Saturday, August 1, 2009

Roundtable 44: The Marriage of Priests (Smalcald Articles Part III, Article XI)

Just as we can not make a man, a woman, nor a woman, a man, no matter what modern surgical techniques make possible, so we can not through modern theological "surgery" make a man something other than a man, and demand and require that he renounce marriage before he can serve Christ and His church as a priest/minister/pastor/elder [whatever term you prefer]. The very fact that the Papacy had come to deny marriage to clergy is a mark that indicated to the Reformers its anti-christian character, since the Apostle Paul had clearly warned that among "the teachings of demons" would be the teaching that marriage was forbidden. (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

Luther in Part III, Article XI of the Smalcald Articles asserts that the Roman Church has neither the authority, nor the right, to ban marriage and to burden the office of the ministry with a requirement that is not Biblical. We know, for example, that the Apostle Peter himself, the first Pope, so it is said by Rome, had a wife!

We hardly need to think much further than to the recent sex scandals that have afflicted the Roman Church, and have come out in to the open here in the United States, to concur with the comments of Luther; namely, that enforced celibacy has caused a myriad of problems: "all kinds of horrible, outrageous, innumerable sins of unchastity [depraved lusts], in which they themselves still wallow."

The Reformation threw out the required, enforced celibacy of the clergy, something that remains to this day as a scandalous anti-Biblical teaching of the Church of Rome.

Luther himself set an example that has been followed by countless Lutheran pastors since. He took a faithful and devout spouse, had children with her, and from that marriage, he was richly blessed by God, and by extension, so was his ministry. While marriage is not a requirement for the clergy, avoiding it certainly is not either. The Church has no business attempting to say "no" to what God had declared to be very good, in the beginning of all things.