When Gay Marriage Was A Christian Rite

sergius_bacchus_7th_centuryWhen the conservative-minded say they favor a return to the traditional Christian definition of marriage, they might want to further explore what they mean by that. Via Irish Times:

A Kiev art museum contains a curious icon from St. Catherine’s monastery on Mt. Sinai. It shows two robed Christian saints. Between them is a traditional Roman pronubus (best man) overseeing what in a standard Roman icon would be the wedding of a husband and wife. In the icon, Christ is the pronubus. Only one thing is unusual. The “husband and wife” are in fact two men.

The very idea of a Christian homosexual marriage seems incredible. Yet after a twelve year search of Catholic and Orthodox church archives Yale history professor John Boswell has discovered that a type of Christian homosexual “marriage” did exist as late as the 18th century. Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has evolved as a concept and as a ritual.

Boswell found records of same sex unions in such diverse archives as those in the Vatican, in St. Petersburg, in Paris, Istanbul, and in Sinai, covering a period from the 8th to 18th centuries. Nor is he the first to make such a discovery. The Dominican Jacques Goar (1601-1653) includes such ceremonies in a printed collection of Greek prayer books.

40 Comments on "When Gay Marriage Was A Christian Rite"

  1. half an article?? really, bro

  2. Shootisttx | May 17, 2012 at 12:56 pm |

    I think it is time to put this subject to rest…people are going to do what they do, and they have only God to answer to, not we fallible humans. We need to teach our children well and mind our own business…

  3. DeepCough | May 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm |

    Well, it turns out God doesn’t hate fags after all.

  4. Calypso_1 | May 17, 2012 at 2:48 pm |

    It would be interesting for a church to adopt that iconography.

  5. The Catholic Faith believes that the priests are married to the church, which is why they do not allow marriage.  So this picture represents that.

    • Calypso_1 | May 17, 2012 at 2:50 pm |

      So it’s a three-way gay marriage with Jesus?

    • I believe that marriage is a union between two people. If we start letting people marry churches, next they’ll want to marry banks and parking garages. It’s a slippery slope, my friend.

    • Darkhydrastar | May 18, 2012 at 2:27 am |

      I respectfully disagree. You are thinking of nuns. Nuns are said to be the brides of christ. And even if your assumption were correct, how do you simply cast away the entire study because one featured picture could have been interpreted in another way? One would have to look closely at the evidence as a whole and note the various similarities and differences between the works themselves.

    • moongrim69 | May 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

      If such was true, then the Catholic Church would have a kazillion such images.  And not to mention why is there two priests in the mosaic?  If the ‘singular’ priest was getting married to the church?

  6. Mr Willow | May 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has evolved as a concept and as a ritual.

    Especially since feudal European ‘marriage’ was actually a contract between two ruling families, whereby the daughter of one is given to the son (or king) of another in exchange for political favours or amicability between them, as well as forming a genetic bond between them (I’d imagine as a way of escaping incest). 

    • Calypso_1 | May 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |

      Maybe this is a representation of Christ claiming prima nocturne from these lovers.  He certainly had precedent with his Daddy.

  7. Your friends or your church
    can honor whatever “wedding” you do, but the state participates as an
    interested party to the contract when you get legally married. Its own
    interests are rightfully to be considered before jiggering definitions.
    This is a legislative choice, NOT a constitutional right. I’m equally
    unfree (as a heterosexual) as a homosexual is to marry someone of my
    own gender.   HATEFUL of a citizenty to
    define marriage? What ELSE can’t we define? The age of majority?
    Native American? Income tax brackets? The phrase “Marriage equality”
    is contrived to constrain anyone from giving the legal definition of
    marriage real thought.

    • Nhtrucker80 | May 17, 2012 at 11:56 pm |

      Actually, when our secular government got into the business of regulating marriage, it became a constitutional issue. The arguement against gay marriage is from religion. The first amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. The 14th amendment protects all civil and political rights of all American citizens. Gays born in this country are still American citizens, right?  As for definitions, Dictionary.com, The American Heritage Dictionary, Black’s Law Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, and Webster’s have all added same-sex unions to their definitions of marriage.

  8. Whoever believes that two fags should be married, and that this is what is best for the natural order of things, must be a fag or insane.

    • Or believe that all men were created equal and deserve equal protection and benefit of the law.

      • There’s a fine line between ‘equal protection’ and ‘special rights’.

        • Exactly, which is why we don’t want to give people who happen to have been born heterosexual ‘special rights’. Either we grant equal rights to those who happen to be homosexual, or we take away those special marriage rights that have been granted to the heterosexual couples.

  9. Iriving Greenfield | May 18, 2012 at 9:16 am |

    The one on the left is a man, look at the square jaw/chin. The one on the right is a woman, who has a more rounded chin……….the one on the left has an adams apple (notice how the line dips down and back up again, the one on the right does not.

    • Jin The Ninja | May 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm |

       a very interesting analysis of early christian art and iconography. may i ask where you recieved your doctorate? and how do you reconcile the written accounts and records with your thesis?

    • Andy Plotkin | May 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm |

      They look like brother and sister to me 😎

  10.  sergius hearts bacchus 4ever

  11. Cute…and this is far from the only evidence of gay marriage throughout the history of Christianity…but it still fails to address the serious issues that plague all modern conservative Christians…

    …for those who don’t realize the width and depth of psychosis in fundamentalist Christianity today…to a large degree they consider Catholics as heathen as everyone else outside the Evangelical baptist faith. The early Christians in their eyes were pre-Catholics, and modern Fundamentalism represents a return to true faith after nearly two thousand years of false faith by pagan Catholics. This is how they dodge the entire history of Christianity.

