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When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite 
11th-Dec-2009 10:47 am
Psyche
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.

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Comments 
13th-Dec-2009 06:13 pm (UTC) - How would I describe this delicately....?
Irrelevant.

Yup. That's the word. My personal feelings aside*, what's happened or allegedly happened throughout Christianity's colorful history should, by the definition of Faith, have very little itty bitty to do with how and what any one Christian in the here and now believes.

In a nut shell, if you believe the Bible is the infallible world of God (that's what faith would be, the whole point of the religion thingie), then homosexuality is a sin and therefore unacceptable.

If you believe that the Bible is a moral buffet, then by all means, you get to believe whatever you want. Martyrs and priests alike.**

* I don't get how people can on one hand ask that so-and-so act like they used to act in order to become sophisticated and yet ride them all the more for being either hypocrites or crackpots.
** Martyrs are labeled by people, and people - of ALL faiths! - decide what's PC in their own time. One of my favorite reasons for wanting nothing to do with Christianity (or any faith) is that there're too many crappy Christians. :p
13th-Dec-2009 08:06 pm (UTC) - Re: How would I describe this delicately....?
Oh, I completely agree with you! I mean, the Church history is made by people, who make mistakes. But the Bible says very clearly that homosexuality is a sin, so any posts like this one don't make sense.
10th-May-2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
"The neutrality of this article is disputed. Please see the discussion on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (January 2011)"
23rd-Jan-2010 07:29 pm (UTC)
Hi, I'm potentially writing a paper on homosexuality and the Bible (in various translations) and I'd like to use this article as a reference, or to at least help guide my search.

I tried clicking the link to the original article but it didn't work. Is there another way to get there? Do you have anything else like this?
23rd-Jan-2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
I've looked around and can't find out who wrote the article (and the article isn't on the colfax website anymore). You might think about contacting them asking for a copy and author name, etc.

The book the article is written about is "The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe", and it's $2 on amazon. The author's name is Prof. John Boswell. He's got a decent sized Wikipedia entry, with a lot of other references you might be able to use for your paper.
10th-May-2012 11:54 am (UTC)
This article is quite simply driven by ideology, intellectually sloppy and wrong.

The ceremonies he refers to are well known in the east as a sort of 'holy brotherhood' there is certainly no evidence they were in any way sexual, it is a sad sign of this perverse age that people presume that being close to someone requires sexual love or desire.

10th-May-2012 11:56 am (UTC)
The church fathers are also clear on the matter:

' "All of these affections [in Rom. 1:26-27]… were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored than the body in diseases." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 4 (A.D. 391).

"[The men] have done an insult to nature itself. And a yet more disgraceful thing than these is it, when even the women seek after these intercourses, who ought to have more shame than men." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 4 (A.D. 391).

"And sundry other books of the philosophers one may see full of this disease. But we do not therefore say that the thing was made lawful, but that they who received this law were pitiable, and objects for many tears. For these are treated in the same way as women that play the whore. Or rather their plight is more miserable. For in the case of the one the intercourse, even if lawless, is yet according to nature; but this is contrary both to law and nature. For even if there were no hell, and no punishment had been threatened, this would be worse than any punishment." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 4 (A.D. 391).

"[T]hose shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always to be detested and punished. If all nations were to do such things, they would be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not made men so that they should use one another in this way." Augustine, Confessions 3:8:15 (A.D. 400).

"[Christians] abhor all unlawful mixtures, and that which is practiced by some contrary to nature, as wicked and impious." Apostolic Constitutions 6:11 (A.D. 400).
10th-May-2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for posting this!! Once again, the christian/catholic church has been proven to be influenced by personal feelings of the people in charge as this article proves since what is now illegal and considered a sin, was once respected and encouraged in the church!!! And people wonder why I do not believe in religion but just walk and talk with my Creator every day!!! I am not religious as religion was created and is perpetrated by men, not by the Creator!! Thank you once again for posting the TRUTH!!!!!
10th-May-2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
I have some literature too. The Bible which is the Inspired word of God is emphatic against same-sex unions. All the examples of same-sex unions throughout history, endorsed by those who supposedly(but don't) represent Christianity & God never validates a practice which is both Biblically & by Nature amiss. Nice try Prof., but your argument for acceptance of this practice as a one-time Christian Rite doesn't stack up.
10th-May-2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
Homosexuality is amiss by nature? I beg to differ:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_displaying_homosexual_behavior
10th-May-2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." 2 Timothy 4:3

