Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
CELIBACY, Political Aspects of. In the same country, at different times, religion has been seen exalting celibacy, making it a virtue, and the civil law condemning, stigmatizing and subjecting it to taxation, excluding it from certain honors or dignities. It is not our task here to decide what a church should prescribe to its believers. That is an affair of internal discipline, and we do not recognize in ourselves any right of interference. But in politics or in administration and taxation, every distinction between married and single men is unjust and rests on false views. The legislator hoped sometimes to be able to compel marriage, forgetting that the man who does not yield to the powerful law of nature which makes marriage desirable to every adult, and even to minors, has sufficiently strong reasons not to be forced to contract marriage by financial or other like penalties imposed by the state. We say it is unjust to make celibacy an offense, for more than one avoids marriage for reasons of health: others because they are burdened with a family which they are obliged to support, for example, aged parents, etc.; and still others from motives quite as landable. These celibates far from being punished should rather be honored for being able to overcome an inclination to which nature has given such power. Moreover, we understand (without justifying them, be it well understood) the measures favoring marriage in new countries, as though the facility of rearing a family were not a sufficient encouragement needing no other incitement; but in very populous countries it would be difficult to modify these laws in a suitable manner. Who knows but a time will come when people will think rather of encouraging celibacy in order to arrest, if possible, the rising wave of population?
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