Let priests tie the knot!

Pope Benedict XVI

Time is an interesting news source. Sometimes their stuff is just so blatantly left-wing that it’s quite disgusting they call what they do “journalism.” But, on the other hand, occasionally, their writers have some very strong insight.

In a story released–probably strategically so–on Palm Sunday, Tim Padgett urges the Catholic Church to change its stance on marriage for clergy.

I once interviewed a priest by the name of Father Michael J. Knipe of St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a story I was writing on charismatic Catholicism, as well as the relationship between the Catholic Church and Oral Roberts University. In the course of that interview, he said something to me that helped me see the “No Marriage for Priests” policy in a different light.

He said that being unmarried allows him to focus his energy entirely on tending his flock–no small task for a man who until going to St. Pius served Mass in three parishes across southeastern Oklahoma on Sundays, one in my hometown. That, quite honestly, makes sense. If a priest wants to remain unmarried to be able to devote himself entirely to his congregation (or whatever it is they call them in the Catholic Church), why should that be an issue?

It isn’t. But, making it a requirement has had some pretty disastrous effects.

The Apostle Paul acknowledge that while the celibate life is good, it might be best to consider marriage: “Now regarding the questions you asked in your letter. Yes, it is good to live a celibate life. But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:1-2; NLT)

It doesn’t take a genius to know that God designed us to procreate and the sexual urge is an instinct deeply hardwired into our brains, with some more able to control it than others.

So, without further adieu, here are 4 simple reasons why, as Padgett suggests, priests should be allowed to marry:

  1. Some Catholic priests are already married, such as those who were when they became priests. Obviously, if some priests are able to be married, then why not all?
  2. It’s what men and women were made to do. At the very beginning of Creation, God made it clear it isn’t good for a man to be alone (not “lonely,” as some say, but “alone;” there’s a difference.) Being married should be considered a hindrance from doing God’s work–not saying it is, but that tends to be the perception from rules like this.
  3. Allowing priests to marry would allow those with a weaker hold over their sexuality a way to find release. Of course, that’s not to suggest the cure for pedophilia is getting married; not at all. Nor should marriage for priests be solely about sex anymore than it should be non-clergy.

Of course, none of this is meant to suggest allowing priests to marry would solve all of the Church’s problems, especially the ongoing sex abuse scandals. It also doesn’t mean that priests should be required to marry. Those like Father Knipe should be allowed to remain single if they choose so they can apply themselves completely to those in their spiritual care.

If, as has been the traditional understanding (at least from my viewpoint), marriage is a sort of enactment of the relationship between Christ and the Church, it seems wholly appropriate that priests should be allowed to marry.

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