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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Plus ça change...

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The Lutheran Confessions remain ever-timely and relevant, even after more than four centuries.

Article 23 of the Augsburg Confession (1530) and the Apology (1531) address the still-contemporary issue of the all-too-common sexual scandal among the Roman Catholic clergy - often with the full knowledge and cover of the bishops - many of whom were, and are, themselves unchaste:

The Augsburg Confession:

Complaints about unchaste priests are common….

Since our priests wanted to avoid these open scandals, they married wives and taught that it was lawful for them to enter into marriage….

Seeing that man’s nature is gradually growing weaker as the world grows older, it is good to be on guard to make sure no more vices work their way into Germany. Furthermore, God ordained marriage to be a help against human weakness. Canon law itself says that the old rigor ought to be relaxed now and then, in these latter times, because of human weakness. We wish this would also be done in this matter. We expect that at some point churches will lack pastors if marriage continues to be forbidden. While God’s commandment is in force, and the custom of the Church is well known, impure celibacy will cause many scandals, adulteries, and other crimes that deserve punishment from just rulers. In light of all this, it is incredibly cruel that the marriage of priests is forbidden.

~ AC 23: 1, 3, 14-18 (emphasis added)

The Apology elaborates:

In spite of the great scandal about their filthy celibacy, the adversaries arrogantly defend pontifical law under the wicked and false excuse of the divine name….

Now let the wise reader consider how shameful these good-for-nothing men are. They claim that marriages produce scandal and disgrace to the government, as though this public scandal of criminal and unnatural lusts glowing among these Holy Fathers were a great ornament to the Church, while they pretend that they are Curii and live like bacchanals. Most things done with the greatest license by these men cannot even be named without a breach of modesty. These are their lusts, which they ask you to defend with your chaste right hand, Emperor Charles….

We cannot approve this law about celibacy that the adversaries defend, because it conflicts with divine and natural law and disagrees with the very canons of the councils. It is clearly superstitious and dangerous. It produces countless scandals, sins, and corruption of public morals….

[B]ecause this creation, or divine ordinance, in humanity is a natural right, jurists have said wisely and correctly that the union of male and female belongs to the natural right. Natural right is unchangeable. Therefore, the right to contract marriage must always remain where nature does not change, that ordinance which God gave nature does not change. It cannot be removed by human laws. Therefore, it is ridiculous for the adversaries to babble that marriage was commanded in the beginning, but is not now. This is the same as if they would say, ‘Formerly, when people were born, they were born with gender; now they are not. Formerly, when they were born, they brought with them natural right; now they do not.’ No craftsman could produce anything more crafty than these foolish things. They were created to dodge a natural right…. [T]he natural desire of one sex for for the other sex is an ordinance of God in nature, and for this reason is a right. Otherwise, why would both sexes have been created?

[T]his law about permanent celibacy is peculiar to this new pontifical tyranny. Nor is it without a reason. For Daniel 11:37 attributes this mark to the kingdom of Antichrist: hatred for women….

For a long time, good people have complained about this burden, either for themselves or for others whom they saw to be in danger. But the popes do not listen to these complaints. It is beyond doubt that this law is injurious to public morals, and has produced vices and shameful lusts. The Roman comedic plays still exist. Rome still recognizes and reads its own morals in them….

Nature is growing old and is gradually becoming weaker. Vices are increasing. Therefore, the divine cures should be used. We see what vice God condemned before the flood and before the burning of the five cities [this is a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah - Ed.]. Similar vices have come before the destruction of many other cities, such as Sybaris and Rome. These illustrate what it will be like in the end times.

~ Ap 23: 1-3, 6, 9-12, 25, 52-54 emphasis added

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Larry Beane3 Comments