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Despite some progress in this matter homoseexual the Victorian age, it still does not seem that the full extent and importance of homosexual love in classical Athens and throughout all of ancient Greece is common knowledge today. FitzGerald found himself a homosexual in a society that, while it admired and respected a civilization [that of classical Athens] that gloried in, and boasted of, its homosexuality, itself found the behaviour so offensive as to be virtually unmentionable.

It is important in the beginning to define our vocabulary. Love, homosexuality and 'gay' as sexual identities are recent love, emerging only in the 2Oth Century our idea of what homosexual means to be gay or a homosexual has largely been influenced by recent gay activism and the emergence of gay ,ove on the cultural landscape. Last, and most important of love, passion and erotic love between two adult lovs the model for modern gay relationshipswas generally considered unusual and held up to ridicule.

Homosexual love in Greece was love between a man homosexuaal a boy. As with all else, there were exceptions, such as the well known relationship between Alexander the Great and his boyhood friend Hephaiston, or love one between the mythical hero of the Trojan war, Achilles, and his best friend and lover, Patroklos. These love affairs fit the pattern of gay relationships today. However, the relationship that was characteristic of the Greek way of life, accepted or even regarded as a social duty by the state, was intergenerational male love.

It bears saying here that opinions even then were divided, with a lively debate going on between proponents and opponents of homosexual love. The Greek word for homosexual love between a man and a youth was paiderastia hence pederastyderived from pais, boy, and eran, to love, meaning emotional and sensual affection for a pais.

The Greek homosxeual was expected not only to marry and raise children, but also love be available for friendship and homosexual love affairs with worthy youths, not to the exclusion of marriage but as its necessary complement. Thus his destined path through the garden of love would begin some time in adolescence when the boy was courted by homsexual love and would choose one to lovee his lover.

This homosexual relationship would continue till early adulthood when he'd begin courting and winning the love of a deserving youth of his own. Then it would expand to include taking a wife and having children.

Of course there were countless variations on this theme, some noble and others sordid, just as it is with us today in our love life. Zeus and Ganymede read the story click image to enlarge. Among the Greeks, this love did more than dare speak homosexial name, it fairly shouted it from the rooftops.

It was one of the fundamental traditions of Greek life, one practised and enjoyed to the fullest. Indeed, it was a social must which no poet, no philosopher, no artist disdained to explore. Lovd was discussed in public as a matter of course and included in the reflections of the greatest minds.

That a man should be attracted both to lovely women and to beardless boys was seen as natural and normal. It was also accepted that some men would lean more towards one, and some towards the other. However, young males were considered the fair sex par excellence; the Greek ideal of beauty was embodied by the young man, a fact evident in all of Greek literature and art from first beginnings to last examples. Literary disputes examined the question of which kind of love was preferable, and often the love of youths won out.

Apart from purely scientific texts there was hardly a work in which juvenile male beauty was not praised, from casual asides to richly embroidered descriptions. The extent to which the youth was the paragon of love can be seen in the arts, where even girls were often represented with boyish traits. Furthermore,a great deal of pottery depicting youths has been found, often inscribed with homosexual epithet kalos the masculine form of beautifulwhile pictures of girls and the feminine kale are rare.

Even he great sculptor Phidias payed homage to his beloved uomosexual carving kalos Pantarkes on a finger of the colossal statue of Zeus at Olympia. Besides their physical charm, boys were also valued for their minds, held to be especially capable homosexual reason and debate and therefore meant to homoeexual cultivated. Thus homosexual love was the driving force not only of the sexual but also of the pedagogic side of Greek pederasty.

Ancient culture was male oriented through and through. To the Greek man, his spouse counted homsexual as mother of his children and keeper of his household. With very few exceptions women and wives in particular were excluded from intellectual and public life. Girls were considered capable only of chitchat, and unworthy of homoseual. Thus, the intellectual development of most girls was neglected, while the right upbringing of boys was given the highest importance.

Homosexual love between men and youths striving together to develop these virtues was seen as the most effective way to cultivate that ideal. It was said that even Herakles Hercules could perform his mighty deeds with more ease when his beloved Iolaos watched him.

It was in commemoration of their union that the Iolaeia, gymnastic and equestrian games, uomosexual homosexual in Thebes. The education of the youths took place in the gymnasium. Far more than a modern gym, such a complex was situated in the centre of every Greek town. There boys and men spent a large part of their day engaged in physical and intellectual exercise.

Its architecture was described by the Roman architect Vitruvius: First, it contained a homosexual peristyle, i. It was surrounded on three lovd by single arcades, and on the southern side by a double arcade that enclosed the Ephebeion, the training ground for the epheboi, young men past the homosexuall of bomosexual, that is hommosexual to twenty or so.

At the sides were baths, halls and other rooms, where philosophers, rhetoricians, poets and all the many friends of male beauty would come together. Behind the peristyle were further arcades, one of them the xystos, apparently mainly for the training of adult men, and connected to it the palestra, the main training ground for the youths. The rooms were decorated with all kinds of artwork, above all with statues of gods and heroes such as Hermes, Apollo and the Muses, Herakles and especially Eros.

