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File:Sodoma - Elluin.jpg

François Elluin, Sodomites provoking the wrath of God, from "Le pot pourri de Loth" (1781).

Sodomy (Template:Pron-en) is a term used in the law to describe the act of "unnatural"[1] sex, which depending on jurisdiction can consist of oral sex or anal sex or any non-genital to genital congress, whether heterosexual, or homosexual, or with human or animal.[2]


The term comes from the Ecclesiastical Latin: peccatum Sodomiticum, or "sin of Sodom."

The association of the ancient city of Sodom with depravity is of biblical origin. In the Book of Genesis (chapters 18-20), the Lord perceives Sodom and Gomorrah as places of grave sinfulness and seeks to discover whether this perception is really true before He destroys the inhabitants. Two angels (who have the appearance of humans) are sent to find out the reality of life in Sodom. After arriving in the city in the evening, the angels are invited - then urged strongly - by Lot (an upright man) to take refuge with his family for the night.

4 But before they [the angels] lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: 5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. 8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. 9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. 10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
(Genesis 19:4-11, KJV)

To summarise the above account:
The men of the city of Sodom desired that Lot give them the two men so that they may "know" them. (In the Bible, the word "know" is occasionally used to refer to sexual activity.) Lot refuses to hand them over, and (going outside) offers his two virgin daughters instead. This offer is refused, and after the men press upon Lot and come near to break down the door, the two angels draw Lot back into the house and shut the door. They cause blindness to come upon the men of the city, thus bringing safety to those within the house. Even in their blinded state, the men outside still try to gain entry to the house and continue until they become wearied. We see here the extent of either their depravity or lack of hospitality, depending upon how one interprets the verses.

Sodom is subsequently destroyed by a rain of sulfur and fire. From this biblical narrative, the word 'Sodomy' is derived. It has come to be synonymous with "unnatural sex".

In current usage, the term is particularly used in law.[3] Sodomy laws prohibiting such sexual activity have been a standard feature of codes of sexual morality in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic civilizations as well as many other cultures[citation needed]. In the various criminal codes of United States of America, the term "sodomy" has generally been replaced by "Deviant sexual intercourse", which is precisely defined by statute.[4] These laws have been challenged and have sometimes been found unconstitutional or have been replaced with different legislation.[5] Some countries, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and southern Asia retain "sodomy laws" against anal intercourse. Elsewhere, the legal use of the term "sodomy" is restricted to rape cases where an act such as anal penetration has taken place.[6] The English term "buggery" is closely related to sodomy in concept, and often interchangeably used in law and popular speech.[7] In some legal systems, the term "buggery" is used rather than "sodomy". Examples include that of Saint Lucia, which despite calls for reform retains a penalty of 25 years in prison for anal intercourse between consenting adults.[citation needed]


In the Hebrew Bible, Sodom was a city destroyed by God because of the evil of its inhabitants. The clearest texts on the sin or sins for which Sodom was destroyed are found in Ezekiel in the Old Testament, and Jude in the New.

Hebrew references

The story of the Sodom's destruction — and of Abraham's failed attempt to intercede with God and prevent that destruction — appears in Genesis 18–19. No specific sin is given as the reason for God's great wrath.

The connection between Sodom and homosexuality is derived from the depicted attempt of a mob of city people to rape Lot's male guests; the sinfulness of that, for the original writers of the Biblical account, might have consisted mainly in the violation of the obligations of hospitality. (In The Book of Judges, 19, there is an account, similar in many ways, where a city is destroyed in punishment for a mob of its inhabitants raping a woman.)

Many times in the Pentateuch and Prophets, writers use God's destruction of Sodom to demonstrate His awesome power. This happens in Deuteronomy 29, Isaiah 1, 3, and 13, Jeremiah 49 and 50, Lamentations 4, Amos 4.11, and Zephaniah 2.9. Deuteronomy 32, Jeremiah 23.14 and Lamentations 4 reference the sinfulness of Sodom but do not specify any particular sin. Specific sins which Sodom is linked to include adultery and lying (Jeremiah 23:14), impenitence (Matthew 11:23, careless living (Luke 17:28), fornication (Jude 1:7 KJV), and an overall "filthy" lifestyle (2 Peter 2:7), which word ("aselgeiais") elsewhere is rendered in the KJV as lasciviousness (Mark 7:22; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Ephesians 4:19; 1 Peter 4:3; Jude 1:4, or wantonness: (Romans 13:13; 2 Peter 2:18).

