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Military Male Rape, Homophobia, and Gay History
Stanley E. Harris, M.D., D.F.A.P.A.
Department of Psychiatry and the Behavioral Sciences
Keck School of Medicine
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS
Male Rape Trauma Syndrome
Definition of Culture
Overview of the Judaeo-Christian Culture History
Judaeo-Christian Cultural Values Regarding Homosexuality
A CROSS-SPECIES, CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE ON MALE HOMOSEXUALITY
Cross Cultural Data
HISTORIC MILITARY HOMOSEXUALITY
General Principles: Status, Availability, and Aggression
HOMOPHOBIA IN THE JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN CULTURE: A DEVELOPMENTAL HISTORY
1960 BC: Abram and the Beginnings
1580 BC: Egyptian Abuse
1447 BC: The Erotophobic Exodus
1200-600 BC: Vicissitudes in Canaan
597 BC: Babylonian Exile
538 BC: Persian Revival
333-143 BC: Pederastic Greeks
275-165 BC: Hellenistic Holocaust--Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited
143-63 BC: Brief Hebrew Independence
63 BC-135 AD: The Roman Era
Roman Brutality: The Traumatic Birth of Christianity
Homophobia: A Judaic Contribution to the Judaeo-Christian Culture
The Rise of Christianity and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire
200-500 AD: Barbarian Rape
527-565 AD: Codification and Castration in the Eastern Roman Empire
500-1000 AD: The Middle Ages--More Barbarians
1000-1400 AD: The Crusades and Christian Expansionism
1400-1700 AD: Islamic Ottoman Turks--The Last Insult
The Fifteenth to Seventeenth Centuries: Revolt Against Church Authority and International Rivalry
The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries' Political and Industrial Revolution:
Twentieth Century: Torture and Tolerance
Before World War II
World War II: The German Holocaust
World War II: Allied Stigmatization Outs Gays
The Cold War: Homophobes and Homophiles
1950's: America Gives Birth to the Modern Gay Rights Movement
1960's: Civil Rights and Women's Rights Spawn Gay Rights
1970's: Liberation and Backlash: Homosexual Orientation Becomes Gay Identity
A Global Perspective on the Last Quarter of the Twentieth Century
1980's: Fight for Civil Rights: AIDS Resurrects Fears
Progressive 1980's Developments Outside of the United States
Dealing with HIV
1980's: Developments in the United States
1990's: GLBTQI Communities Gains Visibility and Acceptance
2000-: Gay Marriage and Transgender Issues Emerge
"The panderers have violated and smutted it.
Yet this reaching is alive yet for lights and keepsakes."
-Carl Sandburg: "The People, Yes" (107: 45-58)
Many historic cultures have adapted male homosexuality to enhance social relations. However, the Judaeo-Christian culture has viewed male homosexuality as a threat to procreation, masculine status, and social order. Why does Judaeo-Christian homophobia deviate from more accepting cross-cultural norms? This paper begins by comparing Judaeo-Christian cultural norms about male homosexuality with norms of some more accepting historic cultures. Then, the paper describes how, during the past 3500 years, the traumatic rape of Judaeo-Christian military men by their enemies may have contributed to the development of cultural homophobia. The paper concludes by showing how the modern gay movement may play a role in the culture's recovery from homophobia.
In this paper, the author proposes several hypothetical ideas that may be controversial, and supports them to varying degrees with a summary of cross-cultural and historic information. The hypothetical ideas include:
1. Bisexuality is the cross-species, cross-cultural norm.
2. Culture confers meaning to human sexual desire and expression.
3. Culture may become disordered in response to developmental trauma.
4. Members of the disordered culture share and express the disorder as a cultural norm.
5. The Judaeo-Christian culture's homophobia is a cultural disorder in response to traumatic military male rape.
6. The Judaeo-Christian culture's homophobia stigmatizes homosexuality, and therefore polarizes natural bisexuality into heterosexual and homosexual social adjustments and identities.
7. Due to homophobia, most members of the Judaeo-Christian culture experience impaired ability to form loving supportive homosexual relationships.
8. Judaeo-Christian cultural homophobia is exacerbated by political, economic, and military trouble; and is relieved by political, economic, and military security.
9. The modern gay movement is a part of Judaeo-Christian culture's recovery from homophobia.
10. Developing and minority cultures emulate the most conservative, homophobic values of the dominant Judaeo-Christian culture.
The research method for this paper has been an extensive, but not comprehensive review of relevant English literature. Resources were selected because they were deemed authoritative in college coursework or because they presented information related to the author's hypotheses. The author completed college coursework in world history, cultural anthropology, sociology, psychology, world religions, and philosophy of religion; and further studies in Christianity, behavioral sciences, and public health during medical school. However, the author does not claim to be an academic expert in these fields. While completing residency in military psychiatry, the author became interested in military homophobia. In 1981, to fulfill a research requirement in a United States Army psychiatric residency, the author began reviewing books and articles authored by historians, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, psychiatrists, journalists, and theologians. Research and writing progressed until 1982, when the Army began discharge proceedings against the author for homosexuality. After being honorably discharged, relocating, and developing a new career; the author resumed reviewing select relevant publications to update and complete this paper.
Other authors, from the vantage points of their respective disciplines, have described homosexuality and homophobia across cultures and throughout history. This paper is the first to integrate these various disciplines' perspectives into a biopsychosocial analysis showing the relationship between Judaeo-Christian culture's traumatic developmental experience of military male rape by surrounding enemy cultures and the development of Western cultural homophobia. The paper is also the first to hypothesize that the modern gay identity movement is a part of the culture's recovery.
Male Rape Trauma Syndrome
Academic research on male rape began in the late 1970's as a small part of the feminist movement's efforts to address sexual violence (Scarce, 1997).
Raped men may suffer post traumatic stress disorder symptoms including fear, helplessness, and horror. They may have recurrent intrusive memories of the event, distressing dreams, flashbacks, and experience distress in response to symbols of the trauma. They may avoid stimuli associated with the rape and report numbing of general responsiveness. They may have amnesia about the most painful experiences, feel estranged from others, and lose their ability to have loving feelings. They may become hyper vigilant with exaggerated startle responses and irritable outbursts of anger, or withdrawal into a depressed state (DSM-IV-TR, 2000).
