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Source: (consider it) Thread: Dead Horses: The Pilling Report
leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:

One of the things I've learned from Williams' book, which I wasn't previously aware of, is that it was extremely common for Roman masters to make sexual use of slaves they owned (both male and female).

Which is why scholars like Adrian Thatcher and Elizabeth Stuart see Jesus's approval of same-sex love in the story of the Centurion whose servant was ill.

--------------------
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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Callan
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Certainly the distinction between a willing and unwilling participant in sex was recognised in antiquity - the origin story of the Roman Republic involved the unfortunate fate of Lucretia and Augustine solemnly explains that it is not a sin to be raped and that rape victims ought not to kill themselves (he was writing subsquent to the sack of Rome by the Goths, so this was a fairly topical issue). It doesn't follow from that, however, that rape victims were never blamed for their fate - you would never guess from Tacitus that poor Sporus probably didn't have a lot of choice in the matter when Nero took a fancy to him. I do vaguely recall accounts of a woman who were martyred when she became a Christian and took exception to her husbands swinging parties and St. Agnes, of course, was martyred rather than relinquish her consecrated virginity but I'm not aware, off the top of my head, of a martyr from antiquity who went to the lions after refusing to have sex with someone of the same sex. (This did happen in 19th century Uganda which may not be unconnected to the ferocious homophobia of the churches there.)

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Callan
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It's worth adding that the sexual molestation of slaves was considered a pretty grave sin, at least in Augustine's day. There is some correspondence from him about a mutual acquaintance who had, after a hitherto blameless and devout life, decided to spice up his last days by purchasing a 'lyre girl'. Augustine took this as proof that the gentleman in question had never been one of the elect.

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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leo
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# 1458

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I read the report a second time, I became aware of nuances and admissions that the evidence on various issues was inconclusive. It is as if some of the authors wanted to be more liberal but were hijacked, much like the Anglican Communion in general, by the conservative evangelicals.

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Starlight
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Which is why scholars like Adrian Thatcher and Elizabeth Stuart see Jesus's approval of same-sex love in the story of the Centurion whose servant was ill.

Yes, that certainly looks to me like a very legitimate reading of that passage.
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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
I do think subjective intention is important for the point about which David and Jonathan are used as a supposed endorsement of same-sex relationships. The argument on the other side is “the Bible contains no positive portrayals of same-sex couples”, as a reasons for concluding “and therefore God does not approve of them”.*

For the answer “What about David and Jonathan, then?” to work, it's not enough for someone of Jade's opinion to say that for them “a queer reading of a text which shows potential affirming models of queerness is important”.

I don't think subjective intention is necessary there. For example, suppose that the historic relationship between David and Jonathan was sexual. The Biblical author disapproved of same-sex sexual relationships. However, the author doesn't realise that the relationship was sexual, but includes sufficient detail of the relationship that someone who is more aware of such things can deduce that historically it was a sexual relationship (*). I think it would in that case be true to say that the Bible included a positive depiction of a same-sex relationship.

I think the same would apply to a fictional description of a relationship between two men. Imagine an author sets a novel prior to the legalisation of gay sex. Without realising the significance, he attributes to two men who are close friends various dress traits that men in that society used to signal that they were gay. They wear green carnations, perhaps. In that case, I think it reasonable to say that the author had made his characters gay without knowing it.

(*) And the Holy Spirit came upon Jonathan and he prophesied that there shall be a woman. And she shall sing a song of a rainbow, and there shall be somewhere over the rainbow, and that somewhere shall be a land that the woman shall dream of; and the birds shall fly over the rainbow, saith the Lord. And David and Jonathan did admire that woman greatly.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Pomona
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Eliab - what I was trying to comment on with Jonathan and David was the impact of a queer reading of their story. Their being queer icons is more important and has more impact than whether or not they were actually gay, which I agree is irrelevant.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Callan
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It's not as if we say authorial intention is definitive when interpreting the Bible, anyway. I'm pretty sure that the author of Genesis intended to make quite the point, in telling the story of Sarah and Hagar, that St. Paul does in Galatians. And that's before we even start on the Advent Carol Service!

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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ken
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# 2460

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Don't you mean that the author of Genesis (or the bit about Hagar anyway) did not intend to make the same point as Paul?

(FWIW I think Paul owns up to that. And the story of Hagar and Ishmael is one of the most interesting in the Bible. Tthough that's another thread.)

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Ken

L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle.

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Callan
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Yes, I do mean that!

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How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Chesterbelloc

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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Which is why scholars like Adrian Thatcher and Elizabeth Stuart see Jesus's approval of same-sex love in the story of the Centurion whose servant was ill.

Yes, that certainly looks to me like a very legitimate reading of that passage.
In your determination to read this as His "approval of same-sex love" - which I think is a stretch beyond the ordinarily elastic - are you prepared to accept that it would actually be Jesus approving of (in leo's words) "the sexual use of slaves"? Because leo's whole argument seems to be premised on that.

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"[A] moral, intellectual, and social step below Mudfrog."

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:

One of the things I've learned from Williams' book, which I wasn't previously aware of, is that it was extremely common for Roman masters to make sexual use of slaves they owned (both male and female).

Which is why scholars like Adrian Thatcher and Elizabeth Stuart see Jesus's approval of same-sex love in the story of the Centurion whose servant was ill.
It's a reading of the story limited to a few scholars, hardly mainstream and it does look rather like a reading into the story as opposed to anything else.

FWIW, my daughter, who studied ancient history at a reputable university reckons that the evidence for same sex relationships amongst greeks and romans is rather overplayed in the literature above primary sources.

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:

One of the things I've learned from Williams' book, which I wasn't previously aware of, is that it was extremely common for Roman masters to make sexual use of slaves they owned (both male and female).

Which is why scholars like Adrian Thatcher and Elizabeth Stuart see Jesus's approval of same-sex love in the story of the Centurion whose servant was ill.
It's a reading of the story limited to a few scholars, hardly mainstream and it does look rather like a reading into the story as opposed to anything else.

FWIW, my daughter, who studied ancient history at a reputable university reckons that the evidence for same sex relationships amongst greeks and romans is rather overplayed in the literature above primary sources.

Certainly, the romantic idea of ancient Greece and Rome being a haven for gay men (and it was just men) is a fiction. Relationships between men were to show the power of the dominant partner, and consisted of sexual slavery, sex with minors and people trafficking and only benefited a minority of rich, socially powerful and otherwise generally straight men. The relationships that existed that were more in line with modern romantic relationships between consenting adults were actually not tolerated, unless you were an emperor and had the power to make people tolerate it (eg Hadrian and his lover whose name I have forgotten).

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Tommy1
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quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
Certainly, the romantic idea of ancient Greece and Rome being a haven for gay men (and it was just men) is a fiction. Relationships between men were to show the power of the dominant partner, and consisted of sexual slavery, sex with minors and people trafficking and only benefited a minority of rich, socially powerful and otherwise generally straight men. The relationships that existed that were more in line with modern romantic relationships between consenting adults were actually not tolerated, unless you were an emperor and had the power to make people tolerate it (eg Hadrian and his lover whose name I have forgotten).

I'm not sure Hadrian and Antinous were in line with modern romantic relationships. Antinous was only 19 years old when he drowned in the Nile during an Imperial visit to Egypt. Hadrian was 54 at the time. Given the gap of age and power between the two one has to wonder how 'modern' the relationship was and whether Antinous drowned himself because he couldn't see any other way of escape.
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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by Tommy1:
quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
Certainly, the romantic idea of ancient Greece and Rome being a haven for gay men (and it was just men) is a fiction. Relationships between men were to show the power of the dominant partner, and consisted of sexual slavery, sex with minors and people trafficking and only benefited a minority of rich, socially powerful and otherwise generally straight men. The relationships that existed that were more in line with modern romantic relationships between consenting adults were actually not tolerated, unless you were an emperor and had the power to make people tolerate it (eg Hadrian and his lover whose name I have forgotten).

I'm not sure Hadrian and Antinous were in line with modern romantic relationships. Antinous was only 19 years old when he drowned in the Nile during an Imperial visit to Egypt. Hadrian was 54 at the time. Given the gap of age and power between the two one has to wonder how 'modern' the relationship was and whether Antinous drowned himself because he couldn't see any other way of escape.
I take your point! They could be part of the showing off power/dominance 'relationship' type then.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Palimpsest
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
FWIW, my daughter, who studied ancient history at a reputable university reckons that the evidence for same sex relationships amongst greeks and romans is rather overplayed in the literature above primary sources.

Which is why the (not suitable for work)
grafitti of Pompeii
are useful since archaeologists seem to present evidence without centuries of reinterpretation.. Certainly most of it was about men and women, and much of it written near brothels includes prostitution but there's enough homosexual descriptions to make it clear it was not limited to the imperial court which is what might be inferred by the focus of much of the literary biography that has survived.

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Starlight
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quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
In your determination to read this as His "approval of same-sex love" - which I think is a stretch beyond the ordinarily elastic - are you prepared to accept that it would actually be Jesus approving of (in leo's words) "the sexual use of slaves"? Because leo's whole argument seems to be premised on that.

That's a very interesting question. The text is very interesting anyway, because, at the very least, the words used are enough to strongly hint to the readers that the centurion might be having sex with the slave. And in light of that it's interesting to see how the characters react. Although their reactions are hard to interpret without knowing exactly what the spectrum of Jewish views on slavery and same-sex activity was like at the time. (I'd hazard a guess that since godfearers were not expected to obey all the Jewish rules, that many Jews were probably quite accepting of them not following the rules deep in Leviticus about same-sex acts, and that if the centurion was an actual Jew the reactions may have been different.)

I think it's probably best to try to consider the question you raise alongside the question of: "Did Jesus condone slavery?" Because, while the sexual relationship aspect of the story might be ambiguous and/or debatable, the slavery aspect is not. I suspect the general answer is that probably everyone in the ancient world saw slavery as ubiquitous, as an institution practised everywhere, and as essential for their economy - and thus viewed it somewhat like money in terms of being a necessary evil. Paul repeatedly instructs masters to treat their slaves well, but doesn't explicitly denounce the institution of slavery itself, and we might well imagine this to be a common Jewish view on the subject. If that's the case, it might be assumed that this pious centurion treated his slaves well - indeed the fact that he worries about his sick slave and calls in favours to get the elders to get Jesus to heal the slave - shows genuine concern for the slave probably well beyond what other Romans might have been expected to show. We therefore might want to also assume that if he is having any sexual relations with any of his slaves that it is voluntary on their part and that the centurion isn't raping them. There were various benefits for slaves in having a sexual relationship with their master that would have made many slaves keen to accept such advances (or potentially to even encourage them). Just because slaves lacked the legal power to veto a sexual relationship if their master willed it, it didn't mean that slaves were always unwilling sexual partners. There's good reasons for the people in the story to assume that if there was a sexual relationship that it was consensual.

Anyway, Jesus' reaction is to not comment at all on the institution of slavery, nor to condemn the man at all for having slaves, nor to ask any questions about or comment on the implication that the centurion's relationship with the sick slave-boy might have a sexual component, and none of that stops Jesus holding up the centurion as a great example of a person who understands faithfulness. If Jesus was particularly anti same sex relationships, he would potentially have acted a bit differently.

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Starlight
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
FWIW, my daughter, who studied ancient history at a reputable university reckons that the evidence for same sex relationships amongst greeks and romans is rather overplayed in the literature above primary sources.

I'm not entirely sure what you're meaning. Hubbard's publication of the most relevant primary sources runs to 500 pages. Williams' book on homosexuality in the Roman Empire, which I'm reading at the moment, cites ~1500 passages in ancient sources (going by the 17-page index at the end of the ancient sources cited). Basically there are a looooot of primary sources that mention same sex activity, and those sources pretty consistently suggest it was happening a lot.

Of course, there is certainly scope for conjecture about what percentage of the population in Greece or Rome engaged in same-sex acts, and it's obviously possible to guess too high or too low regarding that. For example, same-sex relationships were institutionalised in various Greek city-states during some periods, as standard practice for the mentoring and development of young men, and there is debate over whether these applied only to the aristocracy or to all citizens of those states. So claiming a 100% same-sex act participation rate could well be too high.

Or equally, in the case of Rome, it's not very easy to tell from the surviving literature just what proportion of people were actually engaging in same-sex acts. The Romans appear to have conceived of all men as bisexual, and been largely indifferent to any man's own personal preferences regarding the gender or age of the sexual partner. I guess the question is: Given they could try out various partners, did they in fact commonly try out all their available options? And, after trying them out, what proportion continued to regularly have same-sex relations vs opposite sex relations? I guess it might be possible to estimate a percentage of same/opposite sex acts based on a particular sample (eg the surviving graffiti from Pompeii) but I haven't seen it done.

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St. Stephen the Stoned
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:


(*) And the Holy Spirit came upon Jonathan and he prophesied that there shall be a woman. And she shall sing a song of a rainbow, and there shall be somewhere over the rainbow, and that somewhere shall be a land that the woman shall dream of; and the birds shall fly over the rainbow, saith the Lord. And David and Jonathan did admire that woman greatly.

Quotes file!

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Do you want to see Jesus or don't yer? Well shurrup then!

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
[QUOTE]If Jesus was particularly anti same sex relationships, he would potentially have acted a bit differently.

If of course the relationship was one of a physical same sex relationship.

As you say it might have been that, there might be hints in the story - but then again there might not. At best impossible to tell, at worst the gay reading is fictional and a reading in to the story to suit an agenda. Bad exegesis either way.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
FWIW, my daughter, who studied ancient history at a reputable university reckons that the evidence for same sex relationships amongst greeks and romans is rather overplayed in the literature above primary sources.

I'm not entirely sure what you're meaning. Hubbard's publication of the most relevant primary sources runs to 500 pages. Williams' book on homosexuality in the Roman Empire, which I'm reading at the moment, cites ~1500 passages in ancient sources (going by the 17-page index at the end of the ancient sources cited). Basically there are a looooot of primary sources that mention same sex activity, and those sources pretty consistently suggest it was happening a lot.

Of course, there is certainly scope for conjecture about what percentage of the population in Greece or Rome engaged in same-sex acts, and it's obviously possible to guess too high or too low regarding that. For example, same-sex relationships were institutionalised in various Greek city-states during some periods, as standard practice for the mentoring and development of young men, and there is debate over whether these applied only to the aristocracy or to all citizens of those states. So claiming a 100% same-sex act participation rate could well be too high.

Or equally, in the case of Rome, it's not very easy to tell from the surviving literature just what proportion of people were actually engaging in same-sex acts. The Romans appear to have conceived of all men as bisexual, and been largely indifferent to any man's own personal preferences regarding the gender or age of the sexual partner. I guess the question is: Given they could try out various partners, did they in fact commonly try out all their available options? And, after trying them out, what proportion continued to regularly have same-sex relations vs opposite sex relations? I guess it might be possible to estimate a percentage of same/opposite sex acts based on a particular sample (eg the surviving graffiti from Pompeii) but I haven't seen it done.

It's impossible to tell for certain. We can't even be sure what the figures are today - in the UK ISTR that the figure quoted for those who are exclusively gay is about 3% of the male population with up to 15% bisexual. Having "tried" gay sex whether willingly or enforced doesn't make one gay: sometimes the stats are widened to this.

It means that 85% of people are heterosexual by inclination and presumably by activity. Many of those 85% are not antagonistic towards gays: some are including significant elements of the historic and new church denominations. How does that relate to Rome - who knows?


Equally toleration and acceptance aren't the same thing

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leo
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# 1458

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quote:
Originally posted by Chesterbelloc:
quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
Which is why scholars like Adrian Thatcher and Elizabeth Stuart see Jesus's approval of same-sex love in the story of the Centurion whose servant was ill.

Yes, that certainly looks to me like a very legitimate reading of that passage.
In your determination to read this as His "approval of same-sex love" - which I think is a stretch beyond the ordinarily elastic - are you prepared to accept that it would actually be Jesus approving of (in leo's words) "the sexual use of slaves"? Because leo's whole argument seems to be premised on that.
I know this wasn't addressed to me but i didn't post in enough detail about this.

I think they are suggesting that Jesus approved of the 'fact' that the contention actually LOVED, as opposed to merely exploiting, his slave.

It is, of course, speculation and it isn't mainstream, as someone else pointed out. But a hermeneutic of suspicion might lead one to be wary of what white, male scholars read into texts. The majority isn't always right. If nothing else, Challenges from Queer theology, womanist theology etc. keep us on our toes.

--------------------
My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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ExclamationMark
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# 14715

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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[QUOTE]

1. But a hermeneutic of suspicion might lead one to be wary of what white, male scholars read into texts.

2. Challenges from Queer theology, womanist theology etc. keep us on our toes.

1. As one should be wary of anyone who seemingly reads into scripture which could well include gay readings or feminist ones.

2. On occasion they, like traditional interpretations, give us a good laugh too

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Callan
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My general impression of antiquity is that, by and large, same sex relationships were what most people today would consider abusive and that by and large St. Paul was on the money. Now, we don't live in antiquity. What gay people are asking the Church to accept are permanent, faithful and stable relationships, to coin a phrase. Personally, I think it is muddying the waters to claim that the Centurion's servant was his slave and also his catamite. That doesn't make him a queer icon. That makes him a criminal who ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law were a time machine to whisk him to modern day Britain.

The main argument for revisionism wrt the church's teaching on homosexuality is that gay relationships are, or at least can be (like straight relationships), decent, ethical and loving. At their best they can represent Christ's relationship with His Church. Now the other lot, being bigots, (I say this in all Christian love) deny this. For them gay relationships are invariably trivial, sensual and degrading. A gay couple, say, who live together for a couple of decades before one partner contracts cancer and the other one nurses him through it until he dies a few years later isn't remotely serious, unlike the latest Kardashian marriage. Yeah, right. Do get back to me when the Great God Clue bestows his blessings upon you.

So I don't think, guys, we are really playing to our strengths here if we start claiming that King David was married to Michal but also banging her brother or that Jesus was quite OK about people forcing their slaves to have sex with them as long as, in some indeterminate sense, the slave owner loved his slave. That may be a queer reading of the Bible, but not in the sense you mean.

--------------------
How easy it would be to live in England, if only one did not love her. - G.K. Chesterton

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Pomona
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# 17175

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
FWIW, my daughter, who studied ancient history at a reputable university reckons that the evidence for same sex relationships amongst greeks and romans is rather overplayed in the literature above primary sources.

I'm not entirely sure what you're meaning. Hubbard's publication of the most relevant primary sources runs to 500 pages. Williams' book on homosexuality in the Roman Empire, which I'm reading at the moment, cites ~1500 passages in ancient sources (going by the 17-page index at the end of the ancient sources cited). Basically there are a looooot of primary sources that mention same sex activity, and those sources pretty consistently suggest it was happening a lot.

Of course, there is certainly scope for conjecture about what percentage of the population in Greece or Rome engaged in same-sex acts, and it's obviously possible to guess too high or too low regarding that. For example, same-sex relationships were institutionalised in various Greek city-states during some periods, as standard practice for the mentoring and development of young men, and there is debate over whether these applied only to the aristocracy or to all citizens of those states. So claiming a 100% same-sex act participation rate could well be too high.

Or equally, in the case of Rome, it's not very easy to tell from the surviving literature just what proportion of people were actually engaging in same-sex acts. The Romans appear to have conceived of all men as bisexual, and been largely indifferent to any man's own personal preferences regarding the gender or age of the sexual partner. I guess the question is: Given they could try out various partners, did they in fact commonly try out all their available options? And, after trying them out, what proportion continued to regularly have same-sex relations vs opposite sex relations? I guess it might be possible to estimate a percentage of same/opposite sex acts based on a particular sample (eg the surviving graffiti from Pompeii) but I haven't seen it done.

