However, the church was an incredibly powerful force in those days, and it gives you an idea of what behaviour would have been seen as acceptable or unacceptable. Thank you so much for the time to answer. It seem surreal that sexuality was treated in such a way. Was this for common people or more geared towards the gentry? The reason I ask is that you mentioned a wife accommodating her husband due to his obesity.
I'm familiar with the missionary-only rule for married couples--in addition to complicated rules on when one can and cannot have sex due to feast days, holy days, and other prescribed times relating to religion and whether women are menstruating. I'm not familiar with this being a rule for prostitutes, since that decidedly falls within sinful territory. I'll see if I can find that and scan it in soon. I'm just starting a PhD program in medieval English literature this fall, and the thought of finishing chapters is daunting, at the very least, at this moment.
Not sure if this chart is the same one, but it's definitely entertaining more information about the chart from The History Blog. Everything kinda makes sense, except being married for three days. Does anyone know why were the marriage could not be consummated on their wedding night, and how widespread this restriction was? Why the hell can't you have sex while naked?
What did they wear during sex? Also with all these restrictions how many days of the year does this leave where people can have sex? I didn't know if she made it or got it from somewhere else. I know I have it in a folder in my study, but after two moves across the country, things get jostled around. Is this the one? What the reasoning behind Wednesdays and Fridays? I understand Sundays, but the others just seem arbitrary not that a lot of the others DON'T, but this just stood out for me. Wensday is the day Jesus was betrayed by Judas and Friday is the day he was crucified.
On christian tradition they are days of mourning and fasting. Nope, because the chart is a diagram made up of all the possible prohibitions from a large selection of source material - it's meant to be an exaggerated depiction of medieval ambivalence about sex.
I think a lot of medieval people would have found it ridiculous too. That chart is awesome. Seems like not many with so many days of the week verboten. It's definitely an entertaining read, at the very least, and it highlights the extremely prescriptive restrictions on sex and propriety in the Middle Ages, even in marriage.
Was having sex during, say, Lent considered to be a venial sin or a mortal sin? What variation was there from place to place or time period to time period? I don't really know anything about law in the MA, but Augustine and Aquinas differed on some pretty important points about sexual morality - including whether sex was always at least venially sinful.
But I have no clue how much the views of theologians would have filtered down to the confessionals. The thing about this chart is that it's not a realistic breakdown of the medieval Church's view of sex Brundage says this too. So the chart's a cool teaching tool but it's not "the" medieval Church's position on sex, which changed across the period, depended on whom you asked etc.
Venial vs mortal depends on the two criteria you mentioned, but also on the objective gravity if the act. So, for instance, I believe Aquinas says that gluttony is objectively venial - even if you did it with full knowledge and intent, it wouldn't be mortal.
Did prostitutes and their clients really care about sin? Wouldn't a married man be sinning by seeing a prostitute? Wouldn't the prostitute be sinning by prostitution? Yep, I think they probably did care about sin - Christianity was absolutely dominant in medieval culture and people would have been conscious of the health of their soul. In the milieu of prostitution, we know a little bit about prostitutes' personal devotion from some towns where they contributed candles to be burned in church.
They were also supposed to attend church regularly and sometimes had special parts of the building where they could sit. There's also quite a well-known incident from Paris I forget which century in which the city's prostitutes tried to donate money for a new stained glass window, though they were refused by the bishop.
Yes, a married man would be sinning by visiting a prostitute. And prostitutes themselves were sinning, but the Church sometimes saw individual prostitutes as victims of their circumstances, and they could be received back into the fold if they gave up their occupation - Mary Magdalene is thought to have been a prostitute, and was one of the most popular saints of the later Middle Ages, partly because she was such a powerful symbol of redemption.
But prostitute sex is out of wedlock, which in the Gospels Jesus denounces about a hundred times more frequently than sex outside of conception-based acts.
