Are Anglican Priests Allowed to Marry? I Sure Hope So!


Can Anglican priests get married? What about deacons? Bishops?

As a married Anglican priest myself, I’m happy to report that the answer is “Yes“!


As Article 32 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion puts it:

Of the Marriage of Priests
Bishops, priests and deacons are not commanded by God’s law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage; therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.

Commenting on this article, Gerald Bray notes that

In England the road to clerical marriage was somewhat longer and more complicated [than it was in Europe for the Reformers]. Henry VIII would not hear of it, despite his own rather impressive track record, and Thomas Cranmer, who had married in secret, was forced to send his wife away. It was not until 1549 that it became legal for clergymen to take a wife. Quite a number did so, as we know from what happened next. When Mary I ascended the throne in 1553 and took the country back to Rome, one of her main concerns was to weed out ‘heretical’ clergy, which in practice meant those who had married after 1549. It seems that as many as a third of those in active ministry were deposed in this way, which is astonishing evidence of how rapidly clerical marriage had taken hold. On the other hand, Queen Elizabeth I did not like married clergy, and certainly not married bishops, and it was not until 1691 that a married man became archbishop of Canterbury! Nor could fellows of Oxford and Cambridge colleges marry and retain their fellowship, a rule which was not relaxed until 1882, some years after university fellowships had been secularised. (The Faith We Confess: An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles, 181).

Now, in the Christian life, both singleness and celibacy are vitally important and often neglected! After all, both the Apostle Paul and the Lord himself were both never married.

Nevertheless, although Paul recommended celibacy for those able and called to practice it (1 Cor. 7), he did not mandate it for leaders of the Church (1 Tim. 3).

Neither do Anglicans. Anglican bishops, priests, and deacons are allowed to get married.

Published on

December 2, 2020


Joshua Steele

Josh Steele was the first Managing Editor of Anglican Compass. Learn more about him at

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