It's impossible to tell for certain. We can't even be sure what the figures are today - in the UK ISTR that the figure quoted for those who are exclusively gay is about 3% of the male population with up to 15% bisexual. Having "tried" gay sex whether willingly or enforced doesn't make one gay: sometimes the stats are widened to this.

It means that 85% of people are heterosexual by inclination and presumably by activity. Many of those 85% are not antagonistic towards gays: some are including significant elements of the historic and new church denominations. How does that relate to Rome - who knows?


Equally toleration and acceptance aren't the same thing

Those stats only refer to how people self-identify and self-report. There are going to be many more people in the closet and/or unaware of their orientation.

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[QUOTE]

1. But a hermeneutic of suspicion might lead one to be wary of what white, male scholars read into texts.

2. Challenges from Queer theology, womanist theology etc. keep us on our toes.

1. As one should be wary of anyone who seemingly reads into scripture which could well include gay readings or feminist ones.

2. On occasion they, like traditional interpretations, give us a good laugh too

Why are queer (not the same as gay, thanks) readings or feminist readings invalid?

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Starlight
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
It means that 85% of people are heterosexual by inclination and presumably by activity... How does that relate to Rome - who knows?

Projecting modern percentages back onto ancient Rome is confounded by the fact that cultural attitudes can affect desire. (And also genetics and environmental exposure to hormone-affecting substances could potentially play a part) An example that comes to mind is that our culture portrays implausibly skinny women as the archetype of beauty, whereas go back to the Renaissance and much fatter women were considered the most beautiful. It seems reasonable to presume that our pervasive cultural norms about what type of women are desirable has some degree of effect on what men actually find desirable and the strength of men's desires for them. If something becomes widely perceived as fashionable or as good and desirable then more people do it.

In Roman culture, Ganymede was regarded as the most beautiful and desirable person, and there were heaps of statues of him all around the place. Ganymede represented a fashion statement set by Zeus/Jupiter, the highest of the gods, who choose a boy out as the most beautiful human. Was it because they were trying to imitate Jupiter that 13 out of the first 14 Roman Emperors took some male lovers? Or was that part of the the Emperor's portrayal of themselves to the people as having great masculinity? (Penetrating others, especially males, demonstrated one's superior manliness) To what extent might the Emperors taking male lovers have set a fashion precedent which the aristocracy and the common people wanted to imitate? Other sources talking about the beauty of boys depict that bidding at the slave market could be fierce for the most beautiful ones.

So, it's difficult to know if we should take the Emperors as our sample and assume that likewise 90% of powerful males took on at least one male lover in their lifetimes. It seems dubious to try and project modern percentages backwards, since we live in a society that continues to have large anti-gay elements, and that doesn't necessarily lead us to be able to predict how people would behave in a society that lacked entirely any anti-gay bias.

quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
My general impression of antiquity is that, by and large, same sex relationships were what most people today would consider abusive

I think you're wrong to limit that statement to same sex relationships - I think most people today would be unhappy about most heterosexual relationships in antiquity. The huge majority of ancient relationships involved a large age differential and a large power differential between the two partners. Today we would want to reject nearly all of them as being either paedophilia or rape or both. But I think trying to separate out the same-sex relationships and say those were objectionable for the above reasons is disingenuous because the opposite-sex relationships of the period were also objectionable for the same reasons.

quote:
The main argument for revisionism wrt the church's teaching on homosexuality is that gay relationships are, or at least can be (like straight relationships), decent, ethical and loving. At their best they can represent Christ's relationship with His Church. Now the other lot, being bigots, (I say this in all Christian love) deny this. For them gay relationships are invariably trivial, sensual and degrading.
I would say the main argument against the church's teachings on homosexuality is actually the massive amount of harm done to people by the Church's teachings, as compared to the happiness and benefits created by gay couples happily getting married. I don't think the bigots' biggest problem is their complete ignorance of the nature of homosexual relationships, I think the bigots' biggest problem is their complete ignorance of the amount of suffering that they and others like them have caused to gay people over the centuries.

quote:
So I don't think, guys, we are really playing to our strengths here if we start claiming that King David was married to Michal but also banging her brother or that Jesus was quite OK about people forcing their slaves to have sex with them as long as, in some indeterminate sense, the slave owner loved his slave.
I agree that that is not the correct route to go down to convince conservatives. I would instead generally advocate a three pronged approach of:
1. Personal contact. For many people, simply learning that one of their friends or relatives is gay is enough to change their minds about gay people as a whole, because they think "person X is actually a great person, they aren't evil or brought up wrong or any of the other rumours I'd heard about gay people". And people will often stand up to defend friends or relatives.
2. Share information. A lot of people are really, really, really, ignorant of any actual science or facts about gay people, or what they have heard is outright false. People can't come to the right decision from the information they have if the information they have is wrong or non-existent. This is often a particular problem within the Church because churches seem to be quite good at creating and propagating malicious anti-gay rumours, but poor at propagating any facts that are positive about gay people.
3. Social pressure / Peer pressure. A lot of people take cues from their friends and society with regard to what opinions to have on what issues. If the social environment makes some opinions standard and regards others as unacceptable, a lot less people will have or express the opinions that are viewed negatively. In the past social pressure has generally been very anti-gay, but I think we've reached the tipping point where everywhere in the Western world, outside of conservative Churches and particularly conservative regions, the social pressure has mostly become pro-gay.

I wouldn't at all advocate trying to use the Bible to convince a bigot to take a more loving stance towards gay people! However, neither do I have the slightest interest in letting my own exegesis of the bible be affected by people telling me "but ignorant conservatives wouldn't believe that reading!" So I am completely fine with observing that it appears to me that David and Jonathan are being depicted in a sexual relationship, and that the centurion's servant seems reasonably likely to be being depicted as a same-sex lover. Is that going to convince conservatives? Of course not. But it's not any less true simply because it can't serve a rhetorical purpose of convincing conservatives to accept modern gay relationships.

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Palimpsest
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It's also worth noting that the percentages of homosexual vary by culture and opportunity.
US LBGT demographics done a few years back show percentages varying from 1.7% to 10%. Oddly enough, people who respond to a census question are you gay, seems to correlate slightly with whether the state still has an anti-sodomy law.

Modern Gay people are much more prevalent in Big Cities than isolated rural states. Pompeii was a vacation spot for the rich of Rome, but one can assume there might be less homosexuality among slaves who weren't being sexually abused, just being made to work hard on the rural plantations.

It may or may not be that any particular biblical relationship was homosexual, but it's clear that there has been a relentless scrubbing of same sex relationships from the records, since the beginning of the Christian era. When Pompeii was first excavated, the sexually explicit material was carefully locked away in museums and made difficult to access. This continues to this day.
Many who study antiquity are re-assured that the blatantly obvious same-sex activity was "just not that important" and queer interpretation is just fanciful.