It's true, and sex with prostitutes was also considered sinful. The medieval Church took a very ambivalent view of prostitution and basically tolerated it as a necessary evil to prevent horny young men corrupting society, though individual prostitutes were encouraged to give up their profession. Didn't the Catholic Church own brothels in the later portions of the middle ages through the early Renaissance? Kind of, in that the Church probably owned a lot of buildings in which prostitution took place, but it's not like you've got priests and monks running brothels and pimping women though a lot of them were brothel customers Were Priests and Monks found frequenting brothels punished better or worse than if they were found with a secret de facto Wife?
It's been a while since I cracked a Bible so maybe I'm forgetting something, but as I recall, Jesus doesn't condemn either sex outside of wedlock or sex for purposes other than conception. There's some condemnation of adultery and prostitution, and it's implicit that women, at least, were supposed to be virgins before marriage, but the Bible not even just the Gospels doesn't have much to say on premarital sex for men.
I think Jesus didn't outright condemn sex outside of marriage because the audience he was preaching to was generally made up of practicing Jews who already believed very strongly that it was a sin. It is mentioned in several places in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is equally strict on men and woman, if not more strict on men. If a man and a woman had sex outside of marriage out in the country with no one around, only the man is held responsible because he may have raped her but no one was around to hear her scream for help source.
Jesus himself does not talk about sex much, and only really obliquely when talking about marriage generally, but he did also do a hell of a lot of things that would have profoundly scandalized his audience - particularly interacting with women who were clearly prostitutes in an intimate way.
You'll find a lot more in the Pauline epistles. Now porneia has always been translated into Latin as fornication, while being understood by many conservatives to just be a 1: However, Porneia in post-classical Corinthian Greek did not mean generic sexual sin, or sex outside of marriage, at all and neither did fornication in actual Latin.
The word porneia as Greeks actually used it was related to the verb to sell, and was only ever used in one context. This fundamental position on sex, that it is something that even could, much less must, be divorced from exploitation was profoundly radical and novel for the time - even if it is hard to see today being the water we swim in.
It makes sense that Paul was so concerned about sex because it was one of the most fucked up aspects of the world he lived in, and the scale on which it was fucked up is truly unimaginable to us modern readers of the historical records we have.
Indeed, the word porneia is one of the more thoroughly defined terms we have from the post-classical greek lexicon, as the ancient greeks were so legally concerned, as well as facetiously fascinated, with it; leaving us with pretty much zero doubt about what it meant to them.
To really understand it requires a little bit of context. Under the laws of Draco in ancient Greece, where we get the term draconian today, any man who caught another man having sex with his wife could legally kill that man with perfect immunity. That is, in addition to being able to just get some friends together and safely jump him while he was taking a shit Pulp Fiction style, the cuckold could also capture the adulterer and inflict whatever tortures he imagined so long as he didn't use a knife.
In practice this usually resulted in the aggrieved man extracting exorbitant amounts of money from the adulterer in exchange for forfeiting that immunity, but it also formed the basis for some really fascinating trials. Its important to keep in mind what sexual immorality - porneia - meant for the society Paul was advising his churches on how to live it. Before Paul, porneia was seen as a totally uncontroversial part of life, the systematic rape of the vulnerable that it represented was regulated by cities in the same way that roads were, as a lucrative public utility.
Price caps were established to protect 'consumers', pornoboskoi were given licenses to ensure quality 'product', and districts to operate in generally near docks or city gates to manage the noise and filth of the whole business. The 'trade' was also clearly not small, much less a small part of life in the world early Christianity was addressing.
It is also important to consider that every woman in that era had the threat of being sold into porneia hanging over her head, as women who lost the social status granted to them by a man for whatever reason could always be sold for 'scrap value. There are authors who describe, in detail that would make the vilest Pick-Up-Artist blush, how they would make it very clear to their partners that the pornoboskoi were always by the gate should they ever talk back or the sex get bad.
In the way Paul uses the word though, it does also pretty clearly have jargon meaning specific to the communities he was addressing in addition to the root concept that underpins it. However, this also only really makes a lot of sense in the context of the day. Examples of economically independent women who did not rely on sex work in the Roman world were very few and far between, and almost exclusively widows or only daughters still attached to dead men.
