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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 
11th-May-2012 08:22 pm (UTC)
is there any citation for this? I really want to bring this up to people, but I can't make claims without citation
12th-May-2012 01:51 am (UTC)
Check out the book by John Boswell. He found the evidence for the same-sex unions, and photocopied every sheet, just in case the Roman church decided to destroy that evidence.
11th-May-2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting, I cross posted to my facebook too.
11th-May-2012 09:24 pm (UTC)
Please be very careful with this article. This article is from 2009 and the links and citations no longer work. We don't know if it's true or not. The user who posted this is no longer active on Livejournal either since January of 2010.
11th-May-2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
How smart to publicize an article from 2009 with links and citations that are no longer active by a user who is no longer active on Livejournal since January of 2010. There is no proof whatsoever that this article is fact...
(Deleted comment)
11th-May-2012 09:39 pm (UTC)
First attempt was marked as spam so I'll try again without the link to the scholarly article about John Boswell. Boswell is the actual source of the work even though as you go to various websites you get different authors. Check our amazon and you can find several of his books on the subject. His work is highly controversial among religious scholars primarily based on his interpretation of the various rites that he claims are about same gender weddings. I'l love for his work to be top notch, but I'm not convinced. Google John Boswell and look at the link to the information on him from Fordham university. I can't post the link the website doesn't seem to like that.
13th-May-2012 12:04 am (UTC)
Boswell SCHOLARLY??????? ......AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Thanks for the laugh!
11th-May-2012 09:46 pm (UTC)
The conversation in this thread has been very interesting! I applaud the ongoing dialogue, however I would like to help with some structure for those who are struggling to make their points valid. This is especially true for the religious pundits who stand upon or use faith as a benchmark for truth to validate their arguments - this people, is called a fallacy and "in order to understand what a fallacy is, one must understand what an argument is. Very briefly, an argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A premise is a statement (a sentence that is either true or false [i.e. States should make laws without the influence of religion]) that is offered in support of the claim being made, which is the conclusion (which is also a sentence that is either true or false [Religion(s) are social constructs and God does not exist]).

There are two main types of arguments: deductive and inductive. A deductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) complete support for the conclusion. An inductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) some degree of support (but less than complete support) for the conclusion. If the premises actually provide the required degree of support for the conclusion, then the argument is a good one. A good deductive argument is known as a valid argument and is such that if all its premises are true, then its conclusion must be true. If all the argument is valid and actually has all true premises, then it is known as a sound argument. If it is invalid or has one or more false premises, it will be unsound. A good inductive argument is known as a strong (or "cogent") inductive argument. It is such that if the premises are true, the conclusion is likely to be true.

A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an "argument" in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support [God exists because I believe so]. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion [the bible was written, I believe in the Bible, therefore God exists]). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply "arguments" which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provided enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true." Taken from:www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

It astounds me that we live in the 21st century with vastly rich technologies and understandings of our lives and the universe and yet something so trivial as two women or two men who want to honor the love they share through the bond of marriage is so contestable to others around them. Religious folks, please tell me how does same sex marriage hurt your life?
11th-May-2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
Thank you for actually using reason to explain things.

I agree with you 100%, I made a post 10min ago and it didn't work maybe LJ timed out. Anyways, I asked the same question as you how does this in anyway affect anyone else's life except those two people who are involved?

My other statement to many people posting is here is that, the entire time I went to church it was said that God knows past, present and future, and that he created everything. This being the case he knew homosexuality would come into being and therefore thought it up himself. He could not create something and know everything that was about to happen with it and not be the creator of that idea. If you want to debate that then lets say God knew he wouldn't like these things and decided to create people who would do them anyways, and the purpose for humans existence is "for his own pleasure" Sounds pretty sick to me.
11th-May-2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
The Original Article link doesn't seem to be working, and I'd love to see the original. Could that be fixed?
12th-May-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
If you post links here, LJ will mark your post as spam. So I'll try it this way:

