of what the Bible actually says. In other words, we have to forsake our own critical thinking skills and just trust the church whenever it tells us what the Bible means, no matter what the words actually say. Thus, in his world, “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” can be “interpreted” to mean “bishops are not permitted to marry, even if they resign their clerical post, and are to be excommunicated if they do”. And because the Church is an “infallible authority”, it cannot possibly be wrong about that.

    This is a slightly more clever tactic than when the Church forbade people to possess English translations of the Bible on penalty of being burned at the stake, but not by much.

  • Arch

    …the Catholic church grants itself the authority to overrule the Bible. He’s just putting it in slightly more obfuscated terms by saying there can be “no private judgment” of what the Bible actually says. In other words, we have to forsake our own critical thinking skills and just trust the church whenever it tells us what the Bible means, no matter what the words actually say. Thus, in his world, “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” can be “interpreted” to mean “bishops are not permitted to marry, even if they resign their clerical post, and are to be excommunicated if they do”. And because the Church is an “infallible authority”, it cannot possibly be wrong about that.

    First, the Catholic Church does not grant itself authority as the authentic interpreter of Scripture–Christ does. It is a charism, a grace of the Holy Spirit. Further, the grace applies to definitive Church teachings in the realms of faith and morals. Infallibility does not apply to an individual person’s actions or words outside of that realm. See: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p123a9p4.htm#871
    Please do not go by hearsay regarding what the Church teaches, but go right to the Catechism itself. The Vatican II constitutions are also very beneficial here (Dei Verbum, Gaudium et Spes, Lumen Gentium, and Sacrosanctum Concilium).

    Once again, the statement “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” does not have to do with the realm of faith or morals but rather discipline… so to try to attack the Church by saying it is a contradiction with Church teaching is not viable. It is essential not only to read Scripture but to recognize that there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to interpret it, and to fathom divine revelation in the first place. Reading the document Dei Verbum is important if one wants to dive into that topic.

    Peace.

  • OMGF

    First, the Catholic Church does not grant itself authority as the authentic interpreter of Scripture–Christ does.

    How convenient.

    Once again, the statement “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” does not have to do with the realm of faith or morals but rather discipline… so to try to attack the Church by saying it is a contradiction with Church teaching is not viable.

    The Bible says a bishop must be the husband of one wife, the church says that a bishop must be chaste…It’s a contradiction no matter how you try to spin it. We aren’t saying it’s a contradiction with church teaching for the church to say that bishops must be chaste, we are saying that the church’s teaching is in contradiction with the Bible. Nice try to subtly shift the argument, but no dice. And, even applying “discipline” to it still notes that the Bible allows marriage while the church does not, which Ebon has already discussed. You’re losing and all your attempts at obfuscation and meaningless verbiage aren’t helping your cause.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Once again, the statement “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” does not have to do with the realm of faith or morals but rather discipline… so to try to attack the Church by saying it is a contradiction with Church teaching is not viable.

    If anyone can make the slightest sense of this argument, please let me know. The most charitable way I can read it is to assume that Arch is saying it’s perfectly okay for the Catholic church to set rules that contradict the Bible, just as long as those rules are not proclaimed to be unchangeable dogma but mere “disciplines” that in theory could change tomorrow. (Never mind that clerical celibacy has been the rule in Catholicism for about seventeen hundred years.) That can’t be right, can it?

  • Adam

    If anyone can make the slightest sense of this argument, please let me know

    Arch is saying that “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” does not have anything to do with faith and morals (which the church is infallible when teaching about) rather it is talking about discipline.

    Therefore, once again, when you attack the Church regarding a discipline and try to spin it off as Church teaching, you are in error and make no sense because it is not Church teaching.

    Teachings here means Dogma/Doctrine…can not change.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    Therefore, once again, when you attack the Church regarding a discipline and try to spin it off as Church teaching, you are in error and make no sense because it is not Church teaching.

