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Case For Legal Recognition

4. Sex is Bad

Some of the early Christian writers had attitudes toward sex that are not widely shared in our modern society. St. Paul was likely influenced by Greek philosophers who saw all sexual acts as inherently immoral, and acts of homosexuality as particularly depraved Homosexual acts were seen as an extension of everyone’s “sexuality”, but they evidenced a lust so excessive that normal vaginal intercourse could not satisfy it. Eminent early Christian theologians such as Augustine of Hippo, John Chrysostom and Jerome praised celibacy as the highest state of grace for a Christian. Thankfully for the survival of the human race, even these advocates of the view that all sex is innately sinful allowed for a grudging exception for vaginal intercourse for the purposes of procreation between married persons. This view continues to inform Catholic teaching about sex. However, in its purity, this philosophy would condemn equally homosexual acts, masturbation, oral sex, adultery, and sex between married persons for pleasure rather than procreation. There are few true adherents to this philosophy in Canada, although notionally Catholics are bound to observe these principles.

5. Unnatural

One still hears those who condemn homosexuality use expressions such as “against nature” and “unnatural”. Those who do so are probably unaware of the basis for Christian teachings that popularized the use of such terms. In the ancient world, it was believed that semen created life, and that the woman was simply a vessel in which this sacred seed was nourished. Thus, any sexual act that ‘wasted” this precious substance was condemned[10], a philosophy famously lampooned by Monty Python in the song “Every Sperm is Sacred”. The religious belief has outlived the demonstrably discredited scientific belief.

Barnabas, another Christian writer, espoused another belief that is so bizarre that is hard to understand how it was ever believed, but in fact, it was once widely accepted. He asserted that the laws of Leviticus prohibited the eating of the hare. Barnabas was probably wrong about the hare not being kosher, but it is puzzling why it should matter, since Christians were not required to “keep kosher”. He then repeated what was a commonly held belief for centuries, that the hare produced an additional anus each year that it lived. Barnabas opined that this was the reason the hare was known for its lustful tendencies, implying a fondness of anal intercourse. He warned that the supposed Mosaic prohibition on eating the hare ought to be observed, lest consumption of hare should lead to pederasty[11]. It seems unlikely that even our most virulent fundamentalist opponents think that you can “catch” homosexuality from eating a hare pie. However, these myths shaped our culture’s attitudes toward homosexuality in enduring ways, including the notion of homosexuality as “against nature” or “unclean”.

[10] Bailey, supra note 2 at 163-165.

[11] Ibid. at 8 3-84, Boswell, supra note 5, Christianity at 137-40.

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