The Best Reason for Priestly Celibacy You’ve Probably Never Heard

Luca Signorelli, Resurrection of the Flesh (1502)
Luca Signorelli, Resurrection of the Flesh (1502)

As a seminarian, I’m preparing for life as a celibate priest. People know this about Catholic priests, but many of them — both Catholic and non-Catholic — don’t really get it.

A lot of people just fundamentally misunderstand what celibacy is all about. In this category are those who think it’s about a hatred of, or lack of interest in, marriage and sex and family. You’ve got those who suspect the worst, that celibacy exists as a cover for malicious sexual habits, homosexual and/or pedophilic, going on behind the scenes. Then you’ve got those who believe half-cocked historical myths about why celibacy exists: for example, that it was somehow about property rights and primogeniture, as if the parish priest personally owned the parish, and the Church had to invent an elaborate scheme to disinherit his kids. Behind all of this is sometimes anti-Catholic animus, but I suspect that more often it’s genuine confusion.  We know that priests, monks, and nuns are celibate, but why?

This is probably why the conversation so often turns to the fact that clerical celibacy is a discipline, and that some Catholic priests aren’t required to be celibate. People want to know, “well, can the Church change this practice?” precisely because it looks like an arbitrary rule, as if the Church just randomly decided to flex her muscles by banning married men from becoming priests.

In answering this, we Catholics tend to do two things. First, we point out that celibacy is Biblical. St. Paul says that the man who marries does well, while the man who practices celibacy does better (1 Corinthians 7:38). Jesus Christ presents the same teaching in Matthew 19. After praising marriage, and emphasizing its indissolubility (Mt. 19:3-9), He immediately praises celibacy in yet higher terms, saying that “he who is able to receive this, let him receive it” (Mt. 19:10-12). All of this is true, but in isolation, not particularly helpful. Now, instead of looking like an arbitrary Church rule, it looks like an arbitrary Christian teaching.

So we need to give some logical reasons for the Biblical teaching. And that leads to the second part of the usual defense of celibacy: worldly arguments. Marriage creates a set of obligations that will naturally conflict with your ability to give yourself wholly to the priesthood or to monastic life… and a good marriage should create these sort of conflicts. In the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, God intends for you to take on these new duties of caring for your spouse and children.

For monks and nuns, this is simple enough: monasteries and convents would pretty quickly lose their character once the monastic cell was replaced with family living quarters, and the silent cloister was filled with the sounds of children. These are places for people to go and give themselves entirely to the Lord, and it’s not hard to see how familial obligations would complicate that gift of self.

For diocesan priests, you’re also dealing with a religious calling that calls for you to give your whole life. “Office hours” don’t apply when you’re the priest responsible for making sure that the teen in a 4 a.m. car accident has access to the Sacraments before she dies, or meeting with engaged couples after they get off work, or responding to the various family crises that arise amongst your parishioners. It’s impractical to expect priests to split their time between their priesthood and their family, and can even be unfair to those who depend upon the priest (including, in this case, his wife and children).

Don’t get me wrong. These worldly arguments are true, and soundly Biblical. St. Paul takes a very similar approach in 1 Cor. 7:32-35:

The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

Marriage, by its nature, precludes the sort of undivided devotion to the Lord that Paul encourages us towards, and so we can see why celibacy is an ideal for those who can handle it.

But if we focus just upon the worldly arguments, it makes celibacy sound like a purely practical arrangement, and that doesn’t do it justice. Underlying the call for celibacy is a radical argument, quite unlike the worldly arguments that we normally hear: that celibacy points to the Resurrection in a prophetic way.

The first clear hints of this come in Luke 20. The Sadducees, “those who say that there is no resurrection” (Lk. 20:27), pose a mocking question. A woman marries a man, he dies, and she marries one of his brothers, and then another, and then another. All told, she marries seven brothers, each of whom died. This leads to the provocative question “In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife” (Lk. 20:33).

Jesus begins His response with a sweeping statement about marriage and celibacy (Lk. 20:34-36):

The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

In other words, it’s not just an issue of being a celibate “for the Kingdom” (Mt. 19:17). It’s also that the Kingdom is for celibates. Of course, Jesus isn’t saying that marriage is awful or less-than-holy or anything else. Instead, He’s saying that marriage is fleeting.

When you vow to stay married until “death do us part,” that sounds like a lifetime… which, of course, it is. But this life is just the briefest of preludes to eternity. There, all of the saved — whatever their vocations whilst on earth — will enjoy a celibate’s existence, giving themselves totally to God (in a way that we can’t even imagine) and being in full communion with the angels and all of the saints.

And it’s light of the fleeting nature of our earthly life that St. Paul encourages both celibacy and a detachment from worldly and material goods (1 Cor. 7:27-31):

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.

I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.

Celibacy, then, is supposed to remind us of that this world passes away. The priest wears the color associated with death, and lives like a son of the Resurrection. Hopefully, whether or not he’s taken a vow of poverty, he lives out a detachment from the goods of this world, including the good of sacramental marriage.

This is an important piece in the Catholic puzzle, so to speak. We already know (from Ephesians 5:21-30) that the marriage of a man to his wife is an image of Christ’s love for the Church. This shows the other side of the coin: that celibacy also reveals the divine plan, and particularly the life of the world to come. In the words of Andrew Preslar, “Marriage underscores the “already” of the Kingdom of God, while celibacy points towards the “not yet.” ”

 

60 Comments

  1. Hi 🙂 I’m no expert when it comes to exegesis but I don’t think your Scripture choices are actually to be useful for your argument. The Sadducees accepted neither the resurrection of the body, angelic bodies nor the legitimacy of Scripture outside of the torah (someone correct me if I’m fudging details, so Jesus is answering in a tongue in cheek manner. I really don’t think he’s giving us an image of prophetic marriage but rather the foolishness of the Sadducees.
    Secondly, St Paul’s eschatology changes from the early letters to his later as his understanding that the end of the world is probably not arriving at the end of the day and his reverence for marriage as the prophetic vision of Christ and His Bride develops deeper still.
    I am not dissing your arguments but I think tradition gives us a better reason for celibacy (contemplative or missional life) than do the Scripture you’ve addressed here.

