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Friday, June 8, 2007

History of Same-Sex Marriage

posted by on June 8 at 11:12 AM

Last Friday, New Hampshire became the fourth state to legalize same-sex civil unions. And of course Christians who feel the need to control everyone else’s sexuality but their own had a lot to say about it.

Of greatest concern to the freaks this time is New Hampshire Governor John Lynch’s statement, “How could any one of us look into the eyes of our neighbors, our friends, or our loved ones if we continued to deny them these basic legal protections?”

Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council responded: “Homosexuals have experienced disapproval, but they have not endured centuries of violence, abuse, segregation, and slavery. Unlike ethnicity, homosexual behavior is a choice. A person can choose to either participate in homosexual behavior or not to participate. An African-American cannot choose to participate in having black skin; they are born with it. Lynch’s suggestion that homosexuals who want to marry are oppressed or victims of discrimination is simply outrageous. No person is being denied the right to marry. They are simply asked to meet the core requirement (since civilization began) that both genders be present.”

Aside from the utter ridiculousness of discounting the historical and current abuse of homosexuals, I have to counter the claim heard over and over again from the nutty right that same-sex marriage has never occurred in the history of humanity. Not that Christians give any credence to history, science, or logic that doesn’t fit into their horrible biases, but the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches sanctioned gay unions for a period of more than 1,000 years, between A.D. 500 and 1500 in a ceremony called the Adelphopoiesis, or “the making of brothers”. So all you Christians, go ahead and hate others because of your fear of your own sexuality, but don’t use history to defend it. Facts and history aren’t on your side. (And is his point that having “black skin” is only not a sin because it’s not a choice?)

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Don't hate the darkies, they can't help that they suck. But the mo's, THEY do it by choice... AND LITERALLY!

Posted by monkey | June 8, 2007 11:22 AM

Tony Perkins obviously likes it hard and in the anus.

Posted by Mr. Poe | June 8, 2007 11:22 AM

ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzz ... Freaky Friday apparently is a great day to play outside.

Posted by frederick r | June 8, 2007 11:23 AM

I get the feeling that there are some folks around these parts today who wish that they were chosen for Freaky Friday so they're posting more whether they have something to say or not with the hopes that it'll be their turn next time...

As a somewhat OCD Slog reader I'll point out that this Friday's freaks typically post comments that are interesting, insightful, or funny.

Posted by curious | June 8, 2007 11:34 AM

I hate the argument that homosexuals can change their behavior but blacks can't change their skin color. Let's just ask Michael Jackson if that's really true!

Posted by MJ | June 8, 2007 11:35 AM

Glad you brought this up! My favorite part about the history of the early church is that it does most of my work for me (hey, my favorite part about the Christian bible is that it argues against its own authority: I find Christians to be a very accommodating bunch, if one is interested in pointing out their hypocrisies and inaccuracies).

Yeah, fundies—hell, even non fundy christians—don't much talk about adelphopoiesis because most of them haven't heard of adelphopoiesis because, uh, it's a church-sanctioned same sex union. Wouldn't their (collective) face be red, if that got out?

Adelphopoiesis. We don't exactly know what the term *means* but, as you note, the literal transl. of the Greek is "brother-making." The liturgy (yeah, there's a full on religious, priest-led liturgy for this) is essentially indistinguishable from het liturgy from the period, except that it names all of these famous same-sex saintly "couples" that those undergoing adelphopoeisis are to emulate. It is a same sex union, sanctified by the church. Period.

Here's what a Greek Orthodox brother (as in monk, not as in, like, black guy) had to say about adelphopoiesis way back in the dark, dark age of 1982.

"Through fraternization [Grk: adelphopoiesis] the ideal love between youths was made obvious [historically]. Its influence and its consequences were revealed in immortal deeds such as the heroic death of the "hieros lochos" ["Sacred Band", a famous all-gay male military unit] of Thebes during the battle of Chaeroneia in 338 B.C. (Xenoph. Polit. Laked. II, 12 Ploutarch Erot. 17 Pelop. 18)."

Hey, even the emperors did it:

“Thus, Strategius was blood-brother of Emperor Justinian. Patricius Severus was blood-brother of Emperor Constans (641-668), grandson of Emperor Heraclius. Michael III became blood-brother with Basil with a Church ritual in the Church (L. Grammatikos Bekker edition p. 234).”

Sergius and Bacchus are probably the most famous coupl'a saints who have been recognized to have lived as a same-sex couple (we have some good frescoes of them in what has all appearances of being a "marriage" pose, Jesus between and above them). The actual union has been slightly sloppily popularized by the gay community; if they used the material more carefully, they could present an utterly damning case against church claims that the church has always outlawed same sex unions. It's in their history and their texts. It has been for years.

Oh, the RCC doesn't get away, either. They had the "Ordo ad fratres faciendum," which means the "Order for the making of brothers." Similar liturgy.

It's actually still happening, or so it seems, in some areas of Greece. Union of two men, in front of a priest.

Who knew?

Well, lots of folks. But there are even more who don't want anyone to know.

Posted by Abulafia | June 8, 2007 11:41 AM

Fascinating, all this is certainly news to me.

But, I also can't help noting the argument Perkins makes re: homosexual behavior being a "choice" (notice how he carefully parses out the state of being "homosexual" from homosexual "behavior"), could just as easily be applied to religion itself. No one is born with an inherent belief in a Supreme Being, it's a learned "behavior", instilled in an individual based on the particular belief system held by ones parents.

So, using his own logic, why should religious "behavior" be any more or less protected than homosexual "behavior"?

Posted by COMTE | June 8, 2007 11:56 AