An Lucid Study on the Perceptions toward the Doctrine of Celibacy among Believers

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Published on International Journal of Social, Politics & Humanities
Publication Date: June 21, 2019

Otunaya, Abdulazeez Olalekan
M.A. Religious Studies
Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria

Journal Full Text PDF: An Lucid Study on the Perceptions toward the Doctrine of Celibacy among Believers (Study in Ijebu – Ode Local Government Area, Ogun State).

Abstract
Over the years, celibacy as a doctrine has been subjected to controversy among the scholars. In some Christian denominations, celibacy has now become a criterion to become a priest among them and this is not uncommon in Roman Catholic clergies. It is a conscious effort not to partake in marriage contract in one’s lifetime in order to serve God in holiness as perceived by some. In this light, this research sought to investigate Christians’ perception toward the doctrine of celibacy among Christians. Eight (8) research questions were formulated to guide the study and three (3) hypotheses were tested. A descriptive survey design was adopted for the study; (100) one hundred Christians were selected in Ijebu-Ode Local Government Area ofOgun State using simple random sampling technique to select the study sample. A self-structured questionnaire was used to obtain data from the respondents, out of 100 questionnaires that were distributed, 94 questionnaires were retrieved. The data collected was presented and analyzed using frequency count and chi-square. The findings of the study indicate that our contemporary cultures and the idea of celibacy are not significantly related; that the increase of immorality amongcelibates does not shown celibacy as mere hypocrisy; there is no significant relationship between Celibate life and law of reproduction (Gen. 1:28). Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended that Celibacy should be a voluntary thing and not to be imposed and the law of celibacy should be abrogated to make it easier for more people to volunteer for the Priesthood.

Keyword: Doctrine, celibacy, perception & Christians.

1. Introduction
Over the years, celibacy as a doctrine has been a subject of controversy among different scholars. It is the deliberate abstinence from sexual activity, usually in connection with a religious role or practice. Some see it as one significant way of serving God; for example, the Roman Catholic Clergy perceives celibacy as a spiritual option that gives the individual more time to attend to the things of God and full attention to the service of God. To become a celibate could also mean a state of being unmarried, or a state of abstinence from sexual intercourse or the abstention from marriage vow. Some Protestants, on the other hand, see “celibacy as nothing short of hypocrisy” and that marriage is the course for man. Another opposition could be observed from Martin Luther’s writings on the issue of celibacy in medieval age. Luther wrote extensively on marriage and he perceived marriage in Christianity has been made a low priority. Theological basis for the doctrine of celibacy is centred on the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus Christ never married during when he was on earth. His life is valid justification for the vocation to celibacy.
However, nothing much has been offered as a justification for the option of celibacy by its advocates as opposed to those who do not practice it.Celibacy is commonly understood as entailing a vow to abstain from all sexual relationships. Such a vow or intention does not necessarily mean continuous virginity, because a person could have been married or simply have engaged in sexual relations before taking a vow to remain celibate. Celibacy does not require a vow, however, when it is forced on a person because of social or religious circumstances, such as being on a religious quest, participating in a hunting expedition, or observing a religious ritual. Within the Western context, celibacy originates from the Latin term “caelebs”, which means “alone or single.”
Celibacy has existed in some form in most world religions. It may indicate a person’s ritual purity (sexual relations being viewed as polluting) or may be adopted to facilitate spiritual advancement (as sexual activity would take place only within the bounds of matrimony, marriage and families were seen as an entangling distraction). In shamanistic religions, shamans are often celibate. In Hinduism, “holy men” (or women) who have left ordinary secular life to seek final liberation are celibates. Buddhism began as a celibate order, though many sects have since given up celibacy. Chinese Taoism has monastics and independent celibate adepts. Islam has no institutional celibacy, but individuals may embrace it for personal spiritual advancement or religious task purpose. Judaism has prescribed periods of abstinence, but long-term celibacy has not played a large role because of the commandment in the bible (Be fruitful and multiply). The early Christian church tended to regard celibacy as superior to marriage. Since the 12th century it has been the rule for Roman Catholic clergy, though clerical celibacy was never adopted by Protestantism.
The on-going discovery of thousands of cases of molestation of children by Catholic clergy including recent reports on the case of abuse continues to scar the Catholic Church’s already rocky image. Yet debating the issue of celibacy only adds static to the church’s true underlying fatal flaw: a lack of transparency within a hierarchical system of power so intrinsically protective of misconduct among some Catholic priests that the church is now (likely) seen by the public as complicit in the abuse of minors.
Celibacy has been a problem for the Church for almost as long as it has had priesthood. In the eyes of the world, these kinds of vocations are a negative aspect of the Church. According to the common wisdom, celibate priests and consecrated religious make huge, unnecessary sacrifices. This is as a result of what could be termed shallow knowledge and ignorance of the very fact that Jesus Christ was the “author” of celibacy, that the practice was upheld by some Apostles e.g. St. Paul and also taught the need for such practice. Like all the big heresies, the rejection of celibate vocations sounds like it should be true. It certainly fits right in with the conventional wisdom to say that nobody should have to live without the sexual aspect of his human nature in order to live a full life. But, like all heresies, it’s based on man’s ideas, not God’s idea.
In order to proffer solution to the above stated problem, the research questions were formulated to guide this study;
a. How in fact does the Church understand celibacy?
b. Is celibacy of any relevance to being favoured by God?
c. Is the option to go celibate of any importance in the judgment of God?
d. What influence does our contemporary culture have on the idea of celibacy?
e. Can it not be argued that by imposing celibacy, the Church infringes the rights of the individual?
f. Has the increase of immorality among celibates not shown celibacy as mere hypocrisy?
g. Should the law of celibacy be abrogated to make it easier for more people to volunteer for the Priesthood?
h. Is there any significant relationship between Celibate life and law of reproduction?