    1. The profession with the highest rate of divorce is police, then doctors and then non-Roman pastors. The pressures of family life are staggering. Satan knows that divide and conquer of family is his best weapon.

    2. Stacy, you’re points are valid BUT if we reduce Scripture to the historical context any passage can be written off as not applicable in situations which doesn’t match that same context. This calls into question the inspiration of the Scriptures, at best making them sacred texts because they are revered and not per se sacred, and also the economy of revelation. Dei verbum, the Constitution on Divine Revelation from the Second Vatican Council teaches that there the words of revelation are in harmony with the acts of God’s self revelation in salvation.

      If you read the the whole pericope it is the Sadducees who are being “tongue in cheek” about the question, given the absurdity of the scenario but forth. And then we must deal with the ending “And some of the scribes answered ‘Teacher, you have spoken well.'” For they know longer dared to ask him any question” It seems the Lord’s answer was taken seriously enough to silence them.

      As regards St. Paul, yes, his eschatology did change but the teaching itself must have endured as it the letter was found compatible with the Rule of Faith and admitted to the canon of Scripture. Beyond that we must consider that 1 Cor. is in the corpus of Proto Pauline writings and so is considered to be Paul’s own writing where as Ephesians ( to which I assume you are referring) is deutro Pauline so so in the thought of Paul but not Paul’s writing. I don’t say this to make Ephesians less valid the Corinthians but at the same time I think it does have some bearing. Lastly the exaltation of celibacy in 1 Cor. shouldn’t be placed at odds with the exaltation of marriage in other places in the Pauline corpus.

    1. I was reading Aquinas from the Liturgy of the Hours / Office of the Readings for Saturday of the 33rd week in Ordinary time this morning. I think it addresses your question well:

      Second reading
      From a conference by Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest…

      “I shall be satisfied when your glory is seen

      It is fitting that the end of all our desires, namely eternal life coincides with the words at the end of the creed, “Life everlasting. Amen.”

      The first point about eternal life is that man is united with God. For God himself is the reward and end of all our labors: I am your protector and your supreme reward. This union consists in seeing perfectly: At present we see through a glass, darkly; but then we shall see face to face.

      Next it consists in perfect praise, according to the words of the prophet: Joy and happiness will be found in it, thanksgiving and words of praise.

      It also consists in the complete satisfaction of desire, for there the blessed will be given more than they wanted or hoped for. The reason is that in this life no one can fulfill his longing, nor can any creature satisfy man’s desire. Only God satisfies, he infinitely exceeds all other pleasures. That is why man can rest in nothing but God. As Augustine says: You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our heart can find no rest until it rests in you.

      Since in their heavenly home the saints will possess God completely, obviously their longing will be satisfied, and their glory will be even greater. That is why the Lord says: Enter into the joy of your Lord. Augustine adds: The fullness of joy will not enter into those who rejoice, but those who rejoice will enter into joy. I shall be satisfied when your glory is seen, and again: He who satisfies your desire with good things.

      Whatever is delightful is there in superabundance. If delights are sought, there is supreme and most perfect delight. It is said of God, the supreme good: Boundless delights are in your right hand.

      Again, eternal life consists of the joyous community of all the blessed, a community of supreme delight, since everyone will share all that is good with all the blessed. Everyone will love everyone else as himself, and therefore will rejoice in another’s good as in his own. So it follows that the happiness and joy of each grows in proportion to the joy of all.”

  2. What does 1 Corinthians 7:38 mean? Is the “he” the “father” or the “groom”?

    Compare

    “Therefore, both he that giveth his virgin in marriage, doth well; and he that giveth her not, doth better.”
    ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:38‬ ‭DRC1752‬‬

    “And so, he who joins with his virgin in matrimony does well, and he who does not join with her does better.”
    ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:38‬ ‭CPDV‬‬

    1. My understanding is that the Greek is ambiguous (just as the English phrase “if you’ve got a girl…” could refer to a father having a daughter or a man having a girlfriend), but the context seems to point to it being for a man contemplating marriage with his beloved. If you look at the broader context of vv. 36-38, it says (in the RSVCE):

      “If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.”

      The bit about “passions” and “desire” are what lead me to the conclusion that it’s about a man and his betrothed, because Paul doesn’t seem to be talking about the desire of a father to see his daughter well-wed. This is also the interpretation of St. John Chrysostom and others.

      1. I guess back then people had a spouse picked out for them. I believe that parents of martyrs, virgins, those who take holy orders, and saints are blessed and honored in the here-after.

  3. Excellent observation, Joe! My best friend is a priest who also happens to be my only living relative. I used to be a DRE & am privileged to count several priests & a couple of archbishops among my friends. The demands on these men are much like those of a parent. It’s a 24/7, 365 days a year, job when it’s done according to the teachings of the Church. Sadly, many priests these days want to treat the priesthood as a job; it’s not. It’s a vocation. You can’t keep “office hours” & have even one day a week “off.” I have little respect for such priests. Like parenthood, it’s usually a thankless task filled with sacrifice. I remember talking with a former college classmate who’d been ordained & assigned to our parish. It was after Sunday Mass & several of us were visiting in the parking lot after Mass while our kids ran around & played. This priest made a comment about only getting one day a week off. I looked at him & said, “I haven’t had even an hour off in seven years; why do you think you deserve an entire day off every week?” The other parents clapped. It’s a lifetime of love & service!

