The Evolution Of Sexual Mores
Sexual Ideals At The Beginning Of The Christian Era
The Old Testament book Song of Solomon is a collection of observations and pronouncements that depicts details of love, passion and sex, describing in vivid detail the beauty of the beheld and what it is in that person that arouses the sexual passions in the eye of the beholder. Solomon does not mince words, nor does he blush when describing his desires. This should show anyone who reads this that sex is normal, desire is normal, love is normal, human passion is normal, and that if the man who is considered the wisest man who ever lived understood this, then so should we. Love, passion and sex are driving forces that have shaped this world since humanity began, and these forces will continue to shape this world till the end of time. Sadly, people who do not know what to do with these gifts from our Creator have wrestled with them to the demise of many, and understanding Paul and his influence on our present day culture, Christian and non-Christian alike, we have to look at the evolution of sexual mores over the centuries. Because this is an extremely broad subject, I am confining this only to the contribution brought about by Christian writers and teachers.
Jesus is the example all Christians strive to follow, and when we do not have His words, we look to His disciples to expand on the holy knowledge, since they were His students. The disciples spent time personally with Jesus, and we would expect that they would have the answers to the all-important question, “What would Jesus do?” After the disciples, there is one generation after another of “graduating classes,” “Church Fathers,” men who spoke for Jesus by the authority of their “calling” and their proximity to, or lineage from, the original disciples. In the Early Church, this proximity to the original disciples of Jesus was bragging rights for authority when one spoke. Paul was not one of the original disciples, he was among the second generation of men who studied under the first-generation disciples of Jesus. And after Paul came generation after generation, graduating class after graduating class, and the views of just how strict the religion needed to be evolved and evolved, from century to century, from country to country, from “patriarch to patriarch.” The early words of Jesus and His disciples were parsed, pulled apart, put back together, twisted and turned to cover every question, and they were also interpreted to mean what the Church Fathers wanted them to mean. Many of these early Church Fathers were severe ascetics who held and taught some very interesting views. As we look at the evolution of sexual mores, the severity of the direction the Church took compared to the incompatibility with the Song of Solomon and the healthy view of sex it espoused will become more clear. The Song of Solomon and the view of the Church became polar opposites.
One of the greatest mistakes that people make, hard as it is to believe, is to think simplistically that, excepting cars and computers, Paul knew how we live today, and that we live in the same manner Paul did in his day, and that he wrote accordingly. By this faulty logic, he then was addressing every subject that comes up in modern society, and, therefore, we can find the answers to questions regarding sex by simply going to the Bible. Well, we can certainly find spiritual guidance as pertains to seeking God and Jesus, but when it comes to really how to live your life within the 21st Century, there is more not said than is said. And for those who say, “Just follow the whole Bible,” we certainly do not follow the rules of Leviticus when it comes to sex. No woman who calls herself a Christian stays away from the entire membership of her church for one to two months after giving birth because she is “unclean;” thirty-three days if it is a male, sixty-six days if it is a female (love that male chauvinism). But let’s not go that far back to see how times have changed with regards to sexual views. Let’s start closer to the time of Paul and work our way forward.
Early Roman Rulers And Their Love Life
A.D. 54, Nero became Emperor of Rome, and during his reign, he publicly married a man, not once, but twice. Nero had Doryphorous as his favorite lover, but, in A.D. 64, he married his wine steward, Pythagorus. In A.D. 65, Nero’s wife, Poppaea, died, and in A.D. 67, Nero had his male lover, Paris, put to death. Nero then married his male lover, Sporus. History records that Nero played the wife to Pythagorus and the husband to Sporus.
A.D. 98, Emperor Trajan began his reign. Trajan was homosexual and very popular among the citizenry. Trajan was known for his fondness of young men, and when Abgar VII, King of Edessa, incurred the wrath of Trajan, Abgar sent his handsome young son to ask for a pardon, which was granted.
At the time of Jesus, women did not take part in public life. They were kept at home to take care of the family. This was a male society, and women were property. Except for the hetaerai, the high-level female prostitutes, women just were not permitted to participate in any meaningful way in the “affairs of men.” If they went out at all, they went out covered with veils and headdresses designed to hide their identities. Jewish women wore two head veils, wrapped that with a head band that went around the head with ties going under the chin, and the hair was held up and out of sight with a hairnet and ribbons. It was a man’s world, and women really were treated like cattle. Sadly, women “knew” their place. God created women, man destroyed their value, and this was considered righteous. Some women carried this religious dedication to extremes, and would not even uncover their head inside their own homes, as if the sight of their hair was sinful.
A.D. 75-140, The Shepherd of Hermas was being composed. Whether written by one person over those years, or by multiple authors, no one can say for certain, but this much we do know, it was one of the most popular books for early Christians. This book had a great influence on the opinions of Christians with regard to sex. Here is a quote from The Shepherd of Hermas:
“He who had brought me up, sold me to one Rhode in Rome. Many years after this I recognized her, and I began to love her as a sister. Some time after, I saw her bathe in the river Tiber; and I gave her my hand, and drew her out of the river. The sight of her beauty made me think with myself, ‘I should be a happy man if I could but get a wife as handsome and good as she is.’ This was the only thought that passed through me: this and nothing more. A short time after this, I fell asleep. And the Spirit carried me away, and the heavens were opened, and I see the woman whom I had desired saluting me from the sky, and saying, ‘Hail, Hermas!’ And looking up to her, I said, ‘Lady, what doest thou here?’ And she answered me, ‘I have been taken up here to accuse you of your sins before the Lord. God is angry with you for having sinned against me.’ I answered her, ‘Lady, have I sinned against you? How? Did I not always respect you as a sister? Why do you falsely accuse me of this wickedness and impurity?’ With a smile she replied, ‘The desire of wickedness arose within your heart.’”
Influence Of The Marcionites
Marcion of Sinope, circa A.D. 85-160, was the son of a bishop, and was one himself. When he got a vestal virgin pregnant, he was excommunicated by his father, and Marcion thereupon left Sinope for Rome and developed a huge following. Eventually, because of his unorthodox beliefs, Marcion was excommunicated from the Church at Rome. Nevertheless, Marcion was a driving force for emancipating Christians from the last vestiges of Judaism, declaring that “Jesus has emancipated us from the legalistic requirements of Judaism.” His excommunication did not prevent him from continuing his work, and the resulting religion rivaled Christianity for 300 years. The Marcionites were found everywhere the Christians were, and even though he had been excommunicated, still one of the influences of Marcion on the Catholic Church was the insistence that sexual continence be required for admission to the Eucharist. This meant that, among the Marcionites, married couples were excluded from communion. In the Catholic Church, to celebrate the “Mystical Supper,” the line up was bishops first, unmarried and widows next, married lay-persons last.