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Starlight
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
It means that 85% of people are heterosexual by inclination and presumably by activity... How does that relate to Rome - who knows?

After thinking about this some more, I think modern research on paedophilia gives the best explanation as to why same-sex activity was more pervasive in the ancient world than modern statistics on the prevalence of homosexual men can account for.

Scientists researching paedophilia in the modern world have noted that it's important to realise that masculine physical traits develop quite late in males. The development of fully masculine features in boys can be regarded to some extent as beginning at puberty and being complete with the onset of facial hair growth around the age of 20. Prior to that, and certainly prior to puberty, the physical features of boys are quite 'feminine' in appearance.

If our definition of a "homosexual" male is a person who is sexually attracted to masculine features as opposed to feminine ones, no homosexual male is going to find anything much to be attracted to in pre-pubescent boys, and little to be attracted to in teenage boys until they near the age of 20 or so. Likewise, if we define a "straight" male as a person who is sexually attracted to feminine features, then there is potential for such people to experience attraction to females of all ages plus younger males who have still not yet developed masculine features.

Scientists studying paedophilia in the modern world have found the above observations necessary to explain the observed data that paedophiles are virtually always "straight": They have opposite-sex relationships with adults, they identify as straight, they prefer to molest female children, and when they molest male children they cite feminine characteristics of those children when interviewed about what they found attractive. Once the observation that masculine traits are a late-developing feature in males is factored in, the scientific data that "homosexual" males show markedly less tendencies toward paedophilia than "straight" males becomes straightforward to explain - children of both sexes lack the masculine traits that attract homosexual men but have the feminine traits that attract straight men.

Basically, the science shows that man-boy paedophilia is a straight, not gay, act in the sense that it is an act that gets done by straight people and not gay people. (This can be contrasted with popular claims by the ignorant that "If your scout leader abused you as a boy, then he was a homosexual. Even if he was married with 10 kids he was gay.")

So, with a view to applying this back to the ancient world, how do we distinguish between straight paedophilia, and homosexuality? The answer is age - homosexual men will be attracted to the masculine qualities present in men of ~18 and above years of age, and straight men will be attracted to the feminine qualities present in females and of men less than ~20 years of age.

This gives us a testable hypothesis: Which of these kinds of things do we find in the ancient sources? The answer with regard to the Roman sources is very clear: The second. Those sources repeatedly depict the ideal sexual partners as being females of almost any age, and pre-adult males. The long-lasting beauty of women is compared by sources to the short-lived attractiveness of boys, who are generally regarded as no longer attractive as soon as they develop facial hair. The primary characteristic mentioned by sources with regard to the attractiveness of boys is them having smooth hairless bodies. Various sources do mention that some men found other adult males attractive but this almost always clearly indicated to be something that is unusual. Thus surviving documents from the Roman Empire depict a society where apparently the vast majority of the men were attracted to feminine bodily characteristics of the type found in women of most ages and in boys of a younger age, and by contrast comparatively few male adult Romans appear to have found the masculine characteristics present in adult males attractive. Thus, the pervasiveness of same-sex paedophilia in Roman society can be easily reconciled with the modern observation that a large majority of men are straight.

The ironic truth of the matter appears to be that nearly all those Romans who were doing same-sex acts regularly, were straight. (Of course, this might well simply highlight how problematic our modern categories of "gay" and "straight" are!)

[ 07. February 2014, 04:12: Message edited by: Starlight ]

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
If our definition of a "homosexual" male is a person who is sexually attracted to masculine features as opposed to feminine ones, no homosexual male is going to find anything much to be attracted to in pre-pubescent boys, and little to be attracted to in teenage boys until they near the age of 20 or so.

That might be true in the modern world. Homosexual culture in the first half of the twentieth century seems to me to have had a strong bias towards sexual relations with young men, judging by an anecdotal sample of memoirs from the period. Renaissance depictions of male-male relations also centre around young men. Of course, the prevalence of those kinds of depictions in the material from the classical world might serve to explain that.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Callan
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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:


[quote]I think you're wrong to limit that statement to same sex relationships - I think most people today would be unhappy about most heterosexual relationships in antiquity. The huge majority of ancient relationships involved a large age differential and a large power differential between the two partners.

I think that there is a fairly major difference inasmuch as you can weed out the undesirable features of heterosexual marriage and still end up with something that St. Paul would have recognised whereas a married man banging an adolescent, a slave or a male prostitute is going to be undesirable however you slice it.

quote:
I would say the main argument against the church's teachings on homosexuality is actually the massive amount of harm done to people by the Church's teachings, as compared to the happiness and benefits created by gay couples happily getting married. I don't think the bigots' biggest problem is their complete ignorance of the nature of homosexual relationships, I think the bigots' biggest problem is their complete ignorance of the amount of suffering that they and others like them have caused to gay people over the centuries.
I don't disagree with this, per se, but I think being supportive of LGBT people isn't like, say, de-criminalising drugs. It's not about minimising harm but about recognising something positive and worthwhile.

quote:
I wouldn't at all advocate trying to use the Bible to convince a bigot to take a more loving stance towards gay people! However, neither do I have the slightest interest in letting my own exegesis of the bible be affected by people telling me "but ignorant conservatives wouldn't believe that reading!" So I am completely fine with observing that it appears to me that David and Jonathan are being depicted in a sexual relationship, and that the centurion's servant seems reasonably likely to be being depicted as a same-sex lover. Is that going to convince conservatives? Of course not. But it's not any less true simply because it can't serve a rhetorical purpose of convincing conservatives to accept modern gay relationships.
Obviously, if you are convinced that David and Jonathan were lovers or the Centurion and his servant were then there is no point denying that, although I think you are wrong. My point is that people are falling over themselves to see gay relationships in the Bible which are by no means self-evidently gay and which, if they were gay, wouldn't obviously advance the cause very far.

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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Homosexual culture in the first half of the twentieth century seems to me to have had a strong bias towards sexual relations with young men, judging by an anecdotal sample of memoirs from the period.

Like you said, that is anecdotal. And probably untrue if you look into the underground pornography, titillation stories and 'beefcake' photos, as documented .

here

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[QUOTE]

1. But a hermeneutic of suspicion might lead one to be wary of what white, male scholars read into texts.

2. Challenges from Queer theology, womanist theology etc. keep us on our toes.

1. As one should be wary of anyone who seemingly reads into scripture which could well include gay readings or feminist ones.

2. On occasion they, like traditional interpretations, give us a good laugh too

Why are queer (not the same as gay, thanks) readings or feminist readings invalid?
Indeed - if God 'speaks to us though his word', then he will speak to our condition, whatever that may be.

Or is God's only word to LGBTs 'Change or go to hell?'

Does God speak to the rich, telling them to sell everything and give to the poor?

