Christianity’s valuing of celibacy over marriage

1.) Exclusive loves are lower than non-exclusive ones. The limited diffusion of an interpersonal good arises from imperfection. Loves are to goods, and goods as such are diffusive. While marital and celibate loves are at least comparable, a love that excludes other persons is lower than one that doesn’t. This is Plato’s case for why eros must ultimately transcend itself in the love of greater common goods, ultimately to the good itself. In the Christian dispensation, love of God gives rise to a love that cannot be true to itself if it excludes any others, love of another in eros cannot be true to itself if it includes any others.

2.) Love of children makes it difficult to want to fly from the world. There will always be some tension between what we want to do in the world and our desire to leave it, but it would be heartless to unequivocally want to widow and orphan a family so as to join the Lord in the Eschaton. This element of detachment has a strong an unavoidable conflict with one’s role as spouse and provider.

3.) The sacramental is ordered to the non-sacramental. Sacraments are for those in via, even where they leave an indelible mark. This follows from their role as signs, as sensible mysteries, etc.


  1. penquinslide said,

    January 15, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Excellent post and exposition. I notice that you don’t attach value judgment or entertain arguments, but simply lay out a case, which I appreciate for how it aids clarity.

    It also raised the following questions for me, however:

    In number 2: Although we are not God, and as such, ought not claim we can take on the same burdens, is it not part of God’s fundamental essence to have an attachment to his children (creations), and essential to our salvation narrative that he choose to walk among us, in a creature’s skin? (and in the case of the Father, have a Son, to whom he is attached, on earth)? Paul, of course, encourages to remain like him if possible. It will be easier to see God, as you have laid out. I am not sure that this necessitates valuing celibacy over marriage, however.

    God’s extreme attachment to his children (and it’s nature, including the assumption of their flesh) seems to place the role of a father as the protector and provider of children he has created as close in alignment to God’s role as any other vocation could be. A hard road, but we know how scripture, saints, and other sources of catholic tradition view hard roads.

    I am wondering what you think on the matter. As you can see, my thoughts are currently too diffuse.

    • penquinslide said,

      January 15, 2016 at 8:37 am

      correction: protector and provider *for* children (paragraph II).
      my apologies

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