Puritan Christians in North America punished Adultery Fornication and Homosexuality with Death if there were Witnesses and punished Fornication in Public my question is why do Christians try to say Islam is a bad religion for punishing these things when Christians in the past did punish these before the idea of separation of church and state and secular laws took over the West and other Christian Nations ?
Puritan Society Laws
By Katy Willis, eHow Contributor
The Puritan movement began to gather momentum in the 1600s, first in England, basing much of their legal and belief systems on Calvinism, which took hold in parts of Europe such as Geneva, and was a fundamentalist Christian movement. Many British Puritans moved to America, with the largest numbers settling in the New England region. Puritanism was a Christian movement that sought major reforms within the Christian church, wanting to rid both Catholicism and Protestantism of extravagance and ceremony, and wanting all aspects of life, including the government and the economy, to submit to the teachings of the Bible.
Read more: Puritan Society Laws | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6868681_pur...#ixzz1ktpmAZdD
Puritans believed the human body and condition to be unclean, unholy and depraved. No pleasure was to be taken from sexual relations. Sex was merely a means of reproducing. Spouses displaying affection toward one another was considered lewd and unseemly. It is recorded that a Captain Kimble, after returning home from a three-year military tour, kissed his wife on the doorstep of their home and was promptly placed in the stocks for two hours as punishment. "Fornication," which meant intimate relations between unmarried people was heavily condemned, with a range of punishments from a large fine to a public whipping for both parties, or even execution for repeat offenders. Adultery was also punishable by death in many Puritan communities, although in more moderate areas, the punishment for adultery involved public humiliation via a public whipping and being forced to wear a large, scarlet letter "A," so that everyone was aware of the offense.
Read more: Puritan Society Laws | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/list_6868681_pur...#ixzz1ktpolyVr
The Scarlet Letter Summary and Analysis
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Thus, regardless of Chillingworth's desires, Hester and Dimmesdale deserve to be killed in accordance with community vengeance. In Puritan society, adultery was not seen merely as a matter between the two parties but as a breach of contract between those individuals and the community. Even if a husband wanted his adulterous wife to be saved, she could be sentenced to die as a result of the community's obligations to its moral and legal statutes.
Finally, when, during the Reformation, King Henry VIII became the head of the English church, he took over some of its jurisdiction and turned various religious offenses into secular crimes. Thus, homosexual acts and sexual contact with animals, for example, which before had required only penance, were declared to be felonies. Offenders were executed and all their possessions confiscated. Queen Elizabeth I even appointed a special Court of High Commission which punished moral and spiritual offenders with fines and imprisonment. This court, however, soon became completely corrupt and turned into a kind of Protestant Inquisition. Therefore it was abolished in 1640.
The Puritan Heritage
When Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans came to
power in England, they greatly intensified the persecution of sexual deviants.
Cromwell himself never tired of demanding more zeal on the part of prosecutors.
In 1650 Parliament passed the so called Puritan Act "for the suppression of the
abominable and crying sins of incest, adultery, and fornication, wherewith this
land is much defiled, and Almighty God highly displeased." Thus, the religious http://www.ehow.com/about_4570042_pu...-adultery.html
basis of Puritan sex legislation was made unmistakably clear. The prescribed
penalties were the same as those used in biblical times. For example, just as in
ancient Israel, adultery was punished by death.
While the Puritan
rule soon came to an end in England, it experienced a second flowering in
America. The Puritan colonies of New England were, in fact, totalitarian
religious states. Most of their sex laws were based on the laws of Moses. The
Massachusetts colony, for instance, directly copied the Old Testament when it
passed legislation demanding death for adultery, homosexual acts, and sexual
contact with animals. Fornication posed a rather difficult problem, because the
ancient Israelites had never condemned it as such. Nevertheless, Christians had
learned to regard it as a grave sin. The Puritans eventually developed their own
approach and specified various forms and degrees of punishment. Fornicators
could be enjoined to marry, they could be fined, or they could be pilloried and
publicly whipped as a warning example to others. Sometimes all three penalties
were combined. In later, more lenient times it also became customary to force
fornicators to wear the letter "V" (for Vncleanness) conspicuously displayed on
their clothing. Punishment for adultery was then signalled by the letters "AD"
or simply by "A." (See also Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet
In spite of these strict laws and harsh penalties, however,
sexual deviance remained quite common among the New England Puritans. Many
contemporary reports leave not doubt that illegitimate births were frequent and
that homosexual behavior was fairly widespread. This latter fact is, of course,
hardly surprising, since the community concentrated its efforts on the
prevention of all nonmarital heterosexual contact.
