Senior Majors Seminar
Prof. Howard Rhodes
May 5th, 2009
God or Sex: The Homosexual’s Relationship with the Christian Church Then and Now
The development of Christian moral theology criminalized homosexual behavior based on its perceived closeness to bestial relationships and the relationship’s inability to procreate. Christian law considered these crimes to be a very heinous offense and punished offenders with banishment, torture, and death. Today, society continues to struggle with homosexuality in regard to its placement within the Christian tradition; homosexuals share this same struggle, and often feel as though they must choose between achieving sexual fulfillment and religious fulfillment—many end up parting with their religious institutions (or traditions altogether) to satisfy their more fundamental, physical need for close human intimation. Additionally, some homosexuals desire to lead lives similar to those of their heterosexual counterparts, requesting equal rights (including marital rights and rights to jointly raise children), which creates a lot of turmoil between church and state, as well as the homosexual community and the state. While the stakes are not as high (in terms of bodily harm) for the modern homosexual, compared to the medieval situation, there are still many obstacles and heartbreaks that accompany the homosexual’s quest for equality, namely those stemming from religion and politics.
I. Historical Beginnings
In trying to decide where exactly the most negative influence toward homosexuality arose, most historians seem to agree that the culprit lies in early Christian philosophy and theology. Views toward homosexuality have not always been negative, however, as Christianity has not been around forever and was not the first philosophical tradition to pass judgment on same-sex relations. In regard to western attitudes on the subject, Roman and Greek Platonic philosophy were some of the earliest...