555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

337. Is Celibacy Commanded in the Bible?

Certainly not, and no enforced celibacy was known in the Church until long after the apostolic age. Chry-sostom opposed it, Polycarp, Eusebius, Cyprian, and other early writers mention priestly marriage as a common thing, and in fact, during the first three centuries there is no evidence of celibacy as a rule of clerical life. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) established the rule of celibacy. It originated officially with the edict of Siricius, bishop of Rome (A. D. 385), who argued that the reason why priests in Old Testament times were allowed to marry was that they might be taken exclusively from the tribe of Levi; but as no such exclusive limitation prevailed in the Roman Catholic priesthood, marriage was unnecessary and inconsistent with the priestly office. The Roman bishops who succeeded Siricius sustained this contention and a long line of Popes confirmed it in their decretals. For centuries, however, there was a continuous struggle over it among the Romanist clergy and many lived openly in wedlock in spite of the decrees. Finally, about the sixteenth century it became a fixed rule of the Roman Church. It is a system which ever since its introduction has given rise to many abuses.