Of note is that Marcion based his anti-marriage teachings on the writings of the Apostle Paul.
A.D. 101, Martial, in his Epigrammata 12.42, writes the following verse about two men marrying each other:
“Bearded Callistratus married rugged Afer in the usual form in which a virgin marries a husband. The torches shone in front, the wedding veil covered his face, and, Thalassus, you did not lack your words. Even the dowry was declared. Are you still not satisfied, Rome? Are you waiting for him to give birth?”
Portions of the Bible caused the Early Church leaders to feel that too much sexual discussion was contained therein, especially the Song of Solomon. Due to this fact, over the centuries to follow, there was a gradual shift away from allowing the common church member to read the Bible for himself. It was felt that this would be best left to the priest and the hierarchy of church leaders who were more “spiritually prepared” to handle such material. Gradually, the physical Bible was taken out of the hands of the commoners, and only the priests knew what it actually said. Once this happened, one’s sex life was in the hands of fanatically ascetic, sex-averse monks, and these church leaders established the sexual mores of the day with lists of rules, regulations, punishments, penitentials and lots of anti-sexual explanations for biblical verses. Due to this anti-sex attitude that began with Paul, early scholars wrote such books as The Acts of Andrew, The Acts of John, and others in which marriage was referred to as “a foul polluted way of life,” and “an experiment of the serpent.” These same books taught that Jesus came “to destroy the works of the female.” The fact that these books were not canonized later still did not diminish their impact on the Early Church, nor for that matter, on monks and church leaders for centuries to come.
Galen, the great philosopher/physician, circa A.D. 130-circa 200, was struck by what he called “the sexual austerity of the Christian communities.”
Saint Clement of Alexandria, ca. A.D.150-ca. A.D.200, was a celibate monk who taught that sex within marriage was not wrong, but “voluptuous joy,” i.e., sex without procreation, was wrong. He also condemned women who married each other, which shows a practice that modern day opponents of same-sex marriage fail to recognize, that being the existence of marriages throughout the ages that were not just man and woman.
Tertullian, A.D.150-230, taught that sex was detestable, and he so feared that engaging in sex would drive out the Holy Spirit that he actually publicly renounced his own sexual relationship with his wife. He wrote that women are “the devil’s door: through them Satan creeps into men’s hearts and minds and works his wiles for their spiritual destruction.”
Origen, circa A.D.185-254, who castrated himself for the kingdom of Heaven, found the Song of Solomon so detestable that he wrote, “Everyone who is not yet rid of the vexation of the flesh and blood and not ceased to feel passion of his bodily nature should refrain completely from reading this book.”
Heliogabalus, Emperor of Rome, who reigned from A.D. 218-222, was the high priest of the cult of Sol Invictus Elagabal, and as such, he elevated his god to be above all the gods of the other religions. Heliogabalus was only fourteen years old when he began to reign and was most likely bi-sexual, since he had sex equally, it seems, with both sexes. As the high priest of the cult of Sol Invictus Elagabal, he enjoyed the sexual rituals of temple prostitution, but his desire to dress as women and to paint his face with cosmetics caused him to be labeled as effeminate by his enemies. His extreme handsome features and his disregard for the opinion of senators and soldiers made him extremely unpopular, and he further alienated officials by placing his male lovers in positions of power. Though he married and divorced five women, he married his chariot driver, Hierocles, in a well-received public ceremony, and referred to him as his husband. Heliogabalus even had a brothel built in his palace so that he could act as a female prostitute. Eventually, his soldiers revolted and assassinated him in March of A.D. 222, while he was still just a teenager. After his assassination, his younger cousin, 14-year-old Marcus Bassianus Alexianus, ascended the throne. However, his mother, Julia Measa, ruled Rome as regent until her death in 223-224. Upon her death, power went to Julia Mamaea, a Christian and the mother of Alexianus, even though Alexianus then became Emperor Alexander Severus. Rule by a female went badly in Rome, and this was a cause of great unrest in the empire. This also continued to cause disrespect for Severus, since he was under his mother’s control. In an effort to win popularity with the senate and the soldiers, he deported all public officials who were considered former lovers of Heliogabalus and considered outlawing male prostitutes, exoleti, but changed his mind and ended up taxing all prostitutes, male and female, instead. In A.D. 235, both Emperor Severus and his mother were murdered by their own soldiers.
A.D. 236-238, Emperor Maximus, rose to power as the most popular soldier under Emperor Severus, and he was made emperor upon the assassination of Severus. He was anti-Christian and persecuted the Christian community. Maximus decided that the best way to end the unrest in Rome among the Christians, unrest that was brought about by a schism that had arisen between supporters of Pope Pontian and his archrival, Hippolytus, was to deport both of them to the mines of Sardinia where they both died. Maximus was murdered by his troops.
Emperor Philippus, reigned from A.D. 244-49, was rumored to be Christian, and if so would have made him the first Roman Emperor to be such. He outlawed the exoleti, male prostitutes.
Pope Marcellinus, A.D. 296-304, was Pope during the Diocletian persecutions of A.D. 303, and handed over the Scriptures to Roman authorities. He also burned incense to pagan gods.
A.D. 305-306, the Church continued its move against homosexual relations when the Council of Elvira forbade giving communion to men who had young male lovers, the erastes/eromenos relationships of Greek culture.
A.D. 305, the Spanish provincial Synod of Eliberis enjoined bishops, priests and deacons to separate from their wives. In A.D. 325, the Council of Nicaea reversed this ruling. However, this was then reversed in A.D. 385 by Pope Siricius who demanded their complete celibacy.
Arnobius, deceased circa A.D. 317, taught that sex was filthy and degrading, and challenged as blasphemers anyone who suggested that Jesus was “born of vile coitus and came into the light as a result of the spewing forth of senseless semen, a product of obscene gropings.”
Because most cults and their temple rituals included sex, Emperor Licinius, A.D. 320, made laws that forbade Christian men and women from appearing together in their houses of worship.
Under Emperor Constantine, Christianity finally became the imperial religion of Rome in A.D. 313. The Gnostics taught against sex and had strong influences in the Early Church, and their teachings had a great influence at this time, because the Church had grown into competing rival factions, and the best way to hurl an insult at another faction was to accuse them of engaging in bizarre sex rituals like the cult temples. From this point on, the various factions would lean heavily toward the anti-sex teachings of the Gnostics in order to avoid appearing to resemble the sexual freedoms of the pagans.