The sex laws in most states of the U.S. today still follow
the Puritan model. As the American population moved westward across the
continent, the New England penal codes were simply carried along and copied in
every new state. Most settlers were content with preserving the legal traditions
to which they had been accustomed on the East Coast. Unlike the inhabitants of
the Old World, they were not interested in new legal theories or fundamental
reforms. Western and Southern Europe had, in the early 19th century, liberalized
their sex laws at the command of Napoleon I. The Napoleonic code, which
legalized practically all consensual sex between adults in private, had an
influence reaching well beyond the French national borders. It was either
adopted or used as a model in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands,
and all of Latin America. Thus, most of the world's Catholic countries entered
the new Industrial Age with a sensible minimum of modern sex legislation, while
the Protestant countries of Central Europe and North America remained tied to
the past. Most of their ancient and medieval sex laws were preserved intact. The
only real change was a gradual reduction of penalties. For example, while
adultery continued to be a crime in Massachusetts, the death penalty was
relatively soon replaced with a public whipping, a fine, and imprisonment. Then
the whipping was omitted, leaving the fine and the prison term on the books.
Finally, even these reduced penalties were considered too severe. However,
instead of changing the law, the authorities simply ceased to enforce
Another, even more telling example is provided by the case of New
York which, unlike Massachusetts, at first did not have a law against adultery.
Then, in 1907, a group called "The National Christian League for the Promotion
of Purity" pressured the legislature into adopting such a law. From that time
on, adulterers could be fined or imprisoned, or both. Nevertheless, almost from
the start, there was virtually no attempt at enforcement. The situation was
especially grotesque because in the state of New York adultery was the only
recognized ground for divorce. Every year the courts routinely granted thousands
of divorces on this ground, but also routinely failed to prosecute the guilty
parties. It was not until a few years ago that this official exercise in legal
hypocrisy finally came to an end when the legislators faced up to their initial
mistake and repealed the anti-adultery law that they should never have enacted
in the first place.
Unfortunately, to this day, the reform of
antiquated sex laws has not made much progress in the U.S. The vast majority of
states still insist on legislating and overlegislating morality and thus
continue to create for themselves a host of unnecessary social problems. (For a
more detailed discussion of some of these problems see below under "Current Sex
Laws in the U.S.".)
II. Capital Offences: Sodomy
Only one clear case of sodomy appears in the court records of Plymouth colony. The case was heard on March 1, 1641/1642 and involved three men, Edward Michell, Edward Preston, and John Keene. The first two men were presented on charges of "lude & sodomiticall practices tending to sodomye" with one another. The third, John Keene, was propositioned by Edward Preston, but "he resisted the temptacion, and vsed meanes to discouer it." Neither Michell nor Preston was sentenced to death for his crime, even though the 1636 laws clearly list sodomy as a capital offence. Both men were sentenced to a double whipping, once at Plymouth and a second time at Barnestable. John Keene, since he resisted the temptation and apparently brought the crime to the knowledge of the court, was "appoynted to stand by" while the other two men received their punishment. Upon first reading, this seems like a strange ruling on the part of the Court. Why did they particularly want Keene to be present? The answer may lie in the final phrase of John Keene's ruling -- "though in some thing he was faulty"(PCR 2:35-36). Perhaps the means used to discover the crime involved a lesser degree of immoral behavior, and the Court's ruling was a punishment. While the Court recognized Keene's desire to bring this crime to justice, they did not disregard his actions.
The second case is the August 6, 1637 ruling involving John Alexander and Thomas Roberts. While not directly labeled in the records as a case of sodomy, it is clearly an act of homosexual behavior. The Oxford English Dictionary defines sodomy as "an unnatural form of sexual intercourse, esp. that of one male with another." The definition is ambiguous, but since this case is clearly an act of unconventional sexual relations between two men, I feel justified in including it here. The text of the record reads as follows:
John Allexander [and] Thomas Roberts were both examined and found guilty of lude behavior and uncleane carriage one w[ith] another, by often spendinge their seede one vpon another, w[hich] was proued both by witnesse & their owne confession; the said Allexander found to haue beene formerly notoriously guilty that way, and seeking to allure others therevnto. The said John Allexander was therefore censured by the Court to be seuerely whipped, and burnt in the shoulder w[ith] a hot iron, and to be perpetually banished the gouernment of New Plymouth, and if he be at any tyme found w[ith]in the same, to bee whipped out againe by the appoyntment of the next justice, et cetera, and so as oft as he shall be found w[ith]in this gouernment. W[hich] penalty was accordingly inflicted.
