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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Marriage of Priests – part 39

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Hebrews 10:10–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Our adversaries require celibacy for religious reasons, for they know that chastity is not ordinarily rendered. But they feign these opinions in order to delude the ignorant. They are therefore more worthy of contempt than the Encratites, who seem to have strayed through a show of religion. By design, these Epicureans misuse religion as a pretext.

Pulling It Together: Not only was celibacy not the thing in Rome or in the monasteries, unchastity was on display in these places—as it is now. This hypocrisy was well-known to the people. Yet, the practice of having so-called celibate priests persisted, and continues to this day. This ecclesiastical law (for it is certainly not doctrine) seems to have begun to creep into the Church around the fourth century AD. At the Council of Nicea in 325AD, however, this kind of mandate was rejected. Still, it endures. Why?

It has long been believed in a variety of religions that priests who offer sacrifices must be pure. It is also thought that sex makes one impure. Therefore, a sexually active priest would be considered unclean, bringing that impurity upon the sacrifice. This presents a problem for those who believe that Christ is sacrificed again and again in the Mass. Thus, celibacy is seen as necessary.

The Reformers taught, as does Scripture, that Christ, who was pure and sinless, offered himself to God for the sins of the world. Saying that the priest makes the sacrifice of the mass pure, takes the honor away from Christ. Furthermore, as Scripture testifies, Christ Jesus offered himself as the “single sacrifice for sins.” Additional sacrifices of the Mass are both unnecessary and not biblical.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice and for the forgiveness of my sins. Amen.

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