In A.D. 314, the Council of Ancyra excluded all men who engaged in homosexual relations from receiving the sacrament.
A.D. 326, Christian Emperor Constantine had his son, Crispus, put to death on account of a false allegation made by Constantine’s wife, Fausta. Then, a few months later, finding the truth, Emperor Constantine had Fausta put to death by being suffocated in an over-heated bath. This was the great Christian Constantine showing the love of Jesus.
A.D. 337, on his death bed, Emperor Constantine had himself baptized by Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia.
At this time there was a war growing between the very powerful eunuchs who were always in positions of respect, power and trust at the royal courts, and those not-so-favored Church bishops who resented this, particularly because of a great theological division that had arisen. That division came about due to the difference between those who thought that Jesus was NOT the son of God by birth, but was adopted later by grace, the Arians, and those who thought that Jesus was born the son of God, the Nicenes. The powerful eunuch Eusebius was an Arian, and he greatly controlled the royal court of Emperor Constantine. The only way to get the powerful Arian eunuchs out of their way was to begin work that chipped away steadfastly at the rights of homosexuals, thus the eventual end of the eunuchs. Of note is the fact that Eusebius continued to serve under the son of Emperor Constantine, Constantius II, and it was Constantius II, a Christian, who issued a decree in A.D. 342, that recognized homosexual marriage as long as neither male partner was effeminate:
“When a male gives himself in marriage to a “woman” (effeminate man), and what he wants is that the “woman” play the male role, where sex has lost its place, where the crime is such that it is better not to know it, where Venus is changed into a different shape, where love is sought but not found, we order laws to arise, justice to be armed with an avenging sword, so that the disgraced persons who are or in future shall be guilty may be subjected to exquisite penalties.”
Theodosian Code 9.7.3
The gradual undermining of the power of the homosexual eunuchs continued at such a pace, that by A.D. 390, the pendulum had swung a full 180 degrees, and the Catholic Church could now control the empire. The Catholic Church used the definition of eunuchs in Matthew 19:12 to mean people born with anatomical birth defects, thus depriving homosexual eunuchs of their biblical protection, and began to teach that homosexuality was the sin of Sodom.
A great comparative analogy would be to consider how Hitler completely reversed the direction of Germany and systematically took control while slowly poisoning public opinion and turning a nation against its Jewish citizens. He went from total obscurity to complete control of a near empire, and he turned a once integrated segment of German society into a scourge worthy of death in the concentration camps. Such is the power of deliberate and orchestrated erosion when it is used against others within the world of politics . . . and even the Church. False accusations and twisted logic made the Jews evil, but they never were, really. If you believed the lie, then the Jews were evil, but if you didn’t swallow the poison, then you knew that the Jews had not suddenly become evil. They were not evil before Hitler’s campaign, and they were not evil during it. Likewise, homosexuals were not now evil just because the Nicenes needed them to be in order to gain power. But, we have been centuries undoing the damage that began at this time. Sad to think that people cannot think for themselves and follow the simple truth that is before them, that being that God made us all. We all belong to Him. How long till we all see that? This evolution of turning accepted homosexuality into despised, even sinful, homosexuality was the introduction of deliberate ignorance designed to make homosexuals a hated minority. What began in the Church continued to be endorsed and embellished by that same Church through the centuries to come.
The sons of Constantine decreed that “Every person who condemns a man’s body to acting the part of a woman, shall be burned.” Codex Theodosianus IX,7:3.
A.D. 385, Pope Siricius declared that celibacy would be required of all priests.
A.D. 380-392, Emperor Theodosius I of the East reunited the Roman Empire, whereupon, he made Christianity the religion of the State and outlawed pagan rituals, including the Olympic Games. The Edict of Theodosius, A.D. 390 in Rome, demanded that male prostitutes in Rome should be burned. Burning was selected because of his belief that such action would thereby imitate the flames that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Thus, in application of that edict, the prostitutes were dragged into public squares and burned alive while mobs cheered.
Saint Jerome, A.D. 331-420, taught that human sexuality was fundamentally detestable. Jerome translated the Scriptures into Latin, and this translation became known as the Vulgate. By A.D. 400, it had become the standard Western Christian Bible. During this time, under the celibates, virgins were viewed as “brides of Christ,” and for anyone to take away a girl’s virginity was considered a crime against Christ. Because being a virgin was viewed as superior to being married, nunneries grew in number. Married couples were encouraged to avoid sex and remain virgins. Jerome wrote, “I praise marriage and wedlock, but I do so because they produce virgins for me.” Jerome’s contempt is not hard to see in this passage from his Letters CXXIII, wherein, he recalls having seen a married couple “from the very dregs of the suburb. The man had already buried twenty wives, and the woman twenty-two husbands. Now they were united to each other, as each believed for the last time. Great curiosity prevailed to see who of the two veterans would live to bury the other. The husband triumphed and walked before the bier of his often-married wife, amid a great concourse of people from all quarters, with garland and palm-branch, scattering spelt as he went along among a cheering crowd like a victorious gladiator.”
If we lived according to Jerome, this is what he had in mind for “good Christian women” as he describes her in his Letters XXIV:
“By her very dress, shows herself as one who has condemned the world. Her ways are quiet and she lives in great privacy. She rarely speaks to a man. She works with her own hands, for she knows that it was written: ‘If any will not work neither shall he eat.’ She hurries to the martyrs’ shrines unnoticed. All year round she observes a continual fast, remaining without food for two or three days at a time with a cheerful countenance.”
Later, Jerome speaks of one such woman, whether she actually existed, or was a figment of his fertile imagination, who “lived this kind of life until her fiftieth year without weakening. Lying on the dry ground did not affect her limbs, and the rough sackcloth failed to make her skin either foul or rough. With a sound body and a still sounder soul Asella sought all her delight in monkish solitude, albeit in the centre of busy Rome.”
What an attitude toward women! And this is the voice of the powerful Church dictating to the lives of everyday people!
A.D. 375, St. Basil of Nyssa, First Canonical Epistle to Amphilochus of Iconium, demanded a fifteen-year penitential of men who had sexual relations with men. A.D. 390, this is reaffirmed by Gregory of Nyssa. Men who had sex with men were now equated with those who committed adultery, pederasty, incest, bestiality, idolatry, witchcraft and murder.
