Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

News & Politics News & Politics

When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite

Posted by on May. 10, 2012 at 1:47 PM
  • 5 Replies
1 mom liked this

When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite

Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual. Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century), and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

Original Article or 

A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine's Monastery on Mt. Sinai in Israel. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman ‘pronubus’ (a best man), overseeing a wedding. The pronubus is Christ. The married couple are both men.

Is the icon suggesting that a gay "wedding" is being sanctified by Christ himself? The idea seems shocking. But the full answer comes from other early Christian sources about the two men featured in the icon, St. Sergius and St. Bacchus, two Roman soldiers who were Christian martyrs. These two officers in the Roman army incurred the anger of Emperor Maximian when they were exposed as ‘secret Christians’ by refusing to enter a pagan temple. Both were sent to Syria circa 303 CE where Bacchus is thought to have died while being flogged. Sergius survived torture but was later beheaded. Legend says that Bacchus appeared to the dying Sergius as an angel, telling him to be brave because they would soon be reunited in heaven.

While the pairing of saints, particularly in the early Christian church, was not unusual, the association of these two men was regarded as particularly intimate. Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch (AD 512 - 518) explained that, "we should not separate in speech they [Sergius and Bacchus] who were joined in life". This is not a case of simple "adelphopoiia." In the definitive 10th century account of their lives, St. Sergius is openly celebrated as the "sweet companion and lover" of St. Bacchus. Sergius and Bacchus's close relationship has led many modern scholars to believe they were lovers. But the most compelling evidence for this view is that the oldest text of their martyrology, written in New Testament Greek describes them as "erastai,” or "lovers". In other words, they were a male homosexual couple. Their orientation and relationship was not only acknowledged, but it was fully accepted and celebrated by the early Christian church, which was far more tolerant than it is today.

Contrary to myth, Christianity's concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual.

Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the "Office of Same-Sex Union" (10th and 11th century), and the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

Such same gender Christian sanctified unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12thand/ early 13th century, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (‘Geraldus Cambrensis’) recorded.

Same-sex unions in pre-modern Europe list in great detail some same gender ceremonies found in ancient church liturgical documents. One Greek 13th century rite, "Order for Solemn Same-Sex Union", invoked St. Serge and St. Bacchus, and called on God to "vouchsafe unto these, Thy servants [N and N], the grace to love one another and to abide without hate and not be the cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God, and all Thy saints". The ceremony concludes: "And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded".

Another 14th century Serbian Slavonic "Office of the Same Sex Union", uniting two men or two women, had the couple lay their right hands on the Gospel while having a crucifix placed in their left hands. After kissing the Gospel, the couple were then required to kiss each other, after which the priest, having raised up the Eucharist, would give them both communion.

Records of Christian same sex unions have been discovered in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, in Istanbul and in the Sinai, covering a thousand-years from the 8th to the 18th century.

The Dominican missionary and Prior, Jacques Goar (1601-1653), includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek Orthodox prayer books, “Euchologion Sive Rituale Graecorum Complectens Ritus Et Ordines Divinae Liturgiae” (Paris, 1667).

While homosexuality was technically illegal from late Roman times, homophobic writings didn’t appear in Western Europe until the late 14th century. Even then, church-consecrated same sex unions continued to take place.

At St. John Lateran in Rome (traditionally the Pope's parish church) in 1578, as many as thirteen same-gender couples were joined during a high Mass and with the cooperation of the Vatican clergy, "taking communion together, using the same nuptial Scripture, after which they slept and ate together" according to a contemporary report. Another woman to woman union is recorded in Dalmatia in the 18th century.

Prof. Boswell's academic study is so well researched and documented that it poses fundamental questions for both modern church leaders and heterosexual Christians about their own modern attitudes towards homosexuality.

For the Church to ignore the evidence in its own archives would be cowardly and deceptive. The evidence convincingly shows that what the modern church claims has always been its unchanging attitude towards homosexuality is, in fact, nothing of the sort.

