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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Marriage of Priests – part 21

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1 Peter 2:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Fifthly, although our opponents do not defend this regulation because of religion, since they see that it is not generally observed, still they diffuse superstitious opinions to give a pretext of religion. They proclaim that they require celibacy because it is pure, as though marriage is impure or sinful, or as though celibacy merited justification more than marriage does. To this end they cite the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law, that under the law, at the time of ministering, the priests were separated from their wives. Therefore, the priest in the New Testament, who ought always to pray, should always practice continence. This ridiculous comparison is presented as a proof to compel priests to perpetual celibacy, even though this very comparison allows marriage to priests, only prohibiting intercourse during the time of ministering. Moreover, it is one thing to pray, another to minister. The saints prayed even when they did not exercise the public ministry. Marital intercourse did hinder their prayers.

Pulling It Together

Is a pastor purer to God if unmarried? Is this what makes people pure under the New Testament? Is it the New Testament in human purity or the New Testament in Christ’s blood? The very idea of introducing regulations for human purity in the priesthood is an effort to undermine Christ’s merit. Further, Peter proclaims that all Christians are priests who have access to the Father through Christ (Eph 2:18)—not through celibacy or any other attempt at so-called purity. Imagine if the whole of God’s people, that priesthood of all believers, were celibate. The churches would be near empty in a generation or so.

Prayer: Help me, God, to offer you the true sacrifice of praise. Amen.

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