    1. “Et dimissa turba ascendit in montem solus orare. Vespere autem facto solus erat ibi.”
      And the crowds being dismissed, He went up onto the mountain alone to pray. When evening was made (when it was evening), He was alone there. (Matthew 14:23)

      “I have little respect for such priests.”

      Canon Law actually requires that priests go on a retreat at least once a year (same for us seminarians). The bishop of my diocese even requires the priests to take a day off once a week (sometimes it doesn’t happen, some assignments are busier than others, but it is an actual requirement).

      To put it in the words of St. Charles Borromeo: “Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You have to be mindful of your people without becoming forgetful of yourself.” He is not saying that this is an opportunity to goof off, kick back, and be lazy–but he is saying that a break/a day off/a retreat/a private Holy Hour is essential to the life of a priest. If you don’t have a chance for your personal prayer life, how can you really be giving yourself?

    2. Sue,

      I’d echo what A. Fisher said. Joseph Piper does a good job, in his book Leisure: The Basis of Culture of showing the ugliness and insanity of the our secular culture’s view that your worth is defined by your ability to work yourself to the breaking point. God offers a healthy and more human alternative by insisting that we take a day off every week, an order written into Creation itself (see, e.g., Genesis 2:1-2; Exodus 20:8-11).

      It’s true that, due to the breakdown of the family and the community, many mothers feel themselves all alone and like they have to do everything. But that’s the problem, not that other people getting the rest that they need. I think your frustration towards the priest is misdirected, and on this point, the Bible is pretty clear.

      One of the most frequent problems within the priesthood is that priests are pushed to work harder and harder, and make less and less time for prayer, until they spiritually snap (this is illustrated movingly in Edwin O’Connor’s The Edge of Sadness. It doesn’t make any sense to do this, particularly if it’s just motivated out of unholy jealousy and a sense that since you don’t get a day off, nobody should.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S. Obviously, none of what I’ve said is intended to whitewash the fact that there are lazy priests and poor shepherds. St. Augustine has harsh words for such men. But we need to navigate between the two extremes of workaholic-headed-towards-burnout and slothful-apathetic shepherd. The Code of Canon Law points us towards a via media recognizing that priests need to work hard and pour themselves out, but also that they need to be spiritually replenished and need to avoid burnout:

      “Can. 276 §1. In leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to pursue holiness since, having been consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the service of His people.

      §2. In order to be able to pursue this perfection:

      §2.1/ they are first of all to fulfill faithfully and tirelessly the duties of the pastoral ministry;

      §2.2/ they are to nourish their spiritual life from the two-fold table of sacred scripture and the Eucharist; therefore, priests are earnestly invited to offer the eucharistic sacrifice daily and deacons to participate in its offering daily;

      §2.3/ priests and deacons aspiring to the presbyterate are obliged to carry out the liturgy of the hours daily according to the proper and approved liturgical books; permanent deacons, however, are to carry out the same to the extent defined by the conference of bishops;

      §2.4/ they are equally bound to make time for spiritual retreats according to the prescripts of particular law;

      §2.5/ they are urged to engage in mental prayer regularly, to approach the sacrament of penance frequently, to honor the Virgin Mother of God with particular veneration, and to use other common and particular means of sanctification.”

      1. Well written and well answered as always, Joe.

        I am no longer an “active duty” parent, having been promoted by the Grace of God to ‘Nana’ status. However, if I might add, I hear in Sue’s reply the voice of an exhausted Mommy. I recall being SOOO exhausted and overwhelmed at one point, as a stay-at-home mother to two in diapers, that I considered jumping off a low balcony….not to commit suicide, but to break a leg and get some HELP and rest (My much-loved husband was in the Army and gone, gone a LOT and for long stretches, and we were in a foreign country!)

        I cannot speak for Sue, but the thought of having any time to recharge was awfully appealing then, and I would not have had any time to even pray save for nursing the baby and in the bathtub after they were [finally!] down for the night. It is a tough gig that seems like it will never end, but, of course, children grow and then leave us.

        I think this sort of exhaustion may be playing into Sue’s thought process. It looks so quiet and civilized to be in Holy Orders, and many a day then I rued my decision that God was not really calling ME to celibacy as a nun. I don’t think she really believes that priests-or anyone else-should work themselves into crazed exhaustion.

        Love the exogenesis of the article. Always glad of heart when I visit here and find a new entry!! <3

        1. Yes, I agree. And I would add that parents should take breaks when possible to avoid burn out. Even if it’s just 10 minutes of letting someone else handle the baby while you soak in the tub, it’s better than pushing yourself to the point of neglecting your own spiritual and physical needs. It’s easier as children age (built in baby sitters) to get away and couples should do that too. Children are the fruit of a marriage, but a marriage is a vocation that has to be nurtured and worked on. One should not allow ones vocation to languish because of children. But I’m one to talk, since we’ve had all this holiday prep going on, my husband and I haven’t been able to go on a date for a while. We’re planning on squeezing one at some point soon. That said, we have been able to get some “me” time, which has helped avoid burn out.

  4. In eastern rites and among the eastern orthodox (and among many protestant denominations) there is a partnership between the priest/pastor and his wife, and both have a role in serving the congregation. And in some dioceses I could mention, it’s obvious that many priests have a “career” mentality, jealously guarding their two days off, their month of vacation time, etc. They cover each other for sick calls so that they are on call about as often as a physician. I am sure that the occasional priest really does live the ideal life described by the author, but in practice, priests seem to have more free time than most married people with kids. Our church needs to look seriously at this question, because we’ve already seen that married clergy (episcopal priest converts) function very well despite family obligations.

