Sunday, May 13, 2012

Does the idea of same sex marriage fly in the face of thousands of years of traditional marriage. Actually no.

Courtesy of the Wayback Machine:  

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.

Oh God, how much do I love this?

As you know, I of course believe the religious argument against same sex marriage to be completely irrelevant to any discussion about human rights and how, and who, we should be allowed to love.

However since it is the SINGLE obstacle blocking the acceptance of extending marriage rights to the LGBT community, of course it must be addressed.

So my question is, if the facts stated in this article are correct, what does THAT do the arguments put forth by Mitt Romney, Bristol Palin's ghostwriter, and the Religious Right in general?

I anxiously await your thoughts.


  1. Anonymous2:38 AM

    I would say it shoots their theory to heck and back.

    Ignorance is not a good foundation for faith. Maybe there is a reason that the symbol for casting Adam and Eve out of Eden was partaking of the "tree of knowledge." Once you begin to question, to learn, you are not content to remain ignorant. Gaining knowledge is a process that encourages us to be more, experience more, appreciate more.

    Knowledge frees the mind from the narrowness of dogma. It celebrates thought and acceptance of the world as it is. Knowledge challenges us to realize that we do not have all the answers.

  2. this seems like a better source link, although the wayback machine does show that this is not only "not a new idea" but not even a "new to the internet idea."

    still, the real "source" should -and does- still hit back to dr. john boswell

  3. Sally in MI3:54 AM

    What does it do to their arguments? Why, it turns them into crap. As usual, fear turns people into monsters. Fear of a free black man turned the ignorant white men into killers. Fear of women and power turned white 'religious' men into killers. Fear of intelligent black men has turned white men into fear-mongers stoking hate. Fear of intelligent women has turned 'religious' men into neanderthals who think banning contraception would make America 'exceptional' again.
    AGAIN? This country has been exceptional only in the words of politicians looking for votes. I don't think denying people rights, atttacking other countries, redistributing wealth UPWARD, ignoring science for profit, funding the war machine at the expense of children's education and health, at the expense of the elderly's security, and at the expense of killing thousands of our young people, makes this country anything like exceptional. What would be exceptional is if we can value every single person on this Earth, live and let live, and truly follow the teachings of Jesus or Allah or Mohammed...peaceful men who urged acceptance and PEACE. When we stop worrying about the beliefs of others, and just live this brief time on Earth in a peaceful manner, instead of trying to tell people that if they don't look and act just like us, they deserve to be beaten, shunned, or killed, everyone will be better off. Now, wouldn't THAT be a lovely world?

  4. Anonymous4:02 AM

    I love this. cut, copied and saved.

    Time for me to start e-mailing back my crazy relatives.

    1. Anonymous7:03 AM

      actually, I think it should be mailed to President Obama's campaign - I imagine they could do something rather fun and creative with this.

  5. Ailsa4:54 AM

    What thought could one have, but this is too delicious? I love it.

  6. And marriage was just a way to unite landholding families to keep the wealth in the larger family. Women were chattel to be traded for economic benefit. Holy union? BS.

    And Mitt's grandfather fled to Mexico so he could have more than one wife.

  7. who the fuck cares how some fraud religion treats homosexuality!

    gay people have been part of the human existence from day one.

    "I exist as I am, that is enough".

    Walt Whitman

    1. ibwilliamsi6:21 AM

      I love Walt Whitman. That being said, he won't convince the religious right. The only thing they hear is the history of their churches.

  8. Anonymous5:11 AM

    You want my thoughts?

    No matter how carefully recorded, History means nothing to fanatics. Neither does Reason.

    On a lighter note, thanks for the picture!
    Had to laugh, remembering my twin sons' graduation pictures. Nice stature and curly mop of hair that went by the wayside a few weeks after when they both joined the Coast Guard. Thirty years later, after retiring from the service, those curls are back, have greyed, and yes, those guys still are handsome!

    Happy Mothers Day to All of us, fromthediagonal.

  9. Anonymous6:00 AM

    Rand Paul acts like a jackass in front of a near empty room:

    ...But it is Rand Paul’s speech that interests me here. Last night, Sarah Jones wrote that where marriage equality is concerned, Republicans must evolve or die. We apparently have our answer from Rand Paul: he is choosing not to evolve. He is choosing to act like a third grade boy instead. We know he’s not: he knew something his crowd did not, obviously, who Dostoyevsky is and about “All Quiet on the Western Front”, references that bored his audience, so he went all Republican bully instead. Declining to address Obama’s decision to support marriage equality on its merits, he made fun of them saying: “Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer.”

    I did not know you could have a “gay” view on marriage. This is, literally speaking, a third grader alternative to intelligent discussion.You all know how it goes: “That’s gay!” or “You’re gay!” to which the immature response is, “Oh yeah? You’re gayer!”

    1. Anonymous7:07 AM

      It's Tennessee - what do you expect? Scopes monkey trial, don't say gay (in the land of first amendment rights) and now, "gateway" sexual behavior.I'm guessing chastity belts are next.

    2. Anita Winecooler7:04 PM

      Loved the comment from "Steve" who linked to this thread.

