Celibacy & friendship

Wesley Hill is a gay Christian who agrees with the Biblical teachings on homosexuality and is celibate.  He writes for First Things, among other places, and provides a useful perspective on the current controversies about gays and the church.  In a response to the shutting down of Exodus International, he makes the point that the Christian tradition has some rich, practical teaching  about two disciplines that can be of enormous help to gays (as well as non-gays):  celibacy and spiritual friendship (in which same-sex relationships can be fulfilling without being sexual). [Read more...]

Married priests must still be celibate?

Rome has allowed for some married priests, particularly Anglicans who have gone over to Catholicism.  Some Lutherans have been clamoring for the same privilege.  What is not generally realized, though, is that, according to Canon Law, married priests must still be celibate.  So says Mark Henderson:

According to a respected Roman canon lawyer, Rome absolutely requires “sexual continence” of married clergy in the Western church (Canon 277 excerpted below). Yes, you read that right, the canon law of the Papacy requires that in the Western church even married priests and deacons abstain from sexual relations with their wives (in the Eastern Catholic Churches observance of this rule is a somewhat patchwork affair but the long-term trend has been towards celibacy; but since that is the Eastern church, where different rules apply, it does not immediately concern us here). This matter has apparently been the subject of much intra-Roman debate recently, particularly in light of the small but significant number of ex-Anglican married priests who have gone over to Rome, most recently in connection with the Anglican Ordinariate. Rome is expected to make a definitive ruling at some time in the future. . . .

Code of Canon Law, Canon 277:
§1 Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, and are therefore bound to celibacy. Celibacy is a special gift of God by which sacred ministers can more easily remain close to Christ with an undivided heart, and can dedicate themselves more freely to the service of God and their neighbour.

via Glosses From An Old Manse: End of the Fantasy of “Lutheran-Rite Romanism”?.

Can this be true?  If so, that would be a serious distortion of what marriage is.

On vows of celibacy & sexual sin

Luther and the Lutheran Confessions (explaining “thou shalt not commit adultery”) on the problems of forbidding marriage for the clergy, and how this manifests itself in sexual sins:

Priests, monks, and nuns resist God’s order and commandment, inasmuch as they despise and forbid matrimony, and presume and vow to maintain perpetual chastity, and, besides, deceive the simple-minded with lying words and appearances [impostures]. For no one has so little love and inclination to chastity as just those who because of great sanctity avoid marriage, and either indulge in open and shameless prostitution, or secretly do even worse, so that one dare not speak of it, as has, alas! been learned too fully.

And, in short, even though they abstain from the act, their hearts are so full of unchaste thoughts and evil lusts that there is a continual burning and secret suffering, which can be avoided in the married life. Therefore all vows of chastity out of the married state are condemned by this commandment, and free permission is granted, yea, even the command is given, to all poor ensnared consciences which have been deceived by their monastic vows to abandon the unchaste state and enter the married life, considering that even if the monastic life were godly, it would nevertheless not be in their power to maintain chastity, and if they remain in it, they must only sin more and more against this commandment.

via The Large Catechism – Book of Concord (The Sixth Commandment)

How would this apply to the pedophile scandal in the Roman Catholic Church? Clearly, individuals with that lust could not satisfy it with marriage, but might that not be something “even worse” than prostitution, something so bad that “one dare not speak of it,” that comes from repressed sexuality? Would this article of the catechism also apply to the chastity vows of the teen abstinence movement? Those, of course, are not permanent vows. But shouldn’t we encourage early marriage instead?


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