Sodomy

Sodomy

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Encyclopedia
Sodomy is an anal or other copulation-like act, especially between male persons or between a man and animal
Zoophilia
Zoophilia, from the Greek ζῷον and φιλία is the practice of sex between humans and non-human animals , or a preference or fixation on such practice...

, and one who practices sodomy is a "sodomite". The word is derived from chapters 18 and 19 of the Bible's Book of Genesis.

Origins


The term comes from the Ecclesiastical Latin
Ecclesiastical Latin
Ecclesiastical Latin is the Latin used by the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church in all periods for ecclesiastical purposes...

: peccatum Sodomiticum, or "sin of Sodom." The Book of Genesis (chapters 18-20) tells how God wished to destroy the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

. Two angels (literally "messengers") are invited by Lot
Lot (Bible)
Lot is a man from the Book of Genesis chapters 11-14 and 19, in the Hebrew Bible. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram ; his flight from the destruction of Sodom, in the course of which Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt; and the seduction by his...

 to take refuge with his family for the night. The men of Sodom surrounded Lot's house and demanded that he bring the messengers out, so that they can "know" them. Lot protests that the "messengers" are his guests, and offers them his virgin daughters instead, but the Sodomites threaten to "do worse" with Lot than with his guests; whereupon the angels strike the Sodomites blind, "so that they wearied themselves to find the door." (Genesis 19:4-11, KJV
King James Version of the Bible
The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, King James Bible or KJV, is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611...

)

Legal usage


In current usage, the term is particularly used in law.

Laws
Sodomy law
A sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as crimes. The precise sexual acts meant by the term sodomy are rarely spelled out in the law, but are typically understood by courts to include any sexual act deemed unnatural. It also has a range of similar euphemisms...

 prohibiting sodomy was seen frequently in past Jewish, Christian, and Islamic civilizations, but the term has little modern usage outside Africa, the Islamic countries and the United States. In the various criminal codes of the U.S. the term "sodomy" has generally been replaced by "Deviant sexual intercourse
Deviant sexual intercourse
Deviant sexual intercourse is, in some states in the USA, a legal term for 'any act of sexual gratification involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another, anus to mouth or involving invasion of the anus or vagina of one person by a foreign object manipulated by another...

", which is described as any form of penetrative intercourse or cunnilingus between unmarried persons These laws have been challenged and have sometimes been found unconstitutional or been replaced with different legislation. Elsewhere, the legal use of the term "sodomy" is restricted to rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 cases where anal penetration has taken place.

Bible


In the Hebrew Bible, Sodom
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

 was a city destroyed by God because of the evil of its inhabitants. The clearest texts on the sin or sins for which Sodom was destroyed are found in Ezekiel
Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

 in the Old Testament, and Jude
Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

 in the New.

Hebrew references


The story of the Sodom's destruction — and of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

's failed attempt to intercede with God and prevent that destruction — appears in Genesis 18–19. No specific sin is given as the reason for God's great wrath.

The connection between Sodom and homosexuality is derived from the depicted attempt of a mob of city people to rape
Rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 Lot's male guests. Some say the sinfulness of that, for the original writers of the Biblical account, might have consisted mainly in the violation of the obligations of hospitality
Hospitality
Hospitality is the relationship between guest and host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. Specifically, this includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers, resorts, membership clubs, conventions, attractions, special events, and other services for travelers...

. This view does not take into account that before the "guests" arrived in the city Genesis 18:v17 and any "hospitality" could have been rendered, its destruction was already planned. (In The Book of Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

, 19-21, there is an account, similar in many ways, where a city is almost totally destroyed in punishment for a mob of its inhabitants raping a woman.)

Many times in the Pentateuch
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and Prophets
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

, writers use God's destruction of Sodom to demonstrate His awesome power. This happens in Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

 29, Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 1, 3, and 13, Jeremiah
Jeremiah
Jeremiah Hebrew:יִרְמְיָה , Modern Hebrew:Yirməyāhū, IPA: jirməˈjaːhu, Tiberian:Yirmĭyahu, Greek:Ἰερεμίας), meaning "Yahweh exalts", or called the "Weeping prophet" was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible...

