Divinity vs Humanisim: What do you look for in a religion?

The New York Times recently ran a short article about a rather modest uprising of priests in the US who want the Catholic Church’s celibacy laws for priests to be lifted. See article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/04/national/04CND-CHUR.html?hp

The article lists the sever drawbacks of celibacy; mainly, a lack of new priests entering the profession and the alarming amount of incidences among priests involving pedophilia.

There is a greater view at work here. The Catholic Church is basing the celibacy rule on a rather old Stoic philosophy of needing to tame the ‘irrational’ (i.e. emotions) to channel the divinity within. Catholics have held onto this idea, and having priests that refrain from sex is one way of ensuring that the priests are one step closer to God.

This, I would argue, is a large part of the Catholic faith. Not that I want to get into a debate on the Catholic faith, but I think it is fair to say that all policies in general are based on some broader theory.

So the Catholics should keep the law of celibacy to help keep a rather ancient part of their faith. Is the faith right or wrong? The answer would probably depend on if you are a Catholic.

I really happen to like Catholicism, and most orthodox religions, because they hold theories like this; they strive for divinity rather than celebrating the irrational force that is man. They are not trying to trend into the murky waters of ‘each man is a priest unto himself’ or a similar theory. Religions, in my view, are best left striving for a divinity rather than a humanism. The latter is best left to philosophy. Thoughts?

Hello F(R)IEND(S),

The idea of forced celibacy is ludicrous! Even though Paul says that he would rather (which leaves open the option of choice) the disciples (Christians) were like him–in his celibacy–that he could not demand that they be celibate. What right does the Catholic church have in this issue? None. The church has used fallacious arguments to force celibacy which is against biblical scripture.

Can anyone argue that celibacy is biblically required?


Why does your topic title have so little to do with your discussion? Is priestly celabacy non-humanist? If it is to ensure exceptional people in the priestly office, it would seen to be for the best of the person of the priest as well.

If Theology is “Divine” and Philosophy “Humanist”, how are they to mix in the thought of the individual believer? Actually, this has been on my mind lately. But it is surely possible, as Thomists/Scotists/etc. exist. Perhaps the quote, in the words of Iranaeus, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive,” might help here? Or in the words of Aquinas, “The person is the most noble thing in the whole of nature.”

(By the way, that was an interesting explanation of why RC priests are to be celibate. I’ve heard other reasons, but strangely haven’t heard that one before.)


The bible says that Peter has authority to bind and to loose. So since Peter has bound priests to celibacy in the RC rite, they are biblically required to follow it.

That wholey depends on what you are looking for from a religion, and also how you define religion and how you define divinity.

Hello F(R)IEND(S)

Where does Peter bind the priests to celibacy? Biblically we find that Peter was an apostle prone to making mistakes. Also, Peter was not the only one with the authority to bind and loose things on heaven and on earth please read the scripture below:

A few important things to point out:

  1. Jesus was talking to all of the disciples (read Matthew 18:1).
  2. Jesus gives them all the same authority that Peter had (Matthew 18:18 )
  3. Jesus gives a condition that whenever two or three of them agree on something it will be done (Matthew 18:19-20)
  4. If Peter bound the idea of celibacy, then Timothy–an apostle–disagreed (read 1 Timothy 3:2.)
  5. Peter, at some point, likely didn’t repent his sin (see next point)
  6. As a consequence, Paul rebuked Peter to his face and then told the church (read Galatians 2:11-21)
  7. So, would Paul have brought this up in front of the whole church if Peter had repented? Jesus’ instructions: Matthew 18:15-17

Again, I don’t think the Catholic argument holds water… Any thoughts?

Hello everybody,

I find this informative: