11th Century Catholic Book Focuses on HomosexualityPosted: October 16, 2016
Are you tired of the homosexual propaganda that claims that it’s only “recently” that the church has regarded homosexual practice as sinful? EG
Me too. What about the line that it’s only “recently” (since the around 20th century) that humankind have a been able to grasp the concept of homosexuality, and that when the Bible was written they simply didnt understand it? Yep Im tired of that one too!
Those with a good appreciation for history are already aware of statements from church fathers such as Augustine (EG), which indicate that even in the early centuries AD, homosexual practice was still regarded as sinful. But details from that era, often amount to snippets and inferences , so when gay activists question even the definitions of words used, it can be easy to loose a sense of certainty.
So we are very lucky to have the following record available. That’s right; not just a sentence or two about homosexuality in centuries past, but numerous chapters written by a committed Christian, where homosexuality is a central theme.
It was written in the middle of the 11th century, by a senior Italian monk, as a letter to the pope. He wrote it in Latin, and it eventually came to be known by the Latin name Liber Gomorrhianus, which translates to English as the Book of Gomorrah. Others refer to it as “Letter 31” based on an index of the author’s various letters. The author came to be known as St. Peter Damian, though that name also varies in spelling and form, and is a variation of the name he had as a child. My source is the English translation by Matthew C. Hoffman, which was published as a 165 page-numbered book, copyrighted at 2015. Approximately half of Hoffman’s book is his introduction, bio of Damien and a translator’s preface and the latter half of Hoffman’s book is his English translation of Damien’s 27 chapters of Letter 31. Hoffman’s book is available here.
Hoffman indicates that he wrote such a big introduction partly in an effort to refute those who seek to downplay Damian’s writings (see pp 56-71). Hoffman states that Damien was well educated and notes on p. 37 “So great was [Damian’s] importance to Pope Alexander II that he declared that, after himself, Damian was “the highest authority within the Roman Church,”…
What I found interesting and valuable, are the indications that St Peter Damien in the 11th century, understood a fair amount about homosexuality. He perhaps understood it better than some today, who pride themselves on their modern (yet incorrect) understanding of homosexuality as being simply heterosexuality but between members of the same sex. Below is a listing of what I found to be interesting mentions by Damian (as translated by Hoffman) indexed using the page numbering in Hoffman’s book. NB the book frequently refers to ‘sodomy’, but as per pp. 7, 17-18, 48, note that this word is used with a broad definition that is not limited to anal copulation, yet he does seem to limit it to sexual relations between males. NB also that the chapter delineations below appear to be Hoffman’s delineations.
So what was Damian’s understanding of sodomy? He writes –
– That its shameful to speak of it (p. 82)
– people “being soiled by fondling each others male parts , others fornicate between the thighs or in the rear…” (p. 83. Interestingly no mention of oral sex)
– of it being relevant to Sodom & Gomorrah (p. 86)
– of it being “not unworthily believed to be the worst of all offenses (p. 86)
– That Leviticus prescribed death for sex between males (p. 87)
– That a man having sex with another man between the thighs is regarded as feminine copulation (p. 88. More on p. 129)
– That those “having lain between masculine thighs in fornication” are guilty of a mortal sin (p. 88)
– That 1 Tim. 1:10 refers to males lying with males as against religious law (p. 90)
– That those who are top offenders should be expelled from the clergy (pp. 89-91)
– That the story of Sodom has links to Romans 1 (pp 92-93)
– That St Paul said that some dishonor their own bodies amongst themselves (p.92)
– That priests are obligated to pull their subjects into line in this area (p.96)
– That it seems to him to be more tolerable to have fallen into the disgrace of lust with an animal than with a man (p. 98)
– That the problem is perpetuated by sinners affirming (or perhaps just lacking condemnation of) others who commit the same sins, rather than the sinners confessing to “spiritual men” (pp 99-101)
– That for a man to lie with a monk, is comparable to a monk “making an attempt” on a nun (pp 101-102)
– NB he also uses vague language when talking of heterosexual sex (pp 101, 102, 103, 107)
– That sex between males is contrary to nature (p. 101, 117)
– That homosexuality may be regarded as an ‘excess’ (p. 101) More on p. 128.
