From the second half of the eleventh century, medieval Latin theologians and canonists wrestled with a number of questions related to sexual relations and marriage. Marriage is, characteristically, one of the avenues by which a society—especially a religious or holy community— attempts to define its boundaries. In this effort church authorities had, for centuries, proscribed both marriage and sexual relations between Jews and Christians. They had sought control over marital relations among Christian spouses by proscribing sexual contact before receiving communion, during Lent, or during a woman's pregnancy or menstrual cycle. They had also attempted to eliminate marriage among clergy, with occasional success, as part of an effort to define and control marital unions more effectively.
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