In the world that Paul was trying to change, the magnitude of male privilege was such that women were fundamentally unable to exist economically independent of men. Sex outside of the commitment of marriage really was functionally very much like porneia, and was a clear path to the real thing.
The Pauline model for marriage is about avoiding porneia and the laundry list of examples of things he gives as being just like it. Without Pauline marriage there was no protection from being used by a partner until old and discarded to the elements; Paul stipulated headship but also repeatedly and inescapably mandates that men place their wives before themselves, that apostasy and misconduct are the only appropriate reasons for divorce, and that women are no less than men before God.
The early church was flooded with women attracted by this radically feminist message that women were actually people with dignity that was inherent to them and needed to be respected by men. Even today porneia is by no means gone, in absolute numbers there are more women in sexual slavery today than there have ever been at any point in human history.
Here's a list of every New Testament verse using porneia. As can be seen, it occurs less than 10 times in the entire Pauline corpus. So saying that "Paul used the word over and over again in his Epistles" isn't totally accurate.
To take one example In any case, if we were to remove 1 Cor 5: Because if so, I think your definition of 'exploitation' here is way too broad. Even by overarching "modern ethical standards," the possibility of non-coercive, non-exploitative sex had been present in Greek ethical thought for quite some time - in Plato, Stoic ethics, etc.
Gaca, The Making of Fornication , esp. This doesn't mean that some of these thinkers didn't also justify other dubious, exploitative forms of sexuality. But some of these more egalitarian strains of thought certainly exercised influence on later thinkers, and 'popular culture' at large - despite whatever other unsavory practices were still going on.
And speaking of exploitation and prostitution: For example, Musonius Rufus and Dio Chrysostom follow a similar line. Here's a post on Dio Chrysostom's views on this, specifically vis-a-vis Paul. This is a pretty complex issue, but I really wish I had directly cited things in my answer but wrote it from memory away from my library, but if you are curious about specific things I'd be happy to provide proper citations for them.
There is a whole, and not especially googleable, world of talented academics who have spent their lives working through this kind of stuff - and post Classical Greek sex is a hot topic at the moment.
I can recommend some books,. The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens - by James Davidson is an awesome, interesting, and accessible - if sometimes almost comically erudite with really beautiful turns of phrase - introduction to Classical Greek sexuality that is well cited and at least makes a solid sporting effort at being academically neutral.
From your question you will probably also find its clear descriptions of pre-Christian reasons for why lust and unregulated sexuality were seen as sub-optimal in totally different, and fundamentally pretty fucking alien, ways interesting.
If reading about an ancient depiction of Socrates, attending one of the truly alarming number of symposia he was said to be present at, asking prying questions of a prominent hetaerae literally companion, but in this context describes someone who would accept gifts from friends who would then sometimes then be slept with but not in exchange for those gifts in Alexandria about exactly what the arrangement, if it could be hesitantly described as such, was interests you than this is your book.
Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient World google preview with essay titles is a well edited collection of scholarly essays on the topic from a variety of perspectives. Also Prostitution, Sexuality, and the Law in Ancient Rome for a more Roman centric perspective if thats what you're looking for. For a thorough discussion of human sexuality from a Christian perspective in a historical context Gagnon's The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics is now a classic that seems to get rediscovered on the internet on a roughly annual basis.
I would suggest the book Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church. While porneia might have been well defined to the Greeks as abject prostitution, in the New Testament Paul tends to use it as a catch-all term for sexual sin. There are only two verses in which they are actually elucidated - Jesus allows divorce in the case of porneia translated as adultery in Matthew, and Paul uses an example of porneia in 1 Corintians 7 5 of a guy sleeping with his father's new wife, which is also a form of adultery.
Over time the word porneia came to be translated as 'fornication', which came to mean premarital sex in today's culture, but as you say this is a bad translation, as in both cases shown above it cannot possibly be premarital sex.
Paul is clearly using the word in a way that was different than the community around him would have understood it but it makes a lot more sense for us to understand the term as a development from the wider communities' understanding rather than a development from later interpretations.