– That homosexuality involves an “insanity of unrestrained lust” (p. 102)
– That sodomites of the day, spoke collaboratively, in their own defense (p. 108)
– He seems to say that sodomites claim that classic sodomy is anal (p, 109)
– He makes reference to “those who violate males in the rear” (p. 115)
– He seems to say that sodomy is to “be polluted either with animals or with males”. He talks of a “man being polluted with another man through the ardor of lust” (p. 117)
– He talks of sodomy as to “live irrationally”, against the order of human reason (pp 117-118)
– He says sodomites are explained as being “possessed by evil spirits (p. 118) and of a “diabolical impulse” being the cause for “when a man thrusts himself upon another man to commit impure acts …” (p. 118)
– Sadly, he does seem to conflate gender-agnostic pedophilia with more gay acts (p. 120)
– He indicates that those who corrupt in the rear or copulate between the thighs may also want to kiss etc, and that they may regard kissing as a lesser sin (the end of p. 121 suggests he was referring to homosexuals, despite the chapter beginning with a context of pedophilia)(p. 120)
– That this sin “violates sobriety, kills modesty, slays chastity.” (p. 122)
– That this sin “pollutes everything, and for itself permits nothing pure, nothing foreign to filth, nothing clean.” Woah!!! (p. 122)
– That “In order to sow impious wars against God, [sodomy] requires a militancy of the most wretched spirit” (p. 123)
– That “His flesh burns with the fury of lust, … while his is vexed by as many worries as his is tortured …” (the context also talks of punishment though) (p. 123)
– That “memory is removed, the sharpness of mind is obscured” (huh? p. 124)
– That it “… undermines fortitude, banishes temperance, and blunts the sharpness of prudence.” (p. 124)
– That it “expels every cornerstone of the virtues from the court of the human heart, it also … introduces every barbarity of the vices.” Woah! (P. 124) See more on p. 126.
– That “Whenever anyone falls into this abyss … he is exiled from the heavenly homeland … rejected from the fellowship of heavenly citizenry … forced now to bear … the torment of eternal damnation.” (pp 124-125. More on p. 144-145).
– Seemingly that the source of the problem is “lust” (p. 127).
– That turning to the “masculine sex” might be due to “the fury of lust” (p. 128)
– That turning to the “masculine sex” might be due to “the madness of excess” (p. 128)
– That (specified) 4-legged animals are not seen engaging in homosexual behaviour (p. 128)
– That those who engage in homosexuality are “emasculated” and “effeminate” (p. 129)
– That “the handling of masculine flesh delights” those who engage in homosexuality, though it shouldnt (p. 129)
– That homosexuals tend to not be mournful of their situation, but rather are ‘arrogant’ (p. 130) This is perhaps an ongoing theme across to p. 132, where Damian complains that the guilty priests do not seek to exit from priesthood, as they should (p. 132)
– That the problem involves a flow or semen (p. 132)
– That sodomites are displeasing to God, and held bound by “terrestrial desires” (p. 134)
– That people are angry with him and refuse to listen (p. 136).
– That people reject his words about “the nature of this mortal vice”, though it’s aligned with Scripture (p. 137)
– That sodomitic acts include “polluting only himself, or another by fondling him with his hands, or copulating between the thighs, or even violating him in the rear, ” (pp 141-142). NB Damien precedes this by saying that sodomy has 4 heads, so if these are the 4 heads, this implies that to him, ‘sodomy’ does not include other forms or combinations of sex/partners, eg anal sex with women.
– He implies that St Paul saw a link between the judgement of Sodom & Gomorrah, and judgement against sodomites in later times (p. 144)
– That Christ can return the sinner to the pinnacle from which unchaste flesh caused him to fall (p. 147)
– That it’s a “constant struggle against the flesh” that keeps you from surrendering to lust (p. 149)
– That a key motivator for those who fall, is the pleasure of ejaculation of semen (p. 149)
– He seemed to say that fasting can discipline the flesh, and that prayer helps too (p. 149)
– He refers to eunuchs as “soldiers of chastity”, and writes that “Indeed eunuchs are those who repress the insolent impulses of the flesh and cut away from themselves the performance of perverse acts.” (p. 150)
– That (as per Ezek. 3) he fears the wrath of God as punishment for silence, more than he fears his colleagues’ anger for ratting on them this way. (p. 154)
– That those who engage in the sin, are “enslaved” (p.158)
– That when a single person makes statements such as this, he can be regarded as prejudiced (p. 159)
– As per the early stages of the presentation (IE chapter 2) he closes the presentation by pointing to 4 types of vice; IE “Some pollute themselves, others are soiled by fondling each other’s male parts, others fornicate between the thighs or in the rear …” Thus we can conclude that those 4 are the overall theme of the presentation (p. 160)