Of Lawful Oaths and Vows.
Chapter 23, Paragraph 5.
“…but Popish Monastical Vows, of perpetual single life,…”
1 Corinthians 7:2,9
If you haven’t experienced devout Roman Catholicism, the appreciation given to those who become priests, monks, or nuns might seem odd. Yet when you are pursuing a works-based righteousness, these are the people that are held up as examples to follow. Their dismissal of all that is “worldly”, serving God and the Church over everything else, is a very romantic notion. Taking monastical vows makes one holier-than-thou, literally: “Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Him more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesean bishop…[and] are bethrothed mystically to Christ…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). They are closer to God because of the vow of chastity they had taken. Christ alone is their betrothed! They can resist temptation. Those who marry and have families, while still good, aren’t quite as dedicated as these others.
So what’s wrong with taking a vow of celibacy, to formally and intentionally withhold yourself from marriage? Could anyone who believes the true Gospel join in a community of fellow Christians, all formally abstaining from marriage and the physical intimacy that accompanies it? What is wrong with such a scenario is that it is never prescribed in Scripture. The Confession earlier stated: “Good works are only such as God hath commanded in His Holy Word”. (Chapter 16.1) Vows of a perpetual single life are not a good work, for they are not commanded by God in His word.
We know that there is nothing holier about those who take a vow of celibacy. They succumb to temptation and sin like everyone else. Only through faith alone, in the work of Christ alone, will anyone be redeemed. As Christians, may we be diligent to obey the commands of God only in Scripture, not a tradition.
Questions to Consider
- Are there any things you consider “holy” that are not warranted by Scripture?