What the early Church believed about homosexuality

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  • Justin_Martyr151 AD Justin Martyr “We have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do anyone harm and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And any one who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods” (First Apology 27).
  • 151 AD Justin Martyr “[W]e have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do anyone harm and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And any one who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods” (First Apology 27).
  • 181 AD Theophilus of Antioch “Give studious attention to the prophetic writings [the Bible] and they will lead you on a clearer path to escape the eternal punishments and to obtain the eternal good things of God.. [God] will examine everything and will judge justly, granting recompense to each according to merit. To those who seek immortality by the patient exercise of good works, he will give everlasting life, joy, peace, rest, and all good things.. For the unbelievers and for the contemptuous, and for those who do not submit to the truth but assent to iniquity, when they have been involved in adulteries, and fornications, and homosexualities, and avarice, and in lawless idolatries, there will be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish; and in the end, such men as these will be detained in everlasting fire” (To Autolycus 1:14).
  • 190 AD Clement of Alexandria
    “All honor to that king of the Scythians, whoever Anacharsis was, who shot with an arrow one of his subjects who imitated among the Scythians the mystery of the mother of the gods . . . condemning him as having become effeminate among the Greeks, and a teacher of the disease of effeminacy to the rest of the Scythians
    ” … [According to Greek myth] Baubo [a female native of Elusis] having received [the goddess] Demeter hospitably, reached to her a refreshing draught; and on her refusing it, not having any inclination to drink (for she was very sad), and Baubo having become annoyed, thinking herself slighted, uncovered her shame, and exhibited her nudity to the goddess. Demeter is delighted with the sight–pleased, I repeat, at the spectacle. These are the secret mysteries of the Athenians; these Orpheus records” … “It is not, then, without reason that the poets call him [Hercules] a cruel wretch and a nefarious scoundrel. It were tedious to recount his adulteries of all sorts, and debauching of boys. For your gods did not even abstain from boys, one having loved Hylas, another Hyacinthus, another Pelops, another Chrysippus, another Ganymede. Let such gods as these be worshipped by your wives, and let them pray that their husbands be such as these–so temperate; that, emulating them in the same practices, they may be like the gods. Such gods let your boys be trained to worship, that they may grow up to be men with the accursed likeness of fornication on them received from the gods” (Exhortation to the Greeks 2).ad
  • 220AD Tertullian “[A]ll other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature, and are impious toward both [human] bodies and the sexes, we banish, not only from the threshold but also from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities” (Modesty 4).
  • 250 AD Novatian “[God forbid the Jews to eat certain foods for symbolic reasons:] For that in fishes the roughness of scales is regarded as constituting their cleanness; rough, and rugged, and unpolished, and substantial, and grave manners are approved in men; while those that are without scales are unclean, because trifling, and fickle, and faithless, and effeminate manners are disapproved. Moreover, what does the Law mean when it . . . forbids the swine to be taken for food? It assuredly reproves a life filthy and dirty, and delighting in the garbage of vice . . . Or when it forbids the hare? It rebukes men deformed into women” (The Jewish Foods 3).
  • 253 AD Cyprian of Carthage “[T]urn your looks to the abominations, not less to be deplored, of another kind of spectacle . . . Men are emasculated, and all the pride and vigor of their sex is effeminated in the disgrace of their enervated body; and he is more pleasing there who has most completely broken down the man into the woman. He grows into praise by virtue of his crime; and the more he is degraded, the more skillful he is considered to be. Such a one is looked upon–oh shame!–and looked upon with pleasure. . . . nor is there wanting authority for the enticing abomination . . . that Jupiter of theirs [is] not more supreme in dominion than in vice, inflamed with earthly love in the midst of his own thunders . . . now breaking forth by the help of birds to violate the purity of boys. And now put 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” (Letters 1:8).
  • 253 AD Cyprian of Carthage “Oh, if placed on that lofty watch-tower, you could gaze into the secret places–if you could open the closed doors of sleeping chambers and recall their dark recesses to the perception of sight–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 embruted 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” (Letters 1:9).
  • 305 AD Arnobius “[T]he mother of the gods loved [the boy Attis] exceedingly, because he was of most surpassing beauty; and Acdestis [the son of Jupiter] who was his companion, as he grew up fondling him, and bound to him by wicked compliance with his lust . . . Afterwards, under the influence of wine, he [Attis] admits that he is . . . loved by Acdestis . . . Then Midas, king of Pessinus, wishing to withdraw the youth from so disgraceful an intimacy, resolves to give him his own daughter in marriage . . . Acdestis, bursting with rage because of the boy’s being torn from himself and brought to seek a wife, fills all the guests with frenzied madness; the Phrygians shriek, panic-stricken at the appearance of the gods . . . [Attis] too, now filled with furious passion, raving frantically and tossed about, throws himself down at last, and under a pine tree mutilates himself, saying, `Take these, Acdestis, for which you have stirred up so great and terribly perilous commotions'” (Against the Pagans 5:6-7).
  • 319 AD Eusebius of Caesarea “[H]aving forbidden all unlawful marriage, and all unseemly practice, and the union of women with women and men with men, he [God] 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. And the land was polluted, and I have recompensed [their] iniquity upon it, and the land is grieved with them that dwell upon it’ [Lev. 18:24-25]” (Proof of the Gospel 4:10).
  • basil-the-great367 AD Basil the Great “He who is guilty of unseemliness with males will be under discipline for the same time as adulterers” (Letters 217:62).
  • 373 AD Basil the Great “If you [O, monk] are young in either body or mind, shun the companionship of other young men and avoid them as you would a flame. For through them the enemy has kindled the desires of many and then handed them over to eternal fire, hurling them into the vile pit of the five cities under the pretense of spiritual love.. At meals take a seat far from other young men. In lying down to sleep let not their clothes be near yours, but rather have an old man between you. When a young man converses with you, or sings psalms facing you, answer him with eyes cast down, lest perhaps by gazing at his face you receive a seed of desire sown by the enemy and reap sheaves of corruption and ruin. Whether in the house or in a place where there is no one to see your actions, be not found in his company under the pretense either of studying the divine oracles or of any other business whatsoever, however necessary” (The Renunciation of the World).
  • 390 AD John Chrysostom “[The pagans] were addicted to the love of boys, and one of their wise men made a law that pederasty . . . should not be allowed to slaves, as if it was an honorable thing; and they had houses for this purpose, in which it was openly practiced. And if all that was done among them was related, it would be seen that they openly outraged nature, and there was none to restrain them. . . . As for their passion for boys, whom they called their ‘paedica,’ it is not fit to be named” (Homilies on Titus 5).
  • 391 AD John Chrysostom “[Certain men in church] come in gazing about at the beauty of women; others curious about the blooming youth of boys. After this, do you not marvel that [lightning] bolts are not launched [from heaven], and all these things are not plucked up from their foundations? For worthy both of thunderbolts and hell are the things that are done; but God, who is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forbears awhile his wrath, calling you to repentance and amendment” (Homilies on Matthew 3:3).
  • 391 AD John Chrysostom “All of these affections [in Rom. 1:26-27] . . . were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored than the body in diseases” … “[The men] have done an insult to nature itself. And a yet more disgraceful thing than these is it, when even the women seek after these intercourses, who ought to have more shame than men” … “And sundry other books of the philosophers one may see full of this disease. But we do not therefore say that the thing was made lawful, but that they who received this law were pitiable, and objects for many tears. For these are treated in the same way as women that play the whore. Or rather their plight is more miserable. For in the case of the one the intercourse, even if lawless, is yet according to nature; but this is contrary both to law and nature. For even if there were no hell, and no punishment had been threatened, this would be worse than any punishment” (Homilies on Romans 4).
  • 400AD Augustine “[T]hose shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always to be detested and punished. If all nations were to do such things, they would be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not made men so that they should use one another in this way” (Confessions 3:8:15).
  • 400 AD The Apostolic Constitutions “[Christians] abhor all unlawful mixtures, and that which is practiced by some contrary to nature, as wicked and impious” (Apostolic Constitutions 6:11).