History doesn't line up with your agenda? Re-write it. The Bible conflicts with your own selfish desires and lifestyle? Re-write it.
10th-May-2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
Bravo, so true, and so sad, we must pray for such lost souls
10th-May-2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. Would it be possible to 'fix' the link to the original article - the link ends up at a dreaded 404 error.
10th-May-2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
10th-May-2012 03:35 pm (UTC)
Do you notice that none of the sources of this piece are biblical? It's all based on researches done by people to try and justify homosexuality and perhaps smuggle it into the church. The Bible is clear on homosexuality. Even if some people in church embrace it, as far as the Christian faith is concerned, it remains unacceptable. The Bible should be our only reference. You can check out the following scriptures: Genesis Chapter 18-19, Romans Chapter 1:24-26 and Jude 7.
10th-May-2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
" Do you notice that none of the sources of this piece are biblical? I "...yes, I did notice....thats what prompted my earlier comment....if you're goning to do what you do...." just do it " and stop trying to MAKE the Bible say it's acceptable....and then you have those who, with all of their " intelligent, scholarly, biblical exegetical skills, along with their languistc capabilities, who attempt to explain away what GOD said and replace it with what they.... " want it to mean ".....just do your thing and stop trying to excuse it ....SMH
10th-May-2012 03:42 pm (UTC)
While all of this is very interesting, it only points to church and no scripture to back up what men decided to allow. When it can be shown in scripture as clearly as One man and one woman is, to be marriage, sanctioned by the Lord himself, then and only then would I agree that same sex marriage is acceptable in the sight of God. I maintain that God loves gay as much as he loves straight. It is the act of sex that is to be sacred among man and woman, united in holy matrimony.Being gay is not sinful any more than being straight until one actually follows through with having sex outside of marriage, then it is a sin. All sin is forgivable but one has to acknowledged it to be sin. If we say it is ok to have sex outside of marriage, as out culture advocates as normal, we are advocating sin. I know we do not like to think of ourselves a sinful but we are. We all sin. It should not be so difficult to admit that fact and we should not be so afraid to say ,"sin", as if we will be offending someone. For heave's sake, we all do it. Repentance is the key and that is leads to forgiveness and redemption. By trying to call marriage something other than what God says it is, we are again just trying to create a way around His holiness and allow for sin to continue without repentance. SO, while this article may prove that the early Roman Catholic church made provision for the sin of sex with a forbidden partner(same sex) by creating a ceremony to legally join the two, this still does not prove there is any biblical evidence that God Himself approves of same sex marriage. I will probably be labeled a hater here but I personally need scripture to back up anything that man tries to say is true.
11th-May-2012 07:09 am (UTC)
Hi. Define 'same sex'. How far on each extreme of the male/female biological spectrum must one be to qualify as one or the other? What about the 1% of people who are intersex? What about those in that group who don't even know they're intersex, and have gone through life assuming that they're typically male or female, only to discover later that they're not? Does sin work retroactively?
10th-May-2012 04:28 pm (UTC)
The Bible has many translations over the years.

The words "homosexual" and "homosexuality" do not appear in the Bible-at least they are absent from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. The authors of the Bible did not understand sexual orientation; this concept was only developed in the late 19th century. The writers had little or no comprehension of same-sex committed relationships. Their languages had no words for these concepts. Rather, they assumed that everyone was heterosexual, but that some heterosexuals engaged in sex with persons of the same gender. Thus, when you see one of these terms in an English translation of the Bible, it is important to dig deeper and find what the original Hebrew or Greek text really means. The word "homosexual" first appeared in the New Revised Standard (RSV) Bible in 1946.

