ToB #74 ~ The Vocation to Continence in This Earthly Life

… in the Old Testament tradition, marriage, as a source of fruitfulness and of procreation in regard to descendants, was a religiously privileged state: and privileged by revelation itself…

With this reference Jesus—in a certain sense—touches all these backgrounds, as if he wished to say: I know that what I am going to say to you now will cause great difficulty in your conscience, in your way of understanding the significance of the body. In fact, I shall speak to you of continence. Undoubtedly, you will associate this with the state of physical deficiency, whether congenital or brought about by human cause. But I wish to tell you that continence can also be voluntary and chosen by man for the kingdom of heaven…

In the Qumran community celibacy did not oblige everyone, but some members observed it until death, transferring to the sphere of life during peacetime, the prescription of Dt 23:10-14 on the ritual purity which was of obligation during the holy war. According to the beliefs of the Qumran community, this war lasted always “between the children of light and the children of darkness”; so celibacy was for them the expression of their being ready for the battle…


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