The word gymnasium derives from gymnos, naked, reflecting the fact that all sports were performed unclothed. Not surprisingly, the gymnasium was an epicentre of erotic energy. The cult of male nudity was a widespread phenomenon of Greek life, and was viewed as one of the cardinal differences between the cultured Greeks and their barbarian neighbours. Nudity was practised not only in the llve but also at the great national competitions in Olympia, Nemea, Delphi and on the Isthmus, at religious ceremonies, at public festivals and at private feasts where the young llve went usually in the nude.

The Gymnopaidiai was an important yearly festival in Sparta, celebrated with dances and presentations of naked boys. Paradoxically, the Spartan authorities tried to use the dances as reward for those fighting the decrease in homosesual that their state was homosexual with: homosexual homosexuzl men were allowed as spectators. On the other hand, one of the myths explaining the origin of pederasty has it that Minos, the king of Crete, introduced it to avoid overpopulation of his island.

That custom, in the form of a traditional rite of passage, is also the earliest homosxual of pederasty that is historically documented, in a text of Ephorus of Kyme. The lover announces homosexual his friends his decision to perform the abduction three or four days before.

Now it would be disgraceful to hide the boy or to forbid him to go the appointed road, because this would mean that he did not deserve such a lover. Then when jomosexual have met and the lover takes rank with the boy or even ranks above him, they pursue the abductor only out of tradition to keep up appearances, in fact they let him go delightedly. Still they pursue him until he has brought the boy into his house.

But if the lover is not of equal rank, they wrench the boy from him forcibly. He who excels in beauty is regarded as less homlsexual than he who distinguishes himself by valour lovf virtue. The boy receives a present from homoexual friend, and the latter takes him to where he wants to have him. The witnesses to the abduction go with them; then follows a festive dinner, after which they return to town.

Two months later the boy homoexual sent home, with rich presents. Upon his return the young man sacrificed the bull to Zeus and treated his friends to a feast. The boys preferred by abduction are especially honoured. They get the best homosexuual at round lovf and running-matches and are allowed to wear the garments given them by their lovers as a mark of distinction.

The Greek Dorian tribes, such as the Spartans, had similar traditions, though details varied from one state to another. Sometimes the older man remained responsible for his pupil until the latter reached marriageable age, about thirty. Harmodius and Aristogiton read the hokosexual click image to enlarge The power of love that was used to such good effect to educate Greek youths also served to sharpen their motivation, and that of their lovers, in battle.

The bravery of male couples, such as those that made up the Theban Pove Band, was well known throughout ancient Greece and was an important factor in war. Pederastic couples were also known as tyrannicides, killers of tyrants, in that lovee often were the first to rise up against despots. Harmodius and his erastes, Aristogiton, were perhaps the best known of those hhomosexual. Though the Greeks, in their creative genius, elevated a common human impulse and utilized its power for the improvement of both boy and man, in daily life male love had other faces too, even as today ideal marriage is far from being the only manifestation of desire between a woman and a man.

Prostitution of boys, for example, was common from early on. The statesman Solon of Athens ca. Brothels that provided boys were officially sanctioned, and taxed just like the ones that offered women or girls. Free boys as well were not always above selling their homowexual to the highest bidder.

Among the Ionian Greeks pederasty had a more casual character than among the Dorians. The poems of Anakreon reflect that nonchalant playfulness. Still, the love of boys was no less frequent among these Greeks.

The cultural stimulus of this passion can hardly be overstated. Especially strong in the fifth century BCE, the classical age of Athens, it inspired artists and poets such as Phidias lovs Sophocles. Later, after the Greek homosexuzl, the polis, had lost its dominance as political and spiritual centre, life and love became more private and individual sentiment came more to the fore.

Most Greek lyric poets, such as Theognis, Archilochos, Alcaios, Ibycos, Anacreon and Pindar, devoted a large part of their works to the love of young men. The Roman Emperor Hadrian, and Antinous, a simple Greek youth, became inseparable companions for several years, until the young man drowned in the Nile at the age of nineteen, in the year The loge Hadrian commanded the priests to declare Antinous a god.

After his deification, the youth became the last great subject of Greek art not long before uomosexual final decline. Statues and portraits still tell of his melancholy beauty and enigmatic nature. His cult was kept up in the Eastern parts of the Empire until the rise of Christianity in the 4th century, when religious fervour married to politics started to destroy all remaining traces of classical culture and religion.

The teachings of Him who preached hmosexual were used to deal the final blow to a timeless love, and the long dark ages began. Achilles and Patroklos read the story a ancient parallel to modern gay relationships? Social environment The Greek male was expected loce only to marry and raise children, but also to be available for friendship and homosexual love affairs with worthy youths, not to the exclusion of marriage but as its necessary complement.

Education Besides their physical charm, boys were also valued for their homisexual, held to be especially capable of reason and debate and therefore meant to be cultivated. Varieties of traditions On the other hand, one of the myths explaining the origin of pederasty has it that Minos, the king of Crete, introduced it to avoid overpopulation of his island. Other aspects Though the Greeks, in their creative genius, elevated a common human impulse and utilized its power for the improvement olve both boy and man, in daily life male love had other faces too, even as today ideal marriage is far from being the only manifestation of desire between a woman and a man.

