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Roman Catholicism in this fictional world is similar to our world, with a few key differences. Asherah was a female deity that was worshiped in the ancient world. She appears in the bible as a false god, and her followers were often persecuted. However, in other interpretations, she is shown to be the wife of Yahweh, who happens to be the god of two religions known as Christianity and Judaism.

In this world, instead of Asherah being declared a false god, she is embraced by catholic doctrine as co-creator of the universe and wife of God. She and Yahweh both created humanity as their children, the angels, etc, and is worshiped along with her husband. However, there is a problem here.

Priests of the Roman Catholic faith are called to rise above the desires of normal men, giving up all hope of starting a family. This means not being able to take a wife or have kids. The purpose of this is to avoid distraction, so that they could nobly dedicate their lives completely to God's service and spreading his message.

I want priests in this world to hold themselves to the same vows of celibacy that they normally take. However, with the inclusion of Asherah as God's wife, it becomes harder to justify it. How can I maintain priestly celibacy rules when Christianity has dual gods?

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    $\begingroup$ If by "Catholic" you mean the real world Catholic church, then the premise of the question is false. Only in the Roman particular church are priests supposed to be celibate; other particular churches, for example, the so-called Greek Catholic churches (those which use the Byzantine rite) are quite happy to ordain married men. And even in the Roman church, the celibacy of clergy was only imposed by the 1st Lateran Council in the 12th century; and there are loopholes to this day. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 18 at 15:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think you may not quite understand what "Catholic doctrine" actually is; therefore it's unclear what you're actually asking. Which kind of Catholic are you talking about (for starters)? The underlying premise of the query is interesting from a worldbuilding perspective, but if you don't know what you're talking about, you're just going to run yourself into trouble. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 18 at 19:04
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    $\begingroup$ This question is being discussed on meta (specifically, why is it on hold?). $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 18 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ Catholic Priests not being allowed to marry is comparably recent. Priests were only forbidden from getting married at the Second Lateran Council (1139), and men who were already married were allowed to become Priests until 1322 (when Pope John XXII outlawed it) - even then, it wasn't explicitly added to Canon Law until 1917. Furthermore, this was never about a single Creator - rather, it was about ensuring that the Priests put the good of the Community first, without worrying about their families - and to prevent dynasties. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Aug 19 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ I am curious to understand from where did you get the impression that Roman Catholic priests are required to be (1) virgins and (2) not have sons of daughthers. (Hint: they aren't. They are required to be not married. Widowers are and have always been acceptable. There is no impediment against a man who was married and has children becoming a priest.) I am also curious to understand why you would think that clerical celibacy must be "justified" in any way by the RCC. (Hint: it isn't. It is simply the law. Canon law. It is not a matter of doctrine.) Minus one for complete lack of research. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 21 at 4:57
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A co-creator needn't be a sexual partner. We're talking about god(s), who created the world out of nothing. In Jewish understanding (I can't speak for Christians), God created by speaking -- when it says "let there be light" that's not just a wish but an action.

In our world people get together to create things (products, companies, political movements, social initiatives, etc). They aren't necessarily going home together each night either.

If you want to have dual creators you can. Decide whether they divide tasks (how?) or are both part of everything. If it's the latter, maybe creation requires inputs (energies?) from both, and neither can create alone. If it's the former, then they might specialize or have assigned jurisdictions -- and they might even change it up over time for variety, depending on whether your gods can get bored or fall into ruts.

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    $\begingroup$ Christian understanding is the same: creation by spoken Word. The notion of creation through sex acts is nowhere to be found in Christian theology. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 18 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas except in some heresies, IIRC. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Aug 19 at 6:34
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Short answer: It doesn't today/Someone in authority decided it was a good idea.

As another answer has stated, your question is based on a false premise. I disagree what that false premise is.

The premise of your question is that celibacy for clergy of the Roman Catholic Church is the doctrine of said Church. This is false; it is instead a discipline. The Roman Catholic Church believes that its doctrines are infallible, immutable and eternal truths. For example, the Catholic Church holds as doctrine that Jesus Christ is God, and that will never change.

Disciplines are instead extremely mutable; they are essentially "mortal laws", which can and do change, and exceptions to them abound. Clerical celibacy, for example, was instituted by the First and Second Lateran Councils in 1123 and 1139, respectively.

Also, centuries before marriage was outlawed, church law proscribed chastity for the clergy and deaconate, i.e. you could be married but not have sex or have children.

So why would this restriction be placed in this duotheistic world?

  1. Prevention of a "clerical caste". Many other religions had a wholly or partially hereditary priesthood; even when it wasn't a requirement, it was a generally indication. (Most notably the Jewish Levitical priesthood was drawn exclusively from those descended patralinally from the Tribe of Levi).

  2. "No man can serve two masters": The Church sees the calling of the clergy as a full time primary duty. It feels that the clergy cannot fulfill both their clerical duties and their duties as a husband/spouse(see below) and as a potential father.

  3. Impartiallity (in reality and perception): Related to the above. By being cut off from the normal family-based world (especially during the medieval period when familial relations were paramount) helps the Church and the individual clergy be seen as independent, or at least, less beholden to factionalism of earthly divisions. In theory anyway.

