By Clellan Stearns Ford
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Additional resources for A Comparative Study of Human Reproduction
One charter, citing current experience on the shores of the Bosphorus as well as that of the Egyptian desert in the Sayings collection, relates: Sometimes we are tempted with regard to irrational animals, and this we know from many who have made confession to us and from the story which will now be told. Once a priest of [the monastery] of Kellia traveled from the mountain of Nitria riding on a female donkey and sent it back again with his own disciple, and along the way the devil tempted him with regard to the female donkey and seven times tempted him to sin with it.
Constantine’s were the first Roman efforts to legislate about family life, including marriage and divorce, which had always been considered private matters. Constantine declared that “depraved desires” were not sufficient cause to grant divorce; only if a spouse could be proved to be a murderer, a poisoner, or a desecrator of graves could divorce be allowed. This particular form of execution apparently remained the standard, expected punishment throughout subsequent legislation whenever execution was deemed appropriate and no other method was provided.
Given the samesex social environments of the monastic communities, we might expect those prohibitions to be especially strident against same-sex relationships or sexual acts between the monks. Byzantine monastic typika, charters, and the desert Sayings seem to presume that adult men will be powerless to resist the beautiful boys and therefore attempt to regulate the presence of the boys rather than expecting the adult men to control their behavior. Organizations like the North American Man/Boy Love Association have consistently come under heavy fire for their espousal of precisely these sorts of relationships and have been disavowed by most mainstream LGBT organizations.