What were the Church Fathers' views on celibacy? Did they see celibacy as a higher or more spiritual calling than marriage? Did they see marriage as incompatible with a spiritual life? Was there general consensus or was opinion split?
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The general consensus, following Paul's teaching, seems to be that marriage is good but celibacy is better.
Tertullian may have been the first to write about it:
Chrysostom, in his homily on 1 Timothy 3, explains the biblical rules for bishops:
He later elaborates:
So Chrysostom agrees that celibacy is better, but regards monogamous marriage as a practical alternative.
Evidently in Augustine's time, a monk named Jovinian wrote that celibacy was no better than marriage. Augustine responded with a treatise, On Holy Virginity, then, fearing he might be misunderstood, wrote another, On the Good of Marriage. [secondary source, can't find link to originals.]
It was a decision of the Lateran Council 1 1123 AD, Ecumenical IX Council of Bishops to forbid Priests, Deacons, or Sub-Deacons the intimacy of concubines, and of wives, and cohabitation with other women (with some exceptions.) Denzinger The Sources of Catholic Dogma