Just as raped heterosexual women may lose their ability to enjoy consensual heterosexual relations, raped men may become averse to close male contact. Raped people often reorganize their lives and even change spiritual beliefs and practices in order to cope. When a whole culture is defeated, raped, and enslaved; its beliefs, values, customs, laws, and institutions may change to cope with the trauma.
Definition of Culture
A culture is a group of people who share beliefs, values, and behaviors constituting cultural norms, which then give meaning to individual variations from the norm. Cultural norms develop in response to a culture's experiences with surrounding cultures. Cultural norms may be adaptive and enhance the survival of the people. Norms may also be neutral or maladaptive. In any case, they are interdependent and integrated (Ember, 1973). For example, a cultural norm promoting procreative heterosexuality may be adaptive when a culture needs to grow, but becomes maladaptive in an overpopulated era. Persistent maladaptive cultural norms may be considered to be cultural disorders.
When understood in the context of the biopsychosocial model, cultural factors may have great influence on an individual's behavior, feelings, and associated physiology and biochemistry (Engel, 1980). Cultural factors strongly influence the expression of sexuality and the meaning of sexual behaviors, heterosexual and homosexual (Marmor, 1980).
Overview of the Judaeo-Christian Culture History
Judaeo-Christian culture's history may be traced from its beginning in the twentieth century B.C., when Abram and his family settled in Canaan, to the culture's present political, economic, and military dominance of the world. For the first 2000 years, the culture developed with the Hebrew people as they struggled to survive Egyptian (1580-1447B.C.), Babylonian (597-538B.C.), Persian (538-333B.C.), Greek (333-143B.C.), and Roman (63B.C. - 135A.D.) military defeats and subjugations. After the Romans defeated and dispersed the Jews, Hebrew culture was transmitted through Apocalyptic Jews to the early Christians, whose converts gradually Christianized the crumbling Roman Empire and spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. During the subsequent barbarian invasions (200-1200A.D.) and conquests by the Islamic Ottoman Turks (1200-1700A.D.), Judaeo-Christian Europeans developed technologies of defense that also contributed to urbanizing, industrializing, and exploring the rest of the world. Europeans then conquered, colonized, and Christianized until, by now, the Judaeo-Christian culture dominates the entire world (Epstein, 1959; Stavrianos, 1970; Garraty, 1972).
Judaeo-Christian Cultural Values Regarding Homosexuality
The belief system supporting negative myths, values, and stereotypes about homosexuality is known as cultural homophobia (Morin, 1978). People of the Judaeo-Christian culture generally have had very negative thoughts and feelings about male homosexuality. The intensity of disapproval varies with the extent of Judaeo-Christian cultural dominance (Churchill, 1967).
Cultural homophobia has been expressed by condoned violence against homosexuals and bisexuals, imprisonment, discrimination in housing and employment, legal penalties, exclusion from political, military, professional, educational, and religious organizations, rejection by family and friends, and medical attempts to define homosexuality as an illness to cure it (Marmor, 1980).
Prior to describing the developmental history of the Judaeo-Christian cultural homophobia, a brief cross-cultural historical overview of some other cultures' norms is presented for comparison.
A CROSS-SPECIES, CROSS-CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE ON MALE HOMOSEXUALITY
Careful study has shown that animals behave both heterosexually and homosexually in ways that appear to be adaptively related to social order and to the availability of partners (Denniston, 1980). For example, baboon troops have a social hierarchy. Dominant males mount and copulate, not only with females, but also with less dominant males, even in the presence of receptive females. The more dominant baboon protects and cares for subordinate baboons who, in return, are obedient and sexually submissive (Vanggaard, 1969). Animal homosexual activities include courtship, affection, sex, pair-bonding, and parenting (Bagemihl, 1999).
Cross Cultural Data
Many cultures prior to Judaeo-Christian cultural world dominance have approved of both heterosexual and homosexual relations. In approving cultures, exclusive homosexuality or heterosexuality was rare. Strong cultural disapproval and stigmatization of homosexuality apparently polarizes people into exclusive heterosexual and homosexual roles (Churchill, 1967).
Social status and the availability of sexual partners influence human sexual behavior. Where males have higher social status than females, the active penetrating male in a homosexual contact has higher masculine status, whereas the passive recipient male is given a lower status, like a female (Carrier, 1980). A masculine male may usually insert into a female, but may turn to a less dominant male for gratification if a female is not available. When isolated from members of the opposite sex, sailors, prisoners, and warriors are more likely to have homosexual relations (Mead, 1961).
In the Human Relations Area Files, homosexual behavior was described in 76 of the 190 societies reported. Of those 76 societies, homosexual behavior was considered normal in 64%. In the 36% that disapproved, the homosexual behavior continued, but less overtly (Ford, 1951). Observer bias, taboo, and diverse systems for classifying behavior complicate the data (Bullough, 1976). The forms and meanings of homosexual behaviors have varied among cultures. Whereas some societies approved of pederasty, others approved of different expressions, such as between young peers or with cross gender roles. Some societies have specified some homosexual behaviors as approved and others as disapproved (Churchill, 1967).
The first major culture of record that had approved male homosexual relations was the Mesopotamian civilization. The Mesopotamians practiced anal intercourse, heterosexual and homosexual (Bullough, 1976). The ancient Egyptian (Bailey, 1955), Japanese (Benedict, 1946), Greek (Dover, 1978), Roman (Boswell, 1980), Ottoman (Rossman, 1976), Scandinavian (Vanggaard, 1969), Native American (Williams, 1986), and various island societies (Carrier, 1980) approved various forms of bisexual expression.
Many examples could be given, but only three will be summarized here: the Japanese, the Azande of Sudan, and the Etoro of New Guinea.
1) In old Japan, homosexual relations were sanctioned for men of high status, priests, and Samurai warriors, who formed pederastic relationships and also enjoyed the company of male geishas. These relationships did not interfere with the family. In the Meiji period of Western acculturation, though, Japan made homosexual practices, as well as many of her other customs, illegal in order to win the approval of dominant Westerners (Benedict, 1946).
