Two broad themes emerge from this thoroughly researched study of the Church's engagement with sexuality and sexual behaviour in the long eighteenth century (long enough to reach back to the Restoration and forward to the 1820s). First, the Church, by which the authors mean the Established Church in England and Wales, exercised a pervasive influence and presence in contemporary society, shaping attitudes, guiding behaviour, and occupying a vital space in the worlds of culture and politics. Second, linear narratives of ‘progress’, whether toward a secularized society or greater tolerance of a diverse range of attitudes, behaviours, and identities, do not do justice to the complexities of the evidence. These themes are traced through chapters on the formal teaching of the Church about marriage, chastity, and same-sex desires, and through explorations of respectability, scandal, sexual narratives, and obscenity. Prints and polemics, high society gossip, and the records of the Church courts...

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