      This guy is Ron Paul's "Bristol", on the wrong side of every issue, the only difference is he can get a crowd of 300 and a lucite podium with a cross on it to "preach" on how to be a bully and "moral" at the same time.

  10. Anonymous6:01 AM

    Gay Myths – Busted

  11. Anonymous6:04 AM

    Stephen Fry’s social media Out For Marriage campaign is getting some Saturdays love. The British and Irish pop band behind hits Forever Is Over and Just Can’t Get Enough added a new video to support the gay marriage campaign.

    Check out Frankie Sandford, Vanessa White, Una Healy, Mollie King and Rochelle Wiseman of The Saturdays telling us why they are Out4Marriage:

  12. Balzafiar6:32 AM

    Gryphen, thanks for this post; it's a very intriguing article, so much so that I've ordered a copy of the book.

    The full title is: "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century".

    Amazon has the paperback new for about $24 but it is available through for under $10 used (including shipping), various conditions.

    It should be very interesting reading.

  13. Anonymous6:49 AM

    Happy Mother's Day to one and all!
    Personally I could care less what any religion has to say about any marriage. But I do understand why you posted this, but the people in the US that think think way don't even realize that their Jesus wasn't white.

    1. I agree. Here in America, they all think Jesus looked like Brad Pitt in Interview With The Vampire, when in reality, he probably looked an awful lot like Osama Bin Laden.

  14. Anonymous7:09 AM

    Someone needs to ask Rmoney what a Boston marriage is, too. He WAS the guv of MA after all,

  15. The religious right is made up of simpletons who will NEVER change their minds. I find it kind of funny that these are the people who seem to have the least understanding of the Bible. Ignorance is as ignorance does.

    1. GrannyMe12:34 PM

      How very right you are. Ask your average Bible Thumper how many of each animal Noah took with him on the Ark. Invariably, they will answer "two." The *real* answer never fails to shock them. That's because they know the Bible *story*, but NOT the Bible.

      (hint: Genesis 7:2)

    2. Anita Winecooler7:22 PM

      What I'd like to know is why he didn't swat those two mosquitoes

  16. Anonymous11:46 AM

    If they really want to return to historical marriage, then wives are either bought, captured or betrothed before being born. Which marriage standard are they referring to when they want marriage defined in the classic sense?

  17. Grey Lensman12:15 PM

    When same-sex marriage Was a Christian

  18. Gay marriage could help save the economy!!!!12:36 PM

    The thing no one talks about is how great gay marriage would be for the economy. The states would get more revenue from marriage licenses. The wedding industry and the hotel industry would get a huge boost. Can you imagine how fabulous some of the gay weddings would be? The economy needs gay marriage and exactly how can Republicans argue with companies making big money and hiring more people to handle all the new weddings.

  19. Anita Winecooler6:38 PM

    Funny, I copied this link from comments in's Article titled "Knucklehead Of The Week", and guess who won?

    Well worth reading the entire link


    I tend to think it's valid, many early paintings and iconography do show same sex couples, predating the schism of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. I toured the uffizi gallery and saw many depictions of Baccus and other paired same sex couples receiving the sacrament of Matrimony. I doubt they would have taken the time nor expense to portray them if they didn't exist. I saw a segment on MSNBC about the men in Roman art looking a lot like Sly Stallone, and I have to agree.

    Boswell's book is available on amazon, I have it on my "to read" There's a kindle version, but this link shows the book and "sneak peek".

    Of course what tourists see, for the most part, are replicas. The original works, along with the spoils of the Crusades, are housed in the Vatican, and not open to public view. (I have a feeling there's a lot of graphic sexual imagery as well that's kept secret and will never be seen).

    Thanks for opening this to discussion, I find it fascinating that they suppressed this from coming forth, while secular society seems to be evolving.

    To me personally, it won't change a thing, believers in heterosexual only marriage don't seem too open to the concept of "evolving".

    Off to read the comments....

  20. Gay Guy7:15 PM

    Boswell’s book WAS fascinating but, out of fairness, it wasn’t rock-solid.

    The ceremony of adelphopoiesis (ah-dell-fo-po-EE-siss) literally translates as "brother-making.” Historians have long interpreted it as a sort of church-sanctioned blood pact. Often used to unite former enemies, it was a great way for the church to increase its influence.

    Boswell DID build a strong case that adephopoiesis MIGHT have included some gay relationships.

    Unfortunately, so far no ancient written texts have ever turned up to prove it -– like, “Adolphus XII is my hottie little bear cub forEVER!”

    But there's another FASCINATING find from ancient Egypt.

    Discovered in 1964, the tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep dates from the Fifth Dynasty (roughly from 2500 BC to 2350 BC).

    What's remarkable is that its walls are covered with images of two MEN in postures traditionally used to depict married couples.

    Were they close friends ? Brothers -- twins, maybe ? Or were they actually husbands ?

    As a gay guy, I think the official title bestowed on them both by the Pharoah pretty much says it all: “Prophet of Re in the Sun-Temple of Niusserre, Overseer of Manicurists of the Great House.”

    There’s lots of info and great pix of the tomb here:

    But whether or not any of the above proves there’s a historical precedent for gay marriage doesn’t matter AT ALL.

    Anyone who believes in the U.S. Constitution must support marriage equality.


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