There are various reasons why Catholic priests and the Roman Catholic church chose to require priests to be celibate. But, for the sake of brevity there are secular (historical factors) and supposed sacred reasons. You are correct in stating that there seems to be a misleading idea that you can be more spiritual and therefore not contaminated with sensuality and sex which is obviously involved in marriage. There has been a history of this false idea with God’s people. In fact, the “Song of Solomon” was questioned as to its canonicity (ie., whether the book was inspired) in Judaism because of its sensual nature. In other words, there seems to be this false notion that sex and sacred work don’t mix.
However, there are two passages in the Bible that are badly misconstrued and used to propagate this unbiblical notion of Roman Catholic celibacy: Mat 19:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 7:6-8. I don’t have time right now to get into detail with this, however, I direct you to MaCarthur’s notes on this. They may be helpful. Basically, the gist is that they take these few verses and construct a whole doctrinal structure out of them. This is a typical misuse of Scripture. Secondly, the whole priestly idea of the Roman Catholic hierarchy is unbiblical and foreign to NT polity (leadership structure). 1 Timothy 3:1-12, Titus 1:5-7, Acts 20:28-32, 1 Timothy 5:17-22, Hebrews 13:7,17, etc. all give us an idea of what NT leaders are to be like and their qualifications and what their role and functions are. So, to start out with the priestly concept in Romanism is not NT doctrine. In fact, all the passages above that speak of the church’s leaders highlight and extol their marital and family connection with their ministries. Celibacy is not even mentioned. Indeed, this leads others to another extreme in the church which says you must be married in order to be an elder or pastor. Again, both ideas–the celibate and must be married–are extremes.
In Christianity, there is always a desire to overemphasize on certain things when the Bible is not doing that especially with the Gospel narratives. In fact, the biggest misuse of Scripture is probably in the narratives because of the very nature that they don’t have clear mandates in prescriptive style like the epistles. Anyway, we can get a little more into the passages above at a later time. But for now, the celibacy issue must be seen through the lens of Scripture and not through the artificial institutionalized structure of Romanism.
Pastor James T. Cater
6390 SW 32nd Street
Miramar, FL 33023