2) A North African tribe illustrates bisexual social adaptation. Prior to European dominance, the nineteenth century North African Azande of Sudan was a polygamous society. Most of the marriageable women were owned by wealthy older men, so were not available to the younger men. Young men served in the military until they were wealthy enough to buy wives for themselves. While in the military, though, men bought boy-wives to live with them, cook for them, carry their weapons, sleep with them, and be their sexual partners. In this way, the teenage boys learned how to be soldiers and eventually replaced their husbands in the army. When soldiers had gained enough wealth, they would leave the military to start their own families. Often, family men would continue to buy boy-wives, as well as women. In families with many wives, the women formed pairs to share their chores and to satisfy each other sexually when their husband was occupied with other wives (Evans-Pritchard, 1970).
3) The Etoro of the New Guinea highlands may be considered somewhat heterophobic, because their cultural beliefs significantly restricted and reduced heterosexual intercourse. The men believed that their life force was concentrated in semen. Each man possessed a limited supply, which could be augmented or diminished. Every ejaculation diminished the reservoir of life force. Men believed that they could pass on their life force in two ways--conception by their wives and fellatio by boys. They believed that boys gained masculine life force by ingesting men's semen. The men felt responsible for imparting masculine strength to the boys and felt gratified as the boys matured into men. However, heterosexual intercourse was prohibited 205 to 260 days per year because it was thought to diminish the life force if it did not result in conception (Kelly, 1976).
In summary, prior to Judaeo-Christian dominance, many cultures have approved of various forms of homosexual relations. Apparently, homosexual relations in approving cultures have served to strengthen attachment. Between partners who are peers, the homosexual relationship deepens their bond. When the homosexual relationship has been between older and younger males, the younger male has gained knowledge and masculine status through intimacy with the older male, who has been invigorated by the youthful energy of the younger male.
HISTORIC MILITARY HOMOSEXUALITY
General Principles: Status, Availability, and Aggression
"Homosexuality may be expected among warriors" (Mead, 1961, p. 1471). Many military organizations prior to Judaeo-Christian cultural dominance have adapted homosexuality to their advantage. Some have favored relations between males of differing age and status, and others have favored peer relations.
The hierarchical characteristics of authoritarian military life and the unavailability of heterosexual partners have often contributed to the formation intergenerational pederastic homosexual relationships, such as occurred in ancient Greek militaries (Dover, 1978).
Homosexual relationships have also been described between peers. The Gilgamesh Epic, an ancient Mesopotamian heroic poem written in the seventh century B.C., exemplifies an erotic union between two heroes, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, who shared equal status. Ancient Norsemen and Vikings, as well as the North American Indians and the New Caledonians, had homosexual relationships between brothers-in-arms. The warlike Battle-Axe people, who invaded Denmark from the south in about 2000 B.C., buried blood-brothers together, just as they did husband and wife (Vanggaard, 1969).
Aggression, including the pleasure of conquering and dominating another man, has acted as a stimulus for erection and genital activity (Vanggaard, 1969). Adolescent American boys get full erections from boxing, wrestling, hearing gunfire, seeing soldiers march, and watching war movies (Kinsey, 1948). Warriors have often raped the men they conquered (McNeill, 1976). Modern military initiation rites have included forced symbolic and real anal penetration of new recruits to demonstrate who is in charge (Scarce, 1997).
A folk tale dating from about 2000 B.C. about two rivalrous gods, Horus and Seth, illustrates the role of dominance in ancient Egyptian military homosexuality. The gods called upon Horus and Seth to make peace, so Seth invited Horus to his home for celebration. Horus accepted, not suspecting Seth's unfriendly intentions. "The story describes the sequel to this visit: THE CONTENDINGS OF HORUS AND SETH, xi. 3-4: 'And when it was eventide the bed was spread for them, and they twain lay down. And in the night Seth caused his member to become stiff, and he made it go between the loins of Horus.' (Transl. A.H. Gardiner, The Chester Beatty Papyri, I, Oxford, 1931, p. 21, 22). Later, Seth demanded the office of Ruler, declaring that he had 'performed doughty deeds of war' against Horus. There is evidence that among both Egyptians and other peoples, sodomy was regarded as an indignity suitable for infliction upon a defeated enemy-partly, no doubt, because it would add to the humiliation of the conquered by treating them as if they were women" (Bailey, 1955, p. 30).
The ancient Egyptians added injury to insult by amputating the phalli of their defeated enemy. For example, Pharaoh Mernepth in the XIXth Dynasty listed the booty taken after the defeat of an invading Libyan army. The list included 6359 uncircumcised phalli, plus the phalli of the chief's children, the priests' brothers, and others (Bullough, 1976). A thirteenth century B.C. stone relief in Thebes shows Egyptians offering spoils of war to their king. Its inscription translates, 'Prisoners brought before the king, 1000. Phalli collected, 3000.' Apparently, the ancient Egyptians soldiers dominated their enemies by emasculating them and raping them (Bullough, 1976).
Military homosexuality has varied related to cultural and social needs at the time. As with sexuality in general, homosexuality has been employed for good and for evil. At times homosexuality has enhanced social attachment, unit cohesion, and order; and at times violent homosexual behavior has been used to denigrate and destroy enemies. Any homosexual practice that enhances the military strength of the victor would be perceived as evil by the vanquished. Military homosexuality will be discussed further when the ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Barbarian, and Ottoman military conquests of the Judaeo-Christian culture are described.
HOMOPHOBIA IN THE JUDAEO-CHRISTIAN CULTURE: A DEVELOPMENTAL HISTORY
Judaeo-Christian culture began nearly 4000 years ago in Mesopotamia (Churchill, 1967). Mesopotamian culture approved of polygamous relationships, including both heterosexual and homosexual anal intercourse (Bullough, 1976). Mesopotamian "potency incantations often included statements such as, 'if a man has anal intercourse with his male companion...' [Biggs, Robert D., SA.21.GA: 'Ancient Mesopotamian Potency Incantations' in Texts from Cuneiform Sources, II, 1967, p. 41 n. 28]" (Bullough, 1976, p. 56). The Gilgamesh Epic, dating from the second millennium B.C. suggested homosexual relations between its heroes (Kinsey, 1948). The earliest sets of Sumerian laws from Ur-Nammu (2110 B.C.), Lipit-Ishtar of Isin (1925 B.C.), Eshnunna (1800 B.C.) Hammurabe (1700 B.C.) and Assyria (1100 B.C.) made no general prohibition of homosexuality (Bullough, 1976). So, historical information about Mesopotamian religious, social, and legal customs suggests cultural approval for bisexuality.
