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.”