“Sex, shame and the Catholic Church” was Newsweek’s cover story for March 4th, 2002, subtitled “and new soul-searching across America.” Most are familiar with the Boston scandal. It’s another publicized case of sexual immorality and child abuse among priests. On page 16 of the March 18 issue, in the section on letters to the editor, Newsweek reported, “We received more than 400 letters on our March 4 cover story; most say priests should be able to marry.”
Here lies the heart of the problem. For centuries, Rome’s stand has been that it’s priests must remain unmarried. One writer to Newsweek declared, “The shameful behavior of Catholic priests is rightly exposed and condemned. But no less culpable is a church that demands lifelong suppression of sexual desire by men who wish to serve it. This practice equally deserves to be questioned” (ibid).
The requirement of celibacy upon an entire group of priests is not only personally harmful and socially dangerous, but is also clearly unbiblical. It’s true that Jesus Himself did speak of the gift of celibacy, yet He makes it very clear that this gift is only given to a few, and that “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Matthew 19:10-12). Thus celibacy is entirely voluntary, not required.
Even more pertinent is Paul’s prophetic prediction that some would “depart from the faith” by “forbidding to marry.” 1 Timothy 4:1,3. This Scripture has been perfectly fulfilled by the Roman Catholic Magisterium. The exact words of Scripture are, “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 … forbidding to marry.”
The Bible also says, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). Thus marriage is “honorable” for “all,” especially God’s ministers. Rome’s requirement of celibacy upon its priesthood is not only contrary to Scripture and a fulfillment of prophecy, but is also the sad and underlying cause of the Boston scandal. It is our hope and desire that John Paul himself will come to his senses and reject this unbiblical teaching which is now causing so much heartache and pain.