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Knights Templar: A Monastic Order

A monastic order is defined as any religious order that practices the renouncement of physical desire so that they may devote their life purely to developing their spirituality. To some degree, this encompasses the philosophy behind many of the world’s largest religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Persons following this lifestyle are generally referred to as monks/brothers (for men) and nuns/sisters (for women). This term is often used to describe the life chosen by members of the Knights Templar, an organization whose history begins in the early 12th century.

During this time (around 1118), after the First Crusade had captured Jerusalem, many Christians began to take pilgrimages to the Holy Land – although that didn’t stop the native Muslims from persecuting them. Due to this danger, many decided to come armed, which eventually led to the development of the “Order of the Temple in Jerusalem”, whose responsibility was to protect the sacred temple; and from this came the commencement of the Templars.

Some have described their role in this regard as “warrior-monks”, as they were responsible both for physically defending the temple and for spiritually converting people to Christianity. In their early stages, the Templars simply followed the monastic principle of “Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience”.

However, as their popularity grew, the organization decided they would need to be more specific in their requirements, and in 1129 developed the “Rule of Order of the Knights Templar”, which contains what is now regarded as the “Primitive Rule,” the principles of which are strongly rooted in the writings of St. Benedictine, who preached in detail on the necessity of removing private ownership from the monastery.

In fact, the Templars maintained that in order for someone to become a member of their order, they must first vow to uphold the following: “One, to put aside and leave behind the sin of this world; the other, to do work of Our Lord; the third is to be poor and do penance in this world, that is for the salvation of the soul.” They also preached that their members must wear simple clothing void of any superfluous decoration, so that they may prevent their members from becoming vain or desirous.

They were also required to take a vow of chastity, since, according to the “Rule of the Templars”:

    Chastity is certitude of heart and healthiness of body. For if any brother does not take the vow of chastity, he cannot come to eternal rest nor see God, by the promise of the apostle who said… ‘Strive to bring peace to all, keep chaste, without which no one can see God’.

Women were considered distractions, and thus not permitted to become full members of the Order. Although all sexual acts were banned, sodomy was held in particular contempt, as homosexuality was considered a sin above all others; therefore, anyone suspected of committing such acts was immediately expelled.

All the rules of the Knights Templar were upheld under strict scrutiny, which led them to have a fairly clean record with regards to public scandal – a stark contrast to other religious sects who frequently found themselves at the center of controversy.


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