This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
Were this world all. and life limited by the existence of the- body, the physiologist could recognize no duty more imperative than that to the species, and no demand more im-portant than that to perpetuate its existence. But beyond this frail house of flesh is a life everlasting, and the prepara-tions to fit ourselves Worthily to enjoy it rank beyond any others. Therefore it is that the Master whose example is set before us for constant imitation, while ever referring to marriage as a holy and an honorable rite, himself remained unmarried. And the most gifted of the apostles, when questioned closely on this point by the Corinthian converts, wrote to them this advice: -
" As to the question which you have asked me in your letter, this is my answer: It is good for a man to remain unmarried. * * * In speaking thus, I do not mean to command marriage, but only to permit it. For I would that all men were as I am. * * * To the unmarried I say that it would be good for them to remain in the state in which I also am." (1 Corinthians, Conybeare and Howson's translation.)
It is undeniable from this passage that St. Paul believed tnat a more devoted life - though not necessarily a purer one - could be led by a celibate. There is no doubt of it. The calls of family affairs, the necessity of providing for wife and children, the time expended in the family circle, are all so many distractions which the celibate escapes. Not a few of the men who have distinguished themselves in science and art preferred for this reason to renounce marriage. Sir Isaac Newton, Kant the metaphysician, Alexander von Humboldt the greatest of modern physicists, the statesman Pitt, the sculptor Gibson, the philologist Jacob Grimm, and many others whose names are as familiar as these, owe their celebrity in a measure to the devotion a single life allowed them to apply to their favorite pursuits.
Hence it is that the Roman Catholic Church exacts celibacy of her priests, holding that thereby not only do they learn self-control, but that they can be more free to give themselves exclusively to the welfare of those under their spiritual charge. Lord Bacon urges the same view, saying:
"Certainly the best works and of the greatest merit for the public have proceeded from unmarried or childless men."
Such lofty motives as these, however, have little weight with most men, so we hasten to proceed to one that has, that is - economy. It is cheaper to live unmarried. The spiritual Michelet in his work on woman queries, or rather flatly denies this. But let him pass for an eccentric Frenchman. An American figures too closely to be persuaded that it costs less to keep two than one. "Whether the economy is not misplaced is an inquiry about which we shall have something to say hereafter.
Certain it is that this motive of economy is the chief one for most men deferring or renouncing marriage. It is particularly observable in large cities, where competition in business and expensive establishments go hand in hand. As celibacy for this cause is rarely continence, history shows it associated with a low grade of morals. Marriage had almost disappeared from ancient Rome before its fall, and to this fact a modern historical writer attributes its overthrow, so few native citizens being left to fight its battles. Paris and New York city both exhibit in their population a larger proportion of unmarried men than other cities in their respective countries, and also a more depraved state of society.
In ancient Sparta, and in some other states, laws have been enacted prohibiting celibacy, and several of the United States increase the taxes on single men after a certain age. It is presumed that if they escape so many burdens to which their married associates are condemned, they should at least pay more to support the institutions which protect all.
Love of liberty is often urged as a large item in the credit account of the celibate condition. A man can travel; he can stay at home or go out; he can smoke when he pleases an live where he pleases; he asks no one's permission, and is obliged to consult no one's convenience but his own. If not monarch of all he surveys, he is at least auto-crat in his own house, and lord of his own chamber. The yoke of matrimony, vinculum matrimonii, as the Roman law aptly called it, does not gall his neck.
All this is true, but is he any the better, even any the happier for it ? Does liberty in this plea not mean license ? But these are queries he must settle for himself. We cheerfully grant that his points are well taken as questions of fact. It is an old saying that he who takes a wife makes a sacrifice, and he who begets children gives hostages to Fortune. For all this, however, nature provides recompenses.