The original Boswell article:
www dot fordham dot edu/halsall/pwh/1979boswell.asp

A list of his articles and their criticism
www dot fordham dot edu/halsall/pwh/index-bos.asp

A list of other Boswell lectures
www dot clgs dot org/john-e-boswell-lecture


11th-May-2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
Sorry but this kenard has come up repeatedly in the past and been refuted over and over again. This is not in any way shape or form a marriage ceremony. I have heard this even from liberal theologians. But even if there was any truth to this it means nothing. If this rite ever took place as a marriage ceremony, even the most cursory look at church history would reveal that it was clearly way out of the orthodox tradition of any time in the church's history. Another reason we know it's irrelevant is because tradition does not define doctrine and teaching. As much as some of you might like to believe that the church's views on marriage have been dramatically modified over the centuries; you are at best grasping at straws. The historical, document and manuscript evidence would prove such a claim to be remarkably unfounded and would actually reveal the church's teaching to be incredibly consistent over the years.

Whats hilarious about this is that many of you who are buying into this are probably among the first to criticise Christians for believing the bible; an ancient document for which the archaelogical and manuscript evidence to support it's accuracy is absolutely unparalleled. And yet when something like this comes along that aligns with your biblical revisionism, you ignore the fact that it's a highly suspect document and that it has been highly critcised and many would argue even outright refuted and say "See I knew they church was wrong". Talk about mindless faith.
11th-May-2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
I strongly disagree with the generalized statement that a few pieces of “research” could conclude that Christianity, as an entire religion, accepted and even blessed homosexual relationships throughout history. First, God (Jesus) has never, ever, blessed any homosexual relationship in Scripture. Scripture teaches all the way back in Genesis that God created Adam and Eve and blessed their union. Just because there was a picture of Jesus blessing a union between two men does not mean that Jesus would bless such a union. Anyone can paint a picture of anyone doing anything, it doesn’t make it true. Second, just because you can find a few churches which chose to do things differently than what Scripture teaches, does not mean that it was an accepted practice worldwide. Third, the majority of churches mentioned in this article were Catholic, which is a sect of Christianity, not the entirety of the religion. Any religion should not be judged based on what one sect chooses to do. Should all Pagans be judged based on what Wiccans choose to do? No, that would not be right. Plus, there is tons of evidence that suggests Catholics through history accepted homosexual relationships; that does not mean it is what Scripture teaches is right. Fourth, there are sects of Christianity even today that accepted homosexual relationships; that doesn’t mean that Christianity accepts the relationships. In every religion there are going to be minorities that do things and accept things differently from the original teachings. Scripture has never changed its point of view on homosexuality. God has always said it is not natural and will always say it is not natural. Just because man changes his mind and changes it back and changes it again does not make something right or wrong.
11th-May-2012 11:00 pm (UTC)
Good point that many denominations do bless same-sex unions. In the US, the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church have for decades. But even they would admit that these were decisions made for cultural and not biblical or doctrinal reasons and that they are made decisions that divert from traditional orthodoxy.
12th-May-2012 12:50 am (UTC)
The early christian church was heavily immoral in countless ways...so this does not speak for the morality of homosexuality but for the inconsistencies of the Christian churches. But biblical scholars tend to quote individual scriptures as proof of homosexual immorality instead of examining the message that God has sent us through the Bible. God asks us to recognize the sins in each of our hearts and actions and to humbly submit ourselves to his guidance. Should an individual seek to place their lives in the hands of God..that individual will be sculpted and molded into a more fruitful character...by God. It is only through a personal relationship with God that this work takes place.
Homosexuality is prevalent in Gods creation. It appears in the plant and animal world frequently and has always been present in the human species. If God thinks it is a problem..then let God handle it. It is not for us to decide. God values love most highly. God can read our hearts. If love is present..so is God. Sexual immorality can exist in any form of relationship...viewing any relationship through a solely sexual lens is immoral. When I meditate on my heterosexual status...it is not the sexual aspect which is predominant but the desire and commitment I feel towards my partnership. Marriage is a pact of love and partnership with another soul. Sexuality is one human trait that is shared in a marriage but it does not define a marriage.
12th-May-2012 07:14 am (UTC)
I agree with what you say in your first few sentences ... to a point. However, I think the point of the article was not nearly so directed at using the "inconsistencies" as you call them to decide the "morality" of homosexuality, but to illustrate the lack of consistency, and truth, of the modern church's statements of its always being against the "practice" of homosexuality ... since the beginning.