Abraham apparently fathered the Judaeo-Christian culture in the context of a larger polygamous bisexual culture. He and his nomadic family, originally from Haren, moved on to the more peaceful secluded hills of Canaan. There, his son Isaac fathered Jacob, who fathered twelve sons. The brothers sold one of their own, Joseph, into Egyptian slavery. Through a series of fortunate events he became Viceroy of Egypt under his close relatives, the Hyksos. Drought and famine hit Canaan, so Jacob moved his family to join Joseph in Egypt. They settled in Goshen near the Hyksos capital, Avaris, where they prospered and multiplied into a strong people, the Hebrews. By then, they culturally resembled their benefactors and relatives, the Hyksos (Epstein, 1959).
The Hebrews' good fortune ended in 1580 B.C., when the Ahmose overthrew the Hyksos. The Ahmose suspected a Hebrew alliance with the Hyksos, and so brutally subjugated them as well (Epstein, 1959). Ancient Egyptian soldiers customarily raped the men they conquered and cut off their genitals to lower their status to that of women (Bailey, 1955; Bullough, 1976; McNeill, 1976). The ancient Egyptian soldiers probably raped the Hebrew men when subjugated, as was their custom.
Subsequently, Thothmes III (1485-1450 B.C.) oppressed the surviving Hebrews with cruel, forced building projects (Epstein, 1959). The Egyptians "made their lives bitter with hard service" (Exodus 1:13). As the Hebrew population grew over the years, the Egyptians felt increasingly threatened by their strength. "Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, 'Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live'" (Exodus 1:22).
Moses was born under these abusive conditions, rescued from the Nile by an Egyptian princess, and educated at Pharaoh's court. Moses became so angry at the site of an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew male, that he killed the Egyptian and had to flee for his own life to Midian. Thothmes III died. "The revolt of the Egyptian Semitic subject-states which followed his death, involving the whole of Syria and Palestine, led his son and successor Amenophis II (1450-1421) to institute the most ruthless measures against the Hebrew slaves" (Epstein, 1959, p. 15). When Moses returned to Egypt in 1448, he found his people threatened with annihilation and crying out to their God for help (Epstein, 1959).
For over a century, the Hebrews suffered the abuses of Egyptian subjugation, which included forced labor, physical abuses, probable rape and emasculation, and male infanticide. Sexual, physical, and emotional abuse probably contributed to development of cultural erotophobia. Forced to submit to their masters' cruel sexual desires, the Hebrews may have learned to fear sexuality as evil and dangerous, especially homosexuality. The Hebrews therefore came to limit their sexual behavior to only procreation, which became even more important as male infanticide threatened them with extinction (Churchill, 1967).
The Erotophobic Exodus
In 1447 B.C., Moses led the Hebrew exodus from Egypt. During their slavery, the Hebrews had become different in many ways from their relatively unoppressed neighbors. These differences are reflected in the Mosaic laws, the Torah. In contrast with other ancient nations' codes that concerned themselves mainly with the protection of property, the Torah emphasizes protecting the person. It restricts the way powerful men could treat those less powerful. Even slaves were freed if injured and could run away from an abusive master (Epstein, 1959).
The Torah restricted sexual behavior much more that other codes. Of 36 crimes punished by death, 16 involved sexual behavior (Churchill, 1967). One of them referred to homosexual behavior. "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them" (Leviticus 20:13). No mention is made of males having peer or mentoring sexual relations with each other. The abomination was for a man to denigrate another man to the status of a woman. Mosaic laws even justified homicide in defending against a male homosexual advance. Perhaps being raped, emasculated, and demoted to the status of women by Egyptian masters had been experienced as an abomination by Hebrew men; and the resulting cultural erotophobia, including homophobia, became encoded in the Torah.
Vicissitudes in Canaan
When the Hebrews first approached Canaan, it was still ruled by Egypt. As a nation of slaves, the Hebrews were still too fearful and undisciplined to enter the land, so wandered in the wilderness for forty years, gave birth to a strong young army, and became united under Moses and Joshua. When they approached Canaan the second time, the Egyptian Empire was declining and Canaan was in turmoil (Epstein, 1959).
The once peaceful Hebrews attacked the Canaanites with merciless violence. When the Hebrews conquered Canaan, they slaughtered almost all of its inhabitants--men, women, children, and animals. Leviticus associates homosexual acts with other offensive heathen practices of Egypt and Canaan (Bailey, 1955). Perhaps the Hebrews were outraged at bisexual Canaanite customs that reminded them of traumatic experience with the Egyptians.
When settled in Canaan, the Hebrews gradually became more secure. The twelve tribes gave way to anarchy. The Hebrews gradually assimilated the customs of the Canaanites they had not conquered, which included sensuous fertility cults and other "degrading" practices (Epstein, 1959). During this period, "Every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6).
Threatened by Philistine aggression, the last of twelve judges, Samuel, set up a king. Samuel feared that a king could become a tyrant, so wrote a constitution which limited the king's power (Epstein, 1959). The Hebrews had good reason to mistrust authority when they recalled Egypt, and continued to use law to protect themselves from abuse.
The first Hebrew king, Saul, was anointed in 1025 B.C. and freed the Hebrews from the Philistines (Epstein, 1959). David proved his military prowess by slaying 200 Philistines. He then "brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king's son-in-law" (I Samuel 18:27). This Hebrew custom of maiming the phalli of the men they conquered continued for a thousand years (Epstein, 1959). Perhaps this custom developed as a retaliatory response to prior military male rape.