 

8 Comments on “What the early Church believed about homosexuality”

  1. Charlana Kelly

    Thank you for sharing these “notes” from history. In order to be safe going forward, we must look backward to history. Jeremiah 6… seek the old paths, pursue them and walk therein. I can’t even listen anymore to the foolishness coming from some places in the church these days. It reminds me of Adam and Eve who thought they could be like God or they could become wise like God who didn’t even want us to be aware of our own good (pride). Higher knowledge leads to ruin if there is not a place of balance in our thinking where we believe that God is absolute and unchanging. We must remain simplistic in our faith (like children), but wise as serpents and harmless as doves… Let the Word of God be our guide, every jot and tittle… nothing add to it or taken away from it. Again thank you for sharing this. Much love!

  2. K

    It’s refreshing to see historical commentary from a time nearer to the cross. This is where you see that the views we hold so dear are not new or contrived misinterpretations but they have been viewed as wrong from the beginning. Earlier Christians already new that child molestation and forced homosexual rape begot prostitution, effimanancy, homosexuality (hermaphrodites), cross dressing, and incest.

    They knew then! Why do we act lke it’s not already proven? They knew then! Shaking my head…

  3. Michael

    This was very imformative; God’s Word never changes. It has been said by some that Jesus did not mention or take a negative stand on homosexuality… well, if the views of these men who were followers and believers in Jesus is any indication of how he (Jesus) viewed homosexuality, than I don’t know what is. It is too bad that we don’t have many leaders of churches with backbone and conviction as these men of old did. Thanks for posting!

  4. Rene

    Nothing’s seemed to change. They were doing the same exact things back then as they do now. Just looking at the history of how all of these nations no longer exist. I wonder when / how the US/Western nations will be vanquished into non existence because of all the homosexuality they promote.

  5. Nathaniel

    I was talking with a good friend of mine about sin and how people always want to say “times have changed” as if saying that justifies doing wrong and not following the Will of God. The thing I told him is what this article clearly shows, the only then that has changed is technology, the same people that are trying to justify doing wrong now are doing the same thing as the people way back in history where doing and saying.

  6. Jenny

    Thank you for sharing. This is very informative and what is lacking now in many churches. I thank God for the ministry I’m in we share such teachings and defend the gospel. Jesus is coming Soon and mankind need to repent or suffer hell fire. The disease of homosexuality is rampant just as in those days. Let the church rise up and take a stand against such abominations.

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