 49 and 50, Lamentations
Book of Lamentations
The Book of Lamentations ) is a poetic book of the Hebrew Bible composed by the Jewish prophet Jeremiah. It mourns the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in the 6th Century BCE....

 4, Amos
Book of Amos
The Book of Amos is a prophetic book of the Hebrew Bible, one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, was active c. 750 BCE during the reign of Jeroboam II, making the Book of Amos the first biblical prophetic book written. Amos lived in the kingdom of Judah...

 4.11, and Zephaniah
Zephaniah
Zephaniah or Tzfanya is the name of several people in the Bible Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh. He is also called Sophonias as in the New Catholic Encyclopaedia and in Easton's [Bible] Dictionary....

 2.9. Deuteronomy 32, Jeremiah 23.14 and Lamentations 4 reference the sinfulness of Sodom but do not specify any particular sin. Specific sins which Sodom is linked to include adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

 and lying
Lie
For other uses, see Lie A lie is a type of deception in the form of an untruthful statement, especially with the intention to deceive others....

 , impenitence , fornication
Fornication
Fornication typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other. For many people, the term carries a moral or religious association, but the significance of sexual acts to which the term is applied varies between religions, societies and cultures. The...

 ( KJV), and an overall "filthy" lifestyle , which word ("aselgeiais") elsewhere is rendered in the KJV as lasciviousness ' onMouseout='HidePop("25665")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Incontinence_(philosophy)">wantonness
Incontinence (philosophy)
Incontinence is often used by philosophers to translate the Greek term Akrasia . Often used to refer to a lacking in moderation or self-control, especially related to sexual desire...

: .

In Ezekiel 16, a long comparison is made between Sodom and the Kingdom of Israel. "Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they." (Ezekiel 16.47 New American Standard Bible)
There is no explicit mention of any sexual sin in Ezekiel's summation, and "abomination" is used to describe many sins.

Sodomite


The Authorized King James Version translates as "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel," but the word corresponding to "sodomite" in the Hebrew original, Qadesh (Hebrew:קדש) does not refer to Sodom, and has been translated in the New International Version
New International Version
The New International Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible. Published by Zondervan in the United States and by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, it has become one of the most popular modern translations in history.-History:...

 as "shrine prostitute"; male shrine prostitutes may have served barren women in fertility rites rather than engaging in homosexual acts; this also applies to other instances of the word sodomite in the King James Version.

New Testament


The New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, like the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, references Sodom as a place of God's anger against sin, but the Epistle of Jude
Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

 provides a certain class of sin as causative of its destruction, the meaning of which is disputed.
The Greek word in the New Testament from which the phrase is translated "indulging in gross immorality", or in some Bibles, "giving themselves over to fornication", is "ekporneuō" ("ek" and "porneuō"). As one word it is not used elsewhere in the New Testament, but occurs in the Septuagint to denote whoredom (Genesis 38:24 and Exodus 34:15). Some modern translations as the NIV render it as "sexual immorality."

The Greek words for "strange flesh" are "heteros", which almost always basically denotes "another/other," and "sarx," a common word for "flesh," and usually refers to the physical body or the nature of man or of an ordinance.

Jewish views

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,
neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw this. (KJV
King James Version of the Bible
The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, King James Bible or KJV, is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611...

).


Classical Jewish texts are seen by many as not stressing the homosexual aspect of the attitude of the inhabitants of Sodom as much as their cruelty and lack of hospitality
Hospitality
Hospitality is the relationship between guest and host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. Specifically, this includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers, resorts, membership clubs, conventions, attractions, special events, and other services for travelers...

 to the "stranger." The 13th-century Jewish scholar Nachmanides wrote, “According to our sages, they were notorious for every evil, but their fate was sealed for their persistence in not supporting the poor and the needy.” His contemporary Rabbenu Yonah expresses the same view: “Scripture attributes their annihilation to their failure to practice tzedakah
Tzedakah
Tzedakah or Ṣ'daqah in Classical Hebrew is a Hebrew word commonly translated as charity, though it is based on the Hebrew word meaning righteousness, fairness or justice...