It proves that for the last two millennia, in parish churches and cathedrals throughout Christendom, from Ireland to Istanbul and even in the heart of Rome itself, homosexual relationships were accepted as valid expressions of a God-given love and committment to another person, a love that could be celebrated, honored and blessed, through the Eucharist in the name of, and in the presence of, Jesus Christ.
http://anthropologist.livejournal.com/1314574.html
by on May. 10, 2012 at 1:47 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-5):
rachelrothchild
by on May. 10, 2012 at 1:51 PM
5 moms liked this

Performing those rites or rituals or whatever you want to call them is sacrilege.  It goes directly against God's word.  Evil.

jean_marie1987
by Member on May. 10, 2012 at 2:44 PM
1 mom liked this
Amazing what a bit of research will prove. Too bad it still won't convince people that same-sex marriages are neither "evil" nor "sacreligious."
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
toomanypoodles
by Poodles on May. 10, 2012 at 9:59 PM
3 moms liked this

 You sure dig deep for your garbage, don't you, Kissy?

Wow.  You never cease to amaze me. 

Momniscient
by on May. 11, 2012 at 12:09 AM


Quoting toomanypoodles:

 You sure dig deep for your garbage, don't you, Kissy?

Wow.  You never cease to amaze me. 

What is garbage about it?

Do you have solid evidence that 'Office of the Same-Sex Union' is a made up phenomenon? Do you deny the practice of Akolouthia eis adelphopoiesin

Because here is what the Jesuit University of New York has to say about it: Click here for a description of the ceremony being spoken of

Fordham University



 


Home | Ancient History Sourcebook | Medieval SourcebookModern History Sourcebook | Byzantine Studies Page
Other History Sourcebooks: African | East Asian | Global | Indian | IslamicJewishLesbian and Gay | Science | Women's


IHSP


MainAncientMedievalModern


Subsidiary SourcebooksAfricanEastern AsianGlobalIndianJewishIslamicLesbian/GayScienceWomen


Special ResourcesByzantiumMedieval WebMedieval NYC
Medieval MusicSaints' Lives
Ancient Law
Medieval Law
Film: Ancient
Film: Medieval
Film: Modern
Film: Saints


About IHSPIJSP Credits

Medieval Sourcebook:
Two Versions of the Adelphopoiia Rite


In 1994 John Boswell published a book - Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (New York: Villard, 1994) which claimed, essentially, that the adelphopoiia rite known to have been used in Orthodox and Greek rite Catholic Churches constituted, in usage at least, a form of ecclesiastical blessing for homosexual unions. To say the least this claim has been highly contested. Boswell was not able to show that any high church body gave approval to such a use of the rite, but was able to show, as most critics allow, that the rite was both fairly widespread [he had about 70 manuscripts], and that it probably was used by some same-sex couples to give some outward sign to their relationship. There are contrary indications about the entire ceremony. The late 18th century Orthodox law text known as the Pedalion or Rudder does indicate that the ceremony was [ab]used in this way. From a much earlier date, St. Theodore of Studium in his Reform Rules seems to relate the ceremony to marriage. On the other hand, the Life of St. Mary the Younger

, which is quite willing to use strong marital imagery about male-male relationships, describes [ch. 2] the development of one such relationship, between Mary's brother and a drungarius, in which the couple agree that the bonds of kinship need to be added to their bond of love - and so the drungarius marries Mary. [I should note that I had made this observation, in an unpublished paper, some time ago. Alice Mary Talbot of Dumbarton Oaks strongly doubted that interpretation, but it is supported in the forthcoming translation and commentary on the Life by Angeliki Laiou, also of Dumbarton Oaks.

As well as Boswell, numerous people where interested in this rite. Presented here [1.] are Boswell's translation of one of the various manuscripts he has, and [2.] a version from Jacob Goar's version of the rite, printed in the 17th century, translated by an independent scholar Nicholas Zymaris. Zymaris, who speaks both Greek and some Albanian, has made a number of verbal presentations, and Internet postings, in which he describes having witness such ceremonies in modern Albanian usage and which clearly indicate same sex unions.

Office for Same-Sex Union [Akolouthia eis adelphopoiesin]

from John Boswell, Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, (NewYork: Villard, 1994)


Momniscient
by on May. 11, 2012 at 12:12 AM

http://www.christianity-revealed.com/cr/files/whensamesexmarriagewasachristianrite.html

So you can jump off on your own research spree.

Did you even read the OP?

Quoting toomanypoodles:

 You sure dig deep for your garbage, don't you, Kissy?

Wow.  You never cease to amaze me. 



Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

close Join now to connect to
other members!
Connect with Facebook or Sign Up Using Email

Already Joined? LOG IN