    So unless the church claims to be teaching something infallibly, they’re not actually teaching it at all? I suppose the idea of clerical celibacy is just something that appeared ex nihilo and grafted itself onto Roman Catholicism of its own accord, as opposed to a rule proclaimed by popes, theologians and official church councils throughout the centuries?

    The more religious apologists try to explain their beliefs, the less sense they make. That’s probably not coincidental.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Adam,

    Arch is saying that “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” does not have anything to do with faith and morals (which the church is infallible when teaching about) rather it is talking about discipline.

    The church is infalliable about morals? When was the church infalliably speaking out against slavery when it happened? Or doing everything in it’s power to stop the holocaust? How about when they sold indulgences? Spanish Inquisition?

    Or were those just church moral disciplines too?

    Also, perhaps you’d care to remind me where the morals of the church come from; is it the holy spirit, speaking to someone somewhere in a disembodied voice, or is it from the bible? If it’s from the bible, as I recall it is, how can you say the church has the right to interpret whatever passages the way it wants? Or why does the church has the ability to reinterpret passages; Shouldn’t they get it right the first time?

  • Arch

    This is great stuff to get to respond to! Here’s a brief response…

    The Bible says a bishop must be the husband of one wife, the church says that a bishop must be chaste…It’s a contradiction no matter how you try to spin it. We aren’t saying it’s a contradiction with church teaching for the church to say that bishops must be chaste, we are saying that the church’s teaching is in contradiction with the Bible. Nice try to subtly shift the argument, but no dice. And, even applying “discipline” to it still notes that the Bible allows marriage while the church does not, which Ebon has already discussed.

    If you are going to persist in calling this a contradiction, your argument is superfluous beacuse it is rooted in a false understanding of Scripture and sacred tradition. Please read the Catechism’s sections on Scripture and divine revelation and Dei Verbum before claiming that this is an attempt to shift an argument. And a further clarification is that being chaste is something that every person is called to–celibacy is what we are talking about regarding clergy and those in religious life. And once again, clerical celibacy is not a moral issue that could be definied by doctrine.

    So unless the church claims to be teaching something infallibly, they’re not actually teaching it at all? I suppose the idea of clerical celibacy is just something that appeared ex nihilo and grafted itself onto Roman Catholicism of its own accord, as opposed to a rule proclaimed by popes, theologians and official church councils throughout the centuries?

    If the Church has a definitive teaching on faith or morals it is clearly promulgated. Clerical celibacy was made a required element of clerical discipline because it is prudent–not because it is in principle a moral good or evil.

    The church is infalliable about morals? When was the church infalliably speaking out against slavery when it happened? Or doing everything in it’s power to stop the holocaust? How about when they sold indulgences? Spanish Inquisition?

    Again, for a proper understanding please stop going by hearsay or thoughts about what the Church teaches, but right to the teachings themselves.
    But briefly, infallibility does not apply to any individual’s actions or personal moral decisions. It applies to the definitive teachings on faith or morals, and even the pope has the free will to live in accordance with those teachings or not.

    I don’t have time to get into every specific issue here, but in brief:
    Atrocities committed during the Inquisitions were committed by individuals of the Church who have free will and can therefore act justly or injustly. Just like my sins or sins of other members of the Church today do not corrupt the Church’s doctrines, those of the past did not either. The action of a member of the Church is something distinct from a Church teaching.

    Indulgences are valid graces of the Church. There were people who instigated an abuse by selling them, but that doesn’t make them invalid in their proper sense. If someone commits a crime using an automobile, it would be absurd to say that cars are a moral evil or invalid.

    The Church took significant action to protect the dignity of the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Pope Pius XII played a role in helping as many as 700,000 Jewish people survive, even allowing them to secretly reside in his own residence. Had he been more outspoken, Hitler would have attacked the Church in an even greater way than he did, because he had already targeted Catholics. Rabbis have spoken in praise of Pope Pius XII’s work in the movement to protect our Jewish neighbors.

    Slavery was deeply rooted in all kinds of cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. While slavery persisted in many forms throughout the world, the Church began to work against it to help stamp it out. This was not a change in doctrine but development. The Church would eventually definitively interpret the deposit of divine revelation as it explains slavery to be contrary to the Gospel.