 [charity or justice].” The Book of Wisdom
Book of Wisdom
The Book of Wisdom, often referred to simply as Wisdom or the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon, is one of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books of the Septuagint Old Testament, which includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon ,...

, which is included in the Biblical canon by Orthodox and Roman Catholics, but excluded by modern Jews, Protestants, and other Christian denominations, makes reference to the story of Sodom, further emphasizing that their sin had been failing to practice hospitality:
And punishments came upon the sinners not without former signs by the force of thunders: for they suffered justly according to their own wickedness, insomuch as they used a more hard and hateful behavior toward strangers.
For the Sodomites did not receive those, whom they knew not when they came: but these brought friends into bondage, that had well deserved of them. (KJV
King James Version of the Bible
The Authorized Version, commonly known as the King James Version, King James Bible or KJV, is an English translation of the Christian Bible by the Church of England begun in 1604 and completed in 1611...

, Wisdom 19:13-14)


Prohibitions on same-sex activities among men (#157) and bestiality (#155-156) 613 commandments#Maimonides.27 list are among the 613 commandments as listed by Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 in the 12th century; however, their source in Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18 is a chapter of the Biblical book of Leviticus. It narrates part of the instructions given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The chapter deals with a number of sexual activities considered 'unclean' or 'abominable'...

 does not contain the word sodomy. The idea that homosexual intercourse was involved as at least a part of the evil of Sodom arises from the story in Genesis 19
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom - both young and old - surrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."

That is the NIV translation. The Hebrew verb used is to know, which can have a sexual meaning in the Bible, but doesn't always, and might have a sexual meaning here, judging from Lot's shocked reaction:
No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing...

Modern English translation of Jude


The Epistle of Jude
Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

 in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 echoes the Genesis narrative and potentially adds the sexually immoral aspects of Sodom's sins: …just as Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

 and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire (v. 7, English Standard Version). The phrase rendered sexual immorality and unnatural desire is translated strange flesh or false flesh, but it is not entirely clear what it refers to.
  • The ESV
    English Standard Version
    The English Standard Version is an English translation of the Christian Bible. It is a revision of the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version...

     translators situated in the year 2001 supply one plausible paraphrase for "false flesh", arguably influenced by more recent Christian views, in making the phrase refer to alleged illicit sexual activity of the Genesis account (cf. the language of the epistle to the Romans
    Epistle to the Romans
    The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

     1:21-32 not specifically referring to Sodom).

  • Another theory is that it is just a reference to the “strange flesh” of the intended rape victims, who were angels, not men. Countering this is traditional interpretation, which notes that the angels were sent to investigate an ongoing regional problem(Gn. 18) of fornication, and extraordinarily so, that of a homosexual nature, "out of the order of nature." "Strange" is understood to mean "outside the moral law", while it is doubted that either Lot or the men of Sodom understood that the strangers were angels at the time.

  • A third opinion takes "false flesh" to refer to cannibalism, as such a meaning is used elsewhere in the Mosaic laws, referring to practices of those who lived in Canaan
    Canaan
    Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

    . A counter argument to this principally relies upon the weight of the sexual content versus cannibalism in the story of Sodom in , and "ekporneuō" to convey sexual content in Jude v.7.

Philo


The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 (20 BC - 50 AD) described the inhabitants of Sodom in an extra biblical account:

"As men, being unable to bear discreetly a satiety of these things, get restive like cattle, and become stiff-necked, and discard the laws of nature, pursuing a great and intemperate indulgence of gluttony, and drinking, and unlawful connections; for not only did they go mad after other women, and defile the marriage bed of others, but also those who were men lusted after one another, doing unseemly things, and not regarding or respecting their common nature, and though eager for children, they were convicted by having only an abortive offspring; but the conviction produced no advantage, since they were overcome by violent desire; and so by degrees, the men became accustomed to be treated like women, and in this way engendered among themselves the disease of females, and intolerable evil; for they not only, as to effeminacy and delicacy, became like women in their persons, but they also made their souls most ignoble, corrupting in this way the whole race of men, as far as depended on them" (133-35; ET Jonge 422-23).