Thomas Roberts was censured to be severely whipt, and to returne to his m[aster], Mr. Atwood, and to serue out his tyme w[ith] him, but to be disabled hereby to enjoy any lands w[ith]in this gouernment, except hee manefest better desert. (PCR 1:64)
The punishment inflicted on John Allexander -- severe whipping, branding, and banishment -- speaks to the severity of his crime in the eyes of the Court. However, he was not put to death. Roberts' punishment resembles that of Michell and Preston. While he was not whipped a second time, his prospects for owning land after his time of indenture were placed in jeopardy.
David Hackett Fischer traces the Puritan disdain for sodomy (and all forms of "unnatural sex" to a passage in the book of Genesis, "where Onan 'spilled his seed upon the ground' in an effort to prevent conception and the Lord slew him." Fischer relates that "seed-spilling in general was known as the 'hideous sin of Onanism'" in Massachusettes (1989:93). The story from the book of Genesis explains why both sodomy and buggery might have been listed as crimes punishable by death. The ruling for John Allexander seems to rank very high on the list of criminal punishments. I have encountered only one criminal punishment that was more severe, that being for buggery (see below). The punishment inflicted on Edward Michell and Edward Preston was severe, but nowhere close to a death sentence. As I will show below, some cases of adultery -- a crime "to be punished" -- were punished more severely than this particular instance of sodomy.
Leviticus 20:10 reads, "the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." Here again, the laws of Plymouth reflect an ideal set forth as the law of God -- adultery was punishable by death. However, why was the law qualified with the phrase "to be punished?" The twenty-second chapter of Deuteronomy restates the law of Leviticus, but proceeds to qualify that law. I believe that the following verses may explain the confusion reflected in the 1636 codification of laws.
22. If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. 23. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24. Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. 25. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: 26. But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: 27. For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
According to the Bible, betrothed women who were raped and protested could not be put to death for an act of adultery. The passage does not specify what should happen to a married woman if she cries out.
Like Hebrew law, seventeenth century Puritans defined adultery as any act of fornication with a married or betrothed woman. The definition has serious implications not only for the people living under the law, but also for the interpretation of the Plymouth court data. Married men who had sexual intercourse with single women were punished for fornication, not adultery. Therefore, examination of the cases of adultery within the colony is not a true reflection of the degree of infidelity in Plymouth. John Demos points out that "the chief concern, the essential element of sin, was the woman's infidelity to her husband" (1970:97). The element that sets adultery cases apart from acts of fornication is the crime done to the husband. As I shall soon show, adultery was one reason a husband could be divorced from his wife. The double standard reflected in this particular crime will be discussed in greater length in another section.
Nine cases in the Plymouth court records refer to adultery in some form. Three of these cases result in a punishment much like that presented in the 1658 codification of laws. Interestingly, all three of the cases appear before the court prior to 1658, which leads one to believe that the 1658 enactment was in response to a precedent that had been set. The second case to appear before the court most closely conforms to the law outlined in 1658. On December 7, 1641, Thomas Bray and Anne Linceford both confessed to committing adultery in the absence of Anne's husband. Their punishment included an immediate severe whipping at the public post in Plymouth, a second whipping at the public post in Yarmouth (where the act was committed), and the wearing of "two letters, namely, an AD, for Adulterers, daily, vpon the outside of their vppermost garment, in a most emenent place thereof" for as long as they remain in the colony (PCR 2:28). Failure to wear the letters would result in another whipping. This is the only case in which both parties receive identical punishments.
The first case, involving Mary Mendame and Tinsin, an Indian, was sentenced in the court on September 3, 1639. Mary was sentenced to be "whipt at a carts tayle" and "weare a badge vpon her left sleeue." However, Tinsin was to be "well whipt with a halter about his neck at the post" (PCR 1:132). According to Eugene Aubrey Stratton, "whipping at a cart's tail while the cart was drawn through town was considered a more severe punishment than whipping at the post" (1986:196). Stratton cites only two other instances of this particular punishment, one for committing "uncleanes" and one for *****dom (See PCR 1:132, PCR 4:106). The "lighter" sentence for Tinsin was rationalized "because it arose through the allurement & inticement of the said Mary, that hee was drawne therevnto" (PCR 1:132). This ruling reminds me of the rational for the lighter sentence inflicted on Sam and his apparent rape of Sarah Freeman. Is Tinsin given a break because he is "but an Indian" with "an incapasity to know the horiblenes" of his actions (PCR 6:98)?
