Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 9. Ascetic Tendencies.” Sections 104-108, Loc. 17159-17485.
§ 107. Voluntary Celibacy.
Schaff finds an “exaggeration” of celibacy drawn from Matthew 19:12; 22:30; 1 Corinthians 7:7ff, and Revelation 14:4 (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17291). He considers it exaggerated because it is a view going beyond the bounds of the specific biblical passages. Other biblical texts make it clear that marriage is a good thing, especially for clergy (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17296).
Schaff observes that Roman paganism tended to exalt virginity, especially with the cult of the Vestals (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17302). Christians may have adopted a high view of celibacy from paganism combined with a desire for angelic purity.
The exaltation of celibacy was not an entirely bad thing. Schaff observes that the women in Christianity who didn’t marry were often considered with great dignity and received respect due to their frequent dedication to caring for the poor or the sick (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17313). The actual depreciation of marriage was at its peak later, in the late third century and after (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17318). There was always a recognition of the honor of purity and separation from cultural excesses. However, many, most notably Clement of Alexandria, considered marriage and celibacy alike as honorable ways of life (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17329).
Schaff goes on to list numerous instances of less balanced views of marriage. In some cases, the practice of celibacy also led to indolence (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17356) or even impure thoughts and actions. Schaff notes that as demands for clerical celibacy increased, instances of clergy violation of their vows also tended to increase (Schaff 2014, Loc. 17367).