spiritual direction by monastic authors such as John Cassian (e.g., masturbation, nocturnal emissions and sexual fantasies) now became subjects of ecclesiastical penance. The synod of North Britain, convened in Wales in the early sixth century, provided penalties for those who had 'defiled themselves' that varied according to the age and ecclesiastical status of the offenders (c. 2). The Penitential ofFinnian imposed penances for sinful thoughts and intentions, as well as deeds (c. 1-3). The extension of monastic practices of self-examination into the manuals of penance laid the foundation of the later Catholic confessional and opened a new chapter in the history of the 'technologies of the self'. As Foucault has observed, confession now became a primary locus of 'the transformation of sex into discourse', that is, a ritual for the production of truth about sex.7

Finally, the impact of ecclesiastical restrictions on sex also fell upon members of the clergy, monks and consecrated virgins. In the West attempts to impose celibacy on married bishops, presbyters and deacons appeared as early as the Council of Elvira (c. 33) and were repeated regularly thereafter. The Eastern church, by contrast, while it forbade higher clerics to marry after ordination, allowed presbyters and deacons to remain sexually active after ordination; only bishops were required to be celibate (Council in Trullo, c. 6, 12-13, 48). Both in the East and the West, consecrated virgins who subsequently married were subjected to harsh penalties: in 385 Pope Siricius recommended lifelong penance for broken vows (Letter 1.6.7); Basil specified that professed virgins who married should be treated as adulterers (c. 60). Later the Council of Chalcedon imposed excommunication for this offence, although it acknowledged that the local bishop might exercise compassion in the matter (c. 16).

Marriage and liturgical practice

Another way in which the sexual and marital lives of Christians were drawn into the ambit ofecclesiastical control was by their gradual absorption into the liturgical traditions of the church. Since the making of marriage in antiquity was primarily a family affair, the process was slow and piecemeal. The early second-century Bishop Ignatius of Antioch had recommended that Christians should contract their marriages 'with the permission of the bishop' (meta

7 Cf.M. Foucault, The history of sexuality, 1: 61: 'From the Christian penance to the present day sex was a privileged theme of confession.' As Elizabeth A. Clarkhas noted, the unpublished fourth volume of Foucault's history of sexuality was to be titled The confessions of the flesh: 'Foucault, the fathers, and sex', 621.

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