Ok, here’s a great article. In a nut shell (and I’m trying not to use “nut” disparagingly), the Vatican held a summit to discuss the recent excommunication of an African archbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, who ordained four married American men as bishops. He was already on the hotseat for getting married himself in 2001. In the summit, it was decided that the excommunication would stand, and the Vatican reaffirmed its stance that clergy (honestly, I’m not sure if it’s all clergy or not) must remain celibate.
On Whose Authority?
One of the things that I find interesting about this is the fact that the Vatican gets to decide anything. It reminds me of Han Solo reprimanding Princess Leia for wanting to bring everything before a committee. About the only time we see the early church bring something before a committee was in Acts 15, when the apostles met to discuss circumcision. But see, at that point, the only direction they had was God’s inspiration through the apostles. The Bible hadn’t been written yet.
But today, we have the Bible, and it tells us exactly what God wants us to do. Christ doesn’t change (Heb 13:8), and therefore, his message doesn’t change either. Furthermore, Galatians 1:6-10 tells us:
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
And Jude 3 says:
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
God’s given us his message, and it’s not going to change. So for a group of men to sit around and decide what is acceptable and what is not should send red flags up for us.
Thou Shalt Not Acquire a “Ball and Chain?”
Another issue is this whole idea of celibacy. Ok, yeah, Paul gave the idea the big thumbs up, but only as a “hey, that’d be nice” kind of idea. Let’s look at what he said about it:
8 But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; 9 but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. – 1 Cor 7:8-9
This was not a command. Paul was saying that if you can remain unmarried and keep from sin, then do it! You’re free to serve God in so many capacities, when you don’t have to concern yourself with providing for a family. However, if sex is too big of a temptation, then you should get married. That’s it.
And as far as those in positions of “spiritual leadership” go, the Bible always placed great importance on being married. Obviously, marriage is not a prerequisite to preaching – Paul is a great example of that. But to be an elder or a deacon, marriage is a necessity (1 Tim 3; Titus 1).
Then there’s the biggest problem with this concept. There’s the passage that seems to have been written specifically for Catholics:
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. – 1 Tim 4:1-3
This passage makes it clear that commanding celibacy is a false doctrine, and yet it’s something the Catholic church refuses to let go of. The passage even mentions how these false teachers will command people to stay away from certain foods, etc… Hmm, sounds a little fishy to me…
The Big Finish
You know, what really gets me about these kinds of things is that people will wax eloquent on all the reasons why “blah, blah, blah,” and why not “blah, blah, blah,” instead of going back to the (supposed) source of it all – the Bible! I just don’t understand arguing back and forth over an issue that is so black and white in the Bible. Now, that’s not to say that I’m perfect or have it all figured out (not to say I don’t, either :)), but some issues are so clear that we just don’t have any excuse. You know, it’s the same thing that Romans 1 talks about concerning the Gentiles, before the New Law came. Even though they didn’t have God’s law at the time, it didn’t matter:
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools – Romans 1:20-22
We have to follow Christ’s teachings, if we’re truly going to be Christians.