The story of David and Jonathan may exemplify close Hebrew male relationships during a period of relative national security. Saul's son, Jonathan, took a liking to David, "a youth, ruddy and comely in appearance" (I Samuel 17:4). "The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David...Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his girdle" (I Samuel 18:1-4). Later, when Saul became jealous of David's military success and tried to kill him, Jonathan met him secretly in a field. "They kissed one another, and wept with one another, until David recovered himself (or exceeded)" (I Samuel 20:41). After Jonathan was killed in battle, David lamented, "I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women" (II Samuel 1:26). Jonathan and David's relationship appears similar to the heroic homosexual peer relationships described in the cultures surrounding Israel at the time. However, the erotic nature of David and Jonathan's intense love relationship is speculative.
King David (1012-972) and his son Solomon (971-931) expanded the Kingdom of Israel and continued to assimilate foreign customs through polygamous intermarriage with surrounding peoples. At Solomon's death, the Kingdom split into Israel and Judah. The northern Israelites continued to assimilate bisexual practices. Before long, the Assyrian king, Sargon II, conquered the northern Kingdom and deported its people to the remotest parts of his empire, where they were assimilated (Epstein, 1959).
A pattern emerges when reviewing Hebrew sexual practices while in Canaan. When politically secure, the Hebrews assimilated the sexual practices of the surrounding culture, even including phallic worship in their religious practices. Homosexual prostitutes had official rooms in the Jerusalem temple. Worshippers paid the temple to have sacred intercourse with these men (Vanggaard, 1969). However, when threatened by aggressors, the Hebrews repeatedly perceived the threat as God's punishment for those practices, and attempted religious reform. This meant returning to the homophobic sexual restrictions of the Torah. When secure again, though, sexual attitudes became more tolerant (Bullough, 1976).
In 597 B.C., Babylonian King Nebudchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem and ordered his chief eunuch to pick the finest "youths without blemish, handsome and skillful in all wisdom...to serve in the king's palace" (Daniel, 1:4). Hebrews who remained in Jerusalem revolted in 586, so Nebudchadnezzar completely destroyed the city and deported the remaining Hebrews to Babylon (Epstein, 1959). There they faced the threat of assimilation into the bisexual Babylonian culture, which had homosexual prostitutes (Tannahill, 1980).
For generations the judges, prophets, priests, psalmists, and sages had tried to win the Hebrews' allegiance to the teachings of the Torah. During times of relative security, the people had turned a deaf ear to these exhortations and had preferred the sensuous cults of their neighbors, until the Babylonian exile, when their whole life underwent a radical change. Brooding over their tragic experiences, they came to believe that they were suffering God's punishment for forsaking the Torah and indulging in the sensuous practices of the heathens around them. They felt their only hope for survival was a return to the way of life prescribed in the Torah. A chastened and penitent people surrendered themselves to the direction of Ezekiel, the first in a long line of scribes who exhorted the exiles to maintain sexual purity in spite of the orgiastic practices of their captors. By the close of the exile, the Hebrews devoutly adhered to the Torah, which prevented their assimilation into the Babylonian culture and insured their survival as a people. Out of exile and affliction emerged a new people - the Jews (Epstein, 1959).
In 538 B.C., Babylon fell to Cyrus of Persia, who sent 42,000 Jews to rebuild Jerusalem. Before long, they became discouraged, intermarried with neighbors, and adopted heathen customs. However, the exiles remaining in Babylon continued to see themselves as a people on the brink of extinction if they adopted heathen ways. Their will to survive drove them to religious, economic and political achievement. Many of them, like Daniel and Esther, achieved positions of wealth and influence. One of the high ranking Babylonian Jewry, Ezra, armed with a warrant from Artaxerxes I (464-424) and accompanied by priests, Levites, and other exiles, returned to Jerusalem to reform the people and reestablish the rule of the Torah. Nehemiah joined him in twelve years, and together they enthroned the Torah in the minds and hearts of the Jews throughout the Persian Empire. Scribes taught the Torah to the common people, and in times of peace, gradually relaxed the severity of its laws, bringing them more into harmony with human wants (Epstein, 1959). So, for the 200 years of Persian rule, the Jews solidified their identity through close adherence to the Torah and regained their homeland.
In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great added Palestine to the Greek Empire. Alexander was both a military genius and probably homosexual. He was indifferent to his mother's attempt to interest him in women, but instead preferred his apparent lover, Hephaestion (Hardman, 1993).
Historic sources indicate that the ancient Greek adolescent male normally entered a passive homosexual relationship with an adult man until mature, when, as a young adult, he would give up his passive role and begin an active role with a female wife and with an adolescent beloved male (Cantarella, 1992).
The following history of how homosexuality enhanced Greek military life may further contribute to understanding how it simultaneously reinforced Hebrew subjects' homophobia. Dorian Greeks invaded the Greek mainland from the northwest in about 1200 B.C., and proceeded to conquer Crete, Asia Minor and Sicily by about 1000 B.C. The rest of the Greeks admired them for the way they developed their young men. Pederasty was integrated into Dorian upbringing. "Plutarch tells that when Spartan boys were twelve years old, 'then those who are the lovers of noble young boys would seek their company'" (Vanggaard, 1969, p. 37). From then on, the older man was responsible for the boy's development and conduct, as well as for the well being of his own wife and family. Men who did not marry and raise a family were not considered suitable as lovers for boys (Vanggaard, 1969).
A young Spartan man could engage in three types of sexual relationships prior to marriage: 1) casual sex with peers, 2) the more intense relationship with an older male lover, and 3) an anal relationship with an unmarried girl (Dover, 1978).
Spartan and Cretan societies were organized like an army in training, with the male population segregated into messes and barracks. The older men trained their boy lovers to be soldiers. When the boy reached age 18 and was then old enough to serve in battle, he and his lover could find themselves fighting side by side (Dover, 1978). "Plato said, 'A handful of lovers and loved ones, fighting shoulder to shoulder, could rout a whole army'" (Tannahill, 1980, p. 90). The older man wished to excel in the presence of his young lover, to win his esteem and love. The younger man, for his part, tried hard to live up to the example set by the older, to gain his approval. Their intense relationship spurred their courage and valor in battle (Dover, 1978). From 669 B.C. to 371 B.C., when defeated by the Thebans at Leutra, Sparta lost only one battle. Their valor gained the victory for the vastly outnumbered Greeks over the Persians in 479 B.C. (Vanggaard, 1969).