For example in Paul, and his buddy Sosthenes', first surviving epistle to the Church in Corinth, easily among the greatest 'y'all done fucked up' letters of all time, he upbraids the church in this famously debauched city 1 for sins he says are like porneia like the one you mentioned.
Specifically where in 1Cor5 a dude is fucking his dead father's wife its, possibly euphemistically, unclear if this means his mother. Indeed, none of the aspects that defined porneia to Athenian juries like sex in direct exchange for money, or more damningly the same available at fixed prices to all comers, are present here. However, if you keep in mind that this is a community of Jews trying to be Greek and Greeks trying to be Jews either bringing or aping Jewish community norms the instructions make a lot more sense in the context of exploitative prostitution.
This is a dude exploiting his dead father's wife for sex in exchange for the economic and social support he naturally owed her according to Jewish law. You are forgetting one absolutely major aspect of the linguistics at work here: The translators there made specific word choices that became standard for all later Hellenic Jews.
One must always look back through the Greek filter to the underlying Hebrew concepts, and what you end up is often not the general Greek meaning.
Or at least not only the general Greek meaning. In this case, pornia is translating very particular Hebrew words, which while literally meaning "prostitution" in Hebrew were used idiomatically as illicit sexual intercourse in general. There are reasons for why these words are translated as they are, by those who are absolutely the world's experts at this. Second guessing them is not ususally a good idea. So, my Hebrew is, well I was going to say rusty but non-existent might be more accurate, but i thought I'd expand a bit on this from what I got from hitting my references over the past half hour.
The Greek porneia translates the Hebrew zanah because zanah is the Hebrew word for "prostitution". But that is not its root meaning.
The basic meaning of the word seems to be "to stray". We can see from its use in the Tanakh, and even more clearly in the Talmud, how this word was used. It was seen as a lesser sin than ne'ifa adultery but was still one the Talmud deemed worthy of stoning. It was used for actual prostitution, but also for any sex outside of marriage that was not adultery.
Adultery was only in play of the woman was married, so zonah would be any sex outside of marriage where the woman is unmarried. Specifically where in  1Cor5 a dude is fucking his dead father's wife its, possibly euphemistically, unclear if this means his mother.
It was probably his stepmother, as Paul was echoing Levitical law on 'incest' here. It's also likely the father was still alive, as in his followup letter to the Corinthians whom, as you say were infamous in their time as libertines states that the injured party the father was still alive in 2 Cor 7. And that's my point. While porneia might have a very precise meaning to the Greeks, to Paul he uses it in a more general sort of way. And Jesus' use of adultery got translated as porneia as well.
To come back to the original point, it is clear that calling porneia 'pre-marital sex' in the modern context is entirely inaccurate. Poliochus and Philetaerus both wrote plays with the title Korinthiastes which translates as 'Whoremonger' see Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists, c, a and Plato used the term Korinthia kore Corinthian girl to mean prostitute in his Republic 3: There is little evidence that Corinth maintained this reputation.
Or whether it was even deserved. Some suggest it may have been Athenian propoganda. The new Corinth, or Colonia Laus Iulia Cointhiensis as the Roman's named it, was a very different city and founded on Roman values, which were much less "Corinthian" than the ancient greeks.
This all being said It was a massive port town and there were undoubtedly lots of prostitutes. Mis translated as adultery. The "adultery" interpretation is a modern one within the last few hundred years , while the traditional Christian interpretation--still retained by Catholics, and to a certain extent, Eastern Orthodox--has always been that it refers to premarital sexual relations. Which is the only gospel where Joseph is recorded as considering divorcing Mary.
Every other gospel that mentions remarriage after divorce makes a blanket statement with no exceptions. Matthew was striving to exonerate Joseph for considering divorce when he believed that Mary had sexual relations prior to marriage. Great post, however this interpretation is dubious. Jesus was responding to the Pharisees asking about a massive debate in Judaism in which one side allowed divorce for any reason, and the other side allowed it only in the case of adultery.
