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Quotes about homosexuality from throughout Christian History.
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A Note on the Early Christian Opinion of Homosexuality
I found a web site today that reads:
Disapproval of homosexual activity appeared early in the Church Fathers. Aristides of Athens in the A.D. 140s and Clement of Alexandria (Egypt) in the 190s denounced it as sin. ... The most commonly mentioned aspect of same-sex gratification was intercourse with boys. Pederasty was considered sinful by some Church Fathers who wrote nothing against relations between adult males. ...
Depending how broadly or narrowly their wording is interpreted, some other Fathers may have censured only particular types of homosexual acts while allowing others. Polycarp in early second-century Turkey, the Revelation of Peter in mid-century, Irenaeus in France in the 180s and Origen prohibited "men abusing themselves with men" and "men defiling each other". The question arises whether homosexual acts in themselves are abusive and defiling or whether God forbids only those homoerotic positions that abuse or defile due to other factors.
One can only write this if he knows nothing about church history and is limiting himself to a pointless discussion about words. The early Christians considered abstaining from sexual gratification to be a sign of spiritual maturity, even if a Christian was legitimately married. While I personally believe this to be the influence of stoics, not the apostles (see, for example, 1 Cor. 7:3-9 & Heb. 13:5), it is nonetheless true. Justin Martyr, for example writes:
If we marry, it is only so that we may bring up children; if we decline marriage, we live continently. (First Apology 29)
Such people were not narrowing down details of homosexuality that were wrong, while acknowledging sexual activity between two men or two women as legitimate. That's simply impossible.
Below are quotes that I have gathered from early Christian writings. I have quoted some of them with a lot of the context around it so you can get a feel for the early Christian attitude toward sexuality in general as well as homosexuality in particular.
Note, of course, that the century-old translations that I am getting these quotes from use the word "sodomy," not "homosexuality."
Christian History Quotes on Homosexuality
Didache, A.D. 80 - 130
Commit no murder, adultery, sodomy, fornication, or theft. (Didache 2)
Justin Martyr, c. A.D. 155
When I was delighting in the doctrines of Plato, and heard the Christians slandered, and saw them fearless of death, and of all other-things which are counted fearful, perceived that it was impossible that they could be living in wickedness and pleasure. ...
And imitating Jupiter and the other gods in sodomy and shameless intercourse with woman, might we not bring as our apology the writings of Epicurus and the poets? But because we persuade men to avoid such instruction, and all who practise them and imitate such examples, as now in this discourse we have striven to persuade you, we are assailed in every kind of way.
But we are not concerned, since we know that God is a just observer of all. But would that even now some one would mount a lofty rostrum, and shout with a tragic voice [i.e., loud like an actor in tragedies]: "Be ashamed, be ashamed, ye who charge the guiltless with those deeds which yourselves openly could commit, and ascribe things which apply to yourselves and to your gods to those who have not even the slightest sympathy with them. Be converted! Become wise!" (Second Apology 12, emphasis & brackets mine)
Theophilus of Antioch, A.D. 168
Regarding lawless conduct, those who have blindly wandered into the choir of philosophy have, almost to a man, spoken with one voice. Certainly Plato—to mention him first who seems to have been the most respectable philosopher among them—expressly, as it were, legislates in his first book, entitled The Republic, that the wives of all be common, using the precedent of the son of Jupiter and the lawgiver of the Cretans, in order that under this pretext there might be an abundant offspring from the best persons, and that those who were worn with toil might be comforted by such intercourse. And Epicurus himself, too, as well as teaching atheism, teaches along with it incest with mothers and sisters, and this in transgression of the laws which forbid it. ... these things the other laws of the Romans and Greeks also prohibit. Why, then, do Epicurus and the Stoics teach incest and sodomy, with which doctrines they have filled libraries, so that from boyhood this lawless intercourse is learned? (To Autolycus III:10:6)
Clement of Alexandria, c. A.D. 190
All honor to that king of the Scythians, whoever Anacharsis was, who shot one of his subjects with an arrow for imitating among the Scythians the mystery of the mother of the gods ... beating a drum and sounding a cymbal strung from his neck like a priest of Cybele. [The king] condemned him as having become effeminate among the Greeks and a teacher of the disease of effeminacy to the rest of the Cythians. (Exhortation to the Heathen 2)
The fate of the Sodomites was judgment to those who had done wrong and instruction to those who hear. The Sodomites had fallen into uncleanness because of much luxury. They practiced adultery shamelessly and burned with insane love for boys.