    Have a good day, everyone.
    Peace.

  • OMGF

    Arch,

    If you are going to persist in calling this a contradiction, your argument is superfluous beacuse it is rooted in a false understanding of Scripture and sacred tradition.

    It is superfluous, because we can all see that it’s a contradiction and it’s “excessive” to have to continually repeat it to apologists who have serious cases of cognitive dissonance as you do. The Bible says X, the church says not X, and you only think there is no conflict because you’ve convinced yourself a priori that there can’t be. So, you come up with complicated “explanations” that don’t actually explain anything and exceptions that don’t make sense in order to explain away what you know is a problem.

    Clerical celibacy was made a required element of clerical discipline because it is prudent–not because it is in principle a moral good or evil.

    Then you’ve just admitted that the church and the teachings of the Bible are not in accord. Thank you for that. Further, why didn’t god simply have the Bible say that priests should be celibate?

    Again, for a proper understanding please stop going by hearsay or thoughts about what the Church teaches, but right to the teachings themselves.

    That the church did not speak out about those topics is not hearsay but fact. The church’s complicity with Nazi Germany, for instance, is not well known but is well documented.

    But briefly, infallibility does not apply to any individual’s actions or personal moral decisions.

    And here comes the get out of jail free card ploy. See, it doesn’t matter what the church does or teaches because anything considered bad is man using his tainted free will to be bad, while anything good really came from the church, right? This is not only just another case of counting the hits and ignoring the misses, but it’s also rather hateful and anti-human rhetoric.

    Atrocities committed during the Inquisitions were committed by individuals of the Church who have free will and can therefore act justly or injustly.

    And the church was complicit in their actions.

    Slavery was deeply rooted in all kinds of cultures throughout the world for thousands of years. While slavery persisted in many forms throughout the world, the Church began to work against it to help stamp it out. This was not a change in doctrine but development. The Church would eventually definitively interpret the deposit of divine revelation as it explains slavery to be contrary to the Gospel.

    One would think that the omni-moral god that started the church and the moral leaders of the church would have figured out that slavery was wrong long before the free thinkers did. Alas, in this country at least, that certainly didn’t happen. Also, the Bible and the gospels do NOT speak out against slavery, so the church’s teachings are once again in contradiction to the Bible just as they are with the celibacy of bishops. Oops.

  • Adam

    Arch,

    Well said

  • Jeff T.

    Arch and Adam,

    Speaking in circles and referencing nebulous council minutes does nothing but cloud your position. Your position is that Priests should be celibate regardless of what was written in the bible. Please have the courage to come out and say this. Don’t talk around it.

    I have already discussed how this position becomes phallus worship in its base form. The assumption that celibacy or the lack thereof by a man somehow elevates his holiness on some celestial heirarchy is preposterous and small minded. I have just read an article that states that optimum sex occurs in 3-13 minutes. Why should I hold in high esteem someone who focuses their entire lifespan on abstaining or participating in an event that is so relatively quick? I wonder sometimes about religious people because it seems that their entire attention is on people’s sex organs… sadly, even children do not seem exempt from this infatuation.

    Your argument for the defense of indulgences is almost funny. Commit a sin, just pay the Church cash for it and god will look the other way…

    I want to address the other hideousness of both the bible and this particular subject. It is obvious to me that Women are at least equal to Men. They should be allowed to become Priests. Any position that opposes this simply embraces the archaic (illegal in most other circumstances) discrimination of Women. Since Women are the equals of Men, (and I could give a rat’s sex organ what ancient manuscript states differently) then they should be allowed to become Priests. This leads to the inevitable conclusion of this argument. According to scripture, Priests are assumed to be only men.

    Personally, you can try to justify this archiac and indefensible position until the second coming of christ and I will not accept it. Women are the equals of Men. The Church discriminates against Women. Anything else that you say is surely suspect because of the innate prejudiceness that your organization embraces. I could care less if god himself came before me and justified this position. I would tell him that he was a sexist idiot.