2. Methods
2.1 Population, Sample
The statistical population of the study included all Christians in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area of Ogun State. The sample size was 100 Christians from different denominations. The sample was selected by simple random sampling technique from the whole population.

2.2 Methods
The research method used in this study was a descriptive survey method. The research was conducted with the use of a researcher-made questionnaire. It was designed based on set research questions. The questionnaire had a good validity and reliability. In the same vein, the questionnaires were distributed among Christians with their own personal satisfaction to sample their opinions on the doctrine of celibacy. The demographical data of the respondents were analysed using simple frequency count and data were analysed using chi-square statistical method at the significance of 0.05 level.

2.3. Tools
To investigate Christians’ perceptions towards the doctrine of celibacy among Christians in Ijebu-Ode Local Government Area of Ogun State, a researcher made questionnaire was used. The questionnaire consisted of 15 items that were measured using a four-point Likert scale.

2.4 Validity of the Questionnaire
After determining the research questions and hypotheses, a questionnaire prepared by the researchers was used to collect information. In order to ensure its validity, the questionnaire passed through a rigorous examination. After analysing the internal consistency of the questions, the questionnaire was factor analysed using the main components method.

3. Results
This section is mainly concerned with presentation of data collation and analysis. It presents the results of the descriptive and inferential analysis in such a way that the questionnaires items were answered and treated, thereby providing ways for decision-making. The purpose of this study was to examine the perception of Christians on the doctrine of celibacy. The data was analysed using SPSS version 16 where frequencies; percentages and chi-square were used to analyse and interpret the data. The chapter is divided into sections based on the research questionnaires. On the whole, a total number of one hundred (100) questionnaires were printed and distributed, but only ninety-four (94) of this number were properly completed and returned.Finally, summary of major findings and discussion of findings for the study were presented.

3.1 Demographic Characteristics

Distribution of Respondents by Gender

The table above shows that 67 percent of the respondents were male while the female constitute 33 percent of the total respondents. This could be attributed to the fact that the issue under study tend to concern most male than female in the sampled area.

Distribution of respondents by Age

The table above shows that 30 percent of the respondents were less than thirty years. 25 percent falls between 31 to 40 years of ages while 28 percent falls between the ages 41 and fifty years and 17 percent of the respondents were 51 years and above.

