As I’ve mentioned in the past couple of days, DL Foster has become obsessed with debunking John Boswell and his book Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. Without understanding what the book is about, yesterday DL Foster listed some authors (which he took from a footnote from a course I list below) from antiquity to show that the church did not accept gay and lesbians. What you will notice is that Boswell does not deny these passages at all, and DL Foster would like you to believe that Boswell does not deal with them. However, the truth can be easily seen.
Though somewhat controversial, The Didache, yet reflects the prevailing Christian rejection of homosexuality within the Christian context:
“You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that has been born” (Didache 2:2 [A.D. 70]).
Actually, if Foster had bothered to pick up the Didache, he would have noticed that this passage is 1:2. And, if he had bothered to pick up John Boswell’s book, he will see that Boswell looks at the Didache (this very same passage he cites). Please see pg. 139, note 9. Pedastery is sex with children, and has nothing to do with homosexuality. See also p. 179 and 346. Foster makes it sound like he has made some big discovery or that Boswell somehow did not discuss the passage, but that is just a lie.
He also cites Justin Martyr:
Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.), one of the earliest Christian apologists whose works represent the earliest surviving Christian apologies of notable size:
“[W]e have been taught that to expose newly-born children is the part of wicked men; and this we have been taught lest we should do anyone harm and lest we should sin against God, first, because we see that almost all so exposed (not only the girls, but also the males) are brought up to prostitution. And for this pollution a multitude of females and hermaphrodites, and those who commit unmentionable iniquities, are found in every nation. And you receive the hire of these, and duty and taxes from them, whom you ought to exterminate from your realm. And anyone who uses such persons, besides the godless and infamous and impure intercourse, may possibly be having intercourse with his own child, or relative, or brother. And there are some who prostitute even their own children and wives, and some are openly mutilated for the purpose of sodomy; and they refer these mysteries to the mother of the gods” (First Apology 27 [A.D. 151]).
Boswell also examimnes this p. 144, and 346.
He cites Tertullian
Tertullian, 2nd century apologist:
“[A]ll other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature, and are impious toward both [human] bodies and the sexes, we banish, not only from the threshold but also from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities” (Modesty 4 [A.D. 220]).
Now Boswell discusses Tertullian, but not this particular passage (as far as I can tell). And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. What exceeds the laws of nature? Having sex after fertility is gone? Having sex numerous times and with numerous people (here this could be easily heterosexual)? Sex with animals? Who knows. However, Boswell does mention Tertullian’s statement about homosexuality in Ad nationes 1.16 when he describes ‘The Latin fathers also concerned themselves with homosexual relations…’ (p. 349).
He also cites Eusebius of Caesarea:
Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea whose work forged unity among pro-orthodoxy believers:
“[H]aving forbidden all unlawful marriage, and all unseemly practice, and the union of women with women and men with men, he [God] adds: ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for in all these things the nations were defiled, which I will drive out before you. And the land was polluted, and I have recompensed [their] iniquity upon it, and the land is grieved with them that dwell upon it’ [Lev. 18:24–25]” (Proof of the Gospel 4:10 [A.D. 319]).
I might add here that Eusebius had Arian leanings. Did he forge “unity among pro-orthodoxy believers?” Well, he tried, but it may have been more that he was trying to save his own skin…The story of Eusebius of Caesarea is an interesting one, and I hope the DL Foster can get his facts straight.
Anyway, Boswell also mentions this passage from Eusebius of Nicomedia on pg. 346. He states:
“Eusebius quotes Romans 1:26-27 almost verbatim, excoriating homosexual relations in all their manifestations, yet nowhere does he employ the word which supposedly means ‘homosexual’ in Paul’s writings (see footnote 30).”
Clearly Boswell knows that Eusebius is against homosexual relations. Here is what Foster has to say about Boswell and that book:
As GCM Watch reported earlier here and here, gay christian researcher John Boswell set out to prove that the church was historically “tolerant” to homosexual unions. Liberally using what has been called “strained exegesis”, he formulated a religious fallacy in which he argued those unions were “normal” and comparable to those of the contemporary gay community.
Now you can see the lie that Foster is trapped in. He pretends to have read Boswell, and makes all of these judgements about it, but clearly Boswell was aware of these passages. Boswell knew that Eusebius did not think that homosexuality was ‘normal.’ Foster lies and lies and lies.
Finally, Foster cites Augustine:
“[T]hose shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always to be detested and punished. If all nations were to do such things, they would be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not made men so that they should use one another in this way” (Confessions 3:8:15 [A.D. 400]).
Boswell, as usual, mentions this passage on pg. 227. The context of what Boswell is referring to here is a bit complicated, but the gist is that although Augustine meant what he said, later, when Ivo of Chartres used Augustine (and others) to create a book on orthodox positions on morals, Ivo did not use this passage.
Thus, as you can see, DL Foster is lying about this book and what this book stands for. If he isn’t lying, then it is clear that he has not understood the book and is spreading his ignorance around. Unfortunately people are reading this stuff that DL is putting out and believing it. I would say if you want to understand the book, don’t read what DL Foster has to say about it. Even Foster has not read it. Clearly Foster wants to puff up his own image by giving these five passages as if they were proof that Boswell was sloppy. One his readers even left a comment thanking him for his ‘excellent research and post.’ But as I have shown, Foster is the sloppy one and he has done no research at all. Boswell uses these passages (except for Tertullian, for the reasons I have given) and explains them.
Foster also points his readers to a website for a course titled
HOMOSEXUALITY IN THE THOUGHT OF THE CHURCH
The Fall Colloquium of the Religion and Philosophy Department
Indiana Wesleyan University
November 16, 2005
I don’t know who Dr. Christopher Todd Bounds is (who teaches this course), but I did notice that in his footnotes to his introduction, he does not mention Boswell. Foster calls this ‘excellent’, but I don’t think that Foster read to the end. Dr. Bounds states:
“While the Church has accepted that some Christians may struggle with homosexual desire, some people even from birth, the Church has never condoned homosexual practice.”
I wonder what Foster has to say about the fact that the church has accepted that some gay people are born that way!
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