  • Arch

    The Bible says X, the church says not X, and you only think there is no conflict because you’ve convinced yourself a priori that there can’t be. So, you come up with complicated “explanations” that don’t actually explain anything and exceptions that don’t make sense in order to explain away what you know is a problem.

    The Bible saying that bishops should have one wife does not give any moral commandment that bishops must be married or that celibacy is wrong. It is false to say that this Scripture passage means that celibacy is contrary to the Scriptures.

    I find it important to pose these questions now to which I would appreciate an answer: How can one know truth? What or who is an authority in our world and why does this thing, person, or group have authority?

    Your argument for the defense of indulgences is almost funny. Commit a sin, just pay the Church cash for it and god will look the other way…

    This statement has nothing to do with what an indulgence actually is, nor with my brief explanation on indulgences. Please consult the Catechism for a more thorough explanation. http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm#1471

    The Church’s teaching sexual ethics will only make sense in the context of what love, freedom, and vocation are. Recognizing the covenant of marriage is also essential here. Starting at that base, sexual morality, family, vocation, and the priesthood will all draw deeper meaning.

    Peace.

  • OMGF

    Arch,

    The Bible saying that bishops should have one wife does not give any moral commandment that bishops must be married or that celibacy is wrong. It is false to say that this Scripture passage means that celibacy is contrary to the Scriptures.

    You are dead wrong on this count. The Bible says that bishos must be the husband of one wife. How you can miss that is beyond me. If being married is optional, then I suppose all the other things on the list are optional? But, even if it isn’t a requirement, the requirement that bishops be celibate is contra to the fact that the Bible allows bishops to marry. Period.

    I find it important to pose these questions now to which I would appreciate an answer: How can one know truth? What or who is an authority in our world and why does this thing, person, or group have authority?

    What do your questions have to do with the price of tea in China? The answers for you are that the Bible is an authority and the Church is another I take it? When one authority tells you one thing and another contradicts it, who is right? I, personally, would go with the Bible, since it is god’s word, but you Catholics think the pope speaks for god, so maybe you go with his word. Either way, denying that a contradiction is taking place is simply Orwellian.

    The Church’s teaching sexual ethics will only make sense in the context of what love, freedom, and vocation are. Recognizing the covenant of marriage is also essential here. Starting at that base, sexual morality, family, vocation, and the priesthood will all draw deeper meaning.

    That’s a load and you know it. Can one only love someone that one is married to? Why is it more moral to have sex inside marriage (with someone you may or may not love) than to have sex with another consenting adult that you love (provided there are no other spouses in the mix?) And, for pity’s sake don’t start spouting off about how god wants marriage between one man and one woman and all that crap and pretend that it comes from the Bible, because that’s also a load of garbage. Marriage was never “ordained by god” or anything like that. It was first and foremost a way of establishing alliances among different peoples and the Bible never denies polygamy.

  • Arch

    I still welcome anyone’s response to my previous questions: How can one know truth? What or who is an authority in our world and why does this thing, person, or group have authority?

    Peace.

  • OMGF

    And your questions are off topic and an attempt to steer the discussion away from your woeful defense.

  • http://nesoo.wordpress.com/ Nes

    I think we have long since passed this point (paragraphs 6 & 7) with Arch and Adam.

  • Jeff T.

    Arch,

    Authority is given to those in power. Those in power usually have vast wealth. It is a materialistic macrosocial system that we live in. I will give an example. Of the 3 US Presidential Candidates, all are millionaires. I think Obama is the poorest with only a little over a million. Clinton and McCain (through his wife) are worth over 100 million.

    The Church also has money and wields power, vast money and vast power.

    The truth is that money is proportional to power. One can know this truth by research.

    Since this doesn’t pertain to the thread, I understand if Ebon deletes it.

  • Adam

    You are dead wrong on this count. The Bible says that bishos must be the husband of one wife. How you can miss that is beyond me. If being married is optional, then I suppose all the other things on the list are optional? But, even if it isn’t a requirement, the requirement that bishops be celibate is contra to the fact that the Bible allows bishops to marry. Period.

