Martin luther

To be (celibate) or not to be

  • 140

    Marcion - sex is evil

    Marcion - sex is evil
    "A shift of theological outlook in post-apostolic Christianity left its ethic vulnerable to the impact of pagan asceticism.... Ethecist Morton Enslin states 'Christianity did not make the world ascetic; rather the world in which Christianity found itself strove to make Christianity ascetic'... Marcion was the most notorious figure - he identified sex wih evil matter... he wanted to sever Christianity from its Hebrew roots. Declared a heretic, his influence remained (Clerical Celibacy 83).
  • Period: 140 to

    To be (celebate) or not to be

  • 150

    Parting of the ways

    Parting of the ways
    "By 150 AD, the Christian Church begins 'an irreparable parting of the ways' from the Hebraic traditions....The nature of the leadership acceptable in Judaism and that current in the Christian Churches had begun to diverge precisely on the issue of marriage and continence" (Historian Peter Brown quoted in Clerical Celibacy 82).
  • 207

    Tertullian the misogynist

    Tertullian the misogynist
    "Celibacy tends to breed misogyny...Tertullian denounced women -'each of you is also an Eve... You are the devil's door; you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree, you are the first deserter of the divine law, you are the one who persuaded him whom the devil was too weak to attack. How easily you destroyed man, the image of God! Because of the death which you brought upon us, even the Son of God had to die.' Tertullian ignores Jesus' respectful attitude toward women"(Clerical Celibacy 90).
  • 304

    Elvira Council

    Elvira Council
    The Council of Elvira created the first written document which states that all clergy should remain celibate. "The Elvira legislation made it appear that what gave Christianity a higher status than paganism was its more repressive sexual morality" (CC 92).
    The Council of Nicea in 325 rejected the ban on priests marrying.
  • 325

    Nicean Council

    Nicean Council
    "The perverted piety of self-gelding was so much a concern that the first canon of the council prohibited emasculation. The prohibition was necessitated by what had occasionally been practiced by churchmen in the century following Origen (184-254) who apparently castrated himself. Some priests clearly followed this paractice. Council also considered a law to prohibit clergy from having sex with their wives. Law did not pass since so many bishops present were married.
  • 374

    St. Jerome

    St. Jerome
    No churchman did more to exalt celibacy as the only acceptable lifestyle for those in religious vocations. He is the most virulent champion of virginity's superiority to marriage. He condemned pederasty, then a common practice in Rome. He commended pagan Greeks who castrated themselves and may have used a scalpel on himself inspired by Mat 19:11-12. (CC 100-101). More than Jesus' teachings, Jerome and Augustine defined what is sinful (Sex in History 138).
  • 385

    Pope Siricius -

    Pope Siricius -
    Tried to establish belief that "hands fouled by spousal intercourse were unfit for handling sacraments." ..."God only accepts worship led by sexually abstinent priests" (CC 96)
  • 390

    Nemesius

    Nemesius
    Nemesius credited Plato as the source of the ethical judgment that a man of God should pursue only the pleasures that are both natural and necessary (sex was not necessary). Plato's distnction between necessary and unnecessary sensual ativity had a profound impact on Christian asceticism. "Thinking that copulation lowered humans to frenzied bestial passions, Plato vented his antipathy toward sexual desire by comparing it with the hot-blooded romping of an ignoble horse" (CC 98).
  • 397

    St. Augustine

    St. Augustine
    "St Augustine said that though [prostitution] was sordid, immodest, and shameful, 'yet remove prostitutes from human affairs, and you will pollute all things with lust." (278).For Augustine, original sin was sexual expression - "sexual pleasure=women=evil" He famously prayed to God "give me chastity -- but not yet" (Sex in History 141).
    Augustine set the pattern for the Christian conscience for nearly sixteen centuries (CC 112).
  • 410

    Rome sacked

    Rome sacked
    Once Rome falls, the absence of state-imposed laws and the disappearance of literacy allow the Church to fill the vacuum for law and order. The Christian Church was thus able to impose uniform laws of morality enforced by the threat of eternal damnation for sinners. By making most sexual activity immoral, the Church imposed a strict and narrow code and then profited by the sale of indulgences, purchased to reduce a sinners' time in purgatory (Sex in History 137).
  • 420

