Bishops, Marriage and Celibacy
Some teach that bishops should not marry but should be celibate. These base their belief on Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 7:7 that says, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself”, and on Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:11-12 “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
But the truth is that Paul, stated that optional advice due to the “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7: 26). He said that it was better to remain single in order to give more attention to the “things of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). And Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:12 “He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” did not imply that the those that didn’t practice celibacy were sinners. Paul also agreed on that in 1 Corinthians 7:28. Rather, Jesus meant that many lacked the “gift of abstinence,” so it would be better for them to marry and avoid fornication (1 Corinthians 7:9).
The truth is that for bishops, God gave specific requirements for those who desire to hold that position. In 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, we find the biblical requirements for bishops:
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife… one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:1-6, emp. added).
And Paul when teaching Titus, he instructed about the qualifications of a bishop: “A man [who] is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination” (Titus 1:6, emp. added).
Although the Bible obligates no person to marry or to be a bishop, it requires that he who “desires” the office of a bishop that he must be a married man with children who are under God’s subjection. This means that the unmarried cannot be bishops.
It is important to add that being unmarried deters no one from ministering for God, since there are many other ministries in which to serve Him. But the bishop’s office, is reserved for married men who have children. The Bible does not require preachers, evangelists, and teachers to be married. But, bishops who keep watch over the internal affairs of the church should be married.
Still, some may argue, wasn’t Paul a great apostle, yet at the same time unmarried. Yes. Paul was a great apostle and evangelist, but he was not a bishop. Some churches today err greatly when they forbids their bishops to marry. For this the apostle Paul warned saying “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1-3, emp. added).
Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.
In His service,