Should Priests Abstain From Fleshly Desires?

By Holly Green
Guest Blogger
(Editor’s Note: This article is a bit long, so it has been broken into two, maybe three posts.)

I read an article recently on this blog about Father Corapi and the allegations against him of “improper conduct with an adult female”. He is a priest and in our modern-day Catholic religion, they are to abstain from sexual contact of any kind. I believe this goes against human nature. God made us with these desires and to discount them is only going to cause problems. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about this.

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus - Our High Priest. -- Image via Wikipedia

In Genesis, God made man and woman. He gave the woman to the man to be a helper. (Gen. 2:19-25) Verse 24 says,

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

God intended man and woman to be together from the very beginning.

The book of Hebrews talks about priests and compares the Law of Moses to the new law. In the Law of Moses, priests were necessary to offer sacrifices to God for the people. Only the priests could enter the Holy of Holies-the back part of the temple and most holy place.

Hebrews 2:17- “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

Jesus became our high priest when he ascended into heaven after his resurrection from the grave. In Hebrews 3:1, it says this of Jesus:

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;” We can confess our sins to Christ and he will intercede for us. In chapter 4:14, Paul says it again: “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”

The apostle Paul then begins to compare the priests from the Law of Moses to Jesus and how they are different. We pick up the reading in the next verse.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Heb. 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Heb. 5:1 ¶ For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins;

Heb. 5:2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness;

Heb. 5:3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.

Heb. 5:4 And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

Heb. 5:5 ¶ So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him,



Back then, they needed a priest because there was a barrier, of sorts, between them and God. They could not approach God directly but 4:16 tells us that we can approach God on our own.

Heb. 7:19 “(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

(Find Part 2 here.)

Ψ – Holly had commented on an earlier article, musing aloud that she wanted to write a piece on the topic of priestly celibacy. I invited her to do so and I would post here, so here it is! Next Installment in a day or two. I am going to let this percolate a bit and hopefully garner some comments. – FB


5 responses to “Should Priests Abstain From Fleshly Desires?

  1. Hi Holly,
    I am curious as to where you are going – it looks like, at least in this first installment, that you are basically addressing the validity of the priesthood. I suppose that could have a bearing on whether or not priests should be celibate, but it would seem to pretty much obviate the question – no priests, no priestly celibacy. Just curious if that is the way you are going.


  2. Hi Paddy,
    Thanks for reading. I am starting out with the validity of priests and then going into this particular case and whether he needs to be celibate or not. I use Hebrews, where it talks about Jesus being our High Priest and that with the law that replaced the Law of Moses, we can approach God on our own without a priest. I know I am sticking my head out there…just hope I don’t get pelted.
    But, the purpose of the priests in the Old Testament, was to make sacrifices for the people because only they could approach God. When Jesus died, He sort of opened the gate for everyone so we can all confess our sins, talk to Him about our problems, or whatever. He was the “perfect sacrifice, once for all”.
    Thanks for the comment. though.


  3. Well, I’ll not be throwing any stones – but this kind of dialog does help I think. Regarding priests, there are some misconceptions and some conflation of terms primarily due to translation issues.

    First thing to note is that Jesus’ lineage is not Levitical. Nevertheless, he is the perfect and only high priest. Second is that the term we use in English today for modern day priests is unfortunately the same term used for members of the Old Testament priesthood; “priest” is not an accurate translation of the position as it developed in the early church.

    It should go without saying that the modern day Catholic Priesthood is not a continuation nor is it a return to the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood, which among other things was hereditary. Jesus was High Priest “after the order of Melchizedek”, a priesthood that pre-dates the Aaronic Priesthood. (Jewish tradition holds, by the way, that Melchizedek is Shem, Noah’s first born son.)

    All through the New Testament we have reference to presbyters which etymologically simply means “elders”. We also have reference to Episcopate, from which we derive the term Bishop. It is clear that the early church (100 AD at least, possibly earlier) had both. As the apostles started churches and moved on, they left behind people in authority – elders or bishops. Today they are called priests or bishops.

    My point is things said in the Bible regarding the Aaronic priesthood simply don’t apply to the Catholic Priesthood as they are two different things.

    Usually when I point this distinction out, the person I say it to stares blankly as if I am speaking Japanese, shakes their head to dislodge the troubling idea, and then completely ignores it while they continue to push their point; we have ethnocentric blinders on that insist on thinking in terms of the New Testament as having originally been written in Modern English, rather than Koine Greek. It most certainly has an impact on the argument, though most people simply don’t care since the truth they are interested in is their version of “truth”. A little thing like language won’t dissuade most of us from our preconceptions. – Paddy


    • I hope the second half of the article helps clarify the points I made. I think decafmama added some relevant comments on church leadership.
      Thanks for the comment, though.


  4. Pingback: Should Priests Abstain From Fleshly Desires? – Part 2 | The Global Exclaimer

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