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Visions of SodomReligion, Homoerotic Desire, and the End of the World in England, c. 1550-1850$
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H. G. Cocks

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226438665

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226438832.001.0001

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Lust and Morality in the (Long) Eighteenth Century

Lust and Morality in the (Long) Eighteenth Century

(p.168) Chapter Six Lust and Morality in the (Long) Eighteenth Century
Visions of Sodom

H. G. Cocks

University of Chicago Press

The gradual rejection of attempts to enforce religious conformity by force in the late-seventeenth century undermined the idea that immorality (including unnatural lust) was mainly caused by false religion. In place of that theory Anglican bishops and pastoral writers began to argue that although atheism might lead one towards libertinism, homoerotic acts inhered in the very nature of sexual desire itself and its tendency towards excess. This represented a fundamental shift in the understanding of homoeroticism away from the prophetic, providential, and apocalyptic thought of an earlier era. A new notion also emerged out of the civic republican political tradition, that effeminacy and sodomy resulted from the corruption of virtue through luxury. However, earlier notions that connected homoerotic behaviour with popery, the Antichrist, and divine punishments such as as those inflicted on Sodom continued to have power in the eighteenth century. There were several ways of interpreting homoerotic acts and desires in this period, but the dominant ones emerged from the Anglican pastoral and Latitudinarian tradition. Those thinkers reimagined homoerotic lust as inherent to the nature of sexual desire itself.

Keywords:   Anglican Church, Restoration, William III, Latitudinarians

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