    1. The ancient practice of the Church allowed priests to be ordained from among married men, but the Church in both East and West has also, from ancient times, understood celibacy to be the more appropriate state for a priest. Bishops were chosen from among unmarried clergy, and the discipline of continence before offering holy Mass (in some places, perpetual, and in other places for periods of up to 72 hours before Mass) was expected as well. So the Church, even in the East, has proposed priestly celibacy from early days.

      To your point about priests you know having a lot of free time: I cannot dispute your anecdotal evidence, but I can offer my own. In my experience, priests have far less free time than most other people. Seminarians are quite busy in the midst of studies, and we expect to be far busier (based on the testimony of our recently-ordained older brothers) once we’re finished with studies. I also know priests who do not work hard–the clerical life can be very comfortable, especially for one who does not invest himself in his office–but I know far more priests who pour themselves out in their ministry.

    2. Donald,

      See my response to Sue, above. I don’t doubt that there are careerist and lazy priests, but my general experience has been the opposite of what yours appears to have been. Canon law calls for priests to work hard, but also to take time for retreats and even vacation. Other than jealousy or spite, I don’t see much reason to oppose this.

      If your local baseball team insisted that the same pitcher go out there every game, that wouldn’t benefit him or the team — it would be purely destructive. Working priests to the bones unnecessarily (just because the people of God feel overburdened, so the priest should, too), makes no more sense.

      I’m particularly baffled by your complaint that priests cover each other for sick calls: why wouldn’t that be exactly what we want?

      I.X.,

      Joe

  5. This is a beautiful argument that makes a lot of sense, but it glosses over some reality and ignores a quite blatant counterexample.

    First, claiming that one has to be celibate to give oneself “totally to God” is false, because otherwise we’d be claiming married couples could not become saints: we know that, in fact, by loving his wife a man becomes holy, and she by loving her husband, and that in exercising charity towards each other it is towards God that they ultimately exercise it. I find it dangerous to make generalizations about the holiness of various states of life.

    I’ll note as well that marriage itself is not a particular vocation such as priesthood, lay celibacy or religious life; it is a PARTICULAR marriage that is a particular vocation. I am not “called to marriage,” if I am not called to priesthood or religious life, I am called to a PARTICULAR woman, she is my “vocation.” If I DO have a call to lay celibacy, it will by a particular state of lay celibacy; if to religious life it will be to a particular community. St. Francis, for example, was not called to celibacy in general, he was called to the Franciscan order. No other celibacy would have suited for him (we know this because he was Franciscan, what’s more it made him holy).

    The counterexample is simply the Eastern Catholic Churches, whose diocesan priests have no problem marrying, serving in ministry and becoming holy doing so. And only a schismatic can argue that their theology is incompatible with ours. So there’s no theological argument for our tradition (that’s what it is, a tradition, and a quite idiosyncratic one) of celibacy for our secular clerics.

    That being said, I see no reason for changing the tradition.

    The call to religious life, even outside our own religion, precludes celibacy, so clearly here there’s a strong theological argument, even one on the basis of natural law! But I insist, this argument doesn’t apply to celibacy in secular clergy, only to those called to particular celibacy as secular celibates, lay celibates or religious celibates.

    1. Gabriel,

      I’m not trying to saying anything more, regarding commitment to God, than what St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35:

      “I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

      The married often serve God in serving their spouse and family, while the celibate are called to serve God in a more direct way. Both are beautiful, but the latter is a more perfect image of what all souls will experience in Heaven.

      You’re right that while your general vocation might be “to marriage,” your specific vocation is to marry a particular person. But the same is true in religious life or the priesthood. You’re called to a particular order or diocese, and that lived experience can vary as widely as the experience of two different husbands. A Cistercian wouldn’t necessarily make a good Franciscan wouldn’t necessarily make a good diocesan priest, etc.

      And by no means am I knocking married Catholic priests, either Eastern or Western. I’m just pointing out the solid reasons for the general Western praxis of clerical celibacy, a praxis preserved in the East in both monasteries and the episcopacy.

      I.X.,

      Joe

  6. Gabriel,

    You say, “claiming that one has to be celibate to give oneself “totally to God” is false”. The article makes no such claims. Therefore, you are knocking down a strawman. The article simply shows how celibacy points to the Resurrection as a better reason than worldly arguments.

    You also say, “The counterexample is simply the Eastern Catholic Churches, whose diocesan priests have no problem marrying, serving in ministry and becoming holy doing so.” And that is because celibacy is not for everyone:

    “The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

    He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” (Matthew 19:10-12)

    The argument is not that celibacy makes better or holier priests, but rather that it is a sign pointing the way to God.

  7. Nice article. I am more drawn to the practical arguments in 1 Cor 7, but it is true I have not heard of the argument you gave. Among Protestants, celibacy is mostly looked down upon. It is probably why we are splitting over gay marriage. A religion that encourages celibacy has no problem saying, “Be celibate.” A religion that puts sex on a pedestal doesn’t have the intellectual constructs really to respond to the issue with much else than hate.

    I lived celibate in every sense of the word for years before getting married. I don’t know about some people, but I think it got easier the older I got. I believe that this is the grace of God. For this reason, I do not believe that those who oppose celibacy really know what they are talking about. Those who speak of it as impossible or supposedly leading to perversion do not know the power of God and probably have never fasted from sexual activity for any length of time to see His hand in sustaining those who trust in Him.

    1. Craig,

      I think your insight regarding celibacy and gay marriage is right on the money. I’d add to it those who are rendered involuntarily celibate because of marital situation (e.g., a woman’s husband walks out on her after years of marriage), although I note grimly that this is a situation that most Protestant denominations have already buckled on.

