[Page numbers of the printed text appear at the right in bold.]
See Margaret Eletta Guider, Daughters of Rahab: Prostitution and the Church of Liberation
in Brazil (Minneapolis, 1995), pp. 15-16. 2.
Jacques Rossiaud, Medieval Prostitution, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (New York, 1988),
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, in Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Opera
Omnia, 25 vols.
(Rome, 1852-73; repr. New York, 1948-50) [hereafter ST], 2-184.108.40.206: "Voluptates venereas
maxime luxuria consideratur." 4.
ST 2-220.127.116.11: "quae maxime et praecipue animum hominis resolvunt." 5.
ST 2-2.153.1. 6.
Aquinas, ST 2-2.153.1 refers to this sense as a secondary application: "secundario aut dicitur
in quibuscumque aliis ad excessum pertinentibus." 7.
ST 2-2.153.2. 8.
ST 2-2.153.2. 9.
ST 2-18.104.22.168: "abundantia delectationis quae est in actu venereo secundum rationem
ordinato, non contrariatur medio virtutis." It is clear that Aquinas does not have a puritanical
view of sex. 10.
ST 2-22.214.171.124: "alioquin, quod aliquis se somno tradit, esset contra virtutem." 11.
ST 2-126.96.36.199: "uxori debitum." The marriage debt was a common notion even into the
early twentieth-century theological manuals. Here Aquinas clearly avoids the anti-sexualism of
earlier heresies. 12.
ST 2-188.8.131.52. 13.
ST 2-2.148.5. 14.
ST 2-2.148.5. Aquinas mentions "delectatio," not "Voluptas," and so stresses a
eudaimonistic rather than a hedonistic view of happiness. 15.
ST 2-2.153.4. Another rendering is "connaturality," which Jacques Maritain emphasizes in
his works, particularly in regard to human knowledge. See for example his The Degrees of
Knowledge, trans. Bernard Wall and Margot Adamson (New York, 1938), and The
Reason (New York, 1952). 16.
ST 2-2.153.5. 17.
ST 2-2.153.5. 18.
ST 2-2.153.5. 19.
ST 2-2.153.5. 21.
ST 2-2.153.5. 22.
ST 2-2.153.5. The reference is from Terence's Eunuch 1.23. 23.
ST 2-2.153.5. 24.
ST 2-2.153.5. 25.
ST 2-2.154.1. "Recta ratio" is the operative idea in Aquinas's theory of natural law. 26.
ST 2-2.154.1. 27.
ST 2-2.153.3: "conservatio humani generis." 28.
ST 2-2.154.1. This would not include married couples that are infertile due to natural
ST 2-2.154.1 and ST 1-1.100.11. This category refers not only to all forms of homosexual
sex but also to heterosexual forms of sex such as masturbation, bestiality and contraceptive
intercourse. In light of this text, it is puzzling that Rossiaud, Medieval Prostitution, p.
would claim that theologians of the time, including Aquinas, "in an attempt to help the faithful
avoid fornication, adultery or other frowned-upon practices, presented conjugal relations as licit
even without the end of procreation." 30.
ST 2-2.154.1. 31.
ST 2-2.154.1. 32.
ST 2-184.108.40.206. 33.
ST 2-220.127.116.11. There are sexual limits even within the marital covenant. 34.
ST 2-18.104.22.168. It was a common view among moralists of the time that abandoning one's
self to the pleasures of sex is a graver sin in marriage than outside it. See Rossiaud, Medieval
Prostitution, p. 75. 35.
ST 1-2.100.11. 36.
ST 2-22.214.171.124. 37.
There is also a lack of secondary studies on Aquinas's view of prostitution except for an
article in Spanish by Gustavo E. Ponferrada, "Santo Tomas y la prostitucion," Sapientia
(1990), 225-30. For a more current approach to the general topic of medieval prostitution, see
Ruth M. Karras, Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England
ST 2-2.32.7. 39.
ST 126.96.36.199. 40.
ST 2-188.8.131.52. 41.