Josephus


The Jewish historian Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 used the term “Sodomites” in summarizing the Genesis narrative: “About this time the Sodomites grew proud, on account of their riches and great wealth; they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, in so much that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from him: they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices” "Now when the Sodomites saw the young men to be of beautiful countenances, and this to an extraordinary degree, and that they took up their lodgings with Lot, they resolved themselves to enjoy these beautiful boys by force and violence; and when Lot exhorted them to sobriety, and not to offer any thing immodest to the strangers, but to have regard to their lodging in his house; and promised that if their inclinations could not be governed, he would expose his daughters to their lust, instead of these strangers; neither thus were they made ashamed." (Antiquities 1.11.1,3 http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-1.htm — circa AD 96). His assessment goes beyond the Biblical data, though it is seen by conservatives as defining what manner of fornication (Jude 1:7) Sodom was given to.

Islam: law and culture


While the Quran clearly disapproves of the sexual practices of the "people of Lot," ("What, of all creatures do ye come unto the males, and leave the wives your Lord created for you?"), only one passage can be interpreted as taking a particular legal position towards such activities: "As for the two of you who are guilty thereof, punish them both; and if they repent and improve, then let them be. Lo, God is relenting, merciful." Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

 (reports of Muhammad's sayings and deeds from those close to him in his lifetime) on the subject are inconsistent, with different writers interpreting the Prophet in different ways. Shariah (Islamic law) defines sodomy outside marriage as adultery or fornication or both, and it thus attracts the same penalties as those crimes (flogging or death), although the exact punishment varies with schools and scholars. In practice, few modern Muslim countries have legal systems based fully on shariah, and an increasing number of Muslims do not look to shariah but to the Quran itself for moral guidance. For sodomy within marriage the majority of Shiite interpreters hold that (l) anal intercourse, while strongly disliked, is not haram (forbidden) provided the wife agrees, and (2), if the wife does not agree, then it is preferable to refrain.

Despite the formal disapproval of religious authority, the segregation of women in Muslim societies and the strong emphasis on virility leads adolescents and unmarried young men to seek sexual outlets with males younger than themselves. Not all sodomy is homosexual, but for many young men heterosexual sodomy is considered better than vaginal penetration, and female prostitutes report the demand for anal penetration from their (male) clients.

Medieval Christianity on sodomy



Justinian I and Byzantine power politics of late antiquity


The primarily sexual meaning of the word sodomia for Christians did not evolve before the 6th century AD. Roman Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

, in his novels no. 77 (dating 538) and no. 141 (dating 559) amended to his Corpus iuris civilis, and declared that Sodom's sin had been specifically same-sex activities and desire for them. He also linked "famines, earthquakes, and pestilences" upon cities as being due to "such crimes", during a time of recent earthquakes and other disasters (see Extreme weather events of 535–536). It is understood by some that he was able to use the anti-homosexual laws he enacted upon personal as well as political opponents in case he could not prove them guilty of anything else.

While adhering to the death penalty by beheading as punishment for homosexuality or adultery, Justinian's legal novels heralded a change in Roman legal paradigm in that he introduced a concept of not only secular but also divine punishment for homosexual behavior. Individuals might ignore and escape secular laws, but they could not do the same with divine laws, if Justinian declared his novels to be such.

Christians earlier than Justinian are also seen to denounce same-sex relations. St. John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

 in the 4th century regarded such as worse than murder in his fourth homily on http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/210204.htm, while Paul the Apostle in the Epistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

 referred to same sex relations as "shameful lust" and which acts were contrary to nature, with men suffering a "due penalty" in their bodies. Just like the Jews, early Christians prior to Justinian I are not known to have used the word sodomia for the carnal sin they abhorred, though Philo of Alexandria (20 BC - 50 AD) and Methodius of Olympus
Methodius of Olympus
The Church Father and Saint Methodius of Olympus was a Christian bishop, ecclesiastical author, and martyr.-Life:Few reports have survived on the life of this first scientific opponent of Origen; even these short accounts present many difficulties. Eusebius does not mention him in his Church...

 (AD 260-312) attributed homosexual relations to Sodom, as may have Josephus, (AD 37 – c. 100) Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, (AD 354-430) and certain pseudepigraphacal texts.