      Jesus mentions three reasons for celibacy: the way you’re born, something that’s happened to you, or for the sake of the Kingdom. But there’s a sort of spiritual camaraderie that can exist between people who fall into these groups. I’ve found, in the past, that I have more credibility to speak about celibacy to those (for example) struggling with same-sex attractions because I’m not calling them to anything that I’m not also living myself.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. If your argument is that you are a more credible minister to people with same sex attraction by virtue of your celibate life, then there are two sides to that coin. There are very many Catholic couples who don’t listen to the Church’s teachings and advice because they think the clergy has no practical knowledge of marriage. Frankly, although they’re not justified, they have a point. Priests don’t have practical knowledge of marriage and are therefore less credible family ministers.

        And even if you did start ordaining married men to the priesthood, you’d still have plenty of celibate priests. So I see the point of credible ministry as a strong argument for married ordination, without even a balancing negative.

        1. Paul,

          There are married Deacons, and elders within churches that can give marital advice. The Body is more than a Priest, so I don’t find that argumentation compelling.

          God bless,
          Craig

          1. All well and good, but the priests are the public face of the Church, the people that churchgoers look to for Christian example and guidance. Most parishes don’t have deacons, and people who are not involved with a parish but just go to mass won’t know these “elders.” We can say the Church consists of more than just the priests, which is true, but the reality is that in the current model of Church governance, priests are universally the leaders of the local community, and fill roles that others just don’t.

            Perhaps if there were to be a revival of the deaconate, I would agree with you.

        2. Paul,

          It’s more an issue of not calling people to a higher standard than what you are yourself living. It’s a matter of credibility more than just empathy.

          I also don’t buy the idea that priests don’t have practical knowledge of marriage. Not only did they grow up in families and see the marriages of their siblings up close, they also give marriage counsel to hundreds of couples, and hear the confessions of married people on the regular. All told, they’ve got more of a sense of what marriage looks like up close than does the married person just extrapolating from their own experience. Obviously, married priests have both experiences, and I’m not discounting that at all, but the idea that celibate priests don’t have practical experience with marriage (or that this is why couples ignore inconvenient parts of the Gospel) is sort of laughable.

          I.X.,

          Joe

          1. Thanks Joe, I am familiar with that argument from JPII’s “Love and Responsibility,” and think it has merit, but it doesn’t change the fact that celibate priests don’t have personal experience with marriage, and you can’t say that just observing is the same thing. Do I know what it’s like to be a priest, or how to be a good priest, because I know a lot of priests? I can perhaps observe which priests are better and why they’re better, but not having walked that road myself, if someone wanted advice on how to become a good priest, I wouldn’t be the best person to advise on that. I would refer him to a good priest who I knew could give first hand advice.

            Can you think of any other instance where we would say it’s better to get advice from someone with second hand knowledge of a subject rather than first hand knowledge? Personally, I can’t think of any. And if not, then it seems your argument is just contrived to defend the institution of celibacy.

          2. Paul,

            An obvious example would be the difference between a player and a coach. We don’t reject the coach’s advice because he isn’t playing the game, and the fact that someone is a player (even a great player) doesn’t mean that they’re going to be any good as a coach.

            I.X.,

            Joe

          3. Paul says:
            November 24, 2015 at 12:47 pm
            No we don’t, but we don’t hire coaches who have never played the game. Bad example.

            And coaches don’t walk in “persona Christi” either. Unless they happen to be Priests of God most High.

            Perhaps you don’t believe in the Spiritual element of the Holy Priesthood. Is that it?

            2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

            Or do you think that Priests who are counseling married couples are not also consulting God?

          4. Priests can “consult God” the same way that any Christian can. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a teaching of the Council of Trent? What unique line of communication with God do priests have that other Christians don’t, and how does this unique line give them knowledge of married life that laity can only get through living a married life?

          5. Paul says:
            November 25, 2015 at 9:27 pm
            Priests can “consult God” the same way that any Christian can.

            The same way? Up to now I thought I was talking to a Catholic.

            No, not the same way. Priests walk in persona Christi. They are ambassadors of Christ in a special way. They’re walking on a higher spiritual plane.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a teaching of the Council of Trent?

            No.

            TRENT
            SEVENTH SESSION
            CHAPTER IV

            On the Ecclesiastical hierarchy, and on Ordination.

            But, forasmuch as in the sacrament of Order, as also in Baptism and Confirmation, a character is imprinted, which can neither be effaced nor taken away; the holy Synod with reason condemns the opinion of those, who assert that the priests of the New Testament have only a temporary power; and that those who have once been rightly ordained, can again become laymen, if they do not exercise the ministry of the word of God. And if any one affirm, that all Christians indiscrimately are priests of the New Testament, or that they are all mutually endowed with an equal spiritual power, he clearly does nothing but confound the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is as an army set in array; as if, contrary to the doctrine of blessed Paul, all were apostles, all prophets, all evangelists, all pastors, all doctors.

            Canon 10. If anyone says that all Christians have the power to administer the word and all the sacraments,[5] let him be anathema.

            What unique line of communication with God do priests have that other Christians don’t,

            It is a higher order of grace. They are the quintessential, spiritual man, whom no one can judge but God.

            1 Corinthians 2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

            and how does this unique line give them knowledge of married life that laity can only get through living a married life?

            1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

            1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

        1. Craig,

          It would include that, but not be limited to it. If your wife were to walk out on you one day (God forbid!), you would remain married to one another in the eyes of God. So neither of you would be free to marry. And if either of you contracted a “marriage,” it wouldn’t be valid, and you wouldn’t be able to morally engage in the marital act – it would be adultery, as Our Lord says in Mark 10:11-12. So both of you, short of reunion, would be bound to celibacy until death do you part.