    Emperor of Constantinople

    Emperor of Constantinople
    A decree by the emperor confirmed the (eastern) church ruling that priests should not separate from their wives, thereby protecting the marriage rights of clergy spouses (CC 122)
    During the centuries from 400 to 1000, the whole face of Europe changed, but the Christian Church, "its Galilean message grafted on to a heritage of Babylonian realism, Hebrew absolutism, Greek Platonism and Roman materialsm, survived and expanded as the one cohesive force in an unstable world. (Sex in History 137).
  • 533

    Sodomy Banned

    Sodomy Banned
    Emperor Justinian decreed death for the practice of homosexuality, even when consenting adults were involved. (CC 129).
  • Jan 1, 700

    Dark Ages

    Dark Ages
    "During the so called Dark Ages, reading and writing became the preserve of the monasteries and what was read and what was written were virtually at the sole discretion of the Church... Whether deliberate or not, censorship was very close to complete... As a result, the words and conclusions of the Church fathers remained unassailed and so, in time, became unasailable" (Sex in History138).
  • Jan 1, 872

    Pope Hadrian II

    Pope Hadrian II
    Historians estimate that there have been some 40 married popes Hadrian (or Adrian) was the last of the married popes - his daughter was raped and was murdered along with her mother during Hadrian's reign. Many sons of popes also became popes (CC 127).
    The great majority of clergymen in the West from Gregory (sixth century) to the tenth century were married men (CC 127).
  • Jan 1, 1020

    Pope Benedict VIII

    Pope Benedict VIII
    Pope Benedict VIII who was pope from 1012 - 1024 was concerned about the apparent decline in priestly morlaity and declared that the children of priests could not inherit property.

    In 11th century, sons of married priests of St. Paul's in London inherited their father's position. Benedict advocated celibacy law modifications that would protect the church's large landholdings.
  • Jan 1, 1054

    Schism of Roman and Eastern Churches

    Schism of Roman and Eastern Churches
    Much of the break was caused by different beliefs about marriage of priests. In Eastern Orthodoxy, married men have always been permitted to become priests (Clerical Celibacy 123).
  • Jan 1, 1073

    Pope Gregory VII demands celibacy

    Pope Gregory VII demands celibacy
    Gregory VII rigorously enforced the Church's policy of celibacy (in theory at least). (Clerical Marriage and the English Reformation - Introduction)
    Gregory's motto appears to have been "Make war, not love" because his expression of power was more divisive than unifying (CC 133).
  • Jan 1, 1115

    Abelard and Heloise

    Abelard and Heloise
    Abelard, scholar and theologian, fell in love with his student Heloise, who became pregnant. They held a secret wedding. However, he sent her to a convent but made love to her there. Fulbert, Heloise's uncle/father, with friends, entered Abelard's room where he was sleeping with Heloise and castrated him. The couple remained devoted to each other although Abelard encouraged her to accept her role as bride of Christ. Abelard rejected Augustine's view of sexuality (Pleasure's All Mine).
  • Jan 1, 1139

    Lateran Council

    Lateran Council
    First Lateran Council in 1123 issued a draconian edict concerning clerical celibacy - clerical marriages should be broken up and spouses made to do pennance.
    Lateran II in 1139 - Pope Innocent II declared priests are God's temples so they should not lie in the conjugal bed and live in impurity (CC 136).
  • Jan 1, 1224

    St. Francis

    St. Francis
    Francis - "had a most grevious temptation of lust and beat himself with his tunic rope, then since scourging himslef did not suppress his libido, he plunged naked into deep snow. These expressions of masochism were probably driven by his desperate desire to circumvent masturbation (CC 125). Martin Luther will use this as an example to show that "renunciation of marriage tended more to inflame than to suppress desire (CC 153).
  • Jan 1, 1265

    St Thomas Aquinas

    St Thomas Aquinas
    Aquinas compared prostitution to the 'filth in the sea or the sewer in a palace. Take away the sewer, and you will fill the palace with pollution... Take away prostitutes from the world and you will fill it with sodomy." (Summa Theologica quoted in Sex in History 279). His views on sex only for procreation made homosexuality and heterosexual anal or oral sex strictly forbidden Sex is OK only when children are the object (Sex in History 160-161)
  • Jan 1, 1490