In fact the two greatest theological changes I would find likely to see in your world are:

  1. Women potentially allowed to enter the priesthood (but not marry).

  2. Either a change in the Trinity or possibly keeping it but replacing the Holy Spirit with Asherah.

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Celibacy is a matter of practicality: if one has to devote himself to the community, having a partner might obstacle this complete devotion.

I.e. imagine that one wants to stand for the religion when doing his can pose his life at danger, or embark in a mission abroad: having a wife and being worried of leaving her behind might be a valid reason for stepping back.

Since the hierarchy, like any hierarchy, doesn't appreciate two feet in one shoe, the celibacy is a good way to ensure exclusivity.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is refuted by the many other religions, and other Christian sects, which don't impose priestly celibacy. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Aug 18 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ I get what you are saying, it goes not only for men-of-the-cloth, but for soldiers too, thus the long-standing prohibition of homosexuality in the military - ie adherence to group goals not personal loyalty and affection. +1 $\endgroup$ – We are Monica. Aug 18 at 17:36
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Your premise is false. AFAIK all Christian sects deny the existence of any sort of co-creator. Indeed, they more-or-less deny the existence of any other gods (or goddesses), period. So if your religion's god has a goddess/wife, it's not Christianity. It's either some other religion, or you're doing an alternate history where early Judiasm never dropped the god/goddess duality, which begs the question of whether Christianity would ever have developed.

You also have a second false premise here, equating non-celibacy with wanting to start a family. There are a good number of people who enjoy sex, but have no desire to procreate (or at least not right now), as evidenced by the sale of various birth control devices.

As far as I can tell, the celibacy thing arises from the Judeo-Christian belief that sex, especially the extra-marital, non-procreative variety (and I include homosexuality in this), is inherently sinful. Why this idea ever caught on is something I will never understand. People are just weird :-(

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    $\begingroup$ True for our real world. Incognito specifies that this is an alternate reality. Different strokes for different folks. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 18 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ The idea that sex is somehow sinful is not Jewish. Sex with certain people, including someone else's wife, is. But within marriage, sex is not just for procreation and is expected to be enjoyable. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 18 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ @MonicaCellio - Pretty much the same for Christianity (YMMV). Sex itself is not sinful; sex with certain people is (children, animals, same sex people, people other than your spouse). The "celibacy thing" is largely a matter of theology and tradition (and canon law). $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Aug 19 at 0:38
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    $\begingroup$ "Roman Catholicism in this fictional world is similar to our world" ... except it isn't. @jamesqf is correct: whatever the religion described in the question is, it has nothing to do with Christianity, much less with the canon law of a specific Christian church. A religion which contradicts the very first line of the Symbol of Faith -- I believe in one God -- cannot be in any way assimilated with the apostolic Christian churches, or with one of them, or with a particular subset of that church. Maybe it looks similar superficially, but its entire structure and belief system are different. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 19 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf: Original sin has nothing to do with sex. As in, absolutely nothing. The original sin was the transgression of the first humans against the divine command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 21 at 5:04
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There's really nothing to justify here. Just use the same rationale in your fictional religion that is used by the real one: the priest functions in persona Christi, meaning that his life and duties conform to that of Christ. Jesus never married and remained celibate and this is the chief reason why current Roman Catholic and monastic Orthodox priests are celibate. Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ (I Corinthians 11:1) and For there are chaste persons who were born so from their mother’s womb, and there are chaste persons who have been made so by men, and there are chaste persons who have made themselves chaste for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever is able to grasp this, let him grasp it (Matthew 19:12) etc.

What you're going to need to do is consider the history of the practice. There is no doctrine regarding celibacy within the Catholic Church. It's a matter of spiritual discipline and ecclesial regulation. For example, it's common for Easter Catholic priests to be married. Married Church of England / Presbyterian priests and married Lutheran (etc.) ministers who become Catholic and who are called to priestly ordination will simply become married Catholic priests. In the early centuries, we know that there was a mixture of married and celibate priests. The Apostle Paul was celibate, while the first Pope, Peter, was married. Celibacy as a clerical rule has a long history of debate and back-and-forth in practice. It'll be up to you whether the practice was enforced from the beginning or whether it had a long history of discussion & argument behind it!

Since you want this other world's Catholic priests to be celibate, whether by rule or by doctrine is not relevant, because you want them to rise above the desires of normal men, giving up all hope of starting a family then, that's all you need for justification! For rationale, I'd suggest the imitation of Christ is sufficient on both accounts. After all, he perfectly demonstrated both rising above the ordinary desires of the flesh and also taking on the entire world as his own family.

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  • $\begingroup$ with the inclusion of Asherah as God's wife, it becomes harder to justify it. - No, no it doesn't. God gets to do things that you don't. Deal with it, or literally go to hell. +1 $\endgroup$ – Mazura Aug 30 at 22:20
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The priests are acolytes of Asherah specifically. Rather than being "wed to the church" they are said to be "wed to Asherah." If they violate their vows of celibacy it's essentially seen as adultery against Asherah.

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Mankind: been there, done that.

An example that comes to mind are the Vestal Virgins of Ancient Rome. The roman mythology knows gods, that have wifes and children, yet it made sense to the Romans that certain people practice celibacy.

The manner in which the world was created is independent of the way the gods are worshipped.

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