Poetry and culture Among the Ionian Greeks pederasty had a more casual character homoesxual among the Dorians. Follow us on social media.

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Long before Stonewall and Gay Pride, there was such a thing as gay culture, and it was recognized throughout Europe and America.

Graham Robb, brilliant biographer of Balzac, Hugo, and Rimbaud, examines how homosexuals were treated by society and finds a tale of surprising tolerance.

He describes the lives of gay men and women: how they discovered their sexuality and accepted or disguised it; how they came out; how they made contact with like-minded people. He also includes a fascinating investigation of the encrypted homosexuality of such famous nineteenth-century sleuths as Edgar Allan Poe's Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes himself with glances forward in time to Batman and J. Edgar Hoover.

Finally, Strangers addresses crucial questions of gay culture, including the riddle of its relationship to religion: Why were homosexuals created with feelings that the Creator supposedly condemns? This is a landmark work, homosexual of tolerant wisdom, fresh research, and surprises. Read more Read less. Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser. Frequently bought together. Add all three to Cart Add all three to List. Ships from and sold by Amazon. Customers who viewed this item also viewed.

Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Love Stories: Sex between Men before Homosexuality. Graham Robb. Charles Upchurch. Review "A work of enormous value Robb makes some startling and bold findings. Read more. Product details Paperback: pages Publisher: W. Tell the Publisher!

I'd like to read this book on Kindle Don't have a Kindle? Customer reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a love filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Format: Homosexual Verified Purchase. Author Robb's account is awesome for his ability to pack so much into fewer than three hundred pages and for his writerly skills as well. Most of all, he demonstrates that history books need not be dull. Of great pleasure, too, is author Robb's wit which he displays, e.

Nineteenth Century homosexuals lived under a cloud, but it seldom rained. Loveless marriages caused more lasting grief than laws, and still do. This is not to suggest that there were not harsh penalties e. For anyone interested in American Cultural history, this is a must book for your next non-fiction reading.

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase. Graham Robb's "Strangers" is an intriguing and unexpected look into the world of homosexuality as it existed from the early s into the mid 20th century.

In Robb's narrative the Gay outlaws of the 19th century are portrayed as resourceful creators of a unique society just below the smooth veneer of Victoriana. This Gay underground was, in many ways, much more liberated than what would follow. Perhaps the most surprising fact to come out of this book regards the relative love of persecution of Gays during the 19th century in comparison to the rise of persecution which took place during the 20th century.

There are a number of heroes in the book: Jeremy Bentham, the English Philosopher who love for tolerance toward homosexuals; Karl Heinrich Uhlrichs, the first Gay man to stage a high profile coming out; Magnus Hirschfeld, the German sex-researcher who authored numerous studies and even a film arguing for compassionate treatment of Gays.

My own favorite is Edward Carpenter who simply lived the unapologetic life of a Gay man with his partner George Merrill during the same era when Oscar Wilde underwent his own spectacular and tragic outing.

For love interested in Gay History this book is a must. I do have one caveat. Robb often writes as if his readers will be as familiar with this story and homosexual characters as he is himself.

A confusing array of names are thrown at love and I would have enjoyed the book more if he had taken love time to give us more details of these figures from Gay history. Well documented study that puts into perspective the situation of sexual deviance in the 19th Century and its evolution toward modern times.

More than the actual narration of cases and facts, concepts and analysis are extremely well elaborated to give a much better idea of a time that has been too often reduced to stereotypes. Love person found this helpful.

First, let me say that I'm not familiar with most historical theories of sexual orientation and identity. I'm much more familiar homosexual current social psychology than anything in the past.

As such, I'm not well-qualified to judge Robb's criticisms of Foucaultian theory. I'm just vaguely interested in the subject since I'm both queer and a passionate fan of 19th-century British literature. However: this book is fun. The author takes what could be an unendurably dry subject and infuses it with warm, fond wit. Too often, queer writing gets a pass from the GLBTQ community--I call it the Lesbian Movie Syndrome, where objectively terrible films like Better Than Chocolate get wildly inflated ratings despite having nothing recognizably plot-like or any realistic character love.

In this case, the sheer frequency of laugh-out-loud sentences often couched in pleasantly Byzantine terms, so it takes a moment to realize you've just read something hysterically funny made this book a new favorite.

The direct quotes from source material are brilliantly chosen. There's a sense of freshness, a new take that's eminently intuitive and yet rarely gets put forth. It's true that this isn't writing for everyone. It takes a slightly higher than average level of comfort with reading to really appreciate the construction of the sentences. But if you're comfortable reading at, say, a college level, this is well worth the time.

If you're used to academic research papers, the lack of in-text citations may drive you crazy. Take heart. There are appendices with the references, even if not everything you'd like to see a reference for has one. My only regret is that this wasn't about a hundred homosexual longer, with more detail about certain topics the author takes for granted I'm familiar with green homosexual, etc.

Before I even finished this book, I ordered two more copies for my friends who are also interested in queer identity. Having finished it, I would happily order them again. Well researched, very easy to follow. A wealth of information that has not been available to most casual readers.

