Sexual activity between persons of the same sex is known from many places far and near throughout history. Because the word homosexuality derives from the Greek homosmeaning "same," and not from the Latin homomeaning "man," the term refers both to sex between males and sex between females, though in practice lesbianism is used to refer to sexual relations between females.
The image of homosexuality has a special history in the social, medical, and religious discourse of Western culture. This image equates the sexual behavior, personal identity, and sociosexual orientation of a person, often under a negative rubric. Other Age structured homosexuality in christianity, however, do not make this equation.
Thus to say that someone engages in homosexual activity is different from saying he or she is "homosexual. Homosexual relations in religious contexts outside the Western tradition have a wider meaning. It has been argued both that homosexuality is universal and, to the contrary, that it Age structured homosexuality in christianity culture-bound to certain societies or historical periods. Part of this controversy depends upon how homosexuality is defined.
Victorian scholars such as Krafft-Ebing suggested that homosexuality as an essence indicated nervous degeneracy that produced an inversion of innate instincts. Others, such as Havelock Ellissaw it differently; and Freud believed that it was "remarkably widespread" in simple societies, because "all human beings are capable of making a homosexual object-choice" based upon bisexual potential and social experience Three Essays on the Theory of SexualityNew York, pp.
The ancient Greeks were an especially puzzling case, as Jeremy Bentham noted, to Victorian scholars, who admired their beautiful art and their accomplishments in literature and philosophy but who detested their customary homosexuality.
Modern research has confirmed Freud's view that homosexual activity occurs in many simple societies. In a classic comparative study of sexual behavior patterns, Ford and Beach found that homosexual activity was considered socially acceptable Age structured homosexuality in christianity normative for certain people in 64 percent of the seventy-six societies studied.
Moreover, institutionalized homosexuality is known among peoples from parts of Africa and Asia, among North and South American Indian tribes, among peoples on the islands of the Pacific, including New Guineaand among the Australian Aborigines; it occurs as a religious theme in the ancient world among the Greeks especially the Dorians and the the Celts, and the Romans, in ancient Arabia and Islamic fringe areas, in feudal Japan, in ancient China and Indochina, and in selected Indo-European traditions.
Here, religious — or, to be more precise, ritual — homosexuality occurs in relation to phallic cults and fertility symbolism, mythology, and ideas about spirit, seed, and soul, particularly as they concern the creation of the cosmos and maleness in humankind. In some societies, however, same-sex relationships are disliked or defined as taboo; certainly ritual homosexuality is not universal.
An analysis of cross-cultural sexual variations does show that in the cultural traditions listed above homosexuality plays a role in respect to the experience of the sacred. It has been demonstrated that there are three forms of the cultural structuring of homosexual activities and organization the world over: In simple societies these forms usually do not occur together but are mutually exclusive.
As described below, most cross-cultural examples of these forms concern only male homosexuality; institutionalized female homosexuality is rare. "Age structured homosexuality in christianity" to popular Western thought, the first type — age-structured homosexual behavior — seems the most frequent.
These social types can be studied in different ways, each of which provides a somewhat different interpretation. A focus on overt homosexual behavior, for instance, may reveal little about the experience or identities of the persons involved. But it is clear that such ritual homosexual forms do not create the lifelong, habitualized identity that in the West is labelled "the homosexual.
The exact causes of these homosexual forms are still unknown. Moreover, to ask what causes these types of homosexuality is very different from understanding how they function or affect individuals and societies. This article shall here examine the latter dimension, on which reliable information exists.
The most common form of ritual homosexuality is organized through customary sexual relationships between older and younger males. In some cultures the practice is obligatory and universal for all males, usually early in the life cycle and, for the junior partner, before marriage.
Age-organized homosexuality is associated with militarized societies as well. Ritual and Age structured homosexuality in christianity practices frequently provide a social basis for it, thus linking sexuality and religion, though this association is by no means true of all the relevant examples.
Of all age-structured systems, that of the ancient Greeks, the West's cultural ancestors, is the most famous. In the Hellenic world homosexuality is known among the militaristic Dorians at least as early as bce.
Senior and junior males engaged in homosexual relationships as a part of masculine development.
The military aspect of Hellenic homosexuality is widely noted. Some scholars feel it has been exaggerated Age structured homosexuality in christianity, ; certainly it changed over time.
The Thebans and Spartans were said to have taken boy lovers with them as comrades and bedmates. The youths in turn learned warrior values and the military arts. The Theban military corps known as the Sacred Band was said to derive its strength from the homoerotic unity of male warrior couples.
Many ancient texts tell celebrated stories of how male lovers overthrew tyrants and defeated invaders. And Plutarch says that "an army consisting of lovers and their beloved ones, fighting at each other's side, although a mere handful, would overcome the whole world" Westermarck,vol.