In Ezekiel 16, a long comparison is made between Sodom and the Kingdom of Israel. "Yet you have not merely walked in their ways or done according to their abominations; but, as if that were too little, you acted more corruptly in all your conduct than they." (Ezekiel 16.47 New American Standard Bible)

Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. (Ezekiel 16.49–50)

There is no explicit mention of any sexual sin in Ezekiel's summation, and "abomination" is used to describe many sins.


The Authorized King James Version translates Deuteronomy 23:17 as "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel," but the word corresponding to "sodomite" in the Hebrew original, Qadesh (Hebrew:קדש) does not refer to Sodom, and has been translated in the New International Version as "shrine prostitute"; male shrine prostitutes may have served barren women in fertility rites rather than engaging in homosexual acts; this also applies to other instances of the word sodomite in the King James Version.[8][9]

New Testament

The New Testament, like the Old Testament, references Sodom as a place of God's anger against sin, but the Epistle of Jude provides a certain class of sin as causative of its destruction, the meaning of which is disputed.

And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He [God] has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. (Jude 1:7, New American Standard Version)

The Greek word in the New Testament from which the phrase is translated "indulging in gross immorality", or in some Bibles, "giving themselves over to fornication", is "ekporneuō" ("ek" and "porneuō"). As one word it is not used elsewhere in the New Testament, but occurs in the Septuagint to denote whoredom (Genesis 38:24 and Exodus 34:15). Some modern translations as the NIV render it as "sexual immorality."

The Greek words for "strange flesh" are "heteros", which most always basically denotes "another/other," and "sarx," a common word for "flesh," and usually refers to the physical body or the nature of man or of an ordinance.

Views prior to the Medieval period

Jewish views

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters,
neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw this. (KJV, Ezekiel 16:49-50).

Classical Jewish texts are seen by many as not stressing the homosexual aspect of the attitude of the inhabitants of Sodom as much as their cruelty and lack of hospitality to the "stranger." [10] The 13th-century Jewish scholar Nachmanides wrote, “According to our sages, they were notorious for every evil, but their fate was sealed for their persistence in not supporting the poor and the needy.” His contemporary Rabbenu Yonah expresses the same view: “Scripture attributes their annihilation to their failure to practice tzedakah [charity or justice].” [11] The Book of Wisdom, which is included in the Biblical canon by Orthodox and Roman Catholics, but excluded by modern Jews, Protestants, and other Christian denominations, makes reference to the story of Sodom, further emphasizing that their sin had been failing to practice hospitality:

And punishments came upon the sinners not without former signs by the force of thunders: for they suffered justly according to their own wickedness, insomuch as they used a more hard and hateful behavior toward strangers.
For the Sodomites did not receive those, whom they knew not when they came: but these brought friends into bondage, that had well deserved of them. (KJV, Wisdom 19:13-14)

Prohibitions on same-sex activities among men (#157) and bestiality (#155-156) 613_commandments#Maimonides.27_list are among the 613 commandments as listed by Maimonides in the 12th century; however, their source in Leviticus 18 does not contain the word sodomy. The idea that homosexual intercourse was involved as at least a part of the evil of Sodom arises from the story in Genesis 19

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom - both young and old - surrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them."

That is the NIV translation. The Hebrew verb used is to know, which can have a sexual meaning in the Bible, but doesn't always, and might have a sexual meaning here, judging from Lot's shocked reaction:

No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing...

First century Christian and Jewish opinions

Modern English translation of Jude

The Epistle of Jude in the New Testament echoes the Genesis narrative and potentially adds the sexually immoral aspects of Sodom's sins: '…just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire (v. 7, English Standard Version). The phrase rendered sexual immorality and unnatural desire is translated strange flesh or false flesh, but it is not entirely clear what it refers to.