Therefore the traditional understanding is that he was agreeing with the second camp. I'd definitely have to argue against fornication not meaning premarital sex. Maybe in this passage he's only talking about prostitution, but that's still premarital sex. So is only prostitution wrong? Maybe if you only read one passage. Sex is the only sin that is committed against his own body. Which is a big then when a man and a woman get married. So having sex with someone that you are not married to is joining you to them, which is obviously not original design.
Anyone that is married can attest to this. He recommends staying single so that you can focus more on the Lord and personal walk with him. Then, says "but if you cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. But I still believe this points to no pre-marital sex being sexual immorality, since he was talking about it for the last two chapters and it's definitely within context. Also, since he's referring to the fact that you can be single and exercise self-control.
I would take self-control to mean control over your own body, i. There are plenty of other writings by Paul that address sex in the bible, but I recently read this so it was fresh on my mind and thought I would share. Only reason was because you said that "it cannot possibly be premarital sex. Also, the verse about a man with his father's wife is 1 Corinthians 5 verse 1. It says that man and wife are not supposed to deprive each other of sex except when devoting yourselves to prayer for a brief period of time: Both elucidated passages are in cases of adultery.
Adultery happens only if you are married technically, when sleeping with another man's wife , so it can't mean premarital sex. You can argue that as a catchall phrase it includes premarital sex, but it does not mean premarital sex.
Thank you for this post. I've always wondered what "sexual immorality" really meant, since in English it's so vague as to be practically useless. It's nice to have information about the original language and historical context.
Sorry, I know off topic, so please feel free to ignore. While Paul has sometimes traditionally been understood to be attacking homosexuality, we actually have very little idea of what he is talking about. Really the strongest case I think is for men who are trafficked in temple prostitution as the Septuagint an ancient, pre-Christian translation of the Old Testament into Greek made between the 3rd and 1st century BCE translated the Hebrew "quadesh" in I Kings The idea that it means men who take an active position in gay sex is kind of a non-sequitor to what little we know about the word, and comes from an awfully aggressive translation of malakos, which appears next to it.
Malakos has a lot of meanings, when referring to clothing it connotes thin or fine, and when referring to people it has variously meant pliable, weak willed, or without conviction and is usually used in reference to women. Many newer bibles took this to mean all gay fuckers as well as all gay fuckees, but this is pretty much a non-sequitor to what we do know about the two words. Well, we do have the context of it being a neologism that was clearly coined on the basis of LXX Leviticus - which I've argued before may actually point us in a particular direction in interpreting it.
The problem is that nowhere else does this refer to anything like sex. One suggested solution is that somewhere along the line, the underlying Hebrew word was not understood as qadesh at all which is itself a quite problematic term , but instead as qesher , which means 'conspiracy' - literally, a 'binding together'.
Many newer bibles took [malakos] to mean all gay fuckers as well as all gay fuckees, but this is pretty much a non-sequitor to what we do know about the two words. However I'm afraid to say that it did not specifically address OP's question though it does seem to imply "they didn't.
There are other posters who have directly answered the original question far more authoritatively than I can, but there is something I can contribute that I haven't seen so far. Archeologists are regularly turning up piles of infant skeletons in Greek and Roman brothels suggesting that infanticide was at least part of a collection of ways that pimps dealt with this particular logical consequence of commercial sex before the pill.
While it seems inhumanly grisly today, outside of Jewish as well as later Christian writers, it would have been totally uncontroversial. In Greece and ancient Rome a child was virtually its father's chattel, in Roman law, the Patria Protestas granted the father the right to dispose of his offspring as he saw fit.
Of course, deformed was broadly construed and often meant no more than the baby appeared "weakly. Cicero defended infanticide by referring to the Twelve Tables. Plato and Aristotle recommended infanticide as legitimate state policy.
By Darren Boyle for MailOnline. From famous outlaws to inspiration for Gone With The Wind, these are the notorious prostitutes and madams who ruled the men of the wild west. Prostitutes - or 'soiled doves' and 'sportin' women' as they were commonly known - were a fixture in western towns and cities. Almost without exception, pioneer mining camps, boomtowns and whistles-stops became home to at least one or two hookers - if not a roaring red light district.