    AND

    Either way, denying that a contradiction is taking place is simply Orwellian.

    First I like the restate what I said earlier: “The Magisterium is also necessary. It is needed as a living and infallible authority to determine the authentic meaning of both Scripture and Tradition. Such a living authority is necessary to settle disputes concerning both Scripture and Tradition. Tradition and Scripture alone would be insufficient to guarantee the unity of the faith and of the Church, for violent disagreements could arise over the content of Tradition as well as of Scripture. There can be no private judgment either of Scripture or of Tradition.”

    Yes, disputes happen.

    Not surprisingly, the Bible also teaches that Celibacy should be practiced:

    1 Corinthians, Chap. 7- “Now concerning the thing whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But for fear of fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband… But I speak this by indulgence, not by commandment. For I would that all men were even as myself [unmarried]: but every one hath his proper gift from God; one after this manner, and another after that. But I say to the unmarried, and to the widows: It is good for them if they so continue, even as I…

    We also see this in the words of Jesus Himself:

    Matthew 19: 11-12- “[Jesus] said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother’s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.

    The Church is given the responsibility to teach the Truth about what Christ reveals, not private interpretations because there is only one Truth…which leads right into the questions Arch is asking “How can one know truth?”

    By the way, in the early Church, and still practiced today in the Eastern Catholic Churches, under the Pope, marriage does not exclude you from holy orders (Just like St. Peter who was married). If you are married then feel the call, you can still become a priest (but if your wife dies, you can not remarry; you must only have one wife) This statement is speaking on the sacredness of marriage, that marriage is only between ONE man and ONE woman…and Bishops “You MUST only have one Wife!! not two or three or seven, ONE.). But if you are not married and become a priest you can never get married. If you do, you will be going against the teachings of the Church, thereby excommunicating yourself. The local bishop is just there to hold you accountable; but the fact remains that you excommunicate yourself, because you are not living the way you said you would when you told God you wanted to become a priest.

    The answers for you are that the Bible is an authority and the Church is another I take it? When one authority tells you one thing and another contradicts it, who is right?

    This was already covered on: April 3, 2008, 7:21 am

    I would encourage you to read it over again.

    In light of this, the following comment is in error.

    The Bible says X, the church says not X. One must overrule the other because they are diametrically opposed. But, that you think they somehow go with each other is not surprising in that you don’t see the logical failure that I and others pointed out above about giving up what is good for god.

    Finally it was stated that:

    And here comes the get out of jail free card ploy. See, it doesn’t matter what the church does or teaches because anything considered bad is man using his tainted free will to be bad, while anything good really came from the church, right? This is not only just another case of counting the hits and ignoring the misses, but it’s also rather hateful and anti-human rhetoric.

    This is an ad hominen argument, all you’re doing is calling the Church Anti-human. Instead of addressing the claim, you instead just attack the Church. “infallibility does not apply to any individual’s actions or personal moral decisions.”

    For example, you and I can live how we want to. We can murder someone if we want. But if we do kill someone, murdering will still be morally wrong today, tomorrow, and forever; Just as the Church and it’s teachings on faith and morals have stood forever. There are Catholics that have decided to go against the teachings of the Church, but the fact remains that the teachings themselves are still true.

    This is actually the most amazing part of the Church. That it is run by normal people, like you and I, who are sinful and greedy and prideful, yet its Teachngs regarding faith and morals have never waivered.

    Just as a Mathematician can not change the truths of his discipline no matter how he acts, so to goes the Church.

  • OMGF

    Adam,

    First I like the restate what I said earlier: “The Magisterium is also necessary….

    Which is a direct admission that tradition and the Bible are in contradiction. Thank you. Oh, BTW, how does this Magisterium decide which is correct? You haven’t solved anything, just pushed it back one level.

    Not surprisingly, the Bible also teaches that Celibacy should be practiced…

    Nice red herring, but not applicable to this particular passage. This particular passage specifically states that bishops must be married.

