Vol. 4, No. 6
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"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband" (1 Corinthians 7:2).
The sex scandal among Catholic priests in the USA that has been highly publicized since January 2002 is not a new development. Further, the natural conflict between forced celibacy and ordinary sexual appetite, which often results in fornication (and other sins), is not limited to the USA. It is remarkable and dumbfounding that the Bible predicted and condemned the doctrine of celibacy two millennia ago, and yet the Catholic Church adopted celibacy anyway. There is a biblical solution to the evil fruit of forced celibacy. These four sentences comprise the multifaceted thesis of the following lines.
History, even sources otherwise friendly to Catholicism plus authorized Catholic documents themselves, is replete with testimony to the often rampant sexual sins of Catholic priests and nuns.1 For instance, one Catholic priest documented that through the centuries the doctrine of celibacy resulted in much homosexuality, fornication, abortion and infanticide among Catholic priests and nuns. Consider a few citations from his book.
The proof of the harm done by celibacy comes not from bigoted anti-Catholic sources; on the contrary, it includes papal and conciliatory documents and letters of reforming saints.2
Monasteries full of women; every friar had his "Martha," every nun her lover. Bishops, in every sense the fathers of their people, kept harems and a few brave souls who tried to enforce the discipline risked being poisoned or beaten to death ... John XXII allowed priests to keep their mistresses on payment of a tax.3
... thirteenth century Franciscan friar Salimbene, wrote: "I have seen priests keeping taverns ... and their whole house full of bastard children, and spending their nights in sin and celebrating Mass next day."4
In the ninth century, many monasteries were the haunts of homosexuals, many convents were brothels in which babies were killed and buried. Since the end of the Roman Empire, historians say that infanticide was probably not practiced in the West on any great scale -- except in convents. The Council of Aix-la-Chapelle in the year 836 openly admitted it. As to the sex-starved secular clergy, they were so often accused of incest that they were at length forbidden to have mothers, aunts or sisters living in their house. Children, the fruits of incest, were killed by the clergy, as many a French prelate put on record.5
In addition, no less than 21 popes are named in the historical records and commonly associated with failed celibacy or fornication.6 Regarding the usual, open and accepted violation of celibacy within the Catholic Church, the Council of Constance in 1414 serves as a sad example.
Another requirement was that the meeting place had to be large enough to accommodate the vast numbers of prostitutes who found the clergy required their services more urgently than the military and paid keener prices. At the height of the Council there were reckoned to be over twelve hundred whores in Constance working round the clock.7
The atrocities springing from Catholic celibacy are too numerous and too widely documented over the centuries for even the most ardent blind loyalist or the ablest devious apologist to successfully deny. McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia thoroughly chronicles the appointment of the doctrine of celibacy hundreds of years after the establishment of the Lord's church as well as the sexual abuses rightfully attributed to it.8 The commentator, Albert Barnes, likewise refers to the commonly known tainted fruits of celibacy.
How much evil, how much deep pollution, how many abominable crimes would have been avoided, which have since grown out of the monastic system, and the celibacy of the clergy among the papists, if Paul's advice had been followed by all professed Christians!9
And is it not strange that this doctrine of the celibacy of the clergy, which has been the source of abomination, impurity, and licentiousness everywhere, should have been sustained and countenanced at all by the Christian world?10
John Calvin assailed forced celibacy as evil for its presumption on the Scriptures and because of the immorality it produced, quite contrary to its announced virtues.
But he rejects the prohibition of clerical marriage as an "act of impious tyranny" contrary to the Word of God and to every principle of justice. With what impunity fornication rages among them [the papal clergy] it is unnecessary to remark; emboldened by their polluted celibacy, they have become hardened to every crime ...11
The Swiss reformers, like Zwingli, were well aware of the lecherous byproduct of Catholic celibacy among the clergy.
Celibacy made concubinage a common and pardonable offence. The bishop of Constance (Hugo von Hohenlandenberg) absolved guilty priests on the payment of a fine of four guilders for every child born to them, and is said to have derived from this source seventy-five hundred guilders in a single year (1522).12
The near endless flood of historical testimonies, which could be called to the witness against forced celibacy, confirm the sexual misbehavior generally owing to it, which amazingly has been discovered lately to be a sexual scandal among Catholic priests. Anyone conversant with either history or the Bible would have known of this evil all along!
God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, by inspiration, caused the apostle of Christ, Paul, to prophesy about apostasy from the primitive church.
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:1-3).
Especially two of the predicted doctrinal departures from pristine Christianity apply to the Catholic religion: "forbidding to marry" and "to abstain from meats." Our present discussion concerns the former.