And these fascinating images taken in the 19th century show some of the most famous scarlet women of the time - who would go on to become millionaires, national heroes and outlaws. Mary Katharine Haroney, or better known as Big Nose Kate, pictured left in the s and right around , was originally from Hungary and travelled to Kansas at age sixteen. Whilst working as a prostitute in Fort Griffin, Texas, she began a relationship with one of the deadliest gunslingers Doc Holliday - which lasted until his death.
Molly Hall arrived in New York in from Dublin Ireland, unable to find work, she headed west and ended up working as a prostitute under the name Molly Burdan in the mining community of Murray, Idaho - and was known for her colorful language. Mattie Blaylock, a prostitute who became the romantic companion and common-law wife of Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp for about eight years although Wyatt's common-law wife Josephine wanted to keep her role in his life secret.
Belle Brezing in her private parlour in her third and most famous bordello in Lexington, Kentucky. Brezing occupied the house until her death in Prostitution contributed heavily to town economies in the way of business licenses, fees and fines.
A number of red light districts evolved into the social centres of their communities. Although prostitution was largely illegal, brothels were no secret in the old west.
Visitors could easily find disorderly houses by merely opening up the local or statewide directories, such as the Travelers' Guide of Colorado. This page manual helped the interested client decide which brothel was right for him. As the industry grew, so did the number of women who approached prostitution as a business profession.
Prostitution was a dangerous profession, with many dying from childbirth or from venereal disease. But some women rose to become extremely wealthy, famous and respectable citizens in their own right - by becoming madams of their own brothels. As one of the best-known madams in the west Mattie Silks, of Denver, Colorado said, 'I went into the sporting life for business reasons and for no other.
It was a way for a woman in those days to make money, and I made it. Martha Jane Burke, better known as Calamity Jane, a famous American frontierswoman, pictured here in men's clothing, Much of what she claimed to have witnessed, or participated in, cannot be proved.
It is known she was illiterate, an itinerant alcoholic and occasional prostitute. Belle Brezing from Lexington, Kentucky was so renowned she is said to have been the model for Belle Watling in the classic novel, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, pictured left as a young prostitute and right as a Madame.
Whilst other 'soiled doves' met some of the most famed outlaws of the day through the brothels - and made their own mark on history. Fannie Porter's luxurious brothel in San Antonio, Texas was a popular haunt of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch - the most successful train-robbing gang in history.
And prostitute Laura Bullion even became a member of the Wild Bunch gang - supporting them by stealing stolen goods during their train robberies.
Martha Jane Burke, better known as Calamity Jane, a famous American frontierswoman, pictured here visting 'Wild Bill' Hickok's grave in Deadwood, Dakota territory, sometime in the s. Meanwhile, Texan prostitute 'Big Nose Kate' married one of the West's deadliest gunslingers Doc Holliday - and even broke him out of jail in by starting a fire and pulling a gun on the prison guard.
Being a Madam required a great deal of skill. As well as monitoring the cleanliness of the brothel and providing training, cosmetics and clothes, large focus for madams was keeping their business transactions discreet and staying on the good side of the law.
They did so by contributing money to charitable organizations, schools, and churches. Until the early twentieth century, madams predominately ran the brothels, after which male pimps took over, and the treatment of the women generally declined. Mattie Silks became on the best known madams in the west, having brothels in Dodge City, Kansas and Denver, Colorado where demand for women was high due to the gold rushes. Mattie was a competitive businesswoman and engaged in a public duel with rival madam Kate Fulton when she opened another brothel on her patch.
Mattie married at least twice and also kept a lover. She had a reputation for excellent service in her establishments and was known for sheltering the needy and homeless in her brothels. Belle Brezing was a nationally-known madam in Lexington, Kentucky - and started her first brothel in the former residence of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.
Belle catered to powerful men from Lexington and beyond, men who came to the city because of the horse business and tobacco.