Saint Augustine, A.D. 354-430, “converted” in A.D. 387, and promptly left his wife and second mistress, this after having already left his first wife of seventeen years, who was the mother of his son. He turned his home into a monastery and called himself the Bishop of Hippo, and from this point on began to write as a monastic monk, reflecting the ascetic and severe views against sex that were prevalent at that time. Before this, Augustine had studied the works of Plotinus, the neo-Platonist who taught Plato’s views that the mind/soul was at war with the body, but also that mystical ecstasies could be had if the person denied himself sex. Augustine was also a member of the Manichaean sect for eleven years, a sect that taught that Adam and Eve were actually offspring of the devil’s children, and that sex and procreation were nothing more than a continuation of that event. Therefore, sex and procreative sex all belonged to the Devil. Augustine evolved in his thinking, and eventually wrote that sex for procreation was a necessary evil, and that it should have absolutely no pleasure. He even taught that Adam and Eve, if they had sex at all, did so in a mechanical manner with no pleasure in the act. Augustine taught that a man could take another wife if the first one was incapable of bearing children. He also stated that prostitution was necessary, and that if you banished prostitutes, you would “reduce society to chaos through unsatisfied lust.”
In Augustine’s autobiography titled “Confessions,” Book 4, Chapters 4-6, he describes his loving homosexual relationship with another young male when he was younger, which he compared to the two Greek lovers Orestes and Pylades, and he states, “I felt that his soul and mine were one soul in two bodies . . .”
When his friend died from a illness, Augustine had been so in love with him that he, himself, contemplated suicide, writing, “. . . and life, therefore, to me was horrible, because I hated to live as half a life. I feared to die, lest he should wholly die whom I had loved so greatly.”
Saint John Chrysostom wrote, “Among all savage beasts, none is found as harmful as woman.”
Monks of this era taught that man was created for a sexless state, and only through monastic celibacy could they regain that state. They misinterpreted the scriptures where Jesus spoke of men and women not being given in marriage in Heaven. Gnosticism, and its teaching that the body was evil and only the spirit was good, was still influencing these celibate monks. And these monks were the writers and teachers of the Church.
If one studies the Stoics of the early Greek and Roman culture, one sees their continued influence on the Early Church with regards to sex, since they taught that nothing should be done for the sake of pleasure. Sex was pleasurable, and the monks were teaching that people should abstain. And one can also see the Persian Gnosticism wherein the belief was held that demons created sex and the body, and that your soul was trapped in this demonic creation. Only by denying pleasures that the body craved would one free the trapped soul, sex being one of those pleasures. Sex and its accompanying pleasure were damned by these thinkers. Further, Plato had taught that the mind/soul was at war with the physical body, and that we would all be better if we denied ourselves sexual pleasure. Plotinus later taught that mystical ecstasies could be experienced if people denied themselves sex, so later Christian monks were led to meditate on the mind/soul and deny the body, which ultimately led to such acts of depravity as sleeping in the cold, long fasting, even self-flagellation.
A.D. 410, Rome was invaded and pillaged by the Goths, then re-invaded and sacked by the Vandals in A.D. 455. A.D. 506, adopting the Roman-Christian laws of the conquered, Visigoth Alaric II decreed that men engaged in homosexual relations should be burned at the stake.
During the fourth and fifth centuries, the popularity of the Virgin Mary increased immensely, and her example of lifelong virginity being widely accepted by the populace added weight to the demands of the Church that priests and nuns should accept compulsory celibacy.
In A.D. 529, Justinian the Great ordered the Academy of Plato in Athens closed. This academy had been in operation for almost one-thousand years.
A.D. 533, Justinian decreed all homosexual relations to be the same as adultery and made them guilty of the death penalty.
A.D. 538, Justinian ruled that men who had sex with men should be tortured, mutilated and castrated. In his Novella 77, he ruled that these men should be put to death so that whole cities might not be subject to God’s wrath like Sodom and Gomorrah, and said that such unholy men were the causes for earthquakes, pestilence and famine. He had Bishop Isaiah of Rhodes and Bishop Alexander of Diospolis mutilated and dragged through the streets
John Malalas, the Byzantine chronicler from Antioch, A.D. 491-578, in his work “The Chronicle,” Book 18, verse 58, wrote these words in A.D. 528 as a result of actions taken by Justinian:
“In that year some of the bishops from various provinces were accused of living immorally in matters of the flesh and of arsenokountes (this is the actual word in the original, and I refuse to use any interpretation that places the word homosexual here, since this word was not invented yet, and arsenokountes does not mean homosexual. The proper translation would be a form of arsenokoitai, which I have spent sufficient time explaining earlier.). Amongst them was Isaiah, bishop of Rhodes, an expraefectus vigilium Constantinople, and likewise the bishop from Diospolis, in Thrace named Alexander. In accordance with a sacred ordinance they were brought to Constantinople and were examined and condemned by Victor the city prefect, who punished them: he tortured Isaiah severely and exiled him, and he amputated Alexander’s genitals and paraded him around on a litter. The emperor [sc. Justinian I] immediately decreed that those detected in paiderastiais (erastes and eromenos—men having young men as lovers) should have their genitals amputated. At that time many androkoitoi (men who bedded men) were arrested and died after having their genitals amputated. From then on there was fear amongst those afflicted with arrenon epithumian (manly desires).” I have seen translations of this passage that erroneously insert the word homosexual for all the words I have written in Greek. The ignorance is obvious, the bigotry inexcusable!
Procopius in his work “Anecdota” wrote that Justinian was ruthless and reckless when it came to enforcing these laws. He even forced slaves to falsely accuse his enemies so that they, too, could be thusly tortured. In the words of Procopious:
“Consequently, if one should care to estimate all the misfortunes which have befallen the Romans from the earliest times and then to balance against them those of the present day, it seems to me that he would find a greater slaughter of human beings to have been perpetrated by this man than has come to pass in all the preceding time.”
By all accounts, Justinian was afflicted with intense sadistic drives that would rival the worst tyrants of history, and he took great pleasure in the demise of others. Justinian used the church’s rules, not because he believed in them, but because they gave him more tools with which to torture his enemies or anyone who slighted him in any way. Further, the bishops under Justinian took advantage of Justinian’s sadism to further their own ecclesiastical agendas and gain his favor. Under Justinian’s rule, the empire gradually became a Church-State, and every aspect of personal life was regulated as if in a monastery. By the late sixth century, most civic and imperial functions were taken over by the bishops and the Patriarch. Due to this influence, by the beginning of the seventh century, the typical city under the Byzantine Empire was virtually a religious community under church rule. The anti-homosexual laws written and enacted by Justinian would influence the laws of Europe for centuries to come.