    Prostitutes in Rome

    Prostitutes in Rome
    "The number of "public women" in Rome is believed to have been 7,000.... the women lived in houses belonging to monasteries and churches, and it was quite usual to see them parading the streets in company with priests" (Sex in History 279-280).
  • Jan 1, 1500

    Syphilis epidemic

    Patronage of brothels falters with the spread of a syphilis epidemic throughout Europe. The origins of the disease are still debated. Some medical historians say it was brought from the New World by Columbus' crew, but if that is the case the "50 crew members must have had a very strenuous time when they got back" (Sex in History 280-82).
  • Jan 1, 1521

    Andreas Karlstadt

    Andreas Karlstadt
    The first Protestant to write a tract attacking celibacy. He argued that the main reason for the tradition was the desire of the Catholic hierarchy to increase revenues and power over the clergy. Celibacy he claimed encouraged masturbation and homosexual behavior.
  • Jan 1, 1522

    Martin Luther protests

    Martin Luther protests
    In his sermon "On the Estate of Marriage," Martin Luther quotes God in Genesis commanding Adam and Eve to "Be fruitful and multiply" (1:28). Luther argues that God intended human beings to be sexual. "It is a matter of nature, and not of choice" It is God's ordinance to multiply. Sexuality is normal and should not be denied. He also encouraged married men to participate in childcare (Estate of Marriage online)
  • Jun 13, 1525

    Luther marries

    Luther marries
    Martin Luther marries Katharina von Bora, a former nun.
    Luther later recognized that the success of his reform movement was due in large part to disgust by faithful church members toward the hypocrisy that clerical "celibates" of his day expressed by their actions (CC 153).
    Luther's marriage was central to Catholic attacks on Protestant morality. Twice married St. Thomas More condemned Luther's marriage as evidence of the full shame of the sin of man (CC 155).
  • Jun 1, 1539

    The Act of Six Articles

    The Act of Six Articles
    The key piece of legislation on clerical celibacy in England under Henry VIII. Opposition to enforcing clerical celibacy was punishable by imprisonment; priests who married were adjudged felons and could be put to death. Some suggest the motive was to protect the interests of the nobility who feared clergy would marry their daughters and appropriate secular wealth to themselves. Created a problem for Archbishop of Canterbury Cranmer who was married (Clerical Marriage 32-34).
  • Jan 1, 1543

    The Antichrist

    The Antichrist
    Protestant criticism of the Catholic Church centered on the idea that the Roman church was a false church led by the Antichrist. Celibacy was central to this criticism on both sides: Protestants pointed to the hypocrisy of the "celibate "clergy. Catholics accused maried clerics of lust.
    Images of the Antichrist on the internet included President Obama. I added one to show how fanatical the idea is and how the religious right still uses the idea to denigrate whatever they oppose.
  • Jan 1, 1549

    Lifting of Prohibition on Clerical Marriage

    Lifting of Prohibition on Clerical Marriage
    Although controversial, the ban on marriage among clergy was lifted in England in1549 during Protestant Edward's brief reign. He was the first monarch of England to be raised a protestant. The picture shows a dying Henry with his son Edward over the prostrate Pope.
  • Jul 12, 1553

    Queen Mary enforces celibacy

    Queen Mary enforces celibacy
    When Catholic Mary assumed the throne, she began to persecute protestants and required married priests to separate from their wives. She had 283 religious dissenters burned at the stake, including Archbishop Cranmer. For her five year reign and persecution, she is remembered as Bloody Mary.
  • Jan 1, 1555

    John Calvin

    John Calvin
    Calvin was convinced that the prohibition of clerical marriage violated the wholesome biblical endorsement of marriage for religious leaders. Calvin observed "Experience shows how much better it would have been never to have imposed this yoke upon priests, than to shut them up in a furnace of lust, to burn with a perpetual flame (CC 156-157).
  • Nov 17, 1558

    Elizabeth I

    Elizabeth I
    Once Elizabeth I became Queen, clerical marriage rapidly became a feature of the Elizabethan Church. (Clerical Marriage 26).
    Elizabeth's attitude toward clerical marriage was ambiguous. She was concerned about "slander to the church, by lack of discreet and sober behavior'" so in order to marry, priests had to get their choice of spouse approved by two justices of the peace and confirmed by the bishop of the diocese (Clerical Marriage 228).
  • Jan 1, 1563