  • The ESV translators situated in the year 2001 supply one plausible paraphrase for "false flesh", arguably influenced by more recent Christian views, in making the phrase refer to alleged illicit sexual activity of the Genesis account (cf. the language of the epistle to the Romans 1:21-32 not specifically referring to Sodom).
  • Another theory is that it is just a reference to the “strange flesh” of the intended rape victims, who were angels, not men.[12] Countering this is traditional interpretation, which notes that the angels were sent to investigate an ongoing regional problem(Gn. 18) of fornication, and extraordinarily so, that of a homosexual nature,[13][14] "out of the order of nature."[15] "Strange" is understood to mean "outside the moral law",[16] (Romans 7:3; Galatians 1:6) while it is doubted that either Lot or the men of Sodom understood that the strangers were angels at the time.[17]
  • A third opinion takes "false flesh" to refer to cannibalism,[citation needed] as such a meaning is used elsewhere in the Mosaic laws, referring to practices of those who lived in Canaan. A counter argument to this principally relies upon the weight of the sexual content versus cannibalism in the story of Sodom in Genesis 19, and "ekporneuō" to convey sexual content in Jude v.7.


The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo (20 BC - 50 AD) described the inhabitants of Sodom in an extra biblical account:

"As men, being unable to bear discreetly a satiety of these things, get restive like cattle, and become stiff-necked, and discard the laws of nature, pursuing a great and intemperate indulgence of gluttony, and drinking, and unlawful connections; for not only did they go mad after other women, and defile the marriage bed of others, but also those who were men lusted after one another, doing unseemly things, and not regarding or respecting their common nature, and though eager for children, they were convicted by having only an abortive offspring; but the conviction produced no advantage, since they were overcome by violent desire; and so by degrees, the men became accustomed to be treated like women, and in this way engendered among themselves the disease of females, and intolerable evil; for they not only, as to effeminacy and delicacy, became like women in their persons, but they also made their souls most ignoble, corrupting in this way the whole race of men, as far as depended on them" (133-35; ET Jonge 422-23).[18]


The Jewish historian Josephus used the term “Sodomites” in summarizing the Genesis narrative: “About this time the Sodomites grew proud, on account of their riches and great wealth; they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God, in so much that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from him: they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices” "Now when the Sodomites saw the young men to be of beautiful countenances, and this to an extraordinary degree, and that they took up their lodgings with Lot, they resolved themselves to enjoy these beautiful boys by force and violence; and when Lot exhorted them to sobriety, and not to offer any thing immodest to the strangers, but to have regard to their lodging in his house; and promised that if their inclinations could not be governed, he would expose his daughters to their lust, instead of these strangers; neither thus were they made ashamed." (Antiquities 1.11.1,3 [2] — circa A.D. 96). His assessment goes beyond the Biblical data, though it is seen by conservatives as defining what manner of fornication (Jude 1:7) Sodom was given to.

Islamic views

The Qur'an makes a more explicit scriptural connection between homosexual aggression and Sodom. The city name ‘Sodom’ does not appear there, but the Sodomites are referred to as “the people of Lut (Lot).” Lot is the nephew of the Hebrew/Arabic patriarch Abraham and, in the Judaic Sodom stories, is head of the only family allowed by God to survive Sodom's destruction. In the Qur'an, he is also the divinely appointed national prophet to his people. Since their national name was unrecorded and “people of Lot” was the only available designation, the Islamic equivalent of ‘sodomy’ has become ‘liwat,’ which could be roughly translated as “lottishness” (see Homosexuality and Islam), and to this day the term لوطي lūṭiy (literally meaning "of Lot's people") is used as a highly-derogatory and religiously-charged term for gay men in Arabic.

According to Islamic view, homosexuality is not a natural activity and it was initiated under the influence of Satan among the people who dwelled in Sodom and Gomorrah. In order that they should abandon this immorality, Allah had sent to them Lut as a Prophet. The Qur'an relates,

'We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds".' - Quran 7:80-81

Medieval Christianity on sodomy

File:Dante sodom.jpg

Dante and Virgil interview the sodomites, from Guido da Pisa's commentary on the Commedia, c. 1345

Justinian I and Byzantine power politics of late antiquity

The primarily sexual meaning of the word sodomia for Christians did not evolve before the 6th century AD. Roman Emperor Justinian I, in his novels no. 77 (dating 538) and no. 141 (dating 559) amended to his Corpus iuris civilis, and declared that Sodom's sin had been specifically same-sex activities and desire for them. He also linked "famines, earthquakes, and pestilences" upon cities as being due to "such crimes",[19] during a time of recent earthquakes and other disasters (see Extreme weather events of 535–536). It is understood by some[who?] that he was able to use the anti-homosexual laws he enacted upon personal as well as political opponents in case he could not prove them guilty of anything else.[citation needed]