Distribution of respondents by marital status

The above table shows that 52 percent of the respondents were married while 39 percent were single and 9 percent have a divorced marriage.

Distribution of the respondent by Educational Qualifications

Table above shows that 5 percent of the respondents are Post graduate holders, 56 percent are B.SC holders, 10 percent are OND / HND holders while 25 percent are NCE holders and 4 percent of the respondents have other certificates.

3.2 Presentation According To Key Research Question
Celibacy is a vow of total submission to God’s servicewithout marriage.

From table above, it shows that 26 percent of the respondents strongly agree that celibacy is a vow of total submission to God’s service without marriage. Hence, enhance the progress of God’s work, 50 percent agree while 19 percent disagree and 5 percent strongly disagreed. This implies that solemn promise of total submission to God’s work without marriage will enhance the work of God.

Celibacy is a matter of discipline and not doctrine.

From the table above 32 percent of the respondents agree that celibacy has to do with discipline and not doctrine, 47 percent strongly agree to the same view, while 15 percent of the respondents disagree to the view and 6 percent strongly disagreed. It can therefore be deduced that priestly celibacy is based on discipline and not the doctrine of churches.

The influence of contemporary culture on the idea of celibacy

From table, it was deduced that 16 percent of the respondents agreed that the practice of celibacy had influence on our contemporary culture, 11 percent strongly agreed while 30 percent disagreed and 43 percent strongly disagreed. Therefore, it can be concluded that our culture does not give way for celibacy because an African man without a child is considered a waste.

By imposing celibacy,the Church infringes the rightsof the individual.

From table above, it was observed that 49 percent of the respondents agreed that the Church infringes on the rights of individual by forcing them to become celibates, 26 percent strongly agreed while 20 percent disagreed to this fact and 5 strongly disagreed. The conclusion which can be drawn from the above is that, based on the large amount of respondents that gave their consent lo the questionnaire, celibacy should be a voluntary thing and not to be imposed.

The increase of immorality among celibates has shown that celibacy is a mere hypocrisy

From table, it was observed that 47 percent of the respondents admitted that the issue of immorality among celibates made celibacy a mere hypocrisy, 15 percent strongly agreed while 22 percent of the respondents disagreed and 16 percent strongly disagree. This implies that immoralities among celibates dent the practice of celibacy.

The law of celibacy should be abrogated to make it easier for more people to volunteer for the Priesthood

A look at the above table shows that 39 percent of the respondents agree to the fact that the law of celibacy should be done away with, 53 percent strongly agree to this fact while only 8 percent disagree. This shows that the law of celibacy should be abrogated to make it easier for more people to volunteer for the Priesthood.

Celibate life is a way of going against the law of reproduction(Gen. 1:28).

The above table shows that average percentage of 11 of the respondents agree that there is significant relationship between celibate life and the law of reproduction, 23 percent strongly agree to this fact while only 38 percent of them disagree to this fact and 28 percent strongly disagree. This shows that celibate life and law of reproduction are not significantly related.

Celibacy is one of the signs of discipleship.

The table above shows that 28 percent of the respondents agreed that celibate life is a sign of discipleship, 45 percent strongly agreed to the fact while 17 percent of the respondents disagree. Only 10 percent of them however strongly disagree.

3.3 Test of Hypotheses
Hypothesis 1
Ho: Our contemporary cultures have influence on the idea of celibacy.
Let level of significance = 0.05
Degree of freedom (df) = (r- 1) (c- 1)
Chi – square, X2= E (O – E) 2
E
Contingency table E=24

Where O = Observed frequency
E = Expected frequency = Total observed frequency
S/N
:. X2 calculated = 24.26
Let Degree of freedom (df) at 5% (0.05) level of significance = (r-1) = (4-1) = 3
Chi – square (X2) tabulated = 7.82
Decision rule: If Chi – square calculated is less than (<) chi – square (X2) tabulated we accept Ho but if not we reject it.
Conclusion: Since X2 calculated: 24.26 is greater than (>) X2 tabulated; 7.82, then we reject Ho. Therefore, our contemporary cultures have no influence on the idea of celibacy.