ST 2-2.154.2. This discussion clarifies a mistaken quotation of a gloss on Deuteronomy
23.17 which asserts that prostitution is a "venial" sin, when in fact it should read "venal." 42.
ST 1-2.100.11. 43.
ST 2-2.154.2. There is, however, the difficult case of Rahab the harlot in Joshua 2.
Housing Joshua's spies, Rahab lies to the authorities who wish to search her house. She and her
family are rewarded by the Israelites after the fall of Jericho. Scriptural commentators from
Augustine and Jerome to Aquinas and Bonaventure to Martin Luther struggled to justify the
honor paid to Rahab for two reasons: one, she was a prostitute, and two, she lied to
spies. See Guider, Daughters of Rahab, pp. 19-32. 44.
ST 2-2.154.2. 45.
ST 2-2.154.2. 46.
ST 2-2.154.2. This assertion is interesting in light of recent studies showing the crucial role
of fathers in building the self-esteem of children in later life, especially among daughters. 47.
ST 2-2.153.3. 48.
ST 2-2.154.2: "contra naturam hominis." 49.
ST 2-2.154.2. 50.
For a few current discussions of the morality of prostitution, see Igor Primoratz, "What's
Wrong With Prostitution?," Philosophy 68 (1993), 159-82; Laurie J. Schrage, "Should
Oppose Prostitution?," Ethics 99 (1989), 347-61; and the debate between Lars Ericsson,
against Prostitution: An Attempt at a Philosophical Assessment," Ethics 90 (1980),
Carole Pateman, "Defending Prostitution: Charges against Ericsson," Ethics 93 (1983),
Oddly, Primoratz attributes the view that sex is "intrinsically inferior, sinful and shameful" (p.
167) to Aquinas but without any supporting reference. 51.
ST 2-2.10.11. Guider, Daughters of Rahab, pp. 15-16, holds that on the basis of this
passage, Aquinas maintained that prostitution was "a lesser evil" and that according to
Augustine it was "a necessary evil." These assertions need to be qualified. Aquinas rejects the
principle of the lesser of two evils. Regardless of whether the evil is lesser or greater, no moral
evil can be intentionally willed. So the social toleration of evil that Aquinas advocates is not a
choice of the evil but tolerating its existence in order to avoid the loss of a good or the bringing
about of another evil.
In the passage from De ordine Augustine is struggling to uphold God's providential order in
the world when faced with certain evils, such as prostitution. Given this context, Augustine
maintains that the existence of prostitution is better than its absence which would unleash lusts
and greater harm: "What can be mentioned more sordid, more bereft of decency or more full of
turpitude than prostitutes, procurers, and the other pests of that sort? Remove prostitutes from
human affairs, and you will unsettle everything on account of lusts." To categorize this
reading as "necessary evil" appears to insert a form of fatalism into Augustine's view that would
preclude efforts to discourage prostitution or even condone it. Whereas in Contra Faustum
2.61, he notes that the divine and eternal law condemns it. 52.
In regard to prostitution, the papacy was at odds with civil authorities as when it spoke
out against unreasonable search by officers of the court looking for adulterers and concubines in
the homes of townspeople. Pope Paul II decreed that searches of this kind be conducted on
condition of a formal written request. See Rossiaud, Medieval Prostitution, p. 61. 53.
ST 1-2.98.1: "Legis enim humanae finis est temporalis tranquillitas civitatis. . . . Finis
autem ligis divinae est perducere hominem ad finem felicitatis
ST 1-2.98.1. 55.
ST 1-2.91.4: "lex humana non potest omnia quae male fiunt, punire vel prohibere." 56.
ST 1-184.108.40.206. 57.
ST 1-220.127.116.11: "lex humana dicitur aliqua permittere, non quasi ea approbans, sed quasi ea
dirigere non potens." 58.
ST 1-18.104.22.168. 59.
ST 2-22.214.171.124: "lex humana non potuit prohibere quidquid est contra virtutem, sed ei
sufficit ut prohibeat ea quae destruunt hominum convictum." Compare Aquinas with this:
"The aim of the criminal justice system is not to impose public standards of morality upon the
private acts of consenting adults, immoral though they may be by widely held social standards,
but rather to protect people and property from the harmful effects of others" (Richard
Symanski, The Immoral Landscape: Female Prostitution in Western Societies [Toronto,
ST 2-126.96.36.199. 61.
