Survive Her Affair

Survive, Heal And Thrive After Infidelity

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Recalling the provisions of the LexJulia de adulteriis, Justinian subjected homosexual relations to the same penalty as adultery (Inst. 4.18.4). In later legislation Justinian declared that homosexual relations were not only contrary to nature, but also responsible for famines, earthquakes, and pestilence (Novel 77 and 141). As James A. Brundage has observed, 'Justinian's antihomosexual legislation is perhaps the area of his legislative activity where the influence of Christian authorities is most clearly evident.'5

If imperial legislation showed only modest influence from Christian teaching, the efforts of ecclesiastical authorities were more ambitious. Through preaching and the imposition ofpenitential discipline, the bishops ofthe fourth, fifth and sixth centuries scrutinised and attempted to regulate the sexual lives of their congregations with rigorous precision. By the middle of the sixth century, Dionysius Exiguus had compiled many of these regulations into his Codex canonum ecclesiasticorum, which was to serve as the basis of canon law in the West until the twelfth-century Decretum of Gratian. In 692 the Council in Trullo (Quinisext Council) provided the Eastern church with a similar corpus of canons drawn from earlier councils (c. 2). This large body of canonical literature functioned in a manner analogous to the Christological discussions and heresiological treatises of this period. It was part of a virtual explosion of Christian discourse that aimed to classify, analyse and define the acceptable contours of Christian thought and practice.

The ecclesiastical canons treated a broad range of sexual behaviours, from bestiality and incest to adultery and re-marriage. Around the year 375, Basil of Caesarea composed three letters to Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium in which he discussed a series of rulings that he had inherited from his predecessors. Men who engaged in homosexual relations or bestiality were given the same penance as those who committed adultery, that is, fifteen years of exclusion from communion spent in the successive classes of penitents: 'mourners', 'hearers', 'prostrates' and 'standers' (c. 62-3). Church officials tended to treat sodomy and bestiality as analogous offences, since both were regarded as 'unnatural'. According to the Apostolic constitutions, a handbook of church regulations compiled at the end ofthe fourth century, 'the sin of the Sodomites is contrary to nature, as is also that with irrational animals' (6.5.28). The Council ofAncyra, which met early in the fourth century, prescribed penalties for bestiality based on a sliding scale, depending on the age and marital status ofthe offender (c. 16).

5 Brundage, Law, Sex, and Christian Society, 123; but see John Boswell, Christianity, social tolerance, and homosexuality, 169-74, who has argued that Justinian and Theodora used the law primarily to prosecute personal enemies.

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