Another point of contention I have with your comments : Since when are the first 16 centuries somehow, when measured against the last 4, more "heavily immoral"? ... "Witch" burnings, slavery, the destruction of indigenous cultures, religions (and people) in the name of an (as you put it) "heavily immoral" religion, popes and cardinals living in luxury while their followers (yes THEIR followers) starve, the use of church boys as sex slaves, every form of graft and corruption known to man alive and well in the modern church. Which centuries of the church are truly the most "heavily immoral"? I think the church has been usurped by power hungry MEN just like every other organisation that requires any form of blind obedience. Also, though you might not wish to face it, your view of the church has been deeply colored by the teachings of the modern leaders ... and how many of them are just using the church as cover to hide their own immorality ... oops, I almost forgot ... the Bible was written during those "heavily immoral" early years of the church.

The truth is that continuous ignorance of your own past, or your religion's past, and the lies and half-truths promulgated by the leaders of that religion (driven by their own hatreds, or to hide behind), invariably lead to hatred and even murder by the also immoral, or simply "blind" followers of the religion, and thus its "heavily immoral" leaders. I have a number of homosexual friends whose morality, kindness and dedicated love, I would challenge most of Christendom's modern leaders to match.
12th-May-2012 01:38 am (UTC)
I can't possibly read through all of these comments but, I'd just like to state my case even if it has been stated before.

What I'm gathering in a sense from a lot of people is that Christianity is the final word on everything. Christianity however is one of the youngest religions in the world. Christianity isn't law, it isn't the final word because believe it or not, not everyone is a Christian or Catholic. There are people who have spiritual beliefs and there are people who have pagan beliefs. While Christians are scared because "The Cult of Jesus Christ" has scared them into religious war (whether it be violent or a war of words) they're scared of Hell. That's the only reason why people do what they do, they wouldn't care if there was no "consequence" in their after life. If you are perturbed at me calling Christianity a "cult", please look up the definition and what scholars have set as red flags for you that you have been dragged into one. One of them that stands out to me is "Fear of Leaving" and most Christians have been scared into staying into their religion.
I find people who voice their opinion about religious beliefs, truly have no idea what they are talking about. There are so many things in the Bible that people choose to forget because its "outdated". I remember having a discussion with my mothers ex-boyfriend about this. His son was autistic (severely) and he was a very Christian man. I cannot remember the passage but there is one in there that states that anyone who is mentally handicapped is unclean and cannot stand before God. He chose to forget that one didn't he, because it applied to someone he loved. There is also one that states that a man with one testicle cannot go to heaven. My father recently passed away, he had his testicle removed because of cancer, does that mean my father isn't in what we call "Heaven"?
People pick and choose what they want to believe and most homophobia comes from people who have a hard time facing their own sexuality. Here's a news flash for most of you who fear a gay person will come on to you and make love to you, don't flatter yourself, you're not that amazing.
Religion should be personal. Now, if you want to practice with people of like mind I am all for sharing that with people who love your God just as much as you do. In our country (U.S.A) we have a separation of church and state. We don't really, most of this nations laws are based on Christian belief but, regardless, the church has overstepped its boundaries. I firmly believe that the state should over step theirs and meet them half way. The government should state that any and all religious beliefs should not uphold in the government as it was written to be, and knock the Christian belief firmly into the ground and put them back in their place. Christianity is one of many and just because it has more of a public following doesn't mean it should have say in others lives who are not of that faith.
I'd also like to remind those who read the Bible, it is written by man. Men, who could have been opium addicts (a large crop in that time period) or men who could have been schizophrenic or have severe mental disability. It is funny, a person today who claims they have the "word of God", is very much so considered to be a crazy person, but a book full of ancient ones, they're "heaven sent". These are a group of stories written by men with their own beliefs and could truly be a piece of propaganda. Their stories are colorful but that's really it. God did not write the Bible, man did.

