A little over a year ago, we posted a couple of articles addressing some of Catholic apologist John Martignoni’s newsletters. The articles can be found here:
Martignoni also has a series of videos titled, “Questions Protestants Can’t Answer.” We recently ran across one that we would like to comment on. This is from his Question #21 and the video can be found here:
The question revolves around Matthew 19:12:
For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
So, Martignoni’s question is, “Who is Jesus talking about here?”
He seems to automatically think that Jesus is speaking of a very specific group, organization, or denomination here. And since this doesn’t “fit the profile” of Baptist, Evangelical, Methodist, or non-denominational ministers (at least he says that he is not aware of any), he seems to think that it is obvious that Jesus must be speaking about the priests of the Roman Catholic Church here. He must be speaking of the Latin Rite in the Catholic Church. According to Martignoni, it is these Roman Catholic priests who “fulfill” Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:12.
While we agree with John Martignoni that here Jesus is speaking about celibacy (abstaining from sex), we cannot agree with Martignoni’s conclusion.
This passage is not about members of one particular denomination or organization who are celibate. We find no such thing in Scripture. It is about individuals from all walks of life with a special gift from God (the ability to abstain from sex in order to devote one’s total focus and energy on serving God). This is the Protestant answer to Martignoni’s question.
Does Martignoni think that no one apart from the Roman Catholic Church is celibate? Or, if not, does he feel that they are not important enough to mention? Must it be that God could only be referring to a group or organization of celibates? No, indeed.
But Martignoni’s logic would be like the Mormons saying that Jesus’ words in Luke 24:32 (“Did not our heart burn within us?”) are specifically referring to THEM (with their famous “burning in the bosom” reference). Just because they can identify with the words of Jesus does not prove that Jesus is speaking specifically of the Mormon church.
Or it would be like a particular Baptist church saying that John the baptist immersing people in baptism (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10) is a reference to their church, specifically, since they do the same.
Of course, that is ridiculous, but this is what John Martignoni is doing. He seems to be pretending that Jesus is referring only to Roman Catholic priests. But no, you cannot apply a scriptural text to yourself and act as though God is referring specifically to your group just because you have, or do, something similar to what’s in the text. Sorry, John, it’s not all about you and your church.
Furthermore, Martignoni also mentions that the celibacy in this verse applies “whether they are currently single or currently married.” But we would contend that this cannot be. It cannot apply to those who are married, since those married are obligated to tend to the sexual needs (“due benevolence”) of their spouses (1 Corinthians 7:3, 5). Matthew 19:12 is speaking of those who voluntarily choose to not be encumbered with the responsibilities of a spouse and family. It is unwise and unbiblical to marry and then try to be celibate for the rest of your life. So, Martignoni’s statement about those “currently married,” yet celibate, is wrong. Jesus’ point is IF YOU HAVE THIS GIFT, then, and ONLY then, should you abstain from marriage / sex to serve God more fully.
But we believe that there are many in the Catholic Church (and also in Protestant and Orthodox churches) who have thought that they had this gift, but were sorely disappointed when they found out they didn’t. No doubt, much damage has been done to the cause of Christ because of this. So, if you think that you have this gift, you’d better make sure!
Catholics, like Martignoni, are quick to “see themselves” in certain passages of Scripture. In too many places in the Bible, they think that they see certain unique teachings of their own church when there is no such reference. They’ll try to force Catholic meaning into such verses. This is simply a pitiful attempt to legitimize the Roman Catholic Church.
It would not be so objectionable if John Martignoni had said, “We, as Roman Catholics, follow and obey that particular Scripture in Matthew 19:12.” But it is altogether arrogant to say that God is speaking specifically about his church when there are, undoubtedly, others who also “fulfill” that passage.
Again, there is no special organization or class of priests that Jesus is speaking of here.
Not only is John Martignoni’s question easily answered by Protestants, but it also reveals that he is simply assuming / reading something into the text.