ST 2-188.8.131.52: "multa secundum leges humanas impunita relinquuntur quae secundum
divinum iudicium sunt peccata, sicut patet in simplici fornicatione." 62.
ST 2-184.108.40.206. 63.
Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de malo 13.4.6. This is the same argument that
employs in ST 2-2.10.11, quoted above. 64.
See ST 2-2.110.3 "Whether Every Lie Is A Sin?" where Aquinas bases his position on
Aristotle (Ethics 4.7) and Augustine (Contra mend. 1). While Augustine describes eight types of
lies, in ST 2-2.110.2 Aquinas distinguishes between three types of lies: officious lies that help or
save a person from harm, emphasizing usefulness; jocose lies, meaning jokes, which are lies that
focus on pleasure; and mischievous or pernicious lies that injure another. Aquinas asserts that
all types of lies, including jokes, are sinful and wrong. 65.
ST 2-2.32.7. 66.
ST 2-220.127.116.11. Aquinas notes two cases of unlawful giving. In simony, both the giving and
receiving of money are unlawful, so no restitution is required nor may the receiver retain the
fee. However in the case of prostitution, the giving is not unlawful, though the money is given
for an unlawful purpose. Hence, the fee can be retained. 67.
ST 2-18.104.22.168. 68.
ST 2-22.214.171.124. 69.
ST 2-126.96.36.199. 70.
ST 2-188.8.131.52. At the time members of traveling theater groups commonly engaged in
immoral activities and so earned a reputation as social outcasts. In fact theatrical
performances, banned by Philip-Augustus and Louis IX, did not attain legal status in France
until the time of Charles VI in 1602. See Paul Lacroix, History of Prostitution, trans.
Putnam (New York, 1931), pp. 1418-19. 71.
Rossiaud, Medieval Prostitution, p. 72. For an exhaustive but somewhat dated listing of
works on prostitution, see Vern Bullough and Barrett Elcano, ed., A Bibliography of
Prostitution (New York, 1977). 73.
According to Rossiaud, a Lyons merchant named Francois Garin around 1460 composed a
work in verse suggesting that "brothels and the bathhouses entered into the proper functioning
of social and familiar order. By their own lascivity, prostitutes satisfied the body's impulses;
they made multiple and fleeting unions possible; in making love banal, they saved the young
from sensual follies and from conflict with their parents": Rossiaud, Medieval
King Louis IX is described by one scholar as "leading a merciless battle against
prostitution" by expelling all prostitutes from towns and confiscating their property. But he
also founded a convent in Paris for repentant prostitutes in 1226 with an annual pension that
"was a considerable sum for the time" (Bronislaw Geremek, The Margins of Society in Late
Medieval Paris, trans. Jean Birrell [New York, 1987], p. 212). By the fourteenth and
centuries the public policy of eliminating prostitution had faded away. 75.
Rossiaud, Medieval Prostitution, p. 59, notes that "It was between 1350 and 1450 that
cities institutionalized prostitution, setting up a prostibulum publicum when the city did not
already have one." 76.
For an extended discussion on control, legalization and decriminalization of prostitution,
see John F. Decker, Prostitution: Regulation and Control (Littleton, 1979). 77.
For a description of the ravages of syphilis and early attempts toward treatment in France,
see William Sanger, The History of Prostitution (New York, 1937), pp. 135-139. 78.
One example is the use of language to describe prostitution. George Ryley Scott, A
of Prostitution: From Antiquity to the Present (London, 1954), p. 80, notes that with the
of the Reformation, the use of euphemistic names for prostitutes re-emerged in the West. 79.
The tolerance of prostitution in Europe carried over to colonial interests. For a study of
how prostitution was imported to societies that did not practice it, such as in Polynesia, see
Fernando Henriques, Prostitution and Society: A Survey (New York, 1963).