    By the way, in the early Church, and still practiced today in the Eastern Catholic Churches, under the Pope, marriage does not exclude you from holy orders (Just like St. Peter who was married).

    It shouldn’t exclude for any sect of the Catholic Church (which BTW, you’ve just admitted that there are sects within Catholicism, which you denied in another thread, IIRC). It is a requirement to be celibate, however, which has already been shown by Ebon to be problematic for you.

    But if you are not married and become a priest you can never get married. If you do, you will be going against the teachings of the Church, thereby excommunicating yourself.

    Proving that the church is acting un-Biblically, thankyouverymuch.

    This was already covered on: April 3, 2008, 7:21 am

    And it has already been rebutted, I suggest you read all the subsequent comments to yours again.

    In light of this, the following comment is in error.

    No, it is not. You’ve simply asserted there is no contradiction when it is plain that there is, and it’s been pointed out to you ad nauseum.

    This is an ad hominen argument, all you’re doing is calling the Church Anti-human.

    The church is anti-human. The church places all the blame for everything wrong with the world squarely on the shoulders of humans, while giving all glory and credit for anything good to god. This is a clearly anti-human position to take. Further, it is not ad hominem to point out the tactics the church uses. You, on the other hand, are taking the easy way out. When confronted with the fact that church teachings and the actions of those who supposedly are holy are no more holy or moral than other teachings or other people, you claim that it’s not because the church doesn’t hold a favored place in the moral pantheon of existence, but it’s because humans are horrible creatures. You wish to claim moral infallibility when it suits you and claim human fallibility when it suits you, thus having your cake and eating it too.

    But if we do kill someone, murdering will still be morally wrong today, tomorrow, and forever…

    Was it morally wrong when god commanded it of his people? Has it always been a teaching of the church to never murder (think crusades, inquisition, etc)?

    This is actually the most amazing part of the Church. That it is run by normal people, like you and I, who are sinful and greedy and prideful, yet its Teachngs regarding faith and morals have never waivered.

    This is nothing more than a lie, and you know it. It’s already been pointed out to you numerous times with numerous examples that this is not true, yet you continue to repeat it. That makes it a lie.

  • Arch

    I continue to ask for more responses to my earlier questions. Please stop dismissing them as irrelevant or avoiding them because they are very much along the lines of the topic.

  • OMGF

    Then, explain how it is relevant. The topic at hand is the fact that the Bible says one thing and the church contradicts it.

  • Arch

    My questions are relevant because the arguments I am hearing are about either the Church, Scripture, or both lacking authority–lacking truth. Anyone who denies a potential source of truth clearly must believe in another source of truth. If they didn’t believe that there is any truth, then they would have to remain silent. So I am asking those who reject Scripture, the Church, or both, to explain what source(s) of truth they believe in and why. Further, where do those sources get their authority and why is it reasonable to uphold them as sources of authority?

    Peace.

  • OMGF

    Arch,
    What I uphold as a source of truth is irrelevant to this discussion. We are discussing what Catholics, such as yourself, uphold as truth. Catholics say they uphold the Bible and the teachings of the church. OK, but when those conflict, as they do in this case, then what? What I’ve seen from you and Adam is a steadfast denial of the fact that there’s a conflict here, coupled with some mention of the magisterium just in case there is a conflict. The magisterium idea raises further questions, which have already been asked and not answered.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    I have to say, I’m very amused by Arch and Adam’s reasoning. Apparently, it’s okay for the Catholic church to set rules that contradict the Bible, just so long as they hold out even the theoretical possibility of that rule changing at some future point. It’s like saying that, if I rob a bank, I shouldn’t be prosecuted for bank robbery as long as I say that I might change my mind eventually and seek an honest living. Only if I proclaim my absolute intent to make bank robbery a lifelong habit should I be considered to have broken the law.

    I think we have long since passed this point (paragraphs 6 & 7) with Arch and Adam.

    I agree completely, Nes.


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