Justinian's were not the first Roman laws prohibiting homosexual behavior. Earlier such measures had been included in the Lex Scantinia dating from 149 BC and the Lex Julia dating from 17 BC, both constituting the death penalty for homosexual behavior. Allegations exist that even before Lex Scantinia such laws existed, but direct evidence of these laws has been lost.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26] While adhering to the death penalty by beheading as punishment for homosexuality or adultery, Justinian's legal novels heralded a change in Roman legal paradigm in that he introduced a concept of not only mundane but also divine punishment for homosexual behavior. Individuals might ignore and escape mundane laws, but they could not do the same with divine laws, if Justinian declared his novels to be such.

Christians earlier than Justinian are also seen to denounce same-sex relations. St. John Chrysostom in the 4th century regarded such as worse than murder in his fourth homily on Romans 1:26-27 [3], while Paul the Apostle in the Epistle to the Romans referred to same sex relations as "shameful lust" and which acts were contrary to nature, with men suffering a "due penalty" in their bodies. Just like the Jews, early Christians prior to Justinian I are not known to have used the word sodomia for the carnal sin they abhorred, though Philo of Alexandria (20 BC - 50 AD)[27] and Methodius of Olympus (AD 260-312)[28] attributed homosexual relations to Sodom, as may have Josephus, (AD 37 – c. 100)[29][30] Augustine of Hippo, (AD 354-430)[31] and certain pseudepigraphacal texts.[32][33][34]

Benedictus Levita and the Pseudo-Isidore

Justinian's interpretation of the story of Sodom may have been forgotten today (as some hold it had been, along with his law novellizations regarding homosexual behavior immediately after his death) had it not been made use of in fake Charlemagnian capitularies, fabricated by a Frankish monk using the pseudonym Benedictus Levita ("Benedict the Levite") around 850 AD, as part of the Pseudo-Isidore. Benedict's three capitularies particularly dealing with Justinian's interpretation of the story of Sodom were:

  • XXI. De diversis malorum flagitiis. ("No. 21: On manifold disgraceful wrongs")
  • CXLIII. De sceleribus nefandis ob quae regna percussa sunt, ut penitus caveantur. ("No. 143: On sinful vices due to which empires have crumbled, so that we shall do our best to beware of them")
  • CLX. De patratoribus diversorum malorum. ("No. 160: On the perpetrators of manifold evil deeds")

It was in these fake capitularies where Benedictus utilized Justinian's interpretation as a justification for ecclesiastical supremacy over mundane institutions, thereby demanding burning at the stake for carnal sins in the name of Charlemagne himself. Burning had been part of the standard penalty for homosexual behavior particularly common in Germanic protohistory (as according to Germanic folklore, sexual deviance and especially same-sex desire were caused by a form of malevolence or spiritual evil called nith, rendering those people characterized by it as non-human fiends, as nithings), and Benedictus most probably was of the Germanic tribe of the Franks.

Benedict broadened the meaning for sodomy to all sexual acts not related to procreation that were therefore deemed counter nature (so for instance, even solitary masturbation and anal intercourse between a male and a female were covered), while among these he still emphasized all interpersonal acts not taking place between human men and women, especially homosexuality.

Benedict's rationale was that the punishment of such acts was in order to protect all Christianity from divine punishments such as natural disasters for carnal sins committed by individuals, but also for heresy, superstition and heathenry. According to Benedictus, this was why all mundane institutions had to be subjected to ecclesiastical power in order to prevent moral as well as religious laxity causing divine wrath.[citation needed]

Medieval Inquisition, hereticism, and witchcraft

For delaying reasons described in the article Pseudo-Isidore, but also because his crucial demands for capital punishment had been so unheard of in ecclesiastical history priorly based upon the humane Christian concept of forgiveness and mercy, it took several centuries before Benedict's demands for legal reform began to take tangible shape within larger ecclesiastical initiatives.