Oh yes, wait a minute, he does.

--------------------
My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Homosexual culture in the first half of the twentieth century seems to me to have had a strong bias towards sexual relations with young men, judging by an anecdotal sample of memoirs from the period.

Like you said, that is anecdotal. And probably untrue if you look into the underground pornography, titillation stories and 'beefcake' photos, as documented .
Probably. But if you look at literary exemplars and representations, Oscar Wilde was 16 years older than Alfred Douglas (Douglas was 21 when they met), Auden 14 years older than Kallman (Kallman 18 when they met), Isherwood and Bachardy have a 30 year age difference (that raised eyebrows at the time). Britten and Pears are pretty equal at only three years apart. Edward Carpenter and George Merrill, inspirations for Forster's Maurice, are 22 years apart. Wikipedia doesn't say how old Forster's lover was (though he was married). Mann's Death in Venice is about an old man's infatuation with a teenage boy. I haven't looked up Gide or Proust.

This isn't a criticism of gay relationships as such - similar facts would be true of most heterosexual marriages throughout history.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Palimpsest
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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
I think that there is a fairly major difference inasmuch as you can weed out the undesirable features of heterosexual marriage and still end up with something that St. Paul would have recognised whereas a married man banging an adolescent, a slave or a male prostitute is going to be undesirable however you slice it.

The problem is the nature of the "weeding". Of course you "omit the unspeakable acts of the Greeks" and the abuse of concubines and polygamy and homosexual age discordant couples but not heterosexual age discordant couples.
You now have a pretty little picture that you can claim is what you are referencing as derived from biblical authority and why are those crazy gay people finding anything else in antiquity?

The British Museum did restoration on the Parthenon marbles that Lord Elgin acquired. It turns out that part of that restoration was wire brushing off the gaudy fragments of paint that someone had daubed on the marble because the British Classicist preferred the serene simplicity of the bare white marble. We now know that the paint was original and various scholars are trying to figure out what the statues looked like for the original viewers. You need to be careful of the motives of those who are doing the "weeding".

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
Homosexual culture in the first half of the twentieth century seems to me to have had a strong bias towards sexual relations with young men, judging by an anecdotal sample of memoirs from the period.

Like you said, that is anecdotal. And probably untrue if you look into the underground pornography, titillation stories and 'beefcake' photos, as documented .
Probably. But if you look at literary exemplars and representations, Oscar Wilde was 16 years older than Alfred Douglas (Douglas was 21 when they met), Auden 14 years older than Kallman (Kallman 18 when they met), Isherwood and Bachardy have a 30 year age difference (that raised eyebrows at the time). Britten and Pears are pretty equal at only three years apart. Edward Carpenter and George Merrill, inspirations for Forster's Maurice, are 22 years apart. Wikipedia doesn't say how old Forster's lover was (though he was married). Mann's Death in Venice is about an old man's infatuation with a teenage boy. I haven't looked up Gide or Proust.

This isn't a criticism of gay relationships as such - similar facts would be true of most heterosexual marriages throughout history.

Those are - generally - upper-class men, though. Upper-class relationships generally were not between equals, and the concept was alien to them - including gay upper-class men. Relationships between gay men from other classes (which are very under-reported, aside from some wartime diaries) were rather different.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
It means that 85% of people are heterosexual by inclination and presumably by activity... How does that relate to Rome - who knows?

After thinking about this some more, I think modern research on paedophilia gives the best explanation as to why same-sex activity was more pervasive in the ancient world than modern statistics on the prevalence of homosexual men can account for.

Scientists researching paedophilia in the modern world have noted that it's important to realise that masculine physical traits develop quite late in males. The development of fully masculine features in boys can be regarded to some extent as beginning at puberty and being complete with the onset of facial hair growth around the age of 20. Prior to that, and certainly prior to puberty, the physical features of boys are quite 'feminine' in appearance.

If our definition of a "homosexual" male is a person who is sexually attracted to masculine features as opposed to feminine ones, no homosexual male is going to find anything much to be attracted to in pre-pubescent boys, and little to be attracted to in teenage boys until they near the age of 20 or so. Likewise, if we define a "straight" male as a person who is sexually attracted to feminine features, then there is potential for such people to experience attraction to females of all ages plus younger males who have still not yet developed masculine features.

Scientists studying paedophilia in the modern world have found the above observations necessary to explain the observed data that paedophiles are virtually always "straight": They have opposite-sex relationships with adults, they identify as straight, they prefer to molest female children, and when they molest male children they cite feminine characteristics of those children when interviewed about what they found attractive. Once the observation that masculine traits are a late-developing feature in males is factored in, the scientific data that "homosexual" males show markedly less tendencies toward paedophilia than "straight" males becomes straightforward to explain - children of both sexes lack the masculine traits that attract homosexual men but have the feminine traits that attract straight men.

Basically, the science shows that man-boy paedophilia is a straight, not gay, act in the sense that it is an act that gets done by straight people and not gay people. (This can be contrasted with popular claims by the ignorant that "If your scout leader abused you as a boy, then he was a homosexual. Even if he was married with 10 kids he was gay.")

So, with a view to applying this back to the ancient world, how do we distinguish between straight paedophilia, and homosexuality? The answer is age - homosexual men will be attracted to the masculine qualities present in men of ~18 and above years of age, and straight men will be attracted to the feminine qualities present in females and of men less than ~20 years of age.

This gives us a testable hypothesis: Which of these kinds of things do we find in the ancient sources? The answer with regard to the Roman sources is very clear: The second. Those sources repeatedly depict the ideal sexual partners as being females of almost any age, and pre-adult males. The long-lasting beauty of women is compared by sources to the short-lived attractiveness of boys, who are generally regarded as no longer attractive as soon as they develop facial hair. The primary characteristic mentioned by sources with regard to the attractiveness of boys is them having smooth hairless bodies. Various sources do mention that some men found other adult males attractive but this almost always clearly indicated to be something that is unusual. Thus surviving documents from the Roman Empire depict a society where apparently the vast majority of the men were attracted to feminine bodily characteristics of the type found in women of most ages and in boys of a younger age, and by contrast comparatively few male adult Romans appear to have found the masculine characteristics present in adult males attractive. Thus, the pervasiveness of same-sex paedophilia in Roman society can be easily reconciled with the modern observation that a large majority of men are straight.

The ironic truth of the matter appears to be that nearly all those Romans who were doing same-sex acts regularly, were straight. (Of course, this might well simply highlight how problematic our modern categories of "gay" and "straight" are!)

