Friday, October 10, 2014

Homosexuality and Church History

Prudish attitudes have always existed, and plenty of quotes among the Church Father show the seeds of Homophobia existed among them.  The Church Fathers were of course also Anti-Semitic which is why they had to be Post-Trib.

Still, some quotes used by "Conservatives" to back up their view that Homosexuality has always been consistently condemned are misused just as The Bible verses are.

The Didache is considered the oldest Christian writing not part of the Canon.  The passage from it cited as condemning Homosexuality is.
"You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit prostitution, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that has been born." - Didache 2:2
The basis here is the use of "pederasty".  That term is NOT for any and all Homosexual acts however, it refers specifically to an older Man with a much younger Boy.  A Boy who'd be a Minor by modern legal standards and also probably ancient ones too.

The quote from Polycarp's epistle to the Corinthians that is cited against homosexuality from section 5 uses the same two words as 1 Corinthians 6.  Yet one translation chooses to render them "nor the passive homosexual partner, nor the dominant homosexual partner", which I explained elsewhere there are far better ways to express that.

The Epistle of Barnabas is a popular piece of Apocrypha.  Some people will cite it as if it actually was written by Barnabas the friend of Paul (Conservopedia wrongly dates it 74 AD).  But that is impossible, it was clearly written during The Bar Kochba Revolt, when The Jews were planning to rebuild The Temple.  This is why it's also the first Christian writing to advocate for a form of replacement theology.

On the Homosexuality subject it is quoted as saying "You shall not commit prostitution; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not be a corrupter of youth".  Again, it's a reference to specifically Pederasty that people want to cite as if it and Homosexuality were inseparable.  Which is what lots of modern Christian Homophobes argue.  But that is not how Doctrine should be built (if we were building doctrine on this extra-Biblical text at all, which we shouldn't). expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do anyone harm and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation...And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods. - Justin Martyr, First Apology 27 (A.D. 151).
This is clearly about Pagan ritual prostitution.
All honor to that king of the Scythians, whoever Anacharsis was, who shot with an arrow one of his subjects who imitated among the Scythians the mystery of the mother of the gods . . . condemning him as having become effeminate among the Greeks, and a teacher of the disease of effeminacy to the rest of the Scythians. Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks 2 (A.D. 190).
Again, more of what I said above, and of what I said about Malakos in my main Homosexuality dissertation.
For your gods did not even abstain from boys, one having loved Hylas, another Hyacinthus, another Pelops, another Chrysippus, another Ganymede. - Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks 2 (A.D. 190).
Again, he said "boys" not "men".

There certainly were attitudes among the Church Father against any same sex relations.  But remember, these are the same people out of whom came The Catholic Church.

In terms of the references that specifically bring up Lesbians.  I feel it can be well demonstrated that the Anit-Lesbain attitudes some Church Fathers had was an example of then endorsing the prevailing attitudes of the Pagan Greco-Romon world, rather then rebelling against it.  A few Non-Christian scholars of Lesbian history have spoken on this subject, though accepting the wrong view that Lesbianism is addressed in Romans 1.  Like Bernadette Brooten.
Drawing upon a broad range of sources from the Roman world, I illustrate in my forthcoming book that early Christian views of female homoeroticism closely resembled those of their non-Christian contemporaries. Some prior researchers have tended to take an apologetic pro-Christian stance and to see early Christian sexual values as of a higher moral level than those of their environment. Other researchers have viewed early Christians as proto-Puritanical and repressive in contrast to the more sex-positive pagans around them. My research is more in line with those researchers who see a continuity between non-Christian and Christian understandings of the body. A focus on female homoeroticism makes this continuity clearer than would a focus on male homoeroticism, since nearly all extant sources on sexual relations between women condemn such relations, whereas some Roman-period, non-Christian sources express tolerance toward male-male sexual relations, which masks the similarity between Christian and non-Christian understandings of masculinity. Because the reasons for condemning female homoeroticism run deeper than the reasons for promoting marriage or celibacy (on which there was much debate in the Roman world), there is a cultural continuity of views of female homoeroticism.
Although ancient Christian writers resembled their non-Christian contemporaries in their views on erotic love between women, both groups differed from our own culture in their overall understanding of erotic orientation. Whereas we often dualistically define sexual orientation as either homosexual or heterosexual, they saw a plethora of orientations. (When we in the late 20th century think about it, we also recognize bisexuals and transsexuals, leading us to speak of a spectrum, rather than a bifurcation.) Their matrix of erotic orientations included whether a person took an active or a passive sexual role, as well as the gender, age, nationality, and the economic, legal (slave or free), and social status of the partner. For example, for the second-century astrologer Ptolemy, the configuration of the stars at one's birth determines a person's lifelong erotic orientation. A man born under one configuration is oriented toward females alone; under a second configuration, he desires to play a passive role toward males (i.e., to be penetrated); under a third, he desires to penetrate children; and under a fourth, he will desire males of any age. But the list does not end there. Other configurations give rise to men who desire low-status women, slave-women, or foreigners. In this schema, female homoeroticism constitutes one erotic orientation out of many, rather than a subcategory of two orientations (heterosexual and homosexual). Ptolemy and other authors reveal a gender bias in that they present far more differentiated pictures of the male erotic life than of the female one, even attributing more orientations to men than to women. By keeping in mind the larger picture of ancient classification systems for erotic orientation, the reader will better understand the specific discussions of female homoeroticism that I analyze in my book.
Still, I have my suspicions that Lesbians did exist in The Early Church.  It's that the patriarchs are the one's who've provided our written sources.

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