This came about with the Medieval Inquisition in 1184. The sects of Cathars and Waldensians were a common target, and these heretics were not only persecuted for alleged satanism but were increasingly accused of fornication and sodomy. In 1307, accusations of sodomy and homosexuality were major charges levelled during the Trial of the Knights Templar. Some of these charges were specifically directed at the Grand Master of the order, Jacques de Molay.[35] It is this event, which led into the medieval and early-modern witch hunts that were also largely connoted with sodomy.[36]

Persecution of Cathars and the Bogomiles sect in Bulgaria led to the use of a term closely related to sodomy: buggery derives from French bouggerie, meaning "of Bulgaria".[37]

The association of sodomy with hereticism, satanism, and witchcraft was supported by the Inquisition trials. The resulting infamy of sodomy motivated a continuing discrimination and persecution of homosexuals and sexual deviants in general long after the Medieval period had ended.[citation needed]

Sodomy in Europe since the Age of Reason

From the 17th century philosophy onwards, Justinian's claim, that sexual sins, if not persecuted, yield epidemics, natural disasters, and that downfall of the state, found a fruitful reception in pseudo-scientific ideologies of alleged pathology (such as in the popular concept of moral insanity) and mental as well as social and political consequences of sexual deviance.

Examination of trials for rape and sodomy during the 18th century at the Old Bailey in London show the treatment of rape to have been lenient, while the treatment of sodomy to have been generally severe. From the 1780s the number of cases grew, and sodomy was made a capital crime. Blackmail for sodomy also increased.

In France in the 18th century, sodomy was still theoretically a capital crime, and there are a handful of cases where sodomites were executed. However, in several of these, other crimes were involved as well (for instance, one man, Pascal, had supposedly murdered a man who resisted his advances). Records from the Bastille and the police lieutenant d'Argenson, as well as other sources, show that many who were arrested were exiled, sent to a regiment, or imprisoned in places (generally the Hospital) associated with moral crimes such as prostitution. Of these, a number were involved in prostitution or had approached children, or otherwise gone beyond merely having homosexual relations. Ravaisson (a 19th century writer who edited the Bastille records) suggested that the authorities preferred to handle these cases discreetly, lest public punishments in effect publicize "this vice".

Periodicals of the time sometimes casually named known sodomites, and at one point even suggested that sodomy was increasingly popular. This does not imply that sodomites necessarily lived in security - specific police agents, for instance, watched the Tuileries, even then a known cruising area. But, as with much sexual behaviour under the Old Regime, discretion was a key concern on all sides (especially since members of prominent families were sometimes implicated) - the law seemed most concerned with those who were the least discreet.

Between 1730 and 1733, the Netherlands experienced a sodomy hysteria, in which 276 men were executed.

Modern Christian views

The traditional interpretation sees the primary sin of Sodom as being homoerotic sexual acts,[38][39] connecting the Sodom narrative with Leviticus 18, which lists various sexual crimes, which, according to verses 27 and 28, would result in the land being “defiled”:

for the inhabitants of the land, who were before you, committed all of these abominations, and the land became defiled; otherwise the land will vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.

Some scholars, such as Per-Axel Sverker, align this passage with the traditional interpretation, claiming that the word abomination refers to sexual misconduct, and that while homoerotic acts were not the only reason Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned, it was a significant part of the picture.

Others, the earliest of whom was Derrick Sherwin Bailey, claim that this passage contradicts the traditional interpretation altogether. In their view the sins of Sodom were related more to violation of hospitality laws than sexual sins.[40]

The primary word in contention is the Hebrew word yâda‛ used for know in the Old Testament. Biblical scholars disagree on what "know" in this instance refers to, but most of conservative Christianity interprets it to mean "sexual intercourse",[41][42] while the opposing position interprets it to mean "interrogate."[43] Lot's offering of his two virgins has been interpreted to mean that Lot is offering a compromise to assure the crowd that the two men have no untoward intentions in town, or that he is offering his virgins as a substitute for the men to "know" by sexual intercourse.

Those who oppose the interpretation of sexual intent toward Lot's guests point out that there are over 930 occurrences of the Hebrew word (yâda‛) for "know" in the Old Testament, and its use to denote sexual intercourse only occurs about a dozen times, and in the Septuagint it is not rendered sexually. Countering this is the argument that most of the uses of yâda‛ denoting sex is in Genesis,[44] (including once for premarital sex: Genesis 38:26), and in verse 8 sex the obvious meaning. Its use in the parallel story in Judges 19 is also invoked in support of this meaning,[45][46] with it otherwise providing the only instance of "knowing" someone by violence.

