Religious and Moral Writings
in Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern England, 1550–1735
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The condemnation of male and female same-sex sexual acts is embedded in the earliest Christian theology regarding sexuality, heterosexual marriage, and reproduction: human genitalia were created for reproduction, mirroring the creative act of God. Same-sex intercourse, especially in its particular characterization as sodomy, was in a different category of sin from forbidden heterosexual acts. In terms of Scriptural prohibitions, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was by far the most frequently discussed biblical condemnation of same-sex intercourse, and male same-sex anal congress was the most frequently alluded to same-sex act. Forbidden heterosexual acts within and outside of marriage were less serious: they were violations of God's will, but not also violations of nature. Attempting to undermine the spiritual and political authority of the Roman Catholic Church, English Protestant reformists often seized on sodomy as a highly charged and emotive anti-papal discourse, with female homoerotic sexual acts sometimes appearing as well.

Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern England, 1550–1735

An anthology of literary texts and contexts

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