The backbone of the Theban army that conquered Sparta in 371 was known as the Sacred Band of Thebes. Composed entirely of pairs of lovers who fought side by side, the Sacred Band was undefeated until overwhelmed in 338 B.C. by the massive forces of Phillip of Macedonia at Cheironeia. They lay dead, pair by pair, on the battlefield (Vanggaard, 1969).
Two Greek writers, Xenophon and Euboulos, wrote about events that further illustrate Greek attitudes about homosexuality. In his Anabasis, Xenophon described how, in 401 B.C., he led 10,000 Greeks home from Persia where they had been mercenaries for Cyrus the Younger. The march was arduous. The soldiers, at a difficult pass, were ordered to throw away most of their booty. They complied, except where a man had smuggled in with him a handsome boy or a woman. Later, Xenophon wrote that one of his generals, Clearchus, enjoyed fighting so much that he was just as willing to spend money on warfare as on a boy or some other form of entertainment (Vanggaard, 1969). Dover writes, "Euboulos, a comic poet of the fourth century, said of the Greeks who spent ten long years in capturing Troy (fr. 120): 'No one ever set eyes on a single hetaira, they wanked themselves for ten years. It was a poor sort of campaigne: for the capture of one city, they went home with arses much wider than the gates of the city that they took.' The implication that the male anus serves, faute de mieux, like masturbation, when men are kept together without women for a long time, is a humorous motif common to most cultures" (Dover, 1978, p. 135).
In summary, the Greek military homosexuality enhanced its strength and effectiveness. Under Alexander the Great, the Greeks developed the most powerful military force of its time in the West. How did Alexander's acquisition of Palestine in 333 B.C. reinforce Hebrew homophobia?
Hellenistic Holocaust: Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited
After Alexander the Great conquered Palestine, he let the Jews continue their way of life much unchanged. After his death, the Greek Empire was divided into three sections by his generals. The Egyptian Ptolemies took control of Palestine for fifty years and continued to let the Jews live as they wished. Secure, the Egyptian Jews became so Hellenized that the Torah had to be translated into Greek so that common Jews could read it (Epstein, 1959).
Favorable conditions came to an end in about 275 B.C., though, when the Greek Seleucids began to fight the Egyptian Ptolemies for control of Palestine. For over a century, the rival warring armies trampled on Palestine and the Jews. Institutional Jewish religious life declined and nearly disappeared (Epstein, 1959).
In 198 B.C., Antiocus III, a Seleucid, gained control and let the Jews reestablish their own ruling body, the Sanhedrin. The laws of the Torah were once again taught and enforced. However, many Hellenistic cities sprang up in Palestine and brought Jews and Greeks together commercially and socially. Secure again, the Jews let Greek ideas and practices infiltrate Jewish society. "It was a debased kind of Hellenism, decadent, wily, voluptuous, such as was purveyed by the soldier, the trader, the slave dealer, and the brothel keeper" (Epstein, 1959, p. 90). Greek pederasty flourished. Jewish religious and moral life declined. Biblical ordinances were disregarded, the Sabbath was desecrated, and even circumcision was neglected. Jewish youth stripped naked for Greek athletic games (Epstein, 1959).
Life became even worse for adherents to the Torah with the accession of Antiochus IV (175-164), a megalomaniac who titled himself the "Evident God" and tried to impose Greek culture on all of his subjects. Many Jews cooperated and tried to Hellenize Judea by force. They believed that security depended upon integration with the dominant Greek culture. All Jewish religious practices, including circumcision, were prohibited on penalty of death. Copies of the Torah were destroyed, and anyone caught possessing a copy was killed. The Temple was converted to the worship of the Olympian Zeus, with swine's flesh offered on its altar and prostitution established within its precincts (Epstein, 1959).
Many Jews refused to submit and fled for refuge, or were killed. Mattathias, an aging Hasmonean priest, soon led a war to defend the Torah and establish a self-governing state. His five sons followed his lead. One of them, Judas Maccabeus, cleared Jerusalem of the enemy and restored the religion of the Torah in the temple in 165 B.C. The Maccabeans gradually gained control over Judea and by 143 B.C., established it as an independent state under the last son, Simon (Epstein, 1959).
How did this conflict with Greek culture influence Jewish thinking about homosexuality? Whereas the Greeks regarded the phallus and pederasty as sacred, and the semen as the carrier of virtue; the Jews at that time saw the phallus as hideous, and semen as unclean (Vanggaard, 1969).
During the Greek occupation of Palestine, the Hebrews reinterpreted the Sodom and Gomorrah story. This illustrates how Greek abuse reinforced Jewish homophobia and influenced religious belief.
Modern archaeological research indicates that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by an earthquake, lightning, and fire. The conflagration was spread by the ignition of bituminous gases in the local geological formations. The cities were then submerged under the waters of the Dead Sea. At the time, the disaster was attributed to supernatural causes--a divine punishment for human wickedness (Hyde, 1970).
Originally the "sin of Sodom" was its inhospitality to strangers (McNeill, 1976). After being trampled upon for over a century by pederastic Greek armies, the Jews began to believe and teach that the Greek form of homosexuality, pederasty, was the wickedness that caused Sodom's destruction. Inhospitality was just a characteristic of those who committed sodomy. "2 Enoch explicitly identifies the sin of Sodom with the pederasty of Hellenic society: 'This place is prepared for those who dishonor God, who on earth practice the sin against nature, which is child corruption after the Sodomitic fashion'" (McNeill, 1976, p. 72). Nearly 200 years of abusive Greek dominance had reinforced Hebrew homophobia.