          Within a great many Protestant denominations, there’s not just widespread divorce-and-remarriage on the ground (the highest of any religious group, if I’m not mistaken, although a lot of Catholics do poorly on this count, as well), but actual theological cover provided by the religious authorities who should be calling them to the Biblical standard.So, for example, Assemblies of God claims that divorce and remarriage is sometimes acceptable, and that the initial covenant is somehow dissolved: “Remarriage is a new contract or covenant. Even though the first covenant, because of sin, did not endure, the new covenant must be treated with all the love, commitment, and permanence the first marriage contract should have received.”

          I.X.,

          Joe

          1. Good point, and I would agree and compelled to do so by the Scripture. John Piper (Reformed Baptist) actually takes the view that the Greek term “pornea” does not even permit divorce over adultery, so while some Protestants would remain conservative on this issue, the majority are not.

            The Bible does not say, “Remain married, unless your spouse is really crummy.” We get emotional arguments about physical and “emotional” abuse, but the Scripture is exceedingly clear that there is no divorce other than for reasons of sexual perversion, whatever that exactly means.

          2. Craig,

            You won’t hear me say this often, but John Piper is right on the money. “Porneia” means “fornication” (and more broadly, referred to illicit marriages and incest) and not just “sexual immorality.” It never means “adultery” in Scripture, for example.

            I’ve written on this several times: most recently here, but going back to posts like this one, and this one and this one.

            The “fornication” Jesus mentions in Matthew’s Gospel isn’t a man cheating on his wife (or vice versa). It’s when the couple themselves are engaged in fornication because their marriage isn’t valid… e.g., same-sex couples, divorced-and-remarried couples, incestuous couples, etc.: anyone whose “marriage” is a sham.

            I.X.,

            Joe

  8. Joe, this is a great reason for celibacy, and there can be no question that there’s a strong veneration of the celibate life in the Christian tradition. The challenging point here though is that while this is a good reason for celibacy, there is nothing about it that is specific to the clerical vocation. The logic behind celibacy pointing toward the Resurrection applies equally well to all Christians, so it doesn’t explain why celibacy should be necessary for the clergy but not for the laity.

    1. As you note, nuns and monks are celibate as well, and they are lay people as well, who have undertaken a life of celibacy as their vocation. Now, in Catholic culture, priests, monks and nuns are commonly lumped together into the category of “religious vocations”, but this amalgamation obscures the fact that priesthood and monasticism are completely different institutions, and the practices and disciplines of one don’t necessarily apply to the other. We need to look at the reasons these institutions exist for a specific group of Christians, whether monks, nuns, priests, men, women, etc. Again, you’ve identified a reason for celibacy, but have not said why it should apply specifically to priests.

    2. Priestly celibacy (and the celibacy of the monastic/religious state) is a sign of the resurrection, not the reality. In heaven, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage”, so that all the saved will be “in the same boat” as it were. But that does not mean that all Christian disciples must therefore be celibate now, in this age. It is good for some Christians–particularly those who are called to particular roles of pointing out the Kingdom–to be celibate, in order to serve as signs of the Church’s hope in the Resurrection. Thus, clerical celibacy is a particularly appropriate institution, although it is not strictly necessary.

      We form one Church, one Body of Christ, and so all the parts of the Body benefit from the legitimate differences between them. A hand is not an eye, and it is not required to be an eye, nor should it be. But the hand benefits from the eye’s ability to see, as the eye benefits from the hand’s ability to work. In the same way, the whole Body–married, ordained, religious–benefits from the sign of celibacy, even though not all are required to be celibate.

      1. “It is good for some Christians–particularly those who are called to particular roles of pointing out the Kingdom–to be celibate, in order to serve as signs of the Church’s hope in the Resurrection. THUS, clerical celibacy is a particularly appropriate institution, although it is not strictly necessary.” [emphasis added]

        This is a non-sequitur. The facts that:

        1) it is good for some Christians to be celibate,
        2) celibacy is a particular role in the witness to the Kingdom, and
        3) the priestly vocation is a particular role in the witness to the Kingdom

        do not imply or prove that priests should or must be celibate.

    3. Paul says:
      November 22, 2015 at 2:47 pm
      Joe, this is a great reason for celibacy, and there can be no question that there’s a strong veneration of the celibate life in the Christian tradition. The challenging point here though is that while this is a good reason for celibacy, there is nothing about it that is specific to the clerical vocation.

      It is precisely because it is not “specific” to the clerical vocation that it makes so much sense.

      1 Corinthians 7:32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

      The logic behind celibacy pointing toward the Resurrection applies equally well to all Christians, so it doesn’t explain why celibacy should be necessary for the clergy but not for the laity.

      It isn’t meant to be “necessary” for the clergy and not for the laity (there are married clergy even in the Catholic Church). It is intended as a sign to all of the “right now” of the religious life. Which is that it is a foretaste of heaven, where none are given in marriage. But all are completely dedicated to God most high.

      Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

  9. Let’s get to the point. The entire purpose of the institution of the priesthood is sacramental ministry. Christ specifically endowed only priests with the faculty to administer the sacraments. Any other role that priests play, including parish management, counseling, etc., can be performed by lay Christians, and frequently is.

    The four relevant sacraments here are the Eucharist, Confession, Confirmation and Unction (only bishops administer orders and baptisms and marriage witness can be administered by deacons or laity). So, the question pro-celibacy people need to answer is why the function of sacramental ministry in particular should require or specifically benefit from a celibate minister.

    1. The profession that has the highest rate of divorce are police, second doctors and third non-Roman Catholic pastors. Dividing your time with your family and your profession is the biggest cause. Roman Catholic Pastors are 24/7 for the church and the flock/sheep.