A.D. 567, the Second Council of Tours decreed that monks must not sleep two to a bed.
The seventh century Visigoth Code ordered castration for any man caught having sex with another man.
The Dark Ages saw a more entrenched belief that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as a result of God’s anger over men having sex with men. Therefore, the word sodomite took on special significance, as it was assumed that the “sins” of the “sodomites” could ruin a kingdom by bringing about the wrath of God. For this reason, and thanks in great part to Justinian, “sodomites” were burned at the stake, and in most cases their papers and trial records were burned with them so as not to spread their disease.
A.D. 650, King Kindasvinth of Spain, where Christianity was especially prevalent, issued an edict against the what he termed “execrable moral depravity.” By his orders, both partners in a homosexual relation were required to recant their actions and beg for forgiveness. Refusal meant that they would be excommunicated and castrated. Any man convicted of this crime became a legal non-entity, and his wife was absolved of her marriage to him. She was therefore free to remarry. Furthermore, he would be homeless, because his sons would then immediately seize any property he might have owned.
A.D. 693, King Egica, at the 16th Council of Toledo, ordered that anyone caught in a homosexual relation would be punished with 100 lashes of the whip, have his hair shorn, be castrated and sent into exile.
Gradually, homosexuality became a civil crime throughout Christian Europe. Emperor Charlemagne condemned “sodomy,” and Alfred the Great condemned the “disgusting foulness . . . as contagious as any disease.”
During this period, the Penitential System evolved, a collection of handbooks of penances which began in the Celtic churches of Ireland and Wales, then spread to England, France and Germany. These books described in detail what each and every sexual situation was that could be encountered in the “sin of sodomy.” Of course, these books condemned every one of these “sins of sodomy,” and assigned a level or degree of sin to each one. Depending on the degree of sin of the act to which a person was confessing, a level of self-mortification was indicated.
A.D. 670, Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote in his famous and much-referred-to Penitential, a list of penances for adults who engaged in mutual sexual relations, some of which I list here:
“He judge that he who often commits fornication with a man or with a beast should do penance for ten years;
He who after his twentieth year defiles himself with a male shall do penance for fifteen years;
A male who commits fornication with a male shall do penance for ten years;
Sodomites shall do penance for seven years, and the effeminate man as an adulteress;
‘Qui semen in os miserit’ shall do penance for seven years; this is the worst of evils. Elsewhere, it was his judgment that both participants in this sin should do penance to the end of life.” (“Qui semen in os miserit” is fellatio.)
I like this one—“If birds drop dung into any liquid, the dung shall be removed from it, and it shall be sanctified with holy water, and it shall be clean food.” VII, 10. And for a few more to round out the glance at Saint Theodore’s contributions, 3 years for lesbian relations, 7 years for anal sex. It is interesting that, for comparative study, the penance for murder was 7 years, because Theodore believed that fellatio was the worst sin of all. Isn’t it interesting how far we have evolved? Today, murder is punishable by death, and fellatio makes you popular.
This next set was especially invasive of the bedroom: kissing boys under the age of 20 was worth 6 special fasts, 8 if it was “licentious kissing,” 10 fasts if one had “emission,” longer periods of fasting if the kissing involved mutual masturbation, and even more so if the partners were over twenty years of age. And the sentence could vary depending on whether you were the active or passive partner. Funny also was the fact that the penance for sex with a beast was cut in half if you did not have a wife. Insert your own punch line there.
In defense of Theodore, himself, no doubt a pious man, the Penitential of Theodore never professes to be written by him directly, but is undoubtedly written by one of his presbyters, a man by the name of Eoda, who put the collection together from answers given to him by Theodore personally.
A.D. 700 And Later
The eleventh century Bishop Burchard of Worms wrote in his penance lists that any lesbian using an artificial penis would do penance for one year if she used it alone on herself, five years if she used it on another woman, and if she were a nun, the penance would be seven years. It is interesting to note how many of these penitentials relied on the misconception that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for homosexuality. Cummean, 7th Century uses the words “qui faciunt scelus virile ut Sodomite;” the Burgundian says “sicut sodomite fecerunt;” and Burchard of Worms writes “fornicationem sicut Sodomitae fecerunt,” just to list a few. This error was common. Gradually, this word “sodomite” becomes not the word denoting nationality of citizens of Sodom, but a derogatory term for anyone engaged in homosexual relations. From this error grew acceptance of this as fact, as if there was such a sin as “sodomy,” as if this was why Sodom was destroyed, as if anyone who was not heterosexual in all things was, therefore, worthy of being damned eternally. And prejudice now had a legality based in the Church.
A.D. 789, the court of Charlemagne issued General Admonition Number 49 which reiterated the anti-homosexuality admonitions of the Council of Ancyra, and ordered bishops and priests to rid the kingdom of this sin.
A.D. 900 And Later
A.D. 960, St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, embarked on moral reform of the Church and society which resulted in Church law becoming the foundation for civil law. Morality was now legislated. Thus, penances began to be enforced by the civil courts, and for centuries to come, “criminal offences” would be punished not because the offences were logical or based in social order, but because some religious zealots living in monasteries had finally succeeded in laying their guilts on the common man.
A.D. 1000 And Later
A.D. 1051, Peter Damian published his “Book of Gomorrah,” Liber Gomorrhianus, which was an appeal to Pope Leo IX to condemn homosexuality among the clergy. Apparently, Damian had seen this firsthand, and since he was a celibate monk who felt that all sex was evil, what he saw in the confines of the Church went against all that he personally believed. Thus, he wrote his Book of Gomorrah, describing sex acts in the most horrifying and absolutely over-exaggerated rhetoric possible. Reading his words, I could almost see him literally frothing at the mouth, so condemnatory were they. I cannot help but feel that here was a man who felt that since he was not permitted to indulge, no one else should be allowed to get away with it, either, and he railed against the unfairness of it all by trying to paint the sexual activities he had witnessed in the most alarmist writing possible. Further, he did not confine himself to brevity, filling page after page with frantic comparisons of Heaven being lost and Hell being guaranteed if immediate and severe punishment were not meted out by Pope Leo. Fortunately, Pope Leo had a little more charity, and rather than act according to the harsh and alarming punishments sought by Damian, there would be no fire and brimstone from Leo. He ignored Damian’s requests for maximum penance for every homosexual activity and admonished him to have greater compassion. Nonetheless, Pope Leo did not disagree that the “sins” were sins, just with the severity of the requested penances. Thus, Damian’s epistle codified the stance regarding homosexuality and the Church.