Brief Hebrew Independence
The Second Hebrew Commonwealth enjoyed almost a century of independence and prospered under Simon. However, his son, John Hyrcanus (135-104), precipitated internal strife between the leading parties, the scholarly Pharisees and the political Sadducees, by hiring heathen mercenaries to expand national boundaries. Conquered men were forcibly circumcised at sword point. The country was full of warfare, rebellion, and bloodshed. Hyrcanus' son, Jannaeus (103-76), continued to expand the kingdom to Solomonic size, but had to massacre and exile opposing Pharisees in order to do so. After Jannaeus died, his wife, Alexandra, recalled the Pharisees, who gained control of the Sanhedrin and governed in peace until her death in 67 B.C. Her two sons, struggling for the throne, both appealed to Rome for help. Pompey answered with a military advance and conquered Judea in 63 B.C., making it a Roman province under Hyrcanus. However, Antipar, one of the Edomites who had been forcibly circumcised by John Hyrcanus, made friends with Caesar in Rome and was appointed Procurator of Judea in 48 B.C. His son, Herod, defeated the Hasmonean Dynasty and became Senate King of Judea in 39 BC. (Epstein, 1959). What were Roman homosexual practices and how did Roman dominance contribute to Judaeo-Christian homophobia?
The Roman Era
The Roman Republic and Empire approved of bisexuality from about the sixth century B.C. until about the fourth century A.D., when Judaeo-Christian homophobia gained cultural dominance. The open homosexuality of the emperors and the military illustrate Roman attitudes prior to the fourth century A.D.
In the early Republic, Roman males were expected to be sexually aggressive and dominant. Females, ones own male and female slaves, and male and female prostitutes were approved passive partners. "... the Roman male was condemned to a life of maleness, the maleness of a sexual thug who, by imposing his desires on women and 'pueri' (boys), his enemies and those who had wronged him, proved his sexual potency, indomitable character and social muscle to himself and to others" (Cantarella, 1992, p. 220).
Edward Gibbon, author of History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, "...observed that 'of the first fifteen emperors, Claudius was the only one whose taste in love was entirely correct,' meaning heterosexual" (Boswell, 1980, p.61). The Roman Empire was ruled for nearly 200 years by men whose homosexual behavior was obvious enough to be recorded for posterity. Many of the emperors gained their power by submitting to the advances of the preceding ruler. Augustus gratified Julius, Otho had relations with Nero, and Hadrian ascended because of Trajan's love for him (Boswell, 1980).
In the early Roman Empire, pederastic relationships were honorable. For example, Emperor Hadrian ruled productively from 117 to 138 A.D. and was considered one of the five best emperors. When his young Greek lover, Antinous, accidentally drowned in the Nile, grief-stricken Hadrian deified him, founded a city in his name, erected statues of him throughout the Empire, and instituted athletic games that lasted 200 years, all to honor his memory (Boswell, 1980).
There was a strong aversion to homosexual relationships between equals because the passive role was associated with lower status and relegated to women, boys, and slaves. Any Roman who took the passive role might have to take a demotion in status with it. For example, Julius Caesar incurred much disrespect for taking the passive role with Nicomedes, the King of Bithynia. "Suetonius says that Dolabella called Caesar 'the queen's rival'; his partner in the consulship described him in an edict as 'the queen of Bithynia'; his soldiers at the triumph held in honor of his conquest of Gaul chanted, 'Caesar conquered Gaul; Nicomedes, Caesar'; Curio the Elder called him 'every man's wife and every woman's husband'" (Boswell, 1980, p. 75).
This aversion to the passive sexual role gradually decreased, and pederasty gave way to more reciprocal relations, at least in the higher classes. Marriage between men was common and legal, involving all the familial and ceremonial trappings of a heterosexual wedding. The examples of two emperors will suffice (Boswell, 1980).
Nero married two men in secession in public ceremonies. These men were given the honors of an empress. The second, Sporus, accompanied Nero at public functions where Nero would embrace him affectionately. Sporus stood by Nero the rest of his life (Boswell, 1980).
Emperor Elagabalus defended his preference for the passive homosexual role by exiling a jurist who spoke out against it. He preferred men with large phalli, and dispatched emissaries throughout the Empire to find them. He visited public bathhouses to personally inspect men and combed the docks at night. After Elagabalus married an athlete from Smyrna, any man who wished to be advanced at court had to appear to have a husband (Boswell, 1980).
The Roman military brutalized Greek pederasty by turning what had been a mentoring love relationship into a servile one. In conquests, Roman soldiers captured and enslaved youth to carry their supplies, wait upon them, and satisfy their sexual desires. Roman soldiers were not allowed to force each other for sexual gratification. Instead, they raped conquered men and women (Rossman, 1976).
Roman Brutality: The Traumatic Birth of Christianity
The Roman military forced conquered men and women to gratify their sexual desires (Boswell, 1980). Jewish social groups responded to Roman abuse in ways that may be analogous to the five ways children may respond when abused by their parents. Children may try to manage the situation, please parents with perfection, fight back, escape, and/or withdraw.
Five Jewish groups--Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Apocalyptics, and Essenes apparently exemplified these responses to abuse on a group rather than individual level. Pharisees strove for perfection, excelled in moral virtue, and taught the Torah. They were dispersed throughout Europe when Rome destroyed Jerusalem. Sadducees tried to manage the government, and were crushed by King Herod. Zealots tried to fight Roman oppression, but only succeeded in provoking Roman retaliation. Jews who could see no earthly escape from their tribulations and sufferings became Apocalyptics, who predicted that a divine catastrophe would end the abusive temporal order, as the plagues had done in Egypt, and a holy Israel would be restored under the Messiah's rule. Essenes withdrew into asceticism near the Dead Sea. They adhered strictly to the Torah and renounced all sexual behavior. They died, but their asceticism passed on to the early Christians, many of whom became monks, nuns, and hermits.
The Essenes and Apocalyptics held in common a belief in the depraved nature of man and the soon coming of a Messiah who would save those who kept away from heathen homosexual impurities, and destroy those who did not, their oppressors. These two groups gave birth to Christianity (Epstein, 1959).
The Roman Procurators' of Judea abused their power and did everything possible to make their Jewish subjects miserable. "Most notorious among these procurators was Pilatus. His administration (26 C.E.-36 C.E.) was characterized by corruption, violence, robberies, and continuous executions, without even the form of a trial" (Epstein, 1959, p. 106). He violated elementary human rights, desecrated the city and plundered the temple. He made the Sanhedrin arrest any persons suspected of plotting against Rome and turn them over to him for judgement. His atrocities were exceeded only by his Emperor, Caligula, a sadistic megalomaniac who demanded his subjects' worship (Epstein, 1959).