    2. Paul says:
      November 23, 2015 at 12:42 am
      Let’s get to the point.

      Ok.

      The entire purpose of the institution of the priesthood is sacramental ministry.

      False.
      Romans 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

      Christ specifically endowed only priests with the faculty to administer the sacraments.

      True. But that is not the entire purpose for their institution. It is the highest purpose.

      Any other role that priests play, including parish management, counseling, etc., can be performed by lay Christians, and frequently is….

      And? What’s the point that you said you were going to get to?

      Certainly, lay people can do many things in the Church. But as for me, I prefer a blessing from a Priest to one from a lay person, because I am more certain that the blessing will flow through the man who walks in the person of Christ. I prefer spiritual counseling from a Priest than from a lay person for the same reason.

      Or what? Are you trying to say that lay people are as holy as Priests? Who is the judge of holiness? You?

      What precisely is the point you’re trying to make?

  10. This scripture from Revelations 14: 1-5 should shed some light on the value that God places on the virtue of celibacy:

    The Lamb and the 144,000

    “And I beheld, and lo a lamb stood upon mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty-four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the noise of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder; and the voice which I heard, was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps. 3 And they sung as it were a new canticle, before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the ancients; and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand, who were purchased from the earth. 4 These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb: 5 And in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God.

    If the Lord is for celibacy, who should be against it?

    And, by the way, pretty much the whole of Western civilization after the fall of the Roman Empire was both built on, and supported by, the institution of Catholic monasticism, wherein the bible also was preserved and transcribed for so many centuries until the invention of the printing press. And, of course, this was the fruit of the virtue of celibacy through all of those many centuries.

    The Lord also says in the Gospel:

    “For there is no good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit; nor an evil tree that bringeth forth good fruit. [44] For every tree is known by its fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns; nor from a bramble bush do they gather the grape. [45] A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil.” (Luke 6:43)

    The ‘good fruits’ of the celibate life is easily ‘seen’ in a good reading of Church history. And the lives and writings of multitudes of canonized saints also testify to this.

  11. Ok, help me here Joe. At the sign of peace i feel compelled to treat everyone the same. I extend my hand to them. Now my wife wants to kiss but i told her no. i said, “At that point in the Mass we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and as such you are not my wife, my kids are not my kids but we are all equal as brothers and sisters. Equal in God’s eye and in reality for eternity.” My wife thinks this is phoeey. What say you?

    1. The sign of peace was also referred to as the Kiss of Peace. In the older form of the Mass (Extra-ordinary Form), the only ones using the Sign of the Peace are the clergy. The laity don’t do anything. So I personally don’t see anything wrong with kissing your wife. In some cultures, you kiss cheeks as a sign of greeting rather than just shaking hands. I suppose it’s a matter of how you wish to reconcile with your wife or rather how your wife wishes to show her reconciliation with you. Of course that’s up to you. Joe may have his own thoughts on the matter.

  12. Joe,

    You wrote this above:

    “Then you’ve got those who believe half-cocked historical myths about why celibacy exists: for example, that it was somehow about property rights and primogeniture, as if the parish priest personally owned the parish, and the Church had to invent an elaborate scheme to disinherit his kids.”

    I’ve heard this argument a lot (from Catholics mostly) and am wondering what resources you have read to understand the true history to this myth better? Or have you considered writing a post on it?

    Thanks.

  13. Since the time of Jesus and the first apostles, virginity is a sign of sanctity and holiness. That is why the Mother of God is called not only Blessed Mary, but the Blessed Virgin Mary. Behold, a virgin shall conceive… because she is holy and pure. Catholics see the Church not only as a Mother, but a Virgin Mother like the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is Holy because God himself created her. She was not created by unholy human hands. It is therefore just and right that She is served by a priesthood of male virgins.

    In the OT, the Levitical order required its priests to practice sexual continence before, during, and after their assigned schedule to administer the temple rituals. In other words, God commands his priests to be pure and holy when fulfilling their priestly obligations. It is therefore unthinkable that as Jesus offered the Sacrifice at Calvary, when he acted both as priest and victim, was not celibate. It is also unthinkable that Catholic priests who act as “Alter Christus” when offering the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass, are not required to be celibate.

    Protestantism, because it is a man-made philosophy, has lost all sense of things pure and holy because it rejected our Holy Mother Church and her priesthood. Attacking the celibacy of Catholic priests has been a staple of Protestant propaganda for the last 500 years. This is not just an afterthought of the sexual revolution that came out a few decades ago.

    Jesus said that some have made themselves “eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom”. The vow of chastity is a gift of God that is not offered to all, but only to those who are chosen. That is why he adds, “he who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

    The problem with the anti-celibacy critics is that they do not want those who are able to accept the vow of chastity to accept them. These are the anti-Christs. This is like listening to those skinny and limp guys in the gym who can barely lift 50 lbs criticize those who can lift 300 lbs. As anyone who has tried lifting 300 lbs, the feat requires a discipline you don’t need when lifting 50 lbs.

    And offering the Sacrifice of the Mass according to God’s demands is much heavier than lifting 300 lbs or more. Those who have rejected Christ and his Church don’t get this.

    1. All very good points, Rico. I love deep analysis of scripture as you provide here!

      I might add that even as it is said of the prophet Samuel: ” ..and the Lord was with him, and not one of his words fell to the ground.” (1 Kings 3:19), and Jesus also taught “… that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.”, so too, priests that preach the word of God must guard their words that flow from their mouths in a likewise manner, so as to promote in the most effective way the Kingdom of God. And, celibacy aids in this work of guarding ones tongue, as habitual purity leads to a more disciplined mind and charitable soul, with less of the hormonal and spiritual disruptions that naturally accompany the sexual act and passions. Even for married Christians, sexual continence is a very valuable virtue necessary for living a holy and happy life. It helps greatly to focus the mind and spirit in prayer and communion with God.

