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QUESTION: What does the Bible say about priests marrying and celibacy?


ANSWER:  The sad reality of widespread immorality within “Christian” churches of all denominations is tragic.  I believe, however, that it is the consequence of not following the teachings of the Word of God.  People wind up in gross sin because individually they do not heed the warnings of Scripture.  Churches wind up promoting the same sins in the name of God because they too ignore Scripture.  While men put emotion above God’s written Word, institutions place their emphasis on ‘tradition.’  Both are sin.


Back to the question.  What does the Bible say about marrying?  Read the following Scripture very carefully, “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; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” (1 Timothy 4:1-3)


Notice that “forbidding to marry” (whether priest or layman) and “commanding to abstain from meats” (even if it’s only one day a week) is a departure from Biblical Christianity.  Rather than enforce church traditions that forbid marriage (priests, nuns, etc.), Paul told the unmarried and widowed at Corinth, “…let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9)  In fact, twice in Scripture we are told that a requirement for a bishop (pastor or under-shepherd) is that he be the “husband of one wife.” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7)


It is never wise to disagree with God.  Yet, that is the core problem.  The concern should not be whether clergy marriage “remains contrary to the teachings and traditions” of the “church,” but whether man-made church tradition contradicts God and His revealed will in Holy Scripture.


Christianity is not supposed to blindly follow a man or counsel of men.  New Testament Berean Christians were “more noble” than the average Christian of the day because they “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)  The Bible is always to have more authority than church tradition or priestly rank.  The Christian is to search the Scriptures for himself because He will stand before a holy God some day and will not be able to say, “Well that’s what my pastor told me.”  When Bible doctrine and church tradition disagree, both cannot be right and a critical decision must be made. Will you as a Christian follow the Word of God or the church tradition that contradicts it?  It is idolatry to place an organization above God or His Word.


What does the Bible say (and not any other book that claims inspiration)?  What do our churches teach and practice?  When the church refuses to submit to the authority of God’s Word and will not change, then our only option is to separate from the disobedient institution (leave it) and join one that is submitting to God and His preserved Word.  (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)  The question is, Christian, are we going to obey God or man?