Benedictus Levita and the Pseudo-Isidore


Justinian's interpretation of the story of Sodom may have been forgotten today (as some hold it had been, along with his law novellizations regarding homosexual behavior immediately after his death) had it not been made use of in fake Charlemagnian
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 capitularies, fabricated by a Frankish
Franks
The Franks were a confederation of Germanic tribes first attested in the third century AD as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a...

 monk using the pseudonym Benedictus Levita ("Benedict the Levite") around 850 AD, as part of the Pseudo-Isidore
Pseudo-Isidore
Pseudo-Isidore is the pseudonym given to the scholar or group of scholars responsible for the Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals, the most extensive and influential set of forgeries found in medieval Canon law. The authors were a group of Frankish clerics writing in the second quarter of the ninth century...

. Benedict's three capitularies particularly dealing with Justinian's interpretation of the story of Sodom were:
  • XXI. De diversis malorum flagitiis. ("No. 21: On manifold disgraceful wrongs")
  • CXLIII. De sceleribus nefandis ob quae regna percussa sunt, ut penitus caveantur. ("No. 143: On sinful vices due to which empires have crumbled, so that we shall do our best to beware of them")
  • CLX. De patratoribus diversorum malorum. ("No. 160: On the perpetrators of manifold evil deeds")


It was in these fake capitularies where Benedictus utilized Justinian's interpretation as a justification for ecclesiastical supremacy over mundane institutions, thereby demanding burning at the stake for carnal sins in the name of Charlemagne himself. Burning had been part of the standard penalty for homosexual behavior particularly common in Germanic protohistory
Protohistory
Protohistory refers to a period between prehistory and history, during which a culture or civilization has not yet developed writing, but other cultures have already noted its existence in their own writings...

 (as according to Germanic folklore, sexual deviance and especially same-sex desire were caused by a form of malevolence or spiritual evil called nith, rendering those people characterized by it as non-human fiends, as nithings), and Benedictus most probably was of the Germanic tribe of the Franks.

Benedict broadened the meaning for sodomy to all sexual acts not related to procreation that were therefore deemed counter nature (so for instance, even solitary masturbation and anal intercourse between a male and a female were covered), while among these he still emphasized all interpersonal acts not taking place between human men and women, especially homosexuality.

Benedict's rationale was that the punishment of such acts was in order to protect all Christianity from divine punishments such as natural disasters for carnal sins committed by individuals, but also for heresy, superstition and heathenry. According to Benedictus, this was why all mundane institutions had to be subjected to ecclesiastical power in order to prevent moral as well as religious laxity causing divine wrath.

Medieval Inquisition, hereticism, and witchcraft


For delaying reasons described in the article Pseudo-Isidore
Pseudo-Isidore
Pseudo-Isidore is the pseudonym given to the scholar or group of scholars responsible for the Pseudo-Isidorean Decretals, the most extensive and influential set of forgeries found in medieval Canon law. The authors were a group of Frankish clerics writing in the second quarter of the ninth century...

, but also because his crucial demands for capital punishment had been so unheard of in ecclesiastical history priorly based upon the humane Christian concept of forgiveness and mercy, it took several centuries before Benedict's demands for legal reform began to take tangible shape within larger ecclesiastical initiatives.

This came about with the Medieval Inquisition
Medieval Inquisition
The Medieval Inquisition is a series of Inquisitions from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition and later the Papal Inquisition...

 in 1184. The sects of Cathars and Waldensians
Waldensians
Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois are names for a Christian movement of the later Middle Ages, descendants of which still exist in various regions, primarily in North-Western Italy. There is considerable uncertainty about the earlier history of the Waldenses because of a lack of extant source...

 were a common target, and these heretics were not only persecuted for alleged satanism but were increasingly accused of fornication and sodomy. In 1307, accusations of sodomy and homosexuality were major charges levelled during the Trial of the Knights Templar
Trial of the Knights Templar
The Trial of the Knights Templar was a major event planned by King Philip IV with the complicity of Pope Clement V in the early 14th century, against the Order of the Knights Templar. King Philip, deeply in debt to the Templars, from the endless financial drain of the wars, ordered a dramatic...

. Some of these charges were specifically directed at the Grand Master of the order, Jacques de Molay
Jacques de Molay
Jacques de Molay was the 23rd and last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, leading the Order from 20 April 1292 until it was dissolved by order of Pope Clement V in 1312...

