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Christian Foundations of Sexuality

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Western University
History 2185
Monda Helpern

Oct, 15, 2012 The Christians Foundations of Sexuality Genesis: -The foundations of sexuality are based on the story of creation with Adam and Eve -Story describes the start of the world where first he created heaven and earth, then light, then water, land, plants, animals and finally man -Then god enacted several deeds that relate to sexuality and the first was decree that man should have dominion over all other living things (domination over women implied) -He then said man should not be alone and that he would make him a helper (women must serve men), and then god took one of Adam’s ribs and created woman (woman is derived from man and thus is a lesser sex) -He then decreed that man leaves his mother and father and cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh (man forms new family unit with whom he has sexual relations) and this passage is used to refute homosexuality -Decreed man should be fruitful and multiply and this is why the orthodox of many religions have so many children -God says to Eve do not eat from the tree of knowledge or she will die and the serpent tricks her by saying she can and desiring wisdom Eve eats from the tree and she goes and feeds some to Adam -When god confronts them Adam says it was all Eve’s fault because she gave it to him and from that point on Eve and all other women are cast as a liar and temptress and is blamed for the sins of man -God punished her by increasing her pain during child birth, and he says her husband shall rule over you (says women are inferior and cannot be trusted and will always do the wrong thing unless steered by men) -Adam and Eve who were before nude in the garden were then clothed signifying the loss of their innocence and they were then banished from the garden Christianity: -Began in the 1 century CE and it was a defiant sect of Judaism (first monotheistic religion but there was also paganism that held belief in many gods) -Christianity was started by Jews who were disillusioned because they suspected that some leaders were in collusion with their Roman captors and betraying the religion and they thought they needed a new religion -They rejected some traditional customs but held on to the belief of one God and they were fiercely anti-paganism -New sect was a combination of Judaism and new traditions and they believed radical religious reform was needed -The leader of the new movement was Jesus of Nazareth who lived 4 BCE – 30 CE and was born Jewish -He focused on change and on attracting new followers and after his death by 70 CE the centre of Christianity had moved from the Middle East to Rome and for a couple of centuries Christians were persecuted there -The movement continued to grow largely through Jewish and pagan conversions then in 313 CE the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity -He was a role model and in the centuries that followed the numbers grew from 5 million to 30 million in a 60 million person population and it was made the official religion of the Roman Empire by 500 CE -With new religion came new attitudes governing sexuality and Jewish and Christian writers seldom talked about sex but they offered discussion about the Creation story and their commentary reveals a lot about their thoughts -Compared to Judaism and Paganism the new values were quite strict because a lot of what they emphasized was the notion of sacrifice and this was very different that attitudes before -Jewish attitudes were that sex was a commandment of god and it was to be enjoyed within marriage by both man and women and it was encouraged and it was even seen as a good deed -The idea of sacrifice was very different from paganism which was loose with rules -Jesus when he was alive had forbidden divorce under any circumstance, he stressed monogamy in marriage, and he stressed celibacy inside and outside of marriage -Jesus also blessed single and barren women and this was something very different because in the other cultures these women were considered deviant and the fact Jesus blessed them was a huge change -Jesus discouraged the formation of and obligation to family although he said marriage was okay but he thought having no family was a better state to be in because you could be closer and more devoted to god -Historians disagree on the extent to which Jesus advocated these ideas and this is up for interpretation -Unlike paganism which al
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