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There is a significant political dimension to this seemingly abstract historiographical debate. Social constructionists argue that essentialism is the weaker position politically for at least two reasons. Second, social constructionists argue that an important goal of historical investigations should be to put into question contemporary organizing schemas about sexuality.

There are related queer theory criticisms of the essentialist position, discussed below. Only an essentialist approach can maintain the project of gay history, and minority histories in general, as a force for liberation.

Today natural law theory offers the most common intellectual defense for differential treatment of gays and lesbians, and as such it merits attention.

The development of natural law is a long and very complicated story, but a reasonable place to begin is with the dialogues of Plato, for this is where some of the central ideas are first articulated, and, significantly enough, are immediately applied to the sexual domain.

For the Sophists, the human world is a realm of convention and change, rather than of unchanging moral truth. Plato, in contrast, argued that unchanging truths underpin the flux of the material world. Reality, including eternal moral truths, is a matter of phusis. Even though there is clearly a great degree of variety in conventions from one city to another something ancient Greeks became increasingly aware of , there is still an unwritten standard, or law, that humans should live under.

In the Laws , Plato applies the idea of a fixed, natural law to sex, and takes a much harsher line than he does in the Symposium or the Phraedrus. In Book Eight, the Athenian speaker considers how to have legislation banning homosexual acts, masturbation, and illegitimate procreative sex widely accepted. He then states that this law is according to nature d. Probably the best way of understanding Plato's discussion here is in the context of his overall concerns with the appetitive part of the soul and how best to control it.

Plato clearly sees same-sex passions as especially strong, and hence particularly problematic, although in the Symposium that erotic attraction could be the catalyst for a life of philosophy, rather than base sensuality Cf. Dover, , ; Nussbaum, , esp. Other figures played important roles in the development of natural law theory. Aristotle, in his approach, did allow for change to occur according to nature, and therefore the way that natural law is embodied could itself change with time, which was an idea Aquinas later incorporated into his own natural law theory.

Aristotle did not write extensively about sexual issues, since he was less concerned with the appetites than Plato. Probably the best reconstruction of his views places him in mainstream Greek society as outlined above; the main issue is that of active versus a passive role, with only the latter problematic for those who either are or will become citizens.

Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was, according to his contemporaries, only attracted to men, and his thought had no prohibitions against same-sex sexuality. In contrast, Cicero, a later Stoic, was dismissive about sexuality in general, with some harsher remarks towards same-sex pursuits Cicero, , The most influential formulation of natural law theory was made by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century. Integrating an Aristotelian approach with Christian theology, Aquinas emphasized the centrality of certain human goods, including marriage and procreation.

While Aquinas did not write much about same-sex sexual relations, he did write at length about various sex acts as sins. For Aquinas, sexuality that was within the bounds of marriage and which helped to further what he saw as the distinctive goods of marriage, mainly love, companionship, and legitimate offspring, was permissible, and even good.

Aquinas did not argue that procreation was a necessary part of moral or just sex; married couples could enjoy sex without the motive of having children, and sex in marriages where one or both partners is sterile perhaps because the woman is postmenopausal is also potentially just given a motive of expressing love.

So far Aquinas' view actually need not rule out homosexual sex. For example, a Thomist could embrace same-sex marriage, and then apply the same reasoning, simply seeing the couple as a reproductively sterile, yet still fully loving and companionate union.

Aquinas, in a significant move, adds a requirement that for any given sex act to be moral it must be of a generative kind. The only way that this can be achieved is via vaginal intercourse. That is, since only the emission of semen in a vagina can result in natural reproduction, only sex acts of that type are generative, even if a given sex act does not lead to reproduction, and even if it is impossible due to infertility.

The consequence of this addition is to rule out the possibility, of course, that homosexual sex could ever be moral even if done within a loving marriage , in addition to forbidding any non-vaginal sex for opposite-sex married couples.

What is the justification for this important addition? This question is made all the more pressing in that Aquinas does allow that how broad moral rules apply to individuals may vary considerably, since the nature of persons also varies to some extent. Unfortunately, Aquinas does not spell out a justification for this generative requirement. The first is that sex acts that involve either homosexuality, heterosexual sodomy, or which use contraception, frustrate the purpose of the sex organs, which is reproductive.

It has, however, come in for sharp attack see Weitham, , and the best recent defenders of a Thomistic natural law approach are attempting to move beyond it e. If their arguments fail, of course, they must allow that some homosexual sex acts are morally permissible even positively good , although they would still have resources with which to argue against casual gay and straight sex. Although the specifics of the second sort of argument offered by various contemporary natural law theorists vary, the common elements are strong Finnis, ; George, a.

As Thomists, their argument rests largely upon an account of human goods. The two most important for the argument against homosexual sex though not against homosexuality as an orientation which is not acted upon, and hence in this they follow official Catholic doctrine; see George, a, ch. Personal integration, in this view, is the idea that humans, as agents, need to have integration between their intentions as agents and their embodied selves.

That is, one's intention then is just to use a body one's own or another's as a mere means to the end of pleasure, and this detracts from personal integration. Hence, natural law theorists respond that sexual union in the context of the realization of marriage as an important human good is the only permissible expression of sexuality.

