Why is it that Catholic priests are celibate when other apostles have wives?

QUESTION by defenderben:
Submitted on 2012/03/12 at 5:01 pm

7. Bishops must be Married.

FACT: In 1079 AD celibacy was first enforced for priests and bishops by Pope Gregory VII. Before this time, they were permitted to marry.

Question #1: Does the Bible teach that a bishop (overseer) must be married AND ALSO have children as one of the conditions of being qualified to be a bishop?

Answer: 1 Timothy 3:2-5 o YES NO o

“A bishop, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” 1 Timothy 3:2-5

Question #2: In the very next chapter of the Bible after bishops are told they must be married with children, does the Holy Spirit warn that “forbidding to marry” is a “doctrine of demons”?

Answer: 1 Timothy 4:1-3 o YES NO o

“But the Holy Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.” 1 Timothy 4:1-3

8. Peter was married

FACT: Most Catholics believe that Apostle Peter was the first Pope and was not married. As one Roman Catholic leader said, “if Peter had a wife when he first met Jesus, he got rid of her quick!”

Question #1: Did Peter have a wife?

Answer: Mark 1:30 o YES NO o

“Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her.” Mark 1:30

Question #2: Did Paul say all the apostles including Peter had a right to be married?

Answer: 1 Corinthians 9:5 o YES NO o

“Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” 1 Corinthians 9:5


Submitted on 2012/04/06 at 10:29 pm | In reply to [defenderben].


The ideal bishop is to be like Christ who never got married: “They have renounced marriage 9 for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (Mt 19:12). The first apostles like Peter are married; they were called by Christ after they were married not before. But notice that Peter said that “they have given up everything and followed [Christ]” (Mt 19:27). You can deduce that he also left his wife, so that he can become a spiritual father of many. As Christ said, “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.” (Mt 19:29)

Celibacy or not marrying for the sake of the Kingdom of God is a new idea in the time of the Apostles. Thus, during their time it is difficult to find bishops who are unmarried. So the next good thing is to choose a bishop from the married, but he must be married but once. Nevertheless, the idea of an unmarried bishop is still being proposed as an ideal to follow. And it would take centuries before this ideal became a firm discipline in the Catholic Church.

Paul has a right to take a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles (cf 1 Cor 9:5). But after enumerating his other rights as an apostle, he said: “But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing this to secure any such provision” (1 Cor 9:15). Thus, we can deduce that Paul did not marry.