Fearing that Jesus would anger the Romans with his immense following and claim to be the King of the Jews, the Sanhedrin turned him over to Pilatus, who crucified him. Disillusioned, his followers turned to the Apocalyptic writings for an explanation, and reassured themselves by exalting him as the heavenly Messiah who would return soon as a supernatural ruler. Thus arose the Judaeo-Christian sect (Epstein, 1959).
Emperor Hadrian tried to force the Palestine Jews into cultural conformity. When they revolted, he crushed them in 135 A.D. and scattered them all over the Empire. Judaeo-Christians renounced their Jewish practices and went underground to escape persecution (Epstein, 1959).
Homophobia: A Judaic Contribution to the Judaeo-Christian Culture
In summary, the Hebrews were repeatedly defeated, raped, and subjugated by dominant neighboring bisexual nations. During periods of relative security, the Hebrews eased sexual restrictions; but with each defeat, they returned to the guidelines of the Torah and became more homophobic. The homosexuality that was celebrated by their enemies was perceived as an abomination by Judaeo-Christians. They viewed man as a weak, helpless creature with inborn evil tendencies, whose greatest weakness was desire for homosexual pleasure with another man. Those urges made him a helpless victim in the hands of Satan (Bullough, 1976). Perhaps Satan came to serve as a symbolic collective representation of their prior abusive oppressors--the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. This homophobia was incorporated by the Judaeo-Christians into Apocalyptic Christianity, which was welcomed by the other oppressed and enslaved peoples of the Roman Empire, who had no other earthly hope.
The Rise of Christianity and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire
At the time of Christianity's birth in Palestine, the Roman Empire controlled the entire Mediterranean Basin. The empire's socioeconomic stratification was typical of the Classical civilizations, with gross inequity in the distribution of wealth. The rulers, nobility, priests, and military leaders were at the top; the merchants were in the middle; and the vast majority of people worked in agriculture and crafts. Though some of these were free, most were serfs and slaves who supported the upper classes by their toil. Their oppressed lives were short and miserable, with no hope of temporal improvements (Stavrianos, 1970). Subjugated Greek and Latin peoples already had developed ascetic ideals and practices (Bullough, 1976). Apocalyptic Christianity acknowledged the plight of the oppressed masses and promised that a soon returning Messiah would end Roman oppression and establish a divine utopia. As such, Christianity was welcomed by the masses of peasants, serfs, and slaves (Churchill, 1967).
All of the Christian apostles were tortured and killed by the Romans except John, who was tortured and exiled. Many other early Christians were persecuted, tortured and martyred during Christianity's first few centuries (Churchill, 1967).
Paul was perhaps the most influential Judaeo-Christian missionary to Greece and Rome. He spread Judaeo-Christian homophobia to the abused masses with this description of their Roman oppressors:
"God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error" (Roman 1:26,27).
Whereas the Jews of the Diaspora did not incorporate the homosexuality reinterpretation of the Sodom story into their Talmudic writings to any great extent, early Christian fathers accepted it and found solace in predicting that their oppressors would have the same fate as the Sodomites. Philo and Josephus homosexualized the Sodom account through their writings in the first century A.D. Philo, in De Abrahamo, read all the sexual practices of first century Alexandria into his account of Sodom:
"'Not only in their mad lust for women did they violate the marriages of their neighbors, but also men mounted males without respect for the sex nature which the active partner shares with the passive, and so when they tried to beget children they were discovered to be incapable of any but a sterile seed. Yet the discovery availed them not, so much stronger was the force of their lust which mastered them, as little by little they accustomed those who were by nature men to play the part of women, they saddled them with the formidable curse of a female disease. For not only did they emasculate their bodies, but they worked a further degeneration in their souls, and, so far as in them lay, were corrupting the whole of mankind'" (McNeill, 1976, p. 72,73). Reaction to prior Hebrew subjugation, rape, emasculation, and genocide seems apparent in this description of early Judaeo-Christian homophobia.
From the third to the sixth centuries, the Western Roman Empire crumbled under the onslaught of Germanic, Iranian, Balto-Slavic, Viking, and Turco-Mongol barbarians (Stavrianos, 1970). Barbarians raped men and women to assert their dominance (Boswell, 1980). Suffering from the ravages of warfare and political instability increased Christianity's appeal. By the end of the third century, not only peasants and slaves, but even Roman emperors were apparently hoping to restore order and security in what remained of the Empire by adhering to Judaeo-Christian principles (Churchill, 1967).
In response to repeated defeats and rapes by Barbarians, the third century A.D. Romans gradually became homophobic. Emperor Constantine ended the persecution of Christians and gave the religion official status, but did not suppress homosexuality because he needed the support of his bisexual military (Tannahill, 1980). Emperor Alexander Severus (208-235) was raised in an atmosphere of sexual renunciation by his Christian mother. He followed the lunatic sex maniac, Heliogabalus, in imperial succession and included deportation for homosexual behavior among his moral reforms. Emperor Phillip ruled against male prostitution in 249. A century later Christian Constantius ordered that a man behaving in a womanly fashion be killed by the sword (Churchill, 1967).
Roman homophobia continued to increase. In 390, Valentinian II, Theodosius, and Arcadius decreed, "'All persons who have the shameful custom of condemning a man's body, acting the part of a woman's, to the sufferance of an alien sex (for they appear not to be different from women) shall expiate a crime of this kind in avenging flames.' Cod. Theod. ix; vii.6; The Theodosian Code, trans. Clyde Pharr (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952) p. 232" (McNeill, 1976, p. 77).
This was not just an idle threat. When Emperor Theodosius' governor at Thessalonika arrested and jailed a popular charioteer for a minor homosexual offense, the Thessalonikans rioted and killed the governor. Theodosius, disguising his wrath, invited the Thessalonikans to games in their stadium. He hid soldiers in the stands. When the spectators were assembled, he ordered their massacre. More than 7000 were slain (Crompton, 1978).
Christianized Roman emperors eventually saw homosexual practices as a threat to the survival of their empire. Homosexuality took on a fiendish and traitorous quality. Christians, who had in past years suffered persecution and bloodshed at the hands of bisexual pagan Romans, now perpetrated persecution and bloodshed against homosexuals (Church