. It is this event, which led into the medieval and early-modern witch hunts that were also largely connoted with sodomy.

Persecution of Cathars and the Bogomiles sect in Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 led to the use of a term closely related to sodomy: buggery derives from French bouggerie, meaning "of Bulgaria".

The association of sodomy with hereticism, satanism, and witchcraft was supported by the Inquisition trials. The resulting infamy of sodomy motivated a continuing discrimination and persecution of homosexuals and sexual deviants in general long after the Medieval period had ended.

Sodomy in Europe since the Age of Reason



From the 17th century onwards, Justinian's claim that sexual sins would lead to epidemics, natural disasters and the downfall of the state found a fruitful reception in scientific thinking (such as in the popular concept of moral insanity
Moral insanity
Moral insanity is a medical diagnosis first described by the French humanitarian and psychiatrist Philippe Pinel in 1806...

), which emphasised the mental, social and political consequences of sexual deviance.

An examination of trials for rape and sodomy during the 18th century at the Old Bailey
Old Bailey
The Central Criminal Court in England and Wales, commonly known as the Old Bailey from the street in which it stands, is a court building in central London, one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court...

 in London shows that the treatment of rape was often lenient, while the treatment of sodomy was often severe. However, the difficulty of proving that penetration and ejaculation had occurred meant that men were often convicted of the lesser charge of 'assault with sodomitical intent', which was not a capital offence.

In France in the 18th century, sodomy was still theoretically a capital crime, and there are a handful of cases where sodomites were executed. However, in several of these, other crimes were involved as well. Records from the Bastille and the police lieutenant d'Argenson, as well as other sources, show that many who were arrested were exiled, sent to a regiment, or imprisoned in places (generally the Hospital) associated with moral crimes such as prostitution. Of these, a number were involved in prostitution or had approached children, or otherwise gone beyond merely having homosexual relations. Ravaisson (a 19th century writer who edited the Bastille records) suggested that the authorities preferred to handle these cases discreetly, lest public punishments in effect publicize "this vice".

Periodicals of the time sometimes casually named known sodomites, and at one point even suggested that sodomy was increasingly popular. This does not imply that sodomites necessarily lived in security - specific police agents, for instance, watched the Tuileries, even then a known cruising area. But, as with much sexual behaviour under the Old Regime, discretion was a key concern on all sides (especially since members of prominent families were sometimes implicated) - the law seemed most concerned with those who were the least discreet.

Between 1730 and 1733, the Netherlands experienced a sodomy hysteria
Hysteria
Hysteria, in its colloquial use, describes unmanageable emotional excesses. People who are "hysterical" often lose self-control due to an overwhelming fear that may be caused by multiple events in one's past that involved some sort of severe conflict; the fear can be centered on a body part, or,...

, in which 276 men were executed.

Modern Christian views


The traditional interpretation sees the primary sin of Sodom as being homoerotic sexual acts, connecting the Sodom narrative with Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18
Leviticus 18 is a chapter of the Biblical book of Leviticus. It narrates part of the instructions given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. The chapter deals with a number of sexual activities considered 'unclean' or 'abominable'...

, which lists various sexual crimes, which, according to verses 27 and 28, would result in the land being “defiled”:
for the inhabitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations
Abomination (Bible)
Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

, and the land became defiled; otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.


Some scholars, such as Per-Axel Sverker, align this passage with the traditional interpretation, claiming that the word abomination
Abomination (Bible)
Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

 refers to sexual misconduct, and that while homoerotic acts were not the only reason Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned, it was a significant part of the picture.

Others, the earliest of whom was Derrick Sherwin Bailey, claim that this passage contradicts the traditional interpretation altogether. In their view the sins of Sodom were related more to violation of hospitality
Hospitality
Hospitality is the relationship between guest and host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. Specifically, this includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers, resorts, membership clubs, conventions, attractions, special events, and other services for travelers...

 laws than sexual sins.

