Celibacy In The Middle Age

Decent Essays

Throughout the centuries, there have been many debates about the idea of celibacy among priests. This was especially prevalent during the Middle Ages. Clergy were meant to "remain above reproach by avoiding 'suspicious' women and, for those vowing celibacy, by living chaste." For priests, this entailed that they could neither get married nor have a relation with a concubine. If priests did not listen to certain councils in the Roman Catholic Church, such as The Second Lateran Council in 1139 C.E., they would be "stripped of their office and benefice, arguing 'it is unbecoming that they give themselves up to marriage and impurity.'” This statement stemmed from the Jewish community in the Old Testament and the early Christian community New …show more content…

It was common for "priests of the Old Law abstain from their wives during their period of service in the temple coupled with, for example, the expectation that the same demand was made of participants in a holy war, lent weight to the assertion that there was a link between sacred function, the encounter with the divine, and moral purity." Men were thought to be more clean if they refrained from seeing their wives during holy events. For instance, in Exodus Chapter nineteen, "and he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives." This passage comes after Moses came down from the mountain, when he prepared the people to meet God after he sanctified them. A similar passage occurs in first Samuel when "David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel." In order to receive the sanctified bread, the men again would have had to abandon their women for three days. One can see that men were allowed to marry, but sacred rites had them abstain from their wives. However, there were limitations on the Levites with whom they could marry, as "it was forbidden for a priest to marry a woman who had been divorced, or who had been a prostitute, 'for he is …show more content…

Although there is no clear directive about the sanctity of marriage in the New Testament, many councils based their decisions on celibacy from the gospel writers. Paul, for example, "counseled a moderate approach. Stopping short of suggesting that sexual relations within marriage were in any way defiling, Paul portrayed marriage, like much human activity, as a distraction from prayer." He saw that individuals who are unmarried have more time to focus on the Lord. Paul also made a distinction between married and unmarried women. He states that "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." Unlike in the Old Testament, the New Testament emphasizes how relationships can make a person unfocused instead of unclean. Celibacy also has its origins in Jesus' position, as no text reveals that he got married. The Second Vatican Council, for instance, saw priests who took up celibacy as an imitation of Christ. Jesus stated that "if any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." In the Middle Ages, priests would act as Christ's disciples, and thus the Roman

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