Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Marriage lawful, p. 39.
St. Peter was a married apostle, and the traditions of his wife which connect her married life with Rome itself render it most surprising that those who claim to be St. Peter's successors should denounce the marriage of the clergy as if it were crime. The touching story, borrowed from Clement of Alexandria, is related by Eusebius. "And will they," says Clement, "reject even the apostles? Peter and Philip, indeed, had children; Philip also gave his daughters in marriage. to husbands; and Paul does not demur, in a certain Epistle, to mention his own wife, whom he did not take about with him, in order to expedite his ministry the better." Of St. Peter and his wife, Eusebius subjoins, "Such was the marriage of these blessed ones, and such was their perfect affection."68
The Easterns to this day perpetuate the marriage of the clergy, and enjoin it; but unmarried men only are chosen to be bishops. Even Rome relaxes her discipline for the Uniats, and hundreds of her priesthood, therefore, live in honourable marriage. Thousands live in secret marriage, but their wives are dishonoured as "concubines." It was not till the eleventh century that the celibate was enforced. In England it was never successfully imposed; and, though the "priest's leman" was not called his wife (to the disgrace of the whole system), she was yet honoured (see Chaucer), and often carried herself too proudly.
The enormous evils of an enforced celibacy need not here be remarked upon. The history of Sacerdotal Celibacy, by Henry C. Lea69 of Philadelphia, is compendious, and can be readily procured by all who wish to understand what it is that this treatise of Tertullian's orthodoxy may best be used to teach; viz., that we must not be wiser than God, even in our zeal for His service.
Next: V. On Exhortation to Chastity.
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