The primary word in contention is the Hebrew word yâda‛ used for know in the Old Testament. Biblical scholars disagree on what "know" in this instance refers to, but most of conservative Christianity interprets it to mean "sexual intercourse", while the opposing position interprets it to mean "interrogate." Lot's offering of his two virgins has been interpreted to mean that Lot is offering a compromise to assure the crowd that the two men have no untoward intentions in town, or that he is offering his virgins as a substitute for the men to "know" by sexual intercourse.

Those who oppose the interpretation of sexual intent toward Lot's guests point out that there are over 930 occurrences of the Hebrew word (yâda‛) for "know" in the Old Testament, and its use to denote sexual intercourse only occurs about a dozen times, and in the Septuagint it is not rendered sexually. Countering this is the argument that most of the uses of yâda‛ denoting sex is in Genesis, (including once for premarital sex: Genesis 38:26), and in verse 8 sex the obvious meaning. Its use in the parallel story in Judges 19 is also invoked in support of this meaning, with it otherwise providing the only instance of "knowing" someone by violence.

Sodomy laws in the United States


From the earliest times in the United States, sodomy (variously defined) was prohibited, although some historians suggest that early sodomy laws were mainly used to address issues of non-consensual behavior, or public behavior. The earliest known United States law journal article dealing with sodomy was in 1905 in West Virginia. Attorney E.D. Leach argued that "perverted sexual natures" were related to crime. "Sodomy, rape, lust-murder, bodily injury, theft, robbery, torture of animals, injury to property and many other crimes may be committed under these conditions." 18th and 19th century judges often editorialized about the act of sodomy as they handed down their rulings. "That most detestable sin", the "horrid act", "the horrible crime", "that which is unfit to be named among Christians" characterized some of the language used by British and American jurists when punishing sodomites. Emphasis is usually on the notion that the act of anal penetration is so offensive "to God almighty" that the term Sodomy (literally, that which occurred in Sodom) is the only appropriate way of designating the activity. In other words, it was understood that when reference was made to "an unspeakable act" having occurred, it was clear that the act in question was none other than anal penetration. Some say, however, that the "Sin of Sodom" accurately referred not to anal penetration but rather to the agglomeration of ALL the unholy activities said to have occurred in Sodom and that it is thus inaccurate to imply a one-to-one relationship.

In the 1950s, all states had some form of law criminalizing sodomy, and in 1986 the United States Supreme Court ruled that nothing in the United States Constitution bars a state from prohibiting sodomy. However, state legislators and state courts had started to repeal or overturn their sodomy laws, beginning with Illinois in 1961, and thus in 2003, only 10 states had laws prohibiting all sodomy, with penalties ranging from 1 to 15 years imprisonment. Additionally, four other states had laws that specifically prohibited same-sex sodomy.

On June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 in a 6-3 decision in Lawrence v. Texas
Lawrence v. Texas
Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court case. In the 6-3 ruling, the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by proxy, invalidated sodomy laws in the thirteen other states where they remained in existence, thereby making same-sex sexual activity legal in...

 struck down the Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 same-sex sodomy law, ruling that this private sexual conduct is protected by the liberty rights implicit in the due process clause
Due process
Due process is the legal code that the state must venerate all of the legal rights that are owed to a person under the principle. Due process balances the power of the state law of the land and thus protects individual persons from it...

 of the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, with Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor is an American jurist who was the first female member of the Supreme Court of the United States. She served as an Associate Justice from 1981 until her retirement from the Court in 2006. O'Connor was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981...

's concurring opinion arguing that they violated equal protection. See Sodomy law
Sodomy law
A sodomy law is a law that defines certain sexual acts as crimes. The precise sexual acts meant by the term sodomy are rarely spelled out in the law, but are typically understood by courts to include any sexual act deemed unnatural. It also has a range of similar euphemisms...

.. This decision invalidated all state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 sodomy laws insofar as they applied to noncommercial conduct in private between consenting civilians and overruled its 1986 ruling in Bowers v. Hardwick
Bowers v. Hardwick
Bowers v. Hardwick, , is a United States Supreme Court decision that upheld, in a 5-4 ruling, the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law criminalizing oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals. Seventeen years after Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court...

 which upheld Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

's sodomy law.