The case between Katheren Aines and William Paule ended with an unusual conviction. The case was first brought before the Court of Assistants on February 3, 1656 (PCR 3:110-11), but for want of more information, it was referred to the next General Court on March 5th of that year (PCR 3:111-12). The two were not clearly convicted of adultery, but they were sentenced for "vnclean and laciuiouse behauior." William was publicly whipped and, as an additional punishment, he was forced to pay the costs of his brief imprisonment. Katheren was whipped once at Plymouth and once at Taunton and forced to wear a red B on her right shoulder for the remainder of her time in the colonly. However, the most unusual part of the ruling was the punishment inflicted on Alexander Aines "for his leaueing his family, and exposing his wife to such temtations, and being as baud to her therin." He was sentenced to pay the fee for his wife's imprisonment and sit in the stocks while she and William were whipped. The records do not indicate how long Aines was absent from his family, but abandonment was grounds for divorce in the colony.
On October 29, 1671, Mary Attkinson and John Bucke appeared before the court to answer for their adultery that resulted in a child. Curiously, the jury was not in doubt as to whether or not the couple committed fornication, but whether or not Marmeduke Attkinson, the former husband of Mary, was alive at the time the act was committed. Since the jury could not be sure, Mary and John were found guilty of fornication and given the choice of paying a ten pound fine or being whipped. Not surprisingly, they chose the fine (PCR 5:81-2). On June 10, 1662, Thomas Bird was sentenced to be whipped for "seuerall adulterouse practices and attempts" with Hannah Bumpas (PCR 4:22).
The three remaining court references to adultery appear not when the guilty parties are brought before the court, but when the husbands of the women involved appear before the court to petition for a divorce. On July 4, 1673, John Williams is granted a divorce from his wife, Sarah owing to her "violat[ing] her marriage bond by committing actuall adultery with another man, and hath a child by him" (PCR 5:127). Samuell Hallowey appeared before the court several times pleading for a divorce from his wife, Jane. Jane insisted, "shee hath committed adultery with diuers persons" (PCR 5:32, 41-42). In June of 1689, John Glover petitioned the court for a divorce from his wife. Mary Glover, who "violat[ed] the marriage covenant by entertaining some other man or men into bed fellowship," later infected her husband "with that filthy & noysome disease called the pox" (PCR 6:190). I think it is interesting that in at least two of these cases (I am unsure about Hallowey) a divorce was granted, but the wife was never punished for her actions. Did the court consider the divorce to be a punishment in itself?
Adultery was a difficult crime to prove. Since all cases involved a married woman and Puritans did not use contraception, an illegitimate child would be hard to separate from all the rest. Evidence of this is reflected in the case of Robert Badston who accused Charles Wills, "that hee had lyen w[ith] his wife, the Court, haueing examined the euidences respecting the case, did not find him guilty of that fact . . . because the said Robert Badston hath frequently companied with his said wife by beding with her, both before and after the child was borne" (PCR 5:253). It is possible that adultery happened far more frequently than we see evidence of in the records. However, the low frequencies of other capital offences may indicate a harsh legal and moral code that was well respected by the people.
Fornication was by far the most common sexual offence to come before the Plymouth courts. Between 1633 and 1691, sixty nine cases of fornication were presented. I include "carnal copulation," "uncleans," and births of illegitimate children with fornication. The enactment of 1645 that outlined the punishment for crimes of fornication distinguished between acts committed before and after the time of marriage contract. The fine for fornication after contract was only five pounds per person -- half the fine for fornication before contract. Interestingly, only four of the sixty nine cases clearly occurred during the period of marriage contract. The chart below shows the percentages of fornication cases that occurred during the period of contract, before contract but between couples who eventually married, and completely outside of intended wedlock. The split between eventually married and never married couples is a near fifty-fifty division.
The Puritans were a devout Christian group who dissented with the Church of England. Persecuted for their beliefs, they came to America. They believed absolutely in the words of the Bible and felt that the Church had become corrupt. They were called the Puritans because they wanted to purify and cleanse both the Church and their own lives, and devoted themselves to religious, social and moral reform.
Upon migrating to America, the Puritans settled into the New England area and lived strictly pious lives, in which the family and the bonds of marriage were the basis of societal order.
Read more: About the Puritan Belief on Adultery | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_4570042_pu...#ixzz1ktrVmWZA