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?
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