Excerpt from Homosexuality & Civilization by Louis Crompton
“Philo of Alexandria – the only ancient Jewish writer whose surviving works treat [homosexuality] in detail – could invite mob violence by urging that suspect effeminate men should not be allowed ‘to live for a day or even an hour.’ Unfortunately, with the ascendancy of Christianity, this deadly tradition which held that all male homosexuals should be ruthlessly exterminated became dogma in European states in some fourteen centuries.
Philo’s wish seems to have been realized under Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor, who, we are told, exercised his authority by exterminating the effeminate priests Philo had inveighed against in Egypt. Such a campaign accorded with the endorsement of the Levitical death penalty by such early Christian writers as Tertullian, Eusebius, and the authors of the Apostolic Constitutions. It was also furthered by the fateful transformation of the Sodom story in religious teaching for a tale of selfish greed and mistreatment of aliens to an indictment of all consensual homosexual acts. By 390 the fanatical emperor Theodosius felt it incumbent to rid Rome ‘of the poison of shameful effeminacy’ by consigning passive men to ‘avenging flames in sight of the people.’ At that same moment Saint John Chrysostom, preaching in Christian Antioch, called for all homosexuals to ‘be driven out and stoned,’ an inflammatory cry of hate that bore terrible fruit in the Eastern Empire when Justininian launched his blood campaign against bishops, rich laymen, and political enemies a century later, causing the death of many.”
It’s a hard time for liberal Christians. In our ears we hear holocaust screams, the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Christians throughout history, and the sound of in-coming missile alerts. We also hear the wailing of Palestinians, while not believing God would give any land as promised land that is occupied land any more than we believe God had to kill God’s son to love us or forgive us. While it is a hard time for liberal Christians, it is a heart-wrenching, hate-infusing time for Israelis and Palestinians.
Prayers for a peace that seems impossible.
My niece, Melissa Jane Ayers, got married this past Saturday to Matthew McDonough. We really like Matthew and are thrilled he’s in the family. And we are so happy Melissa is so happy.
At Melissa and Matthew’s wedding my brother, Steve Ayers, read from a Bible he gave to my mother when he was a freshman at the University of North Carolina. My mom died – well, it seems like a long time ago. Steve’s reading from her Bible and citing a verse she had underlined gave us a sense of mom’s presence at the wedding.
Material things are not important but some are – some things like your mother’s Bible given to her by her oldest son.
Before my parents went to Daytona Beach, Florida to spend their retirement years they auctioned off all their stuff. I attended the auction and was frankly surprised how emotional an experience it turned out to be for me. I never imagined I would cry at an auction, but – but there was the piece of furniture in which my Christmas gifts were stored the year I first suspected the Santa Claus myth wasn’t adding up. And – and there was the piano on which I took all those piano lessons I hated. I didn’t bid on any of the items.
Material things are not important, I told myself. And they aren’t, but some are. No material things are worth a family argument, that’s for sure. But some things – well, when you can no longer touch your parents being able to touch something that was theirs sure can soothe, at least momentarily, a grieving heart.
There were two things I was interested in having when my parents died. First, I was interested in a pan they used to pop popcorn in. To be more accurate, they fried (Southern fried) just about everything in that pan, including taters and squash (which I didn’t care for). It was just a great pan. I always told them I wanted it when they died. They didn’t give it to me, though. And they didn’t auction it off either. The frying pan bit the dust before they did. Oh well.
The other thing I was interested in was my mother’s coin collection, not because the coins were really valuable but because of my coin experience with my mother. My parents owned a little country, meat and two, sweet tea that would put you in a sugar coma, restaurant in Clemmons, NC. After closing, (read: after I mopped the floors and cleaned the grill) I would go home and my mom and I would sit at the kitchen table and she would count the money. Part of counting the money was looking through the coins for wheat pennies. I know, how much is a wheat penny worth? Well, I’m sure there may be a particular wheat penny that is worth something, but most wheat pennies today are worthy very little. But how much is time spent with a mother looking for wheat pennies worth?
I guess because of our coin experience together Mom started getting me coin sets for Christmas. None of which are worth that much today, but how much is a coin set given to you by your mother worth?
Some time after Mom’s death the Ayers brothers took her coin collection to get it appraised. It was valuable mostly for the silver content but nothing in terms of coin collection.
Did I tell you that Melissa Ayers McDonough was named after my mother? Melissa Jane.
In our dining room Vicky and I display some pottery made by Tim Ayers, the brother of Melissa Jane Ayers McDonough. At the wedding reception I told Tim there are very few things in our house more valuable than the pottery we got him to make for us. Not because Tim is a famous artist. Not because we love Tim more than any of our other extended family members. No, the pottery by Tim is a tangible reminder of how important family is and how short our time with family is.
When you get married you don’t realize how short life is. And you don’t understand that material things are not important but some are.