From today’s Theology 12:
1.) It is always disordered to choose the lesser good and not the greater good.
2.) Marriage is a lesser good than celibacy.
3.) It is sometimes right to choose to marry.
So one is false and/or we’re equivocating somewhere. All three claims are well-established points of Catholic theology, the last two as parts of a theology of marriage and the first as an account of what the disorder of sin consists in.
When this first came up I resisted the student’s first move, sc. to try to divide what they called the objective good of celibacy (which saw it as better in general or ceteris paribus) from the subjective good (a good that took into account circumstances and other individuating factors). True, Scripture is clear that celibacy is a gift, and the choice spoken of in (1) requires that the greater good be a real possibility, which would not be the case for those not given the gift to choose the higher good. But something seems fishy and quietistic about this sort of response, and so I’ll suggest a different, more mystical one.
Marriage is a sacrament and so limited to the life in via. There are no sacraments in the escahton, but all sacraments by nature are ordered to attaining that life. But one of the few things we know about the final escahton is that it is a celibate existence: For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven (Mt. 22:30, Lk. 20: 34, Mk. 12: 20) Thus marriage qua sacrament is ordered to the celibate life, and so does not differ properly in the end chosen but in the mode of choosing it. There is thus an equivocation in (2) since marriage is not in the final analysis a lesser good but a lesser means to the same good.