Elective presented at the 2023 Priscilla & Aquila Centre research conference.
Speaker: Rachel Ciano.
It’s very common today to have pastors who are married, but that was absolutely radical 500 years ago. When Martin Luther defied church’s tradition that stretched back hundreds of years that pastors should remain single, what was he doing? Furthermore, when he reclaimed marriage, what point was he making?
In this seminar, as we look at clerical marriage in the Reformation, we will see a small snapshot of the radical nature of the gospel itself. Rachel Ciano argues that one of the key outworkings of the Reformers’ rediscovery of justification by faith is clerical marriage. Whereas celibacy was once a requirement of ministry, because ministry was viewed as a holy estate and celibacy brought you closer to God, the Reformers saw that we Christians, having been saved by grace through faith in Christ, are made holy by Christ’s death and resurrection. This means that all Christians—including clergy—have the freedom to choose marriage.
Rachel begins by taking a look at the medieval world and enforced clerical celibacy, before turning to the Reformers as they begin to marry, specifically examining the case studies of Luther, Cranmer and Calvin. She finishes with a discussion of some of the biblical and theological issues within clerical marriage.