It should be noted that Peter Damian was a fanatic zealot. By the age of 29, he was already in a cloistered monastery, the Benedictine hermitage of Fonte Avellana near Gubbio. He was so given to self-mortification through penance that he nearly died. Once his health recovered, he continued to devise ways to punish himself, and it was Peter Damian who introduced the practice of self-flagellation to his order, a practice that became very popular with other monasteries. Doesn’t it make you wonder what normal human desires Peter Damian was struggling with in his own life? Maybe he thought that if he could outlaw all others from participating in sex, his sexual desires would not be aroused, since he would no longer see anyone engaging in the act.
Circa A.D. 847, Benedictus Levita wrote a collection of capitularies that listed the General Admonition Number 49 from the court of Charlemagne and declared that the kingdom was being destroyed because of homosexuality. The penalty for homosexuality was now death, or, if the person was permitted to live, then the penances were to be those decreed by the Council of Ancyra.
A.D. 1049, the Council of Rheims declares “de sodomitico vitio,” homosexuality, to be sin and passed a canon against it.
A.D. 1100 And Later
A.D. 1102, the Council of London was convened by King Henry I at the urging of St. Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury. This is the same Anslem who, only a few years earlier, had been driven into exile by the homosexual king, William II, or William Rufus as he was often called. Further, King Henry I, who ordered the convening of the Council of London, was the younger brother of the late King William Rufus. According to some accounts, Henry I was behind the assassination of William Rufus in A.D.1100. Henry I had himself declared king immediately upon the assassination of his brother. The Council of London declared that “those who commit the shameful sin of sodomy, and especially those who of their own free will take pleasure in doing so, were condemned by a weighty anathema until by penitence and confession they should show themselves worthy of absolution.” Any clergy found guilty of sodomy was to be stripped of his priesthood. Further, it decreed that any lay person found guilty of sodomy “should be deprived of his legal status and dignity in the whole realm of England.”
It would appear that this council was directed at King William Rufus, even though he was dead, because it would give some benefit to Anselm for all of his suffering at the hands of William Rufus, perhaps even to rehabilitate Anselm’s image and reputation. For whatever reason, once the council had come to the points in the declaration, Anselm did something interesting. The council issued a decree informing the public of the severity of sodomy, and that in the future, the public should be aware that sodomy was a sin. However, Anselm wrote a letter to his archdeacon and directed him, much like Pope Leo IX toward Damian Peter, that he instruct those who meted out the penances toward those caught in the sin to consider the circumstances, since “this sin has hitherto been so public that hardly anyone is embarrassed by it, and many have therefore fallen into it because they were unaware of its seriousness.”
Of note is the fact that many scholars believe that Anselm was, himself, homosexual, proven by his love letters to other males. Anselm never had the decrees of the Council of London published, but they did direct the clergy. Still, several years after the council, one prelate complained to Anselm that “the sodomites remain unmolested.”
January, A.D. 1120, Palestine, under the auspices of Baldwin II, King and Patriarch of Jerusalem, the sin of sodomy was declared punishable by severe penalties, burning for those who were repeat offenders.
A.D. 1122, Ivo of Chartres, in his Decretum, declares sodomy and lesbianism sins.
A.D. 1140, the Italian monk, Gratian, in his “Concordia discordantium canonum” teaches that sodomy is the worst sin of all, because it uses the male sex organ in an “unnatural way.”
A.D. 1179, the Lateran III (General Council), cannon 11, decreed that men who were members of the clergy who had sex with their wives in their homes should expel their wives and live without sex. Refusal to do so would result in loss of their positions in the Church and any benefits owed to them: “Clergy in holy orders, who maintain their wives incontinently in their homes should either expel them, and live continently, or be deprived of ecclesiastical office and benefice.” Further, any clergy caught having homosexual relations was to be stripped of his office and placed in a monastery, and any lay person caught in this vice was to be excommunicated and shunned by the believers: “Whoever is caught involved in that incontinence which is against nature, and because of which ‘the wrath of God came upon the sons of disobedience’ (Eph. 5:6), and five cities were consumed by fire (Gen 14:24-35), if they are clerics, they should be deposed from clerical office and placed in a monastery to do penance; if they are laymen, they are to be excommunicated and completely isolated from contact with believers.”
I underlined the words “against nature” to point out the obvious, that being the loss of the true meaning of those words by the Apostle Paul and the resulting abuse such misinterpretation brought.
Of note, those heterosexual members of the clergy who liked to spend time with the nuns were also caught in the anti-sex crosshairs: “If any cleric, without clear and necessary cause, should especially frequent nunneries, he should be restrained by the bishop, and if he does not cease, he should be deposed from his ecclesiastical benefice.”
A.D 1200 And Later
At this time in history, those who were not for the Church could be done in by false allegations of homosexuality. If someone wanted to bring down an enemy, this was the best way. Label them as heretics, accuse them of having sex “vir cum viris,” man with man, or “femina cum feminis,” woman with woman, and the Church could torture them to get a confession, then, if it so desired, turn them over to secular law for execution.
During the reign of Pope Innocent, there was no single secular power that controlled all of Europe. The continent was in a constant state of war, but even though there was a continuous struggle between secular and religious powers, Europe was gradually coalescing under one religion, Christianity. Further, the unifying force was the Pope. However, not all of Europe wanted to be ruled by the Roman Catholic Church, especially southern France. In 1209, Pope Innocent unleashed the Crusade against the Albigensians in France, and this war continued until the seventeenth century. The death toll was in the millions, including hundreds of thousands who were put to death for the crime of homosexuality. And it was during Pope Innocent’s rule, the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, that the Pope was declared infallible.
Pope Gregory IX,1233, began the Inquisition in the Italian City-States. At this time, some of the cities declared sodomy to be punishable with severe penalties, death by burning for repeat offenders.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, A.D. 1225-1274, wrote: “Woman is defective and accidental . . . a male gone awry . . . the result of some weakness in the father’s generative power.” He taught that only sex which produced children was moral, and that masturbation was a sin worse than rape, incest or adultery. He declared acts of homosexuality to be the gravest of “sins against nature.” “Nature?” Here we go again!
Circa A.D.1260, Orleans, France, Le Livres de Jostice et de Plet called for severe penalties for those convicted of sodomy. First-time offenders were to have their testicles removed, second-time offenders were to have their penis amputated, and third-time offenders were to be burned to death. Likewise, women convicted of the crime were to be mutilated, repeat offenders burned. Those who refused to acknowledge the truth of the Church were burned to death, and it was felt that this was an appropriate way to, likewise, deal with the sodomites.