    Council of Trent

    Council of Trent
    The Council of Trent (met off and on from 1545-1564) restated sacramental nature of marriage, introduced new requirements of parental consent to marriage and publication of banns, strict enforcement of clerical celibacy, virginity still a more blessed state than marriage, and paintings that excite lust would be frowned upon (so Michaelangelo's figures in Last Judgment in Sistine Chapel were covered with loincloths (Sex in History 333).
  • Sodomy prosecutions on the rise

    Sodomy prosecutions on the rise
    A Jesuit who acted as prison chaplain from 1578-1616, noted the high incidence of sodomy in the religious orders - Jesuits rarely sin with women because they can easily find partners among their students or novices... One priest was accused of murdering boys so they could not inform against him...Members of religious orders were often protected by their superiors in prosecution of sodomy (Clerical Celibacy 161).
  • Roots of Celibacy explained

    Roots of Celibacy explained
    Charles Hodge, nineteenth century Calvinist theologian, explains that the Protestant Reformation appealed to biblical authority, church history, and human experience to justify clerical marriage. He argued the doctrine degrading marriage had its roots in Manicheism or Gnosticism which assumed that evil was connected to matter, that sin has its source in the body, and that holiness is attainable only through ascetism. These ideas are NOT found in Jesus' teaching nor in scripture (CC 157).
  • Priestly Pederasty

    Priestly Pederasty
    Priestly Pederasty was practiced in the Victorian era, but like all sexual matters mentioned only in hushed tones. A book - The Priest and the Acolyte - published in 1894 was about a priest's seduction of a pubescent boy - the priest idealizes his passion in terms of "reverence" toward the beloved boy. The priesthood was a perfect profession for gay men - public trust, no pressure to marry, opportunities for intimacy with boys, friendships and cohabitation with like-minded men (CC 164).
  • Holy Virginity

    Holy Virginity
    Pope Pius XII's Holy Virginity encyclical lauds Trent ruling.
    "Virginity... is a state superior to that of matrimony. But... this superiority does not in any way decrease the beauty and grandeur of married life... [However] Persons who desire to consecrate themselves to God's service embrace the state of virginity as a liberation, in order to be more entirely at God's disposition and devoted to the good of their neighbor.... Holy virginity surpasses marriage in excellence" (CC 169).
  • Vatican II

    Vatican II
    Pope John XXIII admitted that the law of celibacy was not a divine imperative but a matter of church discipline that could be changed or eliminated.
    "The thought of those young priests who bear the burden of ecclesiastical celibacy causes me constant suffering" Pope John XXIII (Clerical Celibacy 172). Unfortuntely, Pope John died in 1965 before he could effect change.
  • Celibacy never worked

    Ex-Jesuit Peter DeRosa, who was trained in Rome and knows Vatican history well, excoriates the fiasco - "The Catholic Church has nearly always been in crisis over clerical celebacy... The fact is that priestly celibacy has hardly ever worked.... it has probably done more harm to morals than any other institution in the West, including prostitution..." (CC 240)
  • Pedophilia Scandal

    Pedophilia Scandal
    Accusations of pedophilia among priests starts in the 1980's (one estmate in 1987 suggested that as many 3,000 priests were pedophiles) and continues to today. The revelation that the church heirarchy knew of the abuse and simply moved priests to new parishes where the abuse continued has shaken the world's confidence in the Church's ability to address this crime (CC188-228).
  • Pope John Paul II

    Pope John Paul II
    John Paul I would probably have ben more open to reform, but he died only one month after assuming office in 1978. John Paul II declared there should be no doubts about the "Church's firm will to maintain the law that demands perpetual and freely chosen celibacy for present and future candidates for priestly ordination" (Clerical Celibacy 188).
  • Pope Francis I

    Pope Francis I
    Pope Francis has already shown that he is a Pope more likely to support reform - he is open to accepting homosexuals into the church. He favors allowing divorced individuals to receive communion. Perhaps before his reign ends, he will lift the church's requirement that priests remain celibate.
  • Pope Francis is popular

    Pope Francis is popular
    The Pope's love of the poor, his concern for "the care of the individual over the preservation of dogma" gives many hope that the Catholic Church will finally end its dehumanizing policies about sexuality.