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If fact, the short phrase "to commit heresy" can refer to illicit sexual intercourse between members of the same sex or between a person and an animal.10 What appears to modern commentators like Foucault as "an utterly confused category" was for many medieval intellectuals a set of associations based upon thematic similarities, foremost of which was a contempt for God and a resulting emersion in carnality.11 The interpretive filters that combine these seemingly disparate elements are easily missed by modern eyes.12 The modern categories of heterosexual and homosexual are ahistorical to the Middle Ages, and the logic of human morality and sex from the period follows lines different from common assumptions today. In these arguments, sexual deviants present a constant threat to children and the larger social body.119 The logic behind some of these efforts, just as the logic behind medieval persecutions for heresy, maintains that homosexual conduct can spread like a disease and indeed does spread a disease in the form of HIV/AIDS, which modern religious authorities continue to relate to the biblical model of leprosy and how leprosy has been used historically within Christian theology.120 Central to these different pieces of legislation is an attempt to secure the integrity of discrete social bodies based upon the sexual and intellectual activities associated with members' individual bodies.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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