A.D. 1300 And Later
The Order of the Knights Templar was founded in A.D. 1118, by Hughes de Paynes and eight French knights, and their purpose was to guard the Holy Sepulcher and Christian pilgrims who came to visit it. Over the years, the Knights Templar became extremely wealthy, and they amassed fortunes in land, gold, manors and fortresses. By A.D. 1300, there were more than fifteen-thousand knights in the Order, and the Knights Templar had grown to become a major force rivaling the power held by the Catholic Church. In 1307, Pope Clement V accused the Knights Templar of being sodomites, among other things, and he succeeded in having King Philip le Bel issue arrest warrants for all of them. On October 13, 1307, Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was arrested along with 140 knights. They were all tortured mercilessly, and thereupon confessed to crimes alleged against them, including sodomy and every homosexual act possible. Ultimately, they were all burned to death. In 1312, Pope Clement V abolished the Knights Templar. This political act gave the great wealth of the Knights Templar to both King Philip, himself homosexual, and Pope Clement V. On March 18, 1314, Jacques de Molay and his friend Guy D’Auvergne were burned at the stake. Just before he died, Molay cursed the two who had perpetrated this evil on the Knights Templar, and he ordered that both Pope Clement and King Philip join him within the year “at the tribunal of God.” Before the year had finished, Molay’s curse came true, and both the Pope and the King had died. Still, before Clement and Philip had died, they succeeded in totally eradicating the Knights Templar, branding them sodomites.
Gradually, from this time forward, every country under the influence of Christianity began to enact laws that ratcheted up the penalties for anything to do with homosexual acts. All of Europe fell under this scourge, and when the American colonies were founded, the penalties followed there, as well. To list all of the trials, the sadistic types of tortures, such as hanging priests accused of sodomy in cages until they died of starvation, the executions, the persecutions, the blackmailings and extortions, the losses of property and families destroyed because of this invention of the Catholic Church would fill too many pages. Suffice it to say that anyone wanting to research these events, there is a tremendous amount of scholarly material available. The period known as the Dark Ages saw a totalitarian grip descend on the countries where the Church held control, a time when daring to question anything the Church said was literally to risk death. Rather than believe in Jesus and His redemptive powers, people were taught that they had to undergo harsh trials and physical torture to be saved, and even then, few were actually going to make it to Heaven. The rest of us were damned. People were not allowed to read the Bible for themselves, and they became dependent on the monks to tell them what the Bible “commanded” of them.
Ironically, it mattered little that many nobles were homosexuals. King Richard the Lionheart of England, King Sancho VII of Navarre, King Philip II of France, and even the famous King James I, who ordered the translation so famous today as The King James Bible, all were homosexual.
During the Middle Ages, the church taught that there was only one position for sex, and that was the “missionary position,” man on top, woman on bottom. Anything other than that was considered “unnatural” and, therefore, sinful. However, Albertus Magnus questioned this, and he came up with five positions that were considered morally questionable, but not morally sinful: Missionary, side-by-side, sitting, standing, and “a tergo” (which meant “from the rear”).
It is interesting to note that while the Church was attempting to eradicate sexual desire, the most popular fashion of that era for men was the cod piece, a pouch that was attached to the front of a man’s pants which made it appear that he had a much larger penis. Also, shoes came into vogue called “poulaine,” and these shoes had toes which were very elongated to signify a long penis. Even Henry VIII had his portrait done wearing these two fashion statements.
The Church obsessed over the Virgin Mary to the point of teaching that the only way to worship God was through celibacy. Thus, if a woman had had sex, even if she had had children, by doing years of penance, confessing her sins, she could become a virgin again, join the Cult of the Virgin and live the rest of her days in a convent.
When the Early Christians were being hunted and persecuted for their choice of religious beliefs, who would have ever thought that, someday, the Christians would become the persecutors, making rules against nature, defining what a person could feel in his or her heart about another person, declaring natural love detestable and worthy of torture and death, and perverting the teachings of Jesus and His love until the Church stood for solemn rigidity, joyless existence and a hopeless life in the very world to which God sent us all to live? The persecuted became the persecutors.
A.D. 1400 And Later
1431, May 30, the French heroine, Joan of Arc, was burned at the stake. The true motive for her being put to death was political, orchestrated by a pro-English bishop, but since no legitimate crime could actually be found against her, she was charged with the homosexual act of wearing men’s clothing, a crime against God.
1483, the Spanish Inquisition began, and people convicted of sodomy were stoned, castrated and burned to death.
It would take another book to describe the imaginative ways the population took to inventing laws and punishments against homosexuality. Homes were burned with the homosexuals in them, men caught in the act were hung by their testicles, cities designated squads of men to investigate other men in search of homosexuality, men were drowned, strangled to death and castrated, people were excommunicated, driven out of homes and cities, exiled, tortured, murdered and executed—all in the name of a religion that had gone perverse. To read many of the ancient court documents and see the words “Convicta et Combusta,” “Convicted and Burned,” should cause anyone reading these to stop and pause with silent and sorrowful respect, just as one who crosses the threshold of such places of immoral desolation as Auschwitz must bow their heads for a moment and ask God how such inhumanity is possible.
Homosexuals were pawns in so many ways for corrupt people of power. King Henry VIII wanted to seize Church property, so, in 1533, he made it a civil offense to be caught in homosexual activity, a crime punishable by hanging. Since this became a civil offense, the clergy caught in this trap would not be permitted to be tried in ecclesiastical courts. Thus, tried in civil courts, they forfeited the church property to the king.
It always amuses me that the most popular Bible, the King James, and to this day, the most printed book in the history of the world, was ordered translated and made available for the masses by a confirmed homosexual, King James I. To his councilors he once announced, of his love for the extraordinarily handsome George Villiers, “I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else, and more than you who are here assembled.” He further said that Christ had His John the Beloved, and “I have my George.” In fact, King James I is buried in the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey with one of his lovers on the right, and one of his lovers on the left, both males. Did King James have a wife and children? Yes, just like the Greeks did in the time of Paul in the city of Corinth . . . and King James had his male lovers.
A.D. 1900 And Forward
As we approach the 21st century, there were movements to decriminalize homosexuality, but they were slow, sporadic and heavily resisted, resisted always on grounds that homosexuality was a sin. No rational logic, no scientific logic, just Church-originated ignorance. Civil law was still being driven by religious bigotry instead of common sense. No greater example of modern anti-homosexual bigotry and its cost was that of Nazi campaigns against them.