I think that is quite a problematic definition of homosexual. Feminine men are still men. The same goes for queer women who are attracted to masculine (butch) women - butch women are still women, it's just another way of being a woman. I think wrapping sexuality up in problematic and artificial gender norms is unhelpful.

some interesting info on masculinity, femininity and queer linguistics

--------------------
Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
It's also worth noting that the percentages of homosexual vary by culture and opportunity.
US LBGT demographics done a few years back show percentages varying from 1.7% to 10%. Oddly enough, people who respond to a census question are you gay, seems to correlate slightly with whether the state still has an anti-sodomy law.

Modern Gay people are much more prevalent in Big Cities than isolated rural states. Pompeii was a vacation spot for the rich of Rome, but one can assume there might be less homosexuality among slaves who weren't being sexually abused, just being made to work hard on the rural plantations.

It may or may not be that any particular biblical relationship was homosexual, but it's clear that there has been a relentless scrubbing of same sex relationships from the records, since the beginning of the Christian era. When Pompeii was first excavated, the sexually explicit material was carefully locked away in museums and made difficult to access. This continues to this day.
Many who study antiquity are re-assured that the blatantly obvious same-sex activity was "just not that important" and queer interpretation is just fanciful.

'Gay' is not all that helpful a term when it comes to demographics. Many people who engage in romantic or sexual relationships or experiences with the same gender would not self-describe as gay. MSM/WSM (men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women) is more accurate, especially in cultural/religious groups where an LGBTQ identity is taboo.

--------------------
Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Palimpsest
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quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
Gay' is not all that helpful a term when it comes to demographics. Many people who engage in romantic or sexual relationships or experiences with the same gender would not self-describe as gay. MSM/WSM (men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women) is more accurate, especially in cultural/religious groups where an LGBTQ identity is taboo.

More importantly, self description to a government official is much less likely in cultural groups where a LGBTQ is taboo.
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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Starlight:
I think most people today would be unhappy about most heterosexual relationships in antiquity. The huge majority of ancient relationships involved a large age differential and a large power differential between the two partners. Today we would want to reject nearly all of them as being either paedophilia or rape or both. But I think trying to separate out the same-sex relationships and say those were objectionable for the above reasons is disingenuous because the opposite-sex relationships of the period were also objectionable for the same reasons.

I think I agree with Gildas here. One of the main differences between homo- and heterosexual relations among Romans and Greeks was that, whereas you were generally supposed to be faithful to your wife, you were expected to give up your homosexual partner once you got married - in other words, abandonment was built into gay relationships.

"Let the favourite boy give away nuts to the slaves, when he learns how his lord has left his love." - Catullus' wedding hymn.

Likewise, although girls were married younger than we would feel comfortable with (although FWIW Aristotle thought the optimum age for a girl to marry was eighteen), to describe the relationship as paedophilic seems false because, apart from anything else, a genuinely paedophilic relationship would not be able to produce or raise children, which was after all one of the main purposes of marriage. You were supposed to stick with your wife into old age, but abandon your partner when they became too manly.

Similarly I am not entirely convinced that age gaps, or power differences, are inherently bad things. It depends on how the one with the power reacts to their position.

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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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Ricardus
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quote:
Originally posted by Gildas:
It's worth adding that the sexual molestation of slaves was considered a pretty grave sin, at least in Augustine's day.

Also by the time of Seneca, who was more or less contemporary with St Paul, slaves did have the right to complain before a public official about ill treatment by their masters.
quote:
Seneca, De Beneficiis, III.22
Benefits and wrongs are opposites; a slave can bestow a benefit upon his master, if he can receive a wrong from his master. Now an official has been appointed to hear complaints of the wrongs done by masters to their slaves, whose duty it is to restrain cruelty and lust, or avarice in providing them with the necessaries of life.



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Then the dog ran before, and coming as if he had brought the news, shewed his joy by his fawning and wagging his tail. -- Tobit 11:9 (Douai-Rheims)

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[QUOTE]

1. But a hermeneutic of suspicion might lead one to be wary of what white, male scholars read into texts.

2. Challenges from Queer theology, womanist theology etc. keep us on our toes.

1. As one should be wary of anyone who seemingly reads into scripture which could well include gay readings or feminist ones.

2. On occasion they, like traditional interpretations, give us a good laugh too

Why are queer (not the same as gay, thanks) readings or feminist readings invalid?
Jade - "be wary of .." doesn't equate to invalid. Reading one's own view into things to get the result one wants is wrong whomever you are or whatever perspective you are coming at it from
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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
I read the report a second time, I became aware of nuances and admissions that the evidence on various issues was inconclusive. It is as if some of the authors wanted to be more liberal but were hijacked, much like the Anglican Communion in general, by the conservative evangelicals.

It's as if some of the authors wanted to be more evangelical but were hi jacked by the liberals, don't you mean?
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Starlight
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quote:
Originally posted by Ricardus:
I think I agree with Gildas here. One of the main differences between homo- and heterosexual relations among Romans and Greeks was that, whereas you were generally supposed to be faithful to your wife, you were expected to give up your homosexual partner once you got married - in other words, abandonment was built into gay relationships.

I'll grant that in Greek sources from a certain period, there is a general expectation that once the age of marriage is reached there will be no further same-sex activity: the life of the ideal man's sexual life is depicted as first being the passive male partner, then when a bit older the active male partner, and then when a bit older, marrying a woman. Although, there seem to be plenty of mentions in various sources of men who don't follow this norm.

I'm not sure I'd say that the Roman sources show nearly so much emphasis on faithfulness to one's wife, or abandonment of previous male lovers. There's plenty of mention of married men who still take boy lovers, and of wives who get jealous of them.

quote:
You were supposed to stick with your wife into old age, but abandon your partner when they became too manly.
Yes. Of course, this doesn't mean that you couldn't get a new boy lover when the old one got too manly! (It's also very consistent with the view I expressed earlier that most of these men were probably what we would regard as "straight" today and that the characteristics they loved in the boys were probably largely feminine characteristics and thus the boys became less physically attractive as they developed manly features.) There's also plenty of sources that mention men who try to keep their lovers looking boyish for artificially long by removing their body hair or castrating them. And there's also various mentions of men who simply kept their lovers even when their lovers became adult males. (Who, as I suggested above, are the men who we would likely class today as "gay")

quote:
Similarly I am not entirely convinced that age gaps, or power differences, are inherently bad things. It depends on how the one with the power reacts to their position.
The existence of the power dynamic makes abuse possible to a greater degree than otherwise. So, it's dangerous and something to be suspicious of, I think.

quote:
Also by the time of Seneca, who was more or less contemporary with St Paul, slaves did have the right to complain before a public official about ill treatment by their masters.
Thanks for that quote. Although I'm not really sure how to reconcile it entirely with what I've read elsewhere about the master-slave relationship. I wonder how easily accessible and effective this official Seneca mentions was, and whether that same level of assistance was available for slaves outside of Rome. This summary seems to suggest that laws protecting slaves developed slowly over time, and that it took a while to get things like the ban on the castration of slaves to stick. The wiki article agrees with Williams' book that slaves could be sexually exploited and pimped out for prostitution if their master chose.
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Cottontail

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[QUOTE]

1. But a hermeneutic of suspicion might lead one to be wary of what white, male scholars read into texts.

2. Challenges from Queer theology, womanist theology etc. keep us on our toes.

1. As one should be wary of anyone who seemingly reads into scripture which could well include gay readings or feminist ones.