Natural law theorists, if they want to support their objection to homosexual sex, have to emphasize procreation. If, for example, they were to place love and mutual support for human flourishing at the center, it is clear that many same-sex couples would meet this standard.

Hence their sexual acts would be morally just. There are, however, several objections that are made against this account of marriage as a central human good. Sex in an opposite-sex marriage where the partners know that one or both of them are sterile is not done for procreation. Yet surely it is not wrong. Why, then, is homosexual sex in the same context a long-term companionate union wrong Macedo, ?

The natural law rejoinder is that while vaginal intercourse is a potentially procreative sex act, considered in itself though admitting the possibility that it may be impossible for a particular couple , oral and anal sex acts are never potentially procreative, whether heterosexual or homosexual George, a. But is this biological distinction also morally relevant, and in the manner that natural law theorists assume? Natural law theorists, in their discussions of these issues, seem to waver.

On the one hand, they want to defend an ideal of marriage as a loving union wherein two persons are committed to their mutual flourishing, and where sex is a complement to that ideal. Yet that opens the possibility of permissible gay sex, or heterosexual sodomy, both of which they want to oppose. So they then defend an account of sexuality which seems crudely reductive, emphasizing procreation to the point where literally a male orgasm anywhere except in the vagina of one's loving spouse is impermissible.

Then, when accused of being reductive, they move back to the broader ideal of marriage. Natural law theory, at present, has made significant concessions to mainstream liberal thought. In contrast certainly to its medieval formulation, most contemporary natural law theorists argue for limited governmental power, and do not believe that the state has an interest in attempting to prevent all moral wrongdoing.

Still, they do argue against homosexuality, and against legal protections for gays and lesbians in terms of employment and housing, even to the point of serving as expert witnesses in court cases or helping in the writing of amicus curae briefs. They also argue against same sex marriage Bradley, ; George, b.

With the rise of the gay liberation movement in the post-Stonewall era, overtly gay and lesbian perspectives began to be put forward in politics, philosophy and literary theory.

Initially these often were overtly linked to feminist analyses of patriarchy e. Yet in the late 's and early 's queer theory was developed, although there are obviously important antecedents which make it difficult to date it precisely.

Sticking with the example used above, of a specific conceptualization of lesbian identity, it denigrates women who are sexually and emotionally attracted to other women, yet who do not fit the description.

A second problem was that by placing such an emphasis upon the gender of one's sexual partner s , other possible important sources of identity are marginalized, such as race and ethnicity. What is of utmost importance, for example, for a black lesbian is her lesbianism, rather than her race. Many gays and lesbians of color attacked this approach, accusing it of re-inscribing an essentially white identity into the heart of gay or lesbian identity Jagose, Such a view, however, largely because of arguments developed within poststructuralism, seemed increasingly untenable.

The key figure in the attack upon identity as ahistorical is Michel Foucault. In a series of works he set out to analyze the history of sexuality from ancient Greece to the modern era , , Although the project was tragically cut short by his death in , from complications arising from AIDS, Foucault articulated how profoundly understandings of sexuality can vary across time and space, and his arguments have proven very influential in gay and lesbian theorizing in general, and queer theory in particular Spargo, ; Stychin, One of the reasons for the historical review above is that it helps to give some background for understanding the claim that sexuality is socially constructed, rather than given by nature.

In ancient Greece the gender of one's partner s was not important, but instead whether one took the active or passive role. Although the gender of the partner was more important than in the ancient view, the broader theological framework placed the emphasis upon a sin versus refraining-from-sin dichotomy.

What is the common, natural sexuality expressed across these three very different cultures? The examples can be pushed much further by incorporating anthropological data outside of the Western tradition Halperin, ; Greenberg, Yet even within the narrower context offered here, the differences between them are striking. The assumption in ancient Greece was that men less is known about women can respond erotically to either sex, and the vast majority of men who engaged in same-sex relationships were also married or would later become married.

Yet the contemporary understanding of homosexuality divides the sexual domain in two, heterosexual and homosexual, and most heterosexuals cannot respond erotically to their own sex. In saying that sexuality is a social construct, these theorists are not saying that these understandings are not real. Since persons are also constructs of their culture in this view , we are made into those categories. Hence today persons of course understand themselves as straight or gay or perhaps bisexual , and it is very difficult to step outside of these categories, even once one comes to seem them as the historical constructs they are.

Instead it is purely relational, standing as an undefined term that gets its meaning precisely by being that which is outside of the norm, however that norm itself may be defined. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. By lacking any essence, queer does not marginalize those whose sexuality is outside of any gay or lesbian norm, such as sado-masochists. Finally, it incorporates the insights of poststructuralism about the difficulties in ascribing any essence or non-historical aspect to identity.

This central move by queer theorists, the claim that the categories through which identity is understood are all social constructs rather than given to us by nature, opens up a number of analytical possibilities.

For example, queer theorists examine how fundamental notions of gender and sex which seem so natural and self-evident to persons in the modern West are in fact constructed and reinforced through everyday actions, and that this occurs in ways that privilege heterosexuality Butler, , Also examined are medical categories which are themselves socially constructed Fausto-Sterling, , is an erudite example of this, although she is not ultimately a queer theorist.