In 1934, a special Gestapo unit was created to gather all of the “pink lists,” lists of known homosexuals from all over Germany which the police had been collecting since 1900. On September 1, 1935, Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code was amended to create harsher punishments for homosexuals. Between 1933-1945, approximately 100,000 men were arrested for being homosexual. Thousands of these men were publicly humiliated, tortured, and then given the choice of being castrated and released, or going to prison. Many chose castration. Numbers ranging from 5,000 to 15,000 are given for the number of homosexual men who were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps, and estimates are given as high as sixty-percent for their death rate there. In the concentration camps, homosexuals were forced to wear identifying marks on their clothing. For some, it was a large black dot with the number 175 (signifying Paragraph 175). Mostly recognized was the pink triangle that became the identifier for homosexual prisoners. Conditions were already harsh in those hell holes, but being identified as a homosexual meant even harsher treatment, not only from the guards, but from the other prisoners as well, all because of bigotries that had been taught. In Buchenwald, SS physician, Dr. Carl Vaernet performed medical experiments on homosexual men in attempts to turn them into heterosexuals. I find it appalling that after all of this, here in the 21st Century we still have ignorant bigots trying to change homosexuals into heterosexuals through even more tortuous means and methods.
Some things never change. Many men who were falsely accused of being opponents of Hitler were charged with being homosexuals. Nazi SA Chief Ernst Rohm, such a close friend of Hitler’s that he called him Adolf, something no one else was permitted to do, was feared politically by his peers, Himmler, Goring and Goebbels, and his death was orchestrated by them. They drew up lists of homosexuals, and the “Night of the Long Knives,” resulted in the execution of all on those lists, including Rohm. Nazi propaganda made use of their homosexuality to justify their deaths. Even more ironic was the push to destroy the Roman Catholic Church in Germany by accusing it of rampant homosexuality. Two show trials in 1936 and 1937 were used to undercut the Catholic Church, since the Nazis considered the Church its biggest enemy.
After the war ended, and Jewish concentration camp survivors were liberated, homosexuals were singled out for more persecution. They were left in the camps, the last permitted to leave, and many of them were forced to serve out the terms of their “crimes.” Furthermore, even though anyone who was incarcerated in the concentration camps was considered a victim of Nazi persecution and, therefore, eligible for reparations, homosexuals were not. Paragraph 175 remained in effect until 1969, so that long after other detainees of the camps had lost their fear of being re-incarcerated, homosexuals still had to fear being arrested. Homosexuals of Nazi Germany have been rightly called “The Forgotten Victims.”
With the end of the Nazis, one would think that the world would have striven to cleanse itself of ignorance, prejudice and hate, and all things that contribute to such, but as recently as1997, Pope John Paul II released the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which essentially defines the Church position on all things, and this document stated, with regard to homosexuality, that “homosexual persons are called to chastity.” The Catechism recognized that it would be hard for homosexuals, a “trial” as it was called, and that through “self-mastery” and “prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” I find it so ironic that after centuries of opportunities to find the truth, the Catholic Church continues to rely on misinterpretation and centuries of a continuously evolving ignorance to state their reasons:
“Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity . . . (cf.:24-27; Cor 6:10; Tim1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer
from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.”
Why misinterpret Scripture deliberately when so many qualified historians and theologians could tell, and have told, them differently. Why cling to error? Because this Church is blind! In July of 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith then issued a letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church, and it dealt with “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.” The Catholic Church urged all bishops to fight against any legislation that would give civil rights to homosexuals. To quote from the foreword of that document:
“Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons”
“Recently, legislation had been proposed in some American states which would make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation illegal. In some Italian cities, municipal authorities have made public housing available to homosexual (and unmarried heterosexual) couples. Such initiatives, even where they seem more directed toward support of basic civil rights than condonement of homosexual activity or a homosexual lifestyle, may in fact have a negative impact on the family and society. Such things as the adoption of children, the hiring and firing of teachers, the housing needs of genuine families, landlords’ legitimate concerns in screening potential tenants, for example, are often implicated.
While it would be impossible to foresee and respond to every eventuality in respect to legislative proposals in this area, these observations will try to identify some principles and distinctions of a general nature which should be taken into consideration by the conscientious Catholic legislator, voter, or Church authority who is confronted with such issues.
The first section will recall relevant passages from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Person’ of 1986. The second section will deal with the applications.”
Pretty appalling. And of course, the Catholic Church justifies its actions on its incorrect interpretation of Paul’s writings and, I quote, “The Church has the responsibility to promote the public morality of the entire civil society on the basis of fundamental moral values . . .” The entire civil society? Scary stuff!
In the days of Paul, a married man could have sex with a prostitute, and that was not considered adultery; today, it’s a different story. What changed? Logic as applied to human emotions, particularly, in this instance, with the feelings of the wife. Before, the feelings of the wife meant nothing, because it was a male-dominated world. Now, in the Western cultures, at least, a female has equal value to a male. Logical. If we can apply logic to this example, then we can certainly apply it to others, as well.
This chapter has merely been an overview, a very small sampling of the gradual evolution of sexual mores with regard to the societal view of homosexuality, and this evolution has always been driven by the leaders in the Church. In fact, society’s view has always been dictated by the Church. There was a time in history when the Church could not face the story of the Virgin Mary being impregnated by normal means, so they taught that God impregnated her through her ear, and, lest her “parts of shame” be brought into the discussion, Jesus emerged through her navel. This view became the popular view of society. To tell it all would fill an encyclopedia, but it is pretty damning to see how man’s inhumanity to man can be traced back to what should be a noble institution. The religious always justify their intolerance of others who are unlike themselves by blaming it on the Bible. Over the centuries, there has been great sorrow and damage unleashed on innocent human beings, and it is strange to see how much of it boiled down to the Church leaders and their inability to deal with sex.
From the time of the sexual musings of Solomon to our current point in time, views of what to do with the gift of sex have flowed like a river, never settling, always wandering, further and further away from the source.
It becomes apparent when viewing just the examples I have outlined here that sex originally was considered a normal function of life, and that somewhere through the passing of time, ultra-religious zealots have turned beauty into ugliness, they have taken a gift and turned it into a curse. These people who find no joy in this world will do their best to rob the joy of yours. If they want to retreat to a dark cave and face the wall for the rest of their existence, thus missing out on the true purpose for which they came into this plane of existence, that is their business; but, for them to tell me that I am damned if I don’t join them in that joyless and dark cave, such edicts can never be justified by the Word of God.