Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Augsburg Confession on Celibacy

Pastor Don Engebretson over at Northwoods Seelsorger has an excellent post on Celibacy and the Roman Catholic Church to which I would like to add my two cents worth. I've been reading the new 2nd edition of "Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions - A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord," just released this month. On June 25th, 1530 the Augsburg Confession was presented to the Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Augsburg. The same problems that have arisen in the Roman Catholic Church today arose then and Article XXIII discusses the matter of "The Marriage of Priests:"

"Complaints about unchaste priests are common. Platina writes that it is for this reason that Pope Pius is reported to have said that although there are reasons why marriage was taken away from priests, there are far more important reasons why it should be given back....It is clear that in the Ancient Church priests were married men. For Paul says, 'An overseer must be the husband of one wife' (1 Timothy 3:2). Four hundred years ago in Germany, for the first time, priests were violently forces to lead a single life....This matter was handled so harshly that not only was marriage forbidden in the future, but existing marriages were torn apart, contrary to all laws, both divine and human.

"...Furthermore, God ordained marriage to be a help against human weakness. Canon law itself says that the old rigor ought to be relaxed now and then, in these latter times, because of human weakness. We wish this would also be done in this matter. We expect that at some point churches will lack pastors if marriage continues to be forbidden.

"While God's commandment is in force, and the custom of the Church is well known, impure celibacy will cause many scandals, adulteries, and other crimes that deserve punishment from just rulers. In light of all this, it is incredibly cruel that the marriage of priests is forbidden. God has commanded that marriage be honored. Marriage is most highly honored in the laws of all well-ordered commonwealths, even among the heathen. But now men, even priests, are cruelly put to death, contrary to the intent of canon law, for no other reason than that they are married. Paul, in 1 Timothy 4, says that a doctrine of demons forbids marriage (vv. 1:3). This is clearly seen by how laws against marriage are enforced with such penalties." (Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions - A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord, Second Edition, Concordia Publishing House, 2006, pages 46-47)

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