The Catholic Church acknowledges that forced celibacy is not a biblical doctrine, but that it is church law.13 "The earliest law enforcing celibacy was passed by the Council of Elvira ... in Spain about the year 300."14 Subsequently, Pope Gregory VII in 1074 reaffirmed celibacy with a decree.15
Besides the prediction of apostasy, citing celibacy as an apostate doctrine (1 Timothy 4:3), the Bible commends marriage. Celibacy, Scripture says, is 'a doctrine of devils' (1 Timothy 4:1). Marriage, though, is sanctioned by God. "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:3-4). The apostles had the right to marry, and specifically Peter, who Catholics claim was the first pope, was married (Matthew 8:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5).
In the first century, long before the rise of Catholicism, the church was served by "bishops," also called "elders" (Titus 1:5-9). Among the biblical qualifications of bishops was that they be married. "A bishop then must be ... the husband of one wife ..." (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Celibacy was not an option for any man desiring to serve as a bishop in the church that Jesus Christ established.
On a side but related note, the New Testament church did not have a priesthood comparable to either the priesthoods of Judaism or Catholicism. The word "priests" in the New Testament is synonymous with being a Christian (1 Peter 2:5, 9). In light of that fact, the Catholic doctrine of celibacy would effectively prohibit marriage for all Christians. In truth, both the doctrine of celibacy and the Catholic priesthood are groundless, anti-biblical, manmade contrivances.
The biblical solution for God-given sexual impulses is for every man and woman to have his and her own spouse (1 Corinthians 7:2). The Holy Bible commends marriage as the God-approved solution for sexual passion. "But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn" [i.e., with lust] (1 Corinthians 7:9).
"And the Lord God said," following the creation of Adam, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18). Consequently, God created Eve and essentially officiated the first marriage (Genesis 2:21-25). It is a rare individual (e.g., Jesus Christ, apostle Paul) who needs neither the companionship nor the sexual gratification afforded in marriage. For most people, it is unnatural to voluntarily pursue a celibate life. Fornication (heterosexual and homosexual) and infanticide (including abortion) are the predictable results of forced celibacy. Nothing less than the dissolution of the doctrine of forced celibacy will begin to address sexual scandal among Catholic priests (and nuns).
1 Entries marked with the * are as quoted by Reuben Emperado, Truth Versus Tradition, (Winona, MS: J.C. Choate Publications) 2001.
2 *Peter de Rosa, Vicars of Christ: The Dark Side of the Papacy, p. 554.
4 *Ibid., pp. 574-575.
5 *Ibid., p. 566-567.
6 *Ibid., p. 556.
7 *Ibid., p. 130.
8 "Celibacy," McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 2000 by Biblesoft.
9 Albert Barnes, "1 Cor 7:2," Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft.
10 Ibid., "1 Cor 9:5."
11 Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.
13 *Bertrand Conway, Question Box, p. 311; Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 481; Cardinal Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 238-239; Sullivan, Externals of the Catholic Church, p. 6.
14 *Conway, p. 313.
15 *"Judge Officiates Priest's Marriage," Sun Star Daily, p. 23.
A recent news editorial I read suggested that religion and evolution should be placed on a shelf side by side. It was argued that one can accept both, creation and evolution, as explanations of our origins. Is this possible? Can we mix the two together? Apparently not, for the writer seemed to want to choose, cafeteria style, just what he wanted and did not want from the Bible. It is always amazing when an opponent of the Bible criticizes the Scriptures, just how ill-informed he usually is about the Word of God. Additionally, in this article the author gave his reasons for preferring the evolution model to creation, but they were anything but scientific.
His beliefs, in a nutshell, are that evolution teaches the human race sprang up in Africa, and therefore, the dark skinned peoples are the "father of mankind." He further states that the Bible teaches that the blacks are a result of Noah's curse placed upon his youngest son, Ham, in Genesis 9:18-27. Preferring the "father role" to the supposed "forever servant unto mankind" scenario, He states, "Any white who believes in the Hamitic curse as Jefferson did, is not only a racist midget, (I assume he means bigot here), but an insufferable a**." (His words. Actually, we find this language "insufferable" for one claiming proclivity toward intellectualism.) Further, he states, "Any black who believes such rubbish is a disingenuous fool to a fault." We realize that many are passionately devoted to their beliefs, particularly on this subject; however, to promote this type of "band-wagon" rhetoric is unacceptable. The writer is in effect saying by such language, If you do not believe the way I do, then you are either a "racist" (if you are white) or a "fool" (if you are black). So much for easing racial tensions! We prefer a more controlled approach to the subject, namely, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord ..." (Isaiah 1:18).
The article is in error on a number of points. First, it affirms that the curse was leveled upon all of Ham's descendants. Scripture plainly states that when Noah awoke and knew what his "younger son" had done, he said, "Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." For some reason, we are not told why Noah levels his "curse" upon his grandson Canaan, who may have been in some way involved in the sin with his father Ham. (The term, "Younger son," can also mean grandson.) The point here is that the curse falls upon only one of Ham's sons and not the rest of his descendants. His other three sons, Cush, Mizraim and Put settled in areas where predominantly darker skinned people are now found, especially Cush. So, geographically speaking, there is some evidence from Scripture to believe that Ham's descendants were probably darker skinned. But, the curse, which was actually a prophecy, was leveled upon Canaan. Whether we like it or not, as a matter of biblical history, this is exactly what happened. After the children of Israel entered into the land of Canaan, they destroyed or subjugated all of Canaan's descendants. The Bible says the reason for this was because of their wickedness, not because of their skin color. Furthermore, since the coming of Christ, all the races of man have been brought together in him. Contrast the so-called "hamitic curse" with the Abrahamic blessing. "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen (unbelieving nations) through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed" (Galatians 3:8, Emphasis mine, sps.).
Second, it is reckless to make such statements as "God did not create blacks, Noah did" or "Those aboard the ark were lily white." The Scriptures plainly state, "[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation" (Acts 17:26). So according to the Bible, God made all the races of mankind. Further, this would account for the physical differences between the races being extremely minor. This is an observable scientific fact. For example, if one has a blood transfusion in the hospital, it matters not one whit whether the blood comes from a black man, white man or any color in between. All that matters is that the blood type (A, B, AB or O; + or -) is the same and that it is disease free. This suggests that the races are more closely related than is commonly believed today among many.
As to the inhabitants of the ark, the Bible is completely silent as to the color of their skin. Modern paintings depicting the ark and its inhabitants notwithstanding, we simply do not know. This writer believes that all the races of mankind came from those eight souls saved in the ark, and given this, it is unlikely that Noah's sons' skin color was "lily white." Using a punnett square, a geneticist can explain to us that the entire range of human skin color -- from darkest black to "lily" white -- can be achieved in just one generation if the paired genes are in the proper sequence. Most likely they would have been brown skinned to produce the variety of skin colors present today, but the Scriptures are silent as to this. It is our fervent wish all people (black, white and every color in between) would get over the differences in our skin color. As a matter of significance, we are actually all the same color; we just have different levels of melanin in our skin. The real differences between the races are more cultural than biological.
Third, we find it ironic that one would prefer the evolution model as an explanation for the arrival of the human family simply because of the "father" role it places upon his race (skin color). The Bible states that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), and that includes all the human race -- black, white and every color in between. Further, Eve's name was given to her because she was the "mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20). Conversely, Darwin states that man shares his pedigree with the "lower" primates (gorillas, chimpanzees, monkeys etc.). Are we missing something here? One would think that the more noble sounding origin for mankind, black or white, is that of the creation account; namely, God made man, in his image and for a divine purpose. This, as opposed to man being the eventual result of millions, perhaps billions, of years of mindless natural selection and evolution, seems to this writer to be more desirable. If the criteria for deciding on one's origin model is merely one's personal preference, (and it should not be), then the Bible's explanation still seems to be the more honorable of the two.
Fourth, one makes a tremendous error to think that the theory of evolution and creation can somehow be mixed together to form a better, less offensive theory of origins. The article suggested that we should put evolution and religion on the same shelf together. Let us try it to be fair. The theory of organic evolution was postulated to explain how everything got here through purely natural means -- that is, without any divine help. Creation, on the other hand, explains the origin of the world and life quite differently by referring the reader of the Bible to God, the author of all the universe. Like mixing oil and water, the two do not homogenize well! They are radically opposing viewpoints that have oftentimes caused, and will continue to cause, intense friction and debate between their respective adherents.
As a creationist, this writer believes the scientific evidence all around us (the fossil record, archaeology, etc.) points to creation. We realize that the evolutionist also views the same evidence, and believes it supports evolution. This is his right, as it is our right to believe what we will. But though we may disagree with another's conclusions, it is not acceptable to degrade oneself to the level of mud slinging and name-calling, no matter how frustrated we might be with another's convictions.
Too, one would be wise to make a more thorough study of the Scriptures before he draws a conclusion from them. Logic clearly states that if one begins with a faulty premise, his conclusions will inevitably be faulty. Such is the case with the aforementioned article.