    I’m not mentioning this to disagree with calls for gay marriage…I’m all for it…but its also important to mention that this will never even come close to denting the armor of psychotic rage that modern Christians wear to protect them from the cruel barbs of historical truth and any accompanying lessons about perspective.

    As for me…I usually stick to “Hey…remember that freedom of religion bit? The part that makes you tax free? Yeah…about that…there are churches that want to marry gays. Your position is that the government has the right to step in and disallow any legal effects of these churches rites. Is that a trend you want to set? Either religions you disagree with are free to practice the rites of their faith and be equally respected under the law…or all religions are potentially subject to the whims of fate and can lose their freedom at any time. Wanna keep religion free? Let gays marry and we all win. Wanna set up a nice trend toward government dictating faith because it seemed advantageous right now and then have it bite you in the ass later? Then go on ahead with the whole program of asking government to step and assist in keeping marriage restricted for the ‘right kind of people’. See how that works out for ya.”

    Modern conservative Christians want the cake and want to eat it too. They think freedom of religion is a one way street that serves one faith. It ain’t. I favor freedom of religion…but unlike these carping moaning pantywaists…I’m willing to pay the price to have freedom of religion. That price is separation of church and state. The price means tolerating everyone else…so that I may be free in my home or my church to believe whatever I see fit to believe. The term ‘freedom isn’t free’ doesn’t just apply to hokey memes with flags…it has a certain universal truth to it. It’s just too bad that after 200 years of living in a country not plagued by religious purges…most of these cushy living ingrates have no idea what that truth would be…and are too busy spouting off their list of perceived grudges to look a little deeper.

  12. Freedomusa | May 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm |

    The one on the left looks female so I dont believe it

  13. I’m all for it…”be fruitful and multiply” without artificial means. And that image is not 2 men or 2 women but, nice try to pervert the facts.  As it goes, I’m all for giving you guys and gals a piece of paper so you can pay ridiculous taxes in the US because that’s ALL you will get for being “married”! Take it and have a blast.

  14. Anti-Crowley | May 19, 2012 at 8:17 am |

    How about gov’t doesn’t define marriage to begin with.  Secondly, if one little known piece of art is Sloan’s entire argument, it is a weak one.  How this is suppose to represent all of Christendom is beyond reasonable conclusion.  If this weak of a point were directed at anything other than Christians it would be universally rejected as such on this site.  It is called special pleading Sloan.

  15. while it’s always fun to point out the hypocrisy and fails of Christianity… but gay marriage is not really about the religious aspect, its about equal protection under law. 
    it’s about being able to visit a sick lover in the hospital and make medical decisions for them when needed. 
    it’s about being able to cover your spouse and family under insurance.
    its about being able to take sick leave or a bereavement leave in a time of need. 
    about being able to make funeral arrangements, not having a  will contested, and/ or being able to adopt with a spouse.
    about being able to buy a house together with out being discriminated against. 
    all these things that most couples take for granted, why should it be denied to 2 consenting adults that want to share a life together? why should it vary from state to state? if one church does not want to be forced to perform a ceremony fine… there are plenty of Christian churches that do accept gays and will perform a ceremony. 

    • You make a very good point, and there is no valid reason why same sex couples shouldn’t have these rights. I personally think gays should be able to just create their own institution, similar to marriage with all the rights you mentioned, and be done with it. As long as the government recognized it I think everybody would be happy. They could even throw the word “Fabulous” in the title…. That last part was a joke…

  16.  Homosexual marriages have NEVER been excepted in Christianity. Looks like someone has thrown out the tenants & beliefs of the Catholic church to put their own spin on things. I’m not even of the Catholic faith and to me the icon is  two priests who are committing their lives to Christ in so much the same way as those who are Nuns giving their lives to Christ & the Church.
    People always give the lame excuse of.. Well Jesus never said anything on Homosexuality. Why would he even have too being that Jesus was a Jew?
    All Jews of his day KNEW the law that was handed down threw Moses from God and also knew that to participate in such acts was a death sentence. If confronted by a homosexual I’d expect Jesus to treat him in the very same way he treated the woman found in adultey….to go and sin no more.

  17. yeah, i don’t think anyone is going to marry a parking garage. Gay marriage should be totally legal though, I just comprehend why people like to tell people how to live their lives. I don’t even want to be associated with anyone who thinks gay people shouldn’t be married because you have to be nuts to think that.

    • Anti-Crowley | May 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm |

      There is a difference between thinking that homosexuality is wrong on morale grounds and thinking that the gov’t should be making it illegal.  Consider infidelity, most think it is wrong but it is not illegal.

  18. Established Poster | May 21, 2012 at 11:45 am |

    I find that Christianity is something I disagree with.  The problem with it is that when you get down to the underpinning beliefs they are not the same as mine.  Most of my friends (which are on this site) think the same way.  I am a very independent thinker and don’t seek approval like the Christians do.  Right guys?

  19. I_0wns_j00 | Aug 3, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

    Catholics aren’t Christians, try reading their bible, then read a real King James Edition.  Catholicism is a watered down insult to Christianity, much like the church of England.  I am a fond believer in adam and eve, not adam and steve.

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