You know, to end my remarks with a bit of sarcasm, I can't wait in a couple thousand years, when people pick up a Harry Potter book and read through all of them and have the "Church of Potter". Her stories are just as colorful, magical, and filled with morality. Then again, who will be around to prove it to be fiction?



Edited at 2012-05-12 01:43 am (UTC)
12th-May-2012 06:06 am (UTC)
I think I've already met a few "Potterians"!
12th-May-2012 01:41 am (UTC)
Interesting how the errors, mistakes,sins amd heresies of the past keep being repeated in the present!
12th-May-2012 04:07 am (UTC)
People ought to study not only the History of their Culture, or Nation, but the History of the Human Race.
12th-May-2012 04:22 am (UTC)
This article wildly overstates its evidence:

"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)."

In point of fact, the rite that Boswell discovered was called "adelphopoesis," or "the making of brothers. The rite specifically stated that the relationship solemnized with spiritual, not sexual. Boswell's translation as "Office of Same-Sex Union" is a hopeless reach and a clearly biased translation.

It doesn't seem to me that the author is trying to objectively and even-handedly pursue the facts.

Edited at 2012-05-12 04:24 am (UTC)
13th-May-2012 10:14 am (UTC)
Married couples at one point refered to each other as brother and sister. They were certainly boning. Some of those brothers could have boned, too. What better way for two gay men to fly under the radar?
12th-May-2012 06:00 am (UTC)
Wonderful article and not surprising in the least. I learned, in the course of a cultural anthropology course, that similar investigations of the Church's own archives had shown that the Christian Church's position on abortion has had much the same swing in opinion. Apparently, and I can't quote the dates precisely, in the early few centuries of the church's existence, it used the Aristotelian definition of life in the womb as occurring at the "quickening". This meant that before movement was felt, the fetus had not had the "spirit" enter it ... and thus, it was no sin to abort. Whatever one's viewpoint on abortion today, it is ingenuous for the Church to say that it has always stood against abortion ... or as the work illustrated in your article demonstrates, homosexuality. One can't help but wonder what other lies, or half-truths the Church perpetuates on its followers, or just how much hate and death can be laid at the feet of those who have done so.
12th-May-2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
If this position was ever held by anyone in the ancient church (and I am suspicious of your claim) it would have been held by someone who had strayed from orthodox teaching especially given that in the ancient church the doctrine of the immortal soul was much more widely accepted. My guess is that these "archives" that you reference morel likely describe activities of ancient hereitcal groups, probably gnostics. Regardless to claim that such a distorted view of abortion was accpted by the church at large would be, to say the least, a claim that would not be taken seriously by church historians. The fact that it was based on an idea formed by Aristotle (A man who's ideas had literally been banned from the church) already highly suggests that it was a heretical group that held to this distorted view of abortion (if there was any group that held to it).
12th-May-2012 06:22 am (UTC)
Thank god I'm Agnostic! ;-)

Seriously though, Christians worship an alien deity of superior intelligence that on the one hand is omniscient, omnipotent, mysterious and yet loving. But on the other hand is jealous, vengeful, violent (even murderous) and, oh yeah, has low self esteem and a helluva insecurity complex requiring these primitive creatures he has created to WORSHIP him and follow a slew of silly rules!

Really? That's like me raising a family of gerbils and then getting angry when they don't do what I say.

Stand back a little and honestly ask yourself: Doesn't this whole God concept seem just a little too silly to be real?
13th-May-2012 10:17 am (UTC)
A+
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