Thursday, November 02, 2006

Creating a New Traditional Value For Gays

GLBT Western History
Part 2 of 3 (
Part 1)

Picking up where the last post left off, Justinian became the Byzantine emperor around 527 AD. He commissioned the Code of Justinian, and it was finalized by 534. This body of law incorporated the 342 law of Constantine’s sons, once again making clear gay sex meant death for both partners. Record exists of this policy being implemented even upon two bishops. They were tortured and castrated (which most often in those times meant a protracted form of capital punishment). An 18th century historian, Edward Gibbons, who refers to homosexuality as a “moral pestilence” (just to know where he stands :-)), reported: “Justinian declared himself the implacable enemy of unmanly lust. In defiance of every principle of justice, he stretched to past as well as future offences for the operation of his edicts… A painful death was inflicted by the amputation of the sinful instrument, or the insertion of sharp reeds…” You get the picture.

Any compassionate human must be wondering, why? Well, those were cruel times, to start, but there were events to be explained. The devil, Sodom, sin, and the supernatural are very useful tools of government. For an example, after a series of natural calamities, Justinian gave his Novella 77 warning homosexual acts:

“incur the just anger of God, and bring about the destruction of cities along with their inhabitants. Therefore we order all men to avoid such offences as for crimes of this description cause famine, earthquake, and pestilence.”

Now, those are some good, supposedly scriptural explanations for why God sends calamity (as was even imagined recently regarding Hurricane Katrina), and they are also good reasons to scapegoat and kill homosexuals.

Two decades later, in 557 AD, Constantinople experienced a deadly quake followed by a plague. Seemingly in reaction, Novella 141 was created (559 AD) and put the blame on “Men-corruptors”. They were abused by nature and they act eerily similar to an abuse victim, as if spirits were listening in with God’s hammer at the ready:

“As we are always in need of the benevolence and kindness of God, and above all, at this time, when we have provoked Him to anger in many ways… Wherefore it would not be just for us to treat with contempt His abounding kindness, His tolerance, and His infinite patience, lest, avoiding repentance, our hearts may become hardened, and we may accumulate His anger upon our heads…there are persons who are guilty of abominable offences, which are deservedly detested by God. We have reference to the corruption of males, a crime which some persons have the sacrilegious audacity to perpetrate”

This justification of random tragedy in a city will become one of the repeating uses for the ever-present gay in any city, and the reason Sodom was best used after being morphed into a gay city. It’s not primarily because some people lie, or steal, or skip religious services, just like any man could. God did it to get at the gays hiding in our midst, the people who we, the majority, never have been nor will be nor ever wish to be. He wants to rid us of the sin we’ve no interest in, and we're just victims of "friendly fire".

Justinian’s rule is also recorded as one using gay-fear to raise money for the state. The mere accusation could be used to fill coffers. A specially appointed magistrate took the job of finding out gays, and his underlings would exhort money upon threat. Procopius records: “the subordinates would neither bring forth accusers nor submit witnesses…. the unfortunates who fell in their way continued, without having been accused or convicted, and with great secrecy, to be murdered as well as robbed of their money” No one whining about Habeas Corpus back then I suppose :-).
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About 1000 AD we have Saint Damian, who wrote the Book of Gomorrah, calling homosexuality, again, the vice that “surpasses the enormity of all vices”. Wow, huh? Worse than anything else. This is also one of the early examples of the twins of 1. fascinations with and 2. abhorrence of gay sex. Seems Damian went in to uncomfortable detail as to what he imagined the “gay lifestyle” to be; it was for a good cause :-). On the upside, Pope Leo disagreed with the Saint’s harshness; possibly because the Book of Gomorrah was primarily attacking gays in the clergy.

To add to that, the revered Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 AD), again, holds homosexuality up as the worst of all sexual sins. You jail a man for rape because he harms another human, but homosexual sex is imagined to harm God and the law was bound to react.

Imagine all the other horrible things a human can do and then imagine how you have to bend your ethics to put adult consensual sex on top of all that. Why do it? To me it seems like a perfect storm: the pagan element, the OT with its own old reasons, the need for bodies to grow the RCC, the ick factor most people feel at the notion of such sex, the fact that it makes the majority feel more moral by not experiencing such “vial afflictions”, and the political use of having a perpetual minority to blame for natural calamities and even military failures. Not that people like Saint Thomas did such things purposefully, but they are a product of their culture, as we all are, and mobs can have amoral minds of their own.

Next, and lastly, the defense of traditional values...

2 comments:

santorio said...

your comment on the need for a perpetual minority also applies of course to jews, who make themselves easy to identify by clothing, speech, circumcision, etc. inevitably, the same society that persecutes jews also targets gays.

i wonder, did tithing receipts increase after the recent oaks interview?

Scot said...

your comment on the need for a perpetual minority also applies of course to jews

That’s a good point too. Jewish culture was not as amenable to rapid growth. But the competition had a relatively strong emphasis on conversion, missionary work, and huge families.

i wonder, did tithing receipts increase after the recent oaks interview?

It didn’t encourage me to tithe :-). I doubt it mattered in that regard. We’re at a transition though, and I think such will likely and eventually reduce donations, as more gays are out and more people have gay parents or grandparents and so on (Utah is in the top 3, you know…).

To be clear, I’d put the LDS church opinion more in the category of the well-meaning theologians in this tale than the political leaders who profited off it. I don’t think economic considerations come into the leader’s thinking either way; they’re the other side of the coin, as it were.

But I think the economics are part of the modern problem, along with the use of gays as explanations for natural disasters (though, yes, that one is hanging on a bit). Those old “values” for gays are diminishing, become less profitable and comforting as we depurate our ethics and science through the years. There are only a handful of gay types in our culture still exhortable for being gay. What remains is mainly cultural habit, the ick factor, and the feeling of righteousness in not being those “others” who have such moral weaknesses. All that though is diminishing, as a trend; just hope it continues.

(I love commenting on my own blog… I can just ramble on and on and on :-))