Traditional Church teaching falsely misuses the Bible to judge the homosexual lifestyle. True Biblical theology begins not with Church tradition and dogma but with the biblical texts themselves. Biblical theology seeks to understand how the biblical authors expressed themselves in the Koine Greek of the time (not expanded by later modern greek meanings), in terms of their culture. Only with this understanding is it legitimate to define biblical sexual ethics of the NT and find implications for today.
There is little said in the bible about homosexuality because it was no big deal! It occupied a prominent and respected position in most Greek and Roman cities at all levels of society and among a substantial part of the population. There are only 4 scriptures that are taken to say anything about homosexuality; the Leviticus laws, I Cor 6:9, Romans 1:26-27, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah - and none address loving, consenting homosexual acts as we know them today.

There are over 600 individual "laws" in the Levitical code, the breaking of anyone of which would make the sinner unclean and unacceptable to God. It is an abomination to eat pork, etc. The law is no longer in effect and its purpose was to show that man could never follow it. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, likewise have nothing to do with homosexuality.

I Cor 6:9, no way refers to homosexuality. The original Greek word often quoted as sexual immorality, Paul used was "porneia" which means "a harlot for hire". In Corinth in the temples of Venus, the principal deity of Corinth, where Christians went to worship, a thousand public prostitutes were kept at public expense to glorify and act as surrogates for the fertility Gods. This sex with the pagan Gods is what Paul was talking about - fornication is an admitted mistranslation and has nothing to do with gays or singles sex. This rendering reflected the bias of the translators rather than an accurate translation of Paul's words to a culture of 2000 years ago worshipping pagan sex gods.

Romans 1:26-27 mentions homosexual acts performed by people who are clearly described as heterosexual. The men in the NT patriarchal culture exerted dominance not only over women, but over younger males as well. The nature of homosexual acts in the Bible are so very different from what we know as homosexuality today that the passages have no application to today's homosexuality. Such practices as in NT times simply no longer exist. Alleged references to homosexuality in I Corinthians and I Timothy are the inventions of anti-gay translators. They are not in the original Greek texts.
10th-May-2012 10:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your wonderfully stated and concise explanation of exactly what I wanted to express.
10th-May-2012 04:34 pm (UTC)
I agree. We shouldn't take things out of context to suit our own agendas. The Bible "clearly" states many things. Help me out on the following:

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine says that applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?
2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?
3. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrafice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?
4. I have a neighbor who insist on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 31:14 clearly states that he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police do it?
5. Lev. 21:20 says that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
6. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?
7. I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?
8. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary to go through all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them (Lev 24: 10-16)? Couldnt we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws (Lev 20:14)?

Just asking. My personal favorites are:

"“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

John 15:12 ESV

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

Ephesians 4:32 ESV

But who needs those anymore, right?
10th-May-2012 11:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting that. XD
10th-May-2012 04:59 pm (UTC)
This TRASH is a JOKE and an INSULT to anyone who has BELIEVES the BIBLE...the STORY has nothing AT ALL to do with GOD, JESUS or the HOLY BIBLE....it's just some more CRAP that came out of the Catholic ( PEDOPHILE, HOMOSEXUAL ) " so called church "....that was DISCREDITED by Martin Luther, Luther witnessed parties given by the pope, where little NAKED BOY'S poped out of cakes....Luther was persecuted by rome for revealing thier DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS....and now you present this STORY as if it holds some kind of legitimacy.....It is common knowledge that RAMPANT HOMOSEXUALITY was a MAJOR contributor to " THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE ".....JUST THE FAX
10th-May-2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
It is common knowledge that RAMPANT HOMOSEXUALITY was a MAJOR contributor to " THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE "

What?
(Deleted comment)
11th-May-2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
Amen!
10th-May-2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
thank you for posting this - very fascinating! One small error - The sinai is Egypt. Although in modern times it was temporarily Isreal from 1967 to 1973, it is decidedly Egyptian. Actually, a lot of it is a "no-man's land" at the moment, but the coastal areas are developed.
10th-May-2012 05:17 pm (UTC)
oh, nevermind - now, I see that you are quoting the article... :)
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