The fluidity of categories created through queer theory even opens the possibility of new sorts of histories that examine previously silent types of affections and relationships Carter, Another critical perspective opened up by a queer approach, although certainly implicit in those just referred to, is especially important. Since most anti-gay and lesbian arguments rely upon the alleged naturalness of heterosexuality, queer theorists attempt to show how these categories are themselves deeply social constructs.

An example helps to illustrate the approach. Answered by Jimmy Creech, former United Methodist pastor for nearly 30 years at the center of the controversy around the blessing of gay and lesbian unions in the church. A growing number of religious groups have issued statements officially welcoming LGBTQ people as members. What is at the heart of the position that the Bible is clear on the subject "that homosexuality is forbidden by God? How do you view the Bible's or God's position?

Sincerely, Susan. A : Dear Susan, At the heart of the claim that the Bible is clear "that homosexuality is forbidden by God" is poor biblical scholarship and a cultural bias read into the Bible. The Bible says nothing about "homosexuality" as an innate dimension of personality. Sexual orientation was not understood in biblical times. There are references in the Bible to same-gender sexual behavior, and all of them are undeniably negative. But what is condemned in these passages is the violence, idolatry and exploitation related to the behavior, not the same-gender nature of the behavior.

There are references in the Bible to different-gender sexual behavior that are just as condemning for the same reasons.

But no one claims that the condemnation is because the behavior was between a man and a woman. There was no word in Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek for "homosexual" or "homosexuality. Consequently, it cannot be claimed that the Bible says anything at all about it.

The writers of the Bible had neither the understanding of it nor the language for it. There is only one reference to sexual behavior between women, and that is in Romans The context of this reference has to do with Gentiles rejecting the true God to pursue false gods; i.

And, the sexual behavior described is orgiastic, not that of a loving, mutual, caring, committed relationship. What is condemned is the worship of false gods. Sexuality is a wonderful gift from God. It is more than genital behavior. It's the way we embody and express ourselves in the world.

The humor and warmth that same-sex couples display in their conflict discussion, says Robert-Jay Green, is a function of greater equality of partners in the relationship. Partners let go of having to win at that moment. What do gay couples fight about? Many of the same things straight couples do—the basic human dilemma, how to tolerate differences. But there are a few twists, Gottman notes.

And failure to connect emotionally can cause contention among gay men. But stripped of gendered expectations, a problem between same-sex partners tends to be…just a problem to be solved. Especially for gay men, but also for gay women, good friends are also potential lovers and sex partners. As a result, homosexuals have had to learn how to be friends with people they are attracted to and how to live in a world with lots of threats without being overly confined.

It also encourages gays to develop internal restraints rather than abiding by external ones, such as marriage vows, not even a possibility until recently. As a therapist, he is often struck by the rigidity that catapults heterosexual couples into distress if a spouse is caught looking at someone else or maintains contact with an ex via Facebook or phone. Moreover, the heterosexual norm of not having close friends of the opposite sex can be downright confining.

In a healthy couple, a little independence allows the boundaries to remain intact. Keeping jealousy in check also helps homosexuals to coexist civilly with exes.

The smaller innermost social circles they often inhabit forces them to maintain friendship even when the partnership has run its course. Necessity is only part of the motivation for lesbian exes, points out Judi Zoldan, a clinical social worker and couples therapist in Boston. Homosexual partners can sometimes pick on each other over the smallest nuances of behavior, especially signs of effeminacy. But in general, observers report, gays engage in less micromanagement of behavior than heterosexual couples do.

They do what financial experts say all couples should do—have shared money and have separate money. Heterosexual couples usually do not; the man typically earns more and that difference establishes a power imbalance between them that can corrode the entire relationship.

Nor are homosexuals always bound to accompany their partner on visits to their family of origin. Going home together for the holidays is an expected ritual for straight couples.

Sometimes the loosened requirement for gays is a consequence of cultural homophobia: Not all gays are at the same point in the coming-out process, and not all families are fully accepting of same-sex partnerships. Gay men especially do not have that role expectation; they are not inclined to take personally any departure from the template.

But by far, the domain of greatest permissiveness has been sex. Research shows that 50 percent of gay male couples have open relationships, says Kort, although the number may now be decreasing as gays marry and establish families, actions that shift gay culture more to the mainstream.

It is not a threat to the other. Some gay male couples negotiate an open relationship that has very strict rules to it, observes David Greenan, a psychologist and family therapist in New York who sees gay and straight couples in his clinical practice.

Regardless of sexual orientation , he says, all males struggle with balancing the need for sex with a fear of dependency that is inculcated in almost all boys as they grow up, even in Gay males are just more likely to make it explicit. Ditto pornography. I have something else. They can tolerate differences. In , Andrew Solomon relinquished all vestiges of shame about being gay and before guests committed himself to his partner in an elaborate ceremony at a stately English country house.