Sodomy laws in the United States

From the earliest times in the United States, sodomy (variously defined) was prohibited, although some historians suggest that early sodomy laws were mainly used to address issues of non-consensual behavior, or public behavior. The earliest known United States law journal article dealing with sodomy was in 1905 in West Virginia. Attorney E.D. Leach argued that "perverted sexual natures" were related to crime. "Sodomy, rape, lust-murder, bodily injury, theft, robbery, torture of animals, injury to property and many other crimes may be committed under these conditions." 18th and 19th century judges often editorialized about the act of sodomy as they handed down their rulings. "That most detestable sin", the "horrid act", "the horrible crime", "that which is unfit to be named among Christians" characterized some of the language used by British and American jurists when punishing sodomites. Emphasis is usually on the notion that the act of anal penetration is so offensive "to God almighty" that the term Sodomy (literally, that which occurred in Sodom) is the only appropriate way of designating the activity. In other words, it was understood that when reference was made to "an unspeakable act" having occurred, it was clear that the act in question was none other than anal penetration. Some say, however, that the "Sin of Sodom" accurately referred not to anal penetration but rather to the agglomeration of ALL the unholy activities said to have occurred in Sodom and that it is thus inaccurate to imply a one-to-one relationship.

In the 1950s, all states had some form of law criminalizing sodomy, and in 1986 the United States Supreme Court ruled that nothing in the United States Constitution bars a state from prohibiting sodomy. However, state legislators and state courts had started to repeal or overturn their sodomy laws, beginning with Illinois in 1961, and thus in 2003, only 10 states had laws prohibiting all sodomy, with penalties ranging from 1 to 15 years imprisonment. Additionally, four other states had laws that specifically prohibited same-sex sodomy. That year the United States Supreme Court reversed its 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick ruling and in Lawrence v. Texas, invalidated these laws as being an unconstitutional violation of privacy, with Sandra Day O'Connor's concurring opinion arguing that they violated equal protection. See Sodomy law.

In the U.S. military, the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled that the Lawrence v. Texas decision applies to Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the statute banning sodomy. In both United States v. Stirewalt and United States v. Marcum, the court ruled that the "conduct falls within the liberty interest identified by the Supreme Court."[47] However, the court went on to say that despite Lawrence's application to the military, Article 125 can still be upheld in cases where there are "factors unique to the military environment" which would place the conduct "outside any protected liberty interest recognized in Lawrence."[48] Examples of such factors could be fraternization, public sexual behavior, or any other factors that would adversely affect good order and discipline.

United States v. Meno and United States v. Bullock are two known cases in which consensual sodomy convictions have been overturned in military courts under the Lawrence precedent.[49]

Other languages

In French, the word “sodomie” (verb "sodomiser"), and in Spanish, the word “sodomía” (verb sodomizar), is used exclusively for anal penetration.

In modern German, the word “Sodomie” has no connotation of anal or oral sex, and refers specifically to bestiality. (See Paragraph 175 StGB, version of June 28, 1935.) The same goes for the Norwegian word “sodomi” and the Polish "sodomia".

Popular use

  • The word "sod", a noun or verb (to "sod off") used as an insult, derives from sodomite.[50][51] It is a general-purpose insult term for anyone the speaker dislikes or despises, without specific reference to their sexual behaviour. Sod is used as slang in the UK and Commonwealth and is mildly offensive.