In the U.S. military, the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that the Lawrence v. Texas decision applies to Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice
Uniform Code of Military Justice
The Uniform Code of Military Justice , is the foundation of military law in the United States. It is was established by the United States Congress in accordance with the authority given by the United States Constitution in Article I, Section 8, which provides that "The Congress shall have Power . ....

, the statute banning sodomy. In both United States v. Stirewalt and United States v. Marcum, the court ruled that the "conduct falls within the liberty interest identified by the Supreme Court." However, the court went on to say that despite Lawrences application to the military, Article 125 can still be upheld in cases where there are "factors unique to the military environment" which would place the conduct "outside any protected liberty interest recognized in Lawrence." Examples of such factors could be fraternization, public sexual behavior, or any other factors that would adversely affect good order and discipline. United States v. Meno and United States v. Bullock are two known cases in which consensual sodomy convictions have been overturned in military courts under the Lawrence precedent.

Other languages


In French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, the word "sodomie" (verb "sodomiser"), and in Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, the word "sodomía" (verb sodomizar), is used exclusively for anal penetration.

In modern German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

, the word "Sodomie" has no connotation of anal or oral sex, and refers specifically to bestiality
Zoophilia
Zoophilia, from the Greek ζῷον and φιλία is the practice of sex between humans and non-human animals , or a preference or fixation on such practice...

. (See Paragraph 175 StGB, version of June 28, 1935.) The same goes for the Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 "sodomia". The Norwegian
Norwegian language
Norwegian is a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Norway, where it is the official language. Together with Swedish and Danish, Norwegian forms a continuum of more or less mutually intelligible local and regional variants .These Scandinavian languages together with the Faroese language...

 word "sodomi" carries the both senses.

In Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, the word for sodomy, لواط (Arabic pronunciation: liwāṭ; Persian pronunciation lavât), is derived from the same source as in Western culture, with much the same connotations as English (referring to most sexual acts prohibited by the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

). Its direct reference is to Lot (لوط Lūṭ in Arabic), and a more literal interpretation of the word is "the practice of Lot," but more accurately it means "the practice of Lot's people" (the Sodomites) rather than Lot himself.

Popular use



The word "sod", a noun or verb (to "sod off") used as an insult, derives from sodomite. It is a general-purpose insult term for anyone the speaker dislikes without specific reference to their sexual behaviour. Sod is used as slang in the UK and Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 and is mildly offensive.

See also

  • Anal sex
    Anal sex
    Anal sex is the sex act in which the penis is inserted into the anus of a sexual partner. The term can also include other sexual acts involving the anus, including pegging, anilingus , fingering, and object insertion.Common misconception describes anal sex as practiced almost exclusively by gay men...

  • Buggery
    Buggery
    The British English term buggery is very close in meaning to the term sodomy, and is often used interchangeably in law and popular speech. It may be, also, a specific common law offence, encompassing both sodomy and bestiality.-In law:...

  • Homosexuality and Christianity
    Homosexuality and Christianity
    Christian denominations hold a variety of views on the issues of sexual orientation and homosexuality, ranging from outright condemnation to complete acceptance. In accordance with the traditional values of Abrahamic religions, most Christian denominations welcome people attracted to the same sex,...

  • Prison rape
    Prison rape
    Prison rape commonly refers to the rape of inmates in prison by other inmates or prison staff.In 2001, Human Rights Watch estimated that at least 140,000 inmates had been raped while incarcerated. and there is a significant variation in the rates of prison rape by race...

  • Human sexual behavior
    Human sexual behavior
    Human sexual activities or human sexual practices or human sexual behavior refers to the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts from time to time, and for a wide variety of reasons...

  • Religion and sexuality
    Religion and sexuality
    Most world religions have sought to address the moral issues that arise from people's sexuality in society and in human interactions. Each major religion has developed moral codes covering issues of sexuality, morality, ethics etc...

  • The Bible and homosexuality
    The Bible and homosexuality
    There are a number of direct references to homosexuality in the Bible.In Mosaic law, male homosexuality is identified as an "abomination".In the New Testament, Paul of Tarsus condemns arsenokoitēs, a term related to male homosexuality that is open to much interpretation; it could mean male...

  • Sodom and Gomorrah
    Sodom and Gomorrah
    Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....


External links