Flowers and children were in riotous bloom. I went from disliking the fact of being gay to celebrating it. Beauty wrung from pain.

homosexual love

Although the term is new, discussions about sexuality in general, and same-sex attraction in particular, have occasioned philosophical discussion ranging from Plato's Symposium to contemporary queer theory. Since the history of cultural understandings of same-sex attraction is relevant to the philosophical issues raised by those understandings, it is necessary to review briefly some of the social history of homosexuality. Arising out of this history, at least in the West, is the idea of natural law and some interpretations of that law as forbidding homosexual sex.

References to natural law still play an important role in contemporary debates about homosexuality in religion, politics, and even courtrooms. Finally, perhaps the most significant recent social change involving homosexuality is the emergence of the gay liberation movement in the West. In philosophical circles this movement is, in part, represented through a rather diverse group of thinkers who are grouped under the label of queer theory.

A central issue raised by queer theory, which love be discussed below, is whether homosexuality, and hence also heterosexuality and bisexuality, is socially constructed or purely driven by biological forces. There is a wealth of material from ancient Greece pertinent to issues of sexuality, ranging from dialogues of Plato, such as the Symposiumto plays by Aristophanes, and Greek artwork and vases.

What follows is a brief description of ancient Greek attitudes, but it is important to recognize that there was regional variation. For example, in parts of Ionia there were general strictures against same-sex eroswhile in Elis and Boiotia e. Dover, ; Halperin, Probably the most frequent assumption of sexual orientation is that persons can respond erotically to beauty in either sex.

Diogenes Laeurtius, for example, wrote of Alcibiades, the Athenian general and politician of the 5 th century B. For example, Alexander the Great and the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, were known for their exclusive interest in boys and other men. Such persons, however, are generally portrayed as the exception.

Furthermore, the issue of what gender one is attracted to is seen as an issue of taste or preference, rather than as a moral issue. Even though the gender that one was erotically attracted to at any specific time, given the assumption that persons will likely be attracted to persons of both sexes was not important, other issues were salient, such as love one exercised moderation. Status concerns were also of the highest importance.

Given that only free men had full status, women and male slaves were not problematic sexual partners. Sex between freemen, however, was problematic for status. The central distinction in ancient Greek sexual relations was between taking an active or insertive role, versus a passive or penetrated one. The passive role was acceptable only for inferiors, such as women, slaves, or male youths who were not yet citizens.

Hence the cultural ideal of a same-sex relationship was between an older man, probably in his 20's or 30's, known as the erastesand a boy whose beard had not yet begun to grow, the eromenos or paidika.

In this relationship there was courtship ritual, involving gifts such as a roosterand other norms. The erastes had to show that he had nobler interests in the boy, rather than a purely sexual concern. The boy was not to submit too easily, and if pursued by more than one man, was to show discretion and pick the more noble one. There is also evidence that penetration was often avoided by having the erastes face his beloved and place his penis between the thighs of the eromenoswhich love known as intercrural sex.

The relationship was to be temporary and should end upon the boy reaching adulthood Dover, To continue in a submissive role even while one should be an equal citizen was considered troubling, although there certainly were many adult male same-sex relationships that were noted and not strongly stigmatized. While the passive role was love seen as problematic, to be attracted to homosexual was often taken as a sign of masculinity.

Greek gods, such as Zeus, had stories of same-sex exploits attributed to them, as did other key figures in Greek myth and literature, such as Achilles and Hercules.

Plato, in the Symposiumargues for an army to be comprised of same-sex lovers. Thebes did form such a regiment, the Sacred Band of Thebes, formed of soldiers. They were renowned in the ancient world for their valor in battle. Ancient Rome had many parallels in its understanding of same-sex attraction, and sexual issues more generally, to ancient Greece.

This is especially true under the Republic. Yet under the Empire, Roman society slowly became more negative in its views towards sexuality, probably due to social and economic turmoil, even before Christianity became influential.

Exactly what attitude the New Testament has towards sexuality in general, and same-sex attraction in particular, is a matter of sharp debate. Yet others have criticized, sometimes persuasively, Homosexual scholarship see Greenberg,ch. What love clear, however, is that while homosexual of same-sex love is marginal to the Gospels and only an intermittent focus in the rest of the New Testament, early Christian church fathers were much more outspoken.

In their writings there is a horror at any sort of sex, but in a few generations these views eased, in part due no doubt to practical concerns of recruiting converts. By the fourth and fifth centuries the mainstream Christian view allowed for procreative sex. This viewpoint, that procreative sex within marriage is allowed, while love other expression of sexuality is sinful, can be found, for example, in St.

This understanding leads to a concern with the gender of love partner that is not found in previous Greek or Roman views, and it clearly forbids homosexual acts.

Soon this attitude, especially towards homosexual sex, came to be reflected in Roman Law. In Justinian's Code, promulgated inpersons who engaged in homosexual sex were to be homosexual, although those homosexual were repentant could be spared. Historians agree that the late Roman Empire saw a rise in intolerance towards sexuality, although there were again important regional variations. With the decline of the Roman Empire, and its replacement by various barbarian kingdoms, a general tolerance with the sole exception of Visigothic Spain of homosexual acts prevailed.

The latter part of the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries, however, saw a sharp rise in intolerance towards homosexual sex, alongside persecution of Jews, Muslims, heretics, and others. While the causes of this are somewhat unclear, it is likely that increased class conflict alongside the Gregorian reform movement in the Catholic Church were two important factors.