  14. Now, with regards to that canard hurled by anti-celibacy critics: “Unmarried priests have no idea what it’s like to be married” the unspoken conclusion is of course “therefore, unless they marry they should not … (Fill in the blanks with one’s pet peeve)”. This complaint is as old as the Catholic Church itself.

    Back in the old days, that is, about 1,700 years ago, most of the available men who could be called to the priesthood were married men. But once they were ordained, they “ceased to be husbands” to their wives. Eventually, a question arose: if the wife of a bishop dies, can he remarry? The scriptures say “a bishop must be the husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2) so technically, he could marry again, right? But our Holy Mother Church said “no”, therefore, he cannot. She says that the death of a wife is not an excuse to remarry. “One wife” really means one wife, and the dead wife is included in the counting.

    Here we must revisit sola scriptura. Our Holy Mother Church is not a fan of sola scriptura, which is nothing but a lame 16th century invention used to justify the rebellion of her haughty children. She gave us the Bible, therefore, she alone knows what it truly means at the right place, at the right time, and for the right issues. But her rebellious children would not acknowledge this hard fact.

    In the Eastern tradition, “the Persian Church (which was outside the Byzantine Empire and became Nestorian) did, however, legislate, in the late fifth century, explicitly against the practice of clerical marital continence, at the same time authorizing those already in orders to contract marriage. The Council of Mar Acacius (486), which ratified a similar decision of the Council of Beth Lafath (484), recognized the antiquity of these traditions of celibacy, but abrogated them, rather than as in the West, try to reinforce them. The Council did this in an effort to eradicate or regularize clerical incontinence.”

    Priestly celibacy in patristics and in the history of the Church
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cclergy/documents/rc_con_cclergy_doc_01011993_chisto_en.html

    When the Persian Church legislated against priestly celibacy, the Church had already existed for 500 years, and outlawing the practice is a tacit admission it was a long-held tradition among the Eastern churches. We can be sure that one of the excuses for outlawing it was because “unmarried priests have no idea what it’s like to be married”. As a shameless papist myself, I would be extremely surprised if they had not thought of that.

    Those who separate themselves from the True Vine eventually wither and die. The Persian Church was consequently swallowed up by the heretical Nestorians.

    1. Thanks, Rico, for the nuggets of Christian History, and the excellent link. I haven’t paid much attention to the history of celibacy before. I just took it for granted that it was an extremely holy, and admirable, part of the Catholic faith. I never considered that anybody would really object to it considering that Jesus Himself was celibate.

      1. Hi awlms! Thanks for your comments… The verses you quoted in Revelations 14 were actually good. I myself had forgotten all about them. Perhaps you could expound more on verses 4-5 when you get the chance… 🙂

        1. Hi Rico, I’ll do my best with what I’ve got.

          “And I beheld, and lo a lamb stood upon mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty-four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads.”

          I believe 144,000 is symbolic for a very great multitude of virginal souls throughout the ages, such as was St. John the Apostle who was also the guardian of the great mother of Christ, the ‘holy Virgin’ Mary, after the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. The souls of these types of ‘celibates’ can today be found in places such as cloistered monasteries. When you talk with such cloistered souls they have a distinct charisma, and spiritual beauty, that is undeniable in it’s holy character. I personally know some such souls, cloistered nuns, who live in the ‘Monastery of Perpetual Adoration’ in San Francisco, California. Their holiness, charity, simplicity, love for Christ, tranquility, hopefulness, innocence, and friendliness all demonstrate them as being very close to the description, from Rev 14 : “These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb”. And that they have prayed before Jesus in 24 hour Eucharistic adoration in this monastery since the 1930’s, demonstrates well what ‘following the Lamb’ literally means for some such cloistered souls..

          “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the noise of many waters, and as the voice of great thunder; and the voice which I heard, was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps. 3 And they sung as it were a new canticle”

          ‘A new canticle’, I believe, is sung by every truly Christian soul when he prays in the depth of his heart ‘in spirit and in truth’ to The eternal and Loving God and Father, and to Jesus Christ His eternal Son. But it is ESPECIALLY sung by those multitudes of monastics, or priestly, celibates who have given everything they have to follow God, and Lamb, with all of their hearts, souls, minds and strength.

          ” before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the ancients; and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand, who were purchased from the earth.”

          Again, true monks, nuns, priests and hermits, have a very distinct relationship with God. They are ‘first fruits’, and are of the highest quality of Christian persons. And also, among others, they are the ones who literally ‘sell everything they have’ and purchase the ‘pearl of great price’, and devote themselves to God in poverty, chastity and obedience in monastic communities or religious orders. And others, such as the lay faithful also can commune with and witness their great faith and devotion for God when they visit and converse with them. And some priests, also, are like monks, when their focus is particularly on deep prayer and devotion; and their charism is visible when they perform their holy ministry both at Mass and in ‘the confessional’.

          “And in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God.”

          These souls are undeniably trustworthy. When you meet them they inspire great confidence, and in manner of speaking, you can ‘see’ God ‘through them’.

          For those who have never visited a Catholic cloistered monastery…..I think they should. This is where I believe most of these 144,000 (an enormous multitude) live, and have lived, throughout the centuries. For those who don’t have a monastery nearby you might want to read the lives of the ‘desert fathers’. It’s not really the same as meeting holy souls personally, but can give a good idea of the special character, and holiness, of cloistered monks and nuns. Here is a good link on the ‘Desert Fathers’ for those interested:

          http://www.vitae-patrum.org.uk/page2.html

          Rico, maybe you can give you’re exegesis on this scripture?

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