Hypothesis 2
Ho: Increase of immorality among celibates has shown celibacy as merehypocrisy.
Chi – square, X2= E (O – E) 2
E
Contingency table E = 24
Where O = Observedfrequency
E = Expected frequency = Total observed frequency
S/N
:.X2 calculated = 21.93
Let Degree of freedom (df) at 5% (0.05) level of significance = (r-1) = (4-1)-3
Chi – square (X2) tabulated – 7.82

Decision rule: If Chi – square calculated is less than (<) chi – square(X2) tabulated we accept Ho but if not we reject it.
Conclusion: Since X2 calculated 21.93 is greater than (>) X2 tabulated = 7.82, then we reject Ho. Therefore, increase of immorality among celibates does not shown celibacy as hypocrisy.

Hypothesis 3
H0: There is significant relationship between the Celibate life and law of reproduction (Gen. 1:28).
Chi – square, X2= E (O – E) 2
E

Where O = Observed frequency
E = Expected frequency = Total observed frequency
S/N
:. X2 calculated = 14.51
Let Degree of freedom (df) at 5% (0.05) level of significance = (r-1) = (4-1)=3
Chi – square (X2) tabulated = 7.82
Decision rule: If Chi – square calculated is less than (<) chi – square (X2) tabulated \\e accept Ho but if not we reject it.
Conclusion: Since X2 calculated = 14.51 is greater than (>) X2 tabulated = 7.82, then we reject Ho. Therefore, celibate life and law of production are not significantly related.

4. Discussion of Findings
The main purpose of this study was to determine Christians’attitude towards celibacy.
In all, three hypotheses were stated and analyzed in the study. The results of the analysis were indicated in each of the table above. The result of the first hypothesis which sought to discover the significant relationship between our contemporary culture and the practice of celibacy indicated that our contemporary cultures and the idea of celibacy were not significantly related. This finding is consistent with (Kato B. H, 1976) “that children are clearly the lifelines of African societies as they guarantee conformity of the family line as well as ensure the continuum of ancestors into the living space and a typical African man without children is considered a ‘waste’ in the society”.
The second hypothesis states that increase of immorality amongcelibates has shown celibacy as mere hypocrisy. From the result of theanalysis of hypothesis two, it was discovered that increase of immorality among celibates does not shown celibacy as hypocrisy.
Finally, the third hypothesis states that, there is no significant relationship between Celibate life and law of reproduction (Gen. 1:28). The result indicated that an individual may choose to serve God in the celibate state. This is based mainly on personal conviction and the grace of God and not because the celibate expects to be elevated above his married counterpart on the ground of being celibate.

5. Conclusion
Findings of the study have pointed out that Celibacy was a church discipline that can draw support from the Bible though backed with no divine sanction (Matthew 19:12 and 1 Corinthians 17), It is based mainly on personal conviction and the grace of God and not because the celibate expects to be elevated above his married counterpart on the ground of being celibate.The freedom of choice of the individual is also important. For no reason should the celibate be seen as being closer to God or higher spiritually than the married. Celibacy or marriage does not determine faithfulness to god by the individual. An individual is free to choose whether to serve God in the celibate or married state, since both are recognized as possible ways to serve God.
Similarly, our contemporary cultures (African cultures) affect the idea and practise of celibacy. Children are seen clearly as the lifelines of African societies as they guarantee conformity of the family line as well as ensure the continuum of ancestors into the living space and a typical African man without children is considered a ‘waste’ in the society. Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made;
For everything that happens there is a reason, so it is true with the attitude of people towards celibacy. In order to enhance positive attitude towards the practise and idea of celibacy, the following recommendations are hereby proposed:
• Celibacy should be a voluntary thing and not to be imposed.
• The law of celibacy should be abrogated to make it easier for more people to volunteer for the Priesthood.
• Inter-bible study programmes should be carried out such as seminars, symposium etc., to educate the masses on the practise of celibacy,
• The years of vocation to the priesthood should be reduced in Catholic Churches to encourage the young ones to volunteer themselves.
• Admission into seminaries that is based on higher qualifications should be reviewed.