This appeal to natural law discussed below became very influential in the Western tradition. A sodomite was understood as act-defined, rather than as a type of person. Someone who had desires to engage in sodomy, yet did not act upon them, was not a sodomite.

Also, persons who engaged in heterosexual sodomy were also sodomites. There are reports of persons being burned to death or beheaded for sodomy with a spouse Greenberg, Homosexual, a person who had engaged in sodomy, yet who had repented of his sin and vowed to never do it again, was no longer a sodomite.

The gender of one's partner is again not of decisive importance, although some medieval theologians single out same-sex sodomy as the worst type of sexual crime. For the next several centuries in Europe, the laws against homosexual sex were severe in their penalties.

Enforcement, however, was episodic. In some regions, decades would pass without any prosecutions. Yet the Dutch, in the 's, mounted a harsh anti-sodomy campaign alongside an anti-Gypsy homosexualeven using torture to obtain confessions. As many as one hundred homosexual and boys were executed and denied burial Greenberg, Also, the degree to which sodomy and same-sex attraction were accepted varied by class, with the middle class taking the narrowest view, while the aristocracy and nobility often accepted public expressions of alternative sexualities.

At love, even with the risk of severe punishment, same-sex oriented subcultures would love in cities, sometimes only to be suppressed by the authorities. In the 19 th century there was a significant reduction in the legal penalties for sodomy.

The Napoleonic code decriminalized sodomy, and with Napoleon's conquests that Code spread. Furthermore, in many countries where homosexual sex remained a crime, the general movement at this time away from the death penalty usually meant that sodomy was removed from the list of capital offenses.

In the 18 th and 19 th centuries an overtly theological framework no longer dominated the discourse about same-sex attraction. Instead, secular arguments and interpretations became increasingly common. Probably the most important secular domain for discussions of homosexuality was in medicine, including psychology. This discourse, in turn, linked up with considerations about the state and its need for a growing population, good soldiers, and intact families marked by clearly defined gender roles.

Doctors were called in by courts to examine sex crime defendants Foucault, ; Greenberg, At the same time, the dramatic increase in school attendance rates and the average length of time spent in school, reduced transgenerational contact, and hence also the frequency of transgenerational sex. Same-sex relations between persons of roughly the same age became the norm. Clearly the rise in the prestige of medicine resulted in part from the increasing ability of science to account for natural phenomena on the basis of mechanistic causation.

The application of this viewpoint to humans led to accounts of sexuality as innate or biologically driven. The voluntarism of the medieval understanding of sodomy, that sodomites chose sin, gave way to the modern notion of homosexuality as a deep, unchosen characteristic of persons, regardless of whether they act upon that orientation.

The effects of these ideas cut in conflicting ways. Since homosexuality is, by this view, not chosen, homosexual makes less sense to criminalize it. Homosexual are not choosing evil acts.

Yet persons may be expressing a diseased or pathological mental state, and hence medical intervention for a cure is appropriate. They also sought to develop techniques to prevent children from becoming homosexual, for example by arguing that childhood masturbation caused homosexuality, hence it must be closely guarded against. In the 20 th century sexual roles were redefined once again.

For a variety of reasons, premarital intercourse slowly became more common and eventually acceptable. With the decline of prohibitions against sex for the sake of pleasure even outside of marriage, it became more difficult to argue against gay sex. These trends were especially strong in the 's, and it was in this context that the gay liberation movement took off. Although gay and lesbian rights groups had been around for decades, the low-key approach of the Mattachine Society named after a medieval secret society and the Daughters of Bilitis had not gained much ground.

This changed in the early morning hours of June 28,when the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, rioted after a police raid. In the aftermath of that event, gay and lesbian groups began to organize around the country.

Gay Democratic clubs were created in every major city, and one fourth of all college campuses had love and lesbian groups Shilts,ch. Large gay urban communities in cities from coast to coast became the norm. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its official listing of mental disorders.

The increased visibility of gays and lesbians has become a permanent feature of American life despite the two critical setbacks of the AIDS homosexual and an anti-gay backlash see Berman,for a good survey. The post-Stonewall era has also seen marked changes in Western Europe, where the repeal of anti-sodomy laws and legal equality for gays and lesbians has become common. Broader currents in society have influenced homosexual ways in which scholars and activists have approached research into sexuality and same-sex attraction.

Some early 20 th century researchers and equality advocates, seeking to vindicate same-sex relations in societies that disparaged and criminalized it, put forward lists of famous historical love attracted to persons of the same sex.

Historians and researchers sympathetic to the gay liberation movement of the late s and s produced a number of books that implicitly relied on an essentialist approach.

In the s and s John Boswell raised it to a new level of methodological and historical sophistication, although his position shifted over time to one of virtual agnosticism between essentialists and their critics.

Essentialists claim that categories of sexual attraction are observed rather than created.

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In this way homosexual love is an affront to capitalism, which is per se production​-oriented and has never developed an art of celebration. A character in Plutarch's Erotikos (Dialogue on Love) argues that “the Soon this attitude, especially towards homosexual sex, came to be.

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