During 15th and 16th century Italy, prostitution was legal. It was regulated and often the only profession afforded a woman who either lost her husband or was too poor to marry a good man. Sixteenth century courtesans were allowed to read and write. They were the only women allowed inside libraries as they were expected to be able to converse with the men whom they entertained. It was common practice for married aristocrats to lavish as much money or gifts onto their courtesans as they did their own wives. Ironically, wives stayed home. They did needlepoint and birthed legitimate children that they often did not raise themselves. They looked upon reading or writing as strictly male oriented tasks and were discouraged from participating in political or even socio-economic discussions with the men of the household. Marriages that were arranged for political or social advancements came with the stipulation that the consummation could be observed. Yes. Observed. Often times a bride and/or groom were young, sometimes still within their teen years. Imagine having your staff, your parents, priests or cardinals, and various heads of state hanging out at the foot of the bed waiting to see if you could "complete the task". Heaven forbid if she didn't bleed.
|Veronica Franco ~1546-1591 Venetian Courtesan|
Once the marriage bed was made "legal"...as consummation was the final act in sealing a marriage contract...husband went on to tend to his own business. If his business kept him from his villa for months on end, a courtesan he would take. Now mind you at this same time, sodomites (as they were called) were tried and convicted as an abomination. From social households to monasteries, there were gay men here and there throughout the known world. As long as it wasn't made horrifically public no one said much about it. But for those poor bastards who were caught...at best they were simply killed...at worst they were given the "Popes Pear". An horrific device that was inserted into their rectum and expanded until their intestine broke and they bled to death. A truly barbaric way to die. Women had a slightly different fate...they were either stoned to death or the Spanish Inquisition got a hold of them and burned them alive.
Why was it such an evil evil deed? Why was taking pleasure in the flesh of your own gender so attrocious that one deserved to be tortured to death? The religious reasoning comes from the burning of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Townsmen came to the door of a home where two angels were staying so they might "know" them. According to biblical scholars, "to know" someone meant to partake in a sexual act. The angels were protected and soon after God rained down fire and brimstone to destroy the city that had threatened the well being of his angels. We can only assume that the people there wanted this exchange for one of two reasons: control (rape) or a party. Sort of a "welcome to town ya'll!" type situation. We weren't there, all we can do is speculate.
The ideas of marriage and sex have gone hand in hand for decades. No marriage-to this day-is truly valid without the consummation. Look up your own states law in this regard. Better yet, look up under what grounds a divorce or annulment can be granted...I can almost promise a lack of consummation is listed.
So why is sex between a legitimately married man and woman so important? The quick and easy answer is children. I think a better question is, why is homosexual intercourse so dangerous? The theological reason is it cannot do what heterosexual intercourse was designed to do: produce legitimate heirs. Sex is for procreation not recreation, remember? From before the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, into the Victorian age, healthy children were hit or miss. One had to produce as many as possible to combat disease and low survival rate. Also, the world was not heavily populated, plagues ravaged the land and could take out thousands within weeks. Strong heirs were a necessity, both for the life of the general population and the continuation of the church at the time. The king who was crowned by the pope couldn't exactly conquer if he had no army with which to work.
Ok. Now lets open this vast can of worms.
I was sterilized at 26 while I was still married to my first husband. I had produced one strong female child and decided I was finished. According to the Catholic church (and subsequently every other Christian church) I should never have allowed such a procedure to happen. I should have left the number of children I would produce up to God. My own selfish wants as far as my life as a modern woman should have been forfeit. The reasons for multiple children born into a specific religious doctrine are simply to spread that particular doctrine. There are non-Catholic organizations who believe the original Holy Roman universal church is wrong in it's dogma and traditions. The Catholic church says the Protestants and non-Catholics are wrong in theirs. They all believe the Jews, the Muslims, and all manner of Eastern dogma are lost and should repent their ways and come to the light.
So. I am unable to produce heirs for my current husband. Am I am abomination? Is our marriage not valid because I can never prove consummation? What about those who are physically/medically unable to produce offspring? Are they an abomination? Should they be tortured and thrown into a crowd to be ripped apart for their inability to ever sexually prove their union? Are marriages among the different religions null and void because the religion itself is not based on Constantine's Holy Roman Church? Why do you think marriage became a government controlled contract? The base to our current governmental designs originate with the ancient theocracy of Rome. Somewhere over time, war decided that religion and politics don't mix.
Here we sit. North Americans. A country founded on freedom from religious tyranny. We were called a melting pot...accepting, willing, and basic in our rules of cohabitation. There is no nationally recognized faith path. There is no law in place that dictates the number of children a family can have. I realize this is a subject of contention for many people. I simply find it silly. We no longer need to populate a sparce region. We no longer need to produce 10 in hopes that 5 survive. We no longer need multiple offspring to prove our prowess as men or women. We no longer need to create an army. The days of Renaissance Europe are over. Every empire that has ever tried to control the world has been conquered.
Stop competing. Stop criminalizing (any/all) sex. Stop believing you are the only one who is right. With a world this populated and diverse...it's about time we have some sex for pleasure without fear of not being to care for the innocents who don't ask to be born into this travesty we call life.