The All-seeing Word, whose notice cannot be escaped by those who commit impious acts, cast his eye on them. Nor did the sleepless Guard of Humanity observe their licentiousness in silence, but in order to deter us from imitating them and to train us in his own moderation, he fell on some sinners, so that lust would not go unavenged and break us loose from every restrain of fear. He ordered Sodom to be burned, pouring forth a little of the sagacious fire on licentiousness, lest lust, by not being punished, should throw the gates wide open for those that were rushing into voluptuousness.
Thus, the righteous punishment of the Sodomites became to me an image of the salvation which is well calculated for men. For those who have not committed sins like those who were punished will never receive a punishment like them, either. By guarding against sinning, we guard against suffering. "For I would have you know," says Jude, "that God, having once saved his people from the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed those that did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains for the judgment of the great day, under the darkness of savage angels."
... For punishments and threats are for this purpose, that we may abstain from sinning because we fear the penalty. (The Instructor III:8)
Tertullian, c. A.D. 210
If we challenge you to comparison in the virtue of chastity, I turn to a part of the sentence passed by the Athenians against Socrates, who was pronounced a corrupter of youth. The Christian confines himself to the female sex. ... The Christian husband has nothing to do with any but his own wife. ... A Christian with grace-healed eyes is sightless in this matter; he is mentally blind against the assaults of passion. (Apology 46)
So, too, whoever enjoys any other than nuptial intercourse, in whatever place, and in the person of whatever woman, makes himself guilty of adultery and fornication. ... But all the other frenzies of passions—impious towards both the bodies and the sexes—beyond the laws of nature, we banish not only from the threshold, but from all shelter of the Church, because they are not sins, but monstrosities. (On Modesty 4)
Origen, c. A.D. 230
Even in regard to those [Christians] who ... have not gone into these deep questions, we find that they believe in the Most High God, in his only-begotten Son, the Word and God, and that they often exhibit in their character a high degree of gravity, purity, and integrity, while those who call themselves wise have despised these virtues and have wallowed in the filth of sodomy, in lawless lust, "men with men doing that which is unseemly" [Rom. 1:27]. (Against Celsus VII:50)
Cyprian, c. A.D. 250
In the theatres also you will behold what may well cause you grief and shame. It is the tragic buskin [boot worn by tragic actors] which relates in verse the crimes of ancient days. The old horrors of parricide [murder of a parent] and incest are unfolded in action calculated to express the image of the truth, so that, as the ages pass by, any crime that was committed in the past will not be forgotten. Each generation is reminded by what it hears that whatever has once been done may be done again. ... Additionally, in the mimes, by the teaching of infamous things, the spectator is attracted either to reconsider what he may have done in secret or to hear what he may do. Adultery is leaned while it is seen. ...
Still further, what a degradation of morals it is, what a stimulus to abominable deeds, what food for vice, to be polluted by histrionic gestures [the dramatic, overdone gestures of an actor] against the covenant and law of one's birth, to gaze in detail upon the endurance of incestuous abominations! Men are emasculated, and all the pride and vigor of their sex is effeminated in the disgrace of their enervated body. There the one that is the most pleasing is the on that has most completely broken down the man into the woman. He grows into praise by virtue of his crime, and the more he is degrade, the more skillful he is considered to be.
... What cannot such a creature suggest? He inflames the senses; he flatters the feelings; he drives out the more vigorous conscience of a virtuous breast. Nor is there any lack of authority for the enticing abomination ... The picture Venus immodest, Marst adulterous, and that Jupiter of theirs no less supreme in vice than in dominion, inflamed with earthly love ... breaking forth by the help of birds to violate the purity of boys.
Now let us ask the question? Can he who looks upon such things be healthy-minded or modest? Men imitate the gods whom they adore, and to such miserable beings their crimes become their religion.
Oh, if placed on that lofty watchtower you could gaze into the secret places ... you would behold things done by immodest persons which no chaste eye could look upon. You would see what even to see is a crime. You would see what people made into beasts with the madness of vice deny that they have done, and yet hasten to do: men with frenzied lusts rushing upon men, doing things which afford no gratification even to those who do them. I am deceived if the man who is guilty of such things as these does not accuse others of them. (Epistles of Cyprian I:8-9)
Eusebius of Caesarea, c. A.D. 325
Having forbidden all unlawful marriage, all unseemly practices, and the union of women with women and men with men, [the Word] adds: "Do not defile yourselves with any of these things, for in all these things the nations were defiled, which I will drive out before you" [Lev. 18:24]. (Proof of the Gospel IV:10; Thank you, Roger Pearse for this online edition!)
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