By Chris Lawson
(From Chris Lawson’s 2017 book Taizé—A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)
One of the primary characteristics of the all-male Taizé Community is the vow of celibacy that each Taizé Community monk commits to—for life. The Taizé website has published the complete vow, beginning with the following text:
After a time of preparation, a new brother in the Taizé Community makes his lifelong commitment. Here are the words used to express this commitment. . . .
Will you, in order to be more available to serve with your brothers, and in order to give yourself in undivided love to Christ, remain celibate?
This vow of celibacy required of the “brothers” in the Taizé Community is the same type of commitment required by Buddhist, Hindu, and Roman Catholic priests and nuns. While the vow of celibacy that these community members commit themselves to may appear pious and spiritual, the Bible does not require one to remain single and “celibate” in order to serve God and receive His blessings. Not only that, it can put one into a harmful snare that can lead to much destruction as the Bible warns.
Researcher and author Mike Oppenheimer presents one serious concern with this requirement of celibacy:
Why is there sexual immorality in a church? Very often it is because someone who burns with passion needs to be married. Paul answers this in 1 Corinthians 7:2-3: “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.”
Look at what has happened when priests are frustrated in something God commands is good. Because they have forbidden the priests to marry, the Catholic Church has a high percentage of improper sexual conduct, including sexual molestation of children. This is not to impugn specifically the Roman Catholic Church. There are other churches and groups as well that forbid people to marry and make men or women remain single when they are unable to successfully do so.
In the Bible, the qualifications of a priest or bishop do not forbid being married. The Greek word for bishop is episkopos and is translated in different Bibles using the same word as elder, presbyter, bishop, [or] priest. Titus 1:5-6 instructs these men to be married and to raise godly children.2
This is not to say that sexual molestation (especially of children) only takes place in groups that do not allow/encourage heterosexual marriage. We know that allowing heterosexual marriage does not per se solve the issue of abuse. For example, Frank Houston (a leader of the predecessor group to Hillsong in Australia) was married but was known to have sexually molested children.3
Sadly, the brothers of Taizé willingly restrict themselves from a lifetime of marital intimacy, blessing, and pro-creation. God’s Word speaks very clearly about the origin and practice of “the forbidding of marriage”:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils [demons]; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5; emphasis added)
Further implications of Taizé’s vow of celibacy can include the hundreds of thousands of young people who come to the community and witness this unbiblical practice. How many have desired to follow in the Taizé brothers’ footsteps only later to find themselves in situations that bring them shame and disgrace because they could not live a life where God had never called them?
1. “A Life Long Commitment” (http://www.taize.fr/en_article6.html).
2. Mike Oppenheimer, “Marriage and the Priesthood” (http://www.letusreason.org/rc20.htm).
3. Australian Government’s Royal Commission on Child Abuse (see several documents regarding Frank Houston’s sexual abuse activities: http://childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/search?searchtext=frank+houston+&searchmode=anyword). Also see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2785983/You-never-forget-moment-dad-s-paedophile-Hillsong-s-Brian-Houston-tells-devastating-10-seconds-realised-father-Frank-paedophile.html. Also see: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2785983/You-never-forget-moment-dad-s-paedophile-Hillsong-s-Brian-Houston-tells-devastating-10-seconds-realised-father-Frank-paedophile.html.