See also


  1. Sullivan, Andrew (2003-03-24). "Unnatural Law". The New Republic. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  2. Koerner, Brendan (2002-12-10). "What is sodomy". Slate. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
  3. sodomy laws
  4. e.g. New York State Penal Law, Article 130, "Deviant Sexual Intercourse". The definition in this particular instance is as follows- "Deviant sexual intercourse means sexual conduct between persons not married to each other consisting of contact between the penis and the anus, the mouth and the penis or the mouth and the vulva".[1].
  5. Lawrence v. Texas in which The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that sodomy laws are unconstitutional on June 26, 2003
  6. [Sodomy Laws around the World]
  7. Oxford English Dictionary: Buggery- "2.Sodomy. Also Bestiality."
  8. Anderson, Ray Sherman (2001), The shape of practical theology: empowering ministry with theological praxis, InterVarsity Press, p. 267, ISBN 9780830815593,
  9. Jewett, Paul; Shuster, Marguerite (1996), Who we are: our dignity as human : a neo-evangelical theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, p. 296, ISBN 9780802840752,
  10. The Inhospitable Sodomites
  11. Tzedakah Activists vs. Sodomites, Shema Yisrael Torah Network
  12. Boswell, p. 97
  13. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible
  14. Vincent's Word Studies
  15. Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown
  16. Word pictures in the New Testament, Archibald Thomas Robertson
  17. Gill, Gn. 19
  18. The works of Philo a contemporary of Josephius Page 528
  19. trans. in Derrick Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, (London: Longmans, Green, 1955), 73-74
  21. Article on struprum cum mastulo by W. Kroll in Pauly-Wissowa (ed.), Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, 1921
  22. On supplicium fustuarium, public beating to death for same-sex behavior in Rome long before Lex scantinia, see Polybios, The Histories, volume VI, chapter 37
  23. See article Päderastie by M. H. E. Meier in Ersch & Gruber (eds.), Allgemeine Encyclopädie der Wissenschaften und Künste
  24. Theodor Mommsen, Römisches Strafrecht, 1899, p. 703f (in English as Roman Criminal Law)
  25. Wilhelm Rein, Das Criminalrecht der Römer von Romulus bis auf Justinianus ("Roman Criminal Law from Romulus up to Justinian I"), 1844, p. 864
  26. Gisela Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, Tabu Homosexualität - Die Geschichte eines Vorurteils ("The taboo of homosexuality: The history of a prejudice"), 1978, p. 187
  27. Jewish philosopher, Writing on the life of Abraham
  28. Commentary on the sin of Sodom
  29. Antiquities 1.11.1
  30. 33-34; ET Jonge 422-23; The Sodom tradition in Romans Biblical Theology Bulletin, Spring, 2004 by Philip F. Esler
  31. Confessions. Commenting on the story of Sodom from Genesis 19
  32. Testament of Benjamin; Concerning a Pure Mind, 9:1
  33. Testament of Naphtali, 3.5
  34. Book of the Secrets of Enoch (Slavonic Apocalypse of) 10:4; in J recension Ch. I.118 (late 1st cent. AD)
  35. G. Legman "The Guilt of the Templars" (New York: Basic Books, 1966): 11.
  36. Encyclopedia Britannica 11th ed. "Knights Templar"
  37. Oxford English Dictionary
  38. Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, pp. 73-74
  39. Gagnon, Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice, pp. 46-50
  40. Derrick Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (Hamden: Conn.: Archon, 1975 reprint from 1955), 4-5
  41. Greg Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1978), p. 32.
  42. A Reformed Response to Daniel Helminiak's Gay Theology, by Derrick K. Olliff and Dewey H. Hodges
  43. John J. McNeil, the Church and the Homosexual, p. 50
  44. Homosexuality and the Old Testament, P. Michael Ukleja
  45. Sodom—Inhospitality or Homosexuality?, by Dave Miller, Ph.D., Apologetics Press
  46. Dr. James B. DeYoung, Homosexuality, pp. 118-122
  47. U.S. v. Stirewalt
  48. U.S. v. Marcum
  49. United States v. Meno, United States Court of Criminal Appeals
  50. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. Main Entry: sod[3,noun]. "Etymology: short for sodomite. Date: 1818."]
  51. sod2 Compact Oxford English Dictionary, "ORIGIN abbreviation of SODOMITE." June 23, 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-861022-9

Further reading

  • Robert Purks Maccubbin (Ed.), 'Tis Nature's Fault: Unauthorized Sexuality During the Enlightenment (Cambridge University Press, 1988)
  • Mark D. Jordan, The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).
  • Richard B. Hays (2004), The Moral Vision of the New Testament (London: Continuum). pg. 381
  • John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (University Of Chicago Press; 8th Edition. edition, 2005).
  • Louis Crompton, Homosexuality and Civilization (Belknap Press, 2003)

External links

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