Pederasty in Rome


A few weeks ago, City Church in San Francisco announced its decision to become a “third way” church with respect to the issue of homosexual practice: a church where there could be divergence of opinion and practice (life-long abstaining or life-long commitment to a single partner), but where all would be treated as equal members of the body.
An important guide for the church’s decision has been Ken Wilson, A Letter to My Congregation. I think that Wilson’s book is, overall, helpful in laying out a biblical approach to a contested question.
Part of Wilson’s own journey included coming to the conclusion that what the New Testament opposes as same-sex relations is not what contemporary homosexual Christians are trying to live into. He cites three norms of homosexual practice which, he believes, are indicative of same-sex relations in ancient Rome:
  1. Pederasty
  2. Temple Prostitution
  3. Sex with slaves
Like most evangelical Christians, I am trying to play catch-up on the issue of homosexuality in the ancient world. I am not a classicist. There is a mountain of material to sift through.
However, as I understand it (and again, I’m learning here, so feel free to offer counter evidence or other conversation in the comments) pederasty as classically understood was not practiced in ancient Rome.



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