2. On occasion they, like traditional interpretations, give us a good laugh too

Why are queer (not the same as gay, thanks) readings or feminist readings invalid?
Jade - "be wary of .." doesn't equate to invalid. Reading one's own view into things to get the result one wants is wrong whomever you are or whatever perspective you are coming at it from
Yes but ... yes but ... everyone does this. There is no neutral position out there somewhere: to be entirely unbiased, we would somehow have to remove ourselves from the world. It is impossible to read anything without bringing your own cultural/political/personal baggage to the text. A Feminist or Queer reading is at least an honest one, in that it freely admits its bias. There is far more danger of distortion from those who are convinced that their reading is the 'most neutral', when in fact it is simply the equally-biased hermeneutic of the dominant group. One of the values of feminist or queer hermeneutics is that they expose the lack of wariness of more mainstream readings.

Any hermeneutic with any degree of self-awareness should understand itself not as a definitive interpretation, but as a tool. Take, for example, a novel like Oliver Twist. Someone reading this from a dominant cultural viewpoint might (consciously or unconsciously) read this novel as a reinforcement of the virtue of charity, and nod in satisfaction at how middle class values and characters win out in the end. As far as we know, this seems perfectly in keeping with Dickens' intention. They might even go further and read it as a clear illustration that some people are simply born criminals, while others are born superior beings, and that is why the natural virtues of a middle-class boy like Oliver eventually shine through, even though he is accidentally placed in the wrong class. Is this a reading that takes a step beyond Dickens' intention? Who knows? The text certainly can be read that way.

Now apply a Marxist hermeneutic - and suddenly the text is transformed. You start noticing things that you did not notice before: you notice the systemic injustices, and you notice also the weaknesses of Dickens' proposed 'solution' to poverty: the philanthropy of the rich, which is unable to save more than one boy (and one of their own at that). You notice that Fagin and his gang are a kind of an underworld parody of the capitalist system. And this too is a valid interpretation, no matter whether Dickens intended to say that or not.

Now apply a Queer hermeneutic. It is already obvious that Dickens has piled into the character of Fagin all the most stereotypical attributes of a villain: he seems to be simultaneously Irish, Jewish, and gay. No doubt Dickens' contemporary readers picked up the code loud and clear, and the more astute of them might have added an extra layer to their worry about the little boys in Fagin's gang. But then again, a Queer reading might point to this gang as a kind of world within a world: a place which, though precarious, was safer than anywhere out there. They might see it as a marginalised, liminal place, where the inhabitants found an energy and an individuality and a freedom-to-be that mainstream society could never allow. You might note that despite everything, Fagin is the most attractively 'real' character of the entire novel ... as if Dickens had set out to make him the epitome of evil, but had found his character escaping the stereotypes that had been hedged around him. And of course, he is killed for it. A Queer reading will bring all that out, and all our other readings are the richer for it. Again, it really doesn't matter whether Dickens meant us to see this in his novel or not.

The thing about any hermeneutic, conscious or otherwise, is that it is only a tool. It is useful for a period, bringing sometimes startling new insights and challenging old ones. Even if we later drop the tool as our main instrument of interpretation, it continues to inform and challenge our reading. Having read Oliver Twist through a Queer hermeneutic, I cannot unsee what I have seen through that lens.

However, if overapplied, then suddenly we are not talking about Oliver Twist any more, but about Marxism, or Queer Theory. (Though equally, we may have been talking about middle-class values all these years, when we thought we were talking about the text.) However, texts are robust things, and far from being destroyed, tend just to slip out of our hands, waiting for the next person to pick them up.

If a text like Oliver Twist is alive even to that extent, then how much more the Living Word? The Bible doesn't have a meaning waiting to be discovered any more than a person does. In myself, I do not have a meaning; I create meaning in conversation with others. And the Bible creates meaning too, through conversations with us. Because it is a dynamic conversation, the Bible is reading and questioning us every bit as much in return, applying to us its own hermeneutic of righteousness, and exposing our most unconscious and sinful assumptions. It may well be that in the course of that conversation, our preferred hermeneutic will be exposed as an inadequate tool, or useful only to a limited degree. In that case, we put it down and pick up another, and we try again.

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"I don't think you ought to read so much theology," said Lord Peter. "It has a brutalizing influence."

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leo
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Excellent post, Cottontail .

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My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
I read the report a second time, I became aware of nuances and admissions that the evidence on various issues was inconclusive. It is as if some of the authors wanted to be more liberal but were hijacked, much like the Anglican Communion in general, by the conservative evangelicals.

It's as if some of the authors wanted to be more evangelical but were hi jacked by the liberals, don't you mean?
Not at all - I mean what i said.

Having now read the report 3 times, it is even more clear that they wanted to say that our knowledge is developing and inconclusive as regards the Bible and Science so we best not make any hasty judgements.

But the Bp. of Birkenead and Prof. Harrison kept pulling them back to the conservative position - if you did a redaction crit. you can see quite clearly the movements to and fro in the paragraphs, resulting in what my evangelical bishop called 'another Anglican fudge.'

Have you actually read the report?

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by Jade Constable:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
quote:
Originally posted by leo:
[QUOTE]

1. But a hermeneutic of suspicion might lead one to be wary of what white, male scholars read into texts.

2. Challenges from Queer theology, womanist theology etc. keep us on our toes.

1. As one should be wary of anyone who seemingly reads into scripture which could well include gay readings or feminist ones.

2. On occasion they, like traditional interpretations, give us a good laugh too

Why are queer (not the same as gay, thanks) readings or feminist readings invalid?
Jade - "be wary of .." doesn't equate to invalid. Reading one's own view into things to get the result one wants is wrong whomever you are or whatever perspective you are coming at it from
As Cottontail puts it (much better than I), EVERYONE reads into things from their own perspectives and biases. There is no such thing as a neutral position.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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bad man
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I thought it was striking that the Bishops did not, as they usually do, "commend the Report for study". They just thanked those who wrote it - and moved on.

It was a worthy effort, and a small step in the right direction, but the Bishop of Birkenhead - who wrote no less than 25% of its pages in his own name, despite being a lone "dissenter" - demonstrated that he does not know the meaning of working party and wrecked it. The problem is not so much its conclusions as its methodology. It was a mess.

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leo
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But General Synod is discussing it some time this week.

--------------------
My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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