Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five* (actually one-hundred and four) Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.
This time, we’ll examine three passages that Armstrong presents as proof-texts for the justification for the mandatory rule of celibacy for Catholic priests:
#100) Matthew 19:12: “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.” (RSVCE)
#101) 1 Corinthians 7:7-9: “7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”
#102) 1 Corinthians 7:32-38: (hyperlinked because of length)
Armstrong writes, “The frequent argument of Protestants on the subject of clerical celibacy is that the Catholic Church makes a requirement out of something that Paul merely recommends. Catholics, so we are told, are guilty once again of smuggling in their ‘traditions of men’ and an alleged animus against sexuality and marriage.” – p. 191. The Catholic apologist then goes on to expound on the “benefits” of an unmarried clergy.
We believers certainly accept that Christians who are given the gift of celibacy are able to devote more of their time and resources to the Lord’s work. If a single person is called to dangerous missionary work, as was Paul, we can especially see why remaining single might be advantageous. In general, being a Christian in the Roman Empire in 50 AD was a dangerous situation and not always conducive to a bucolic setting for the family that most Christians in America enjoy today.
But, in these verses, Paul IS suggesting celibacy rather than REQUIRING it as we can plainly see from other Scripture. Armstrong conveniently leaves out Paul’s letter to Timothy warning of the coming false teachers who would forbid marriage (1 Timothy 4:1-4). He also conveniently omits 1 Corinthians 9:5 which states that Peter and the other apostles were married. In another verse, Paul recommends that candidates for the office of pastor be the husband of only one wife (1 Timothy 3:2).
It’s extremely obvious why Armstrong chose not to include the above Scriptural passages. They directly contradict his arguments in favor of Catholicism’s rule of mandatory clerical celibacy.
It should be noted that the Catholic church accommodated married priests right up until the Second Lateran Council (1139) introduced a general law of celibacy, requiring ordination only of unmarried men.
Because of the Roman church’s mandatory rule of celibacy, Catholic seminaries became magnets and hothouses for sexual deviancy. But today, with Catholicism no longer able to hide its dark secrets being a curtain of privilege, we’re seeing the full flower of enforced celibacy in news headlines and in civil courts where victims of predatory priests are seeking justice and recompense.
It’s ironic that pope Francis and his progressive allies are currently considering the option of ordaining married men to the priesthood in regions where the shortage of priests is becoming severe.
As we discuss the issue of mandatory celibacy for priests, it’s important to keep in mind that the need for mediatory priests and perpetual sacrifice for sin that we see at Catholic masses were abolished by Jesus Christ by His death on the cross and His mediation on behalf of all who trust in Him as their Savior by faith alone.
*Armstrong stated that he would be examining ninety-five passages in this book. It was obviously important to him to cite ninety-five passages to match the number of theses that Martin Luther nailed to the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Saxony in 1517, but there are actually a total one-hundred-and-four passages. What happened? Armstrong didn’t number the passages in the book, so 1) he either used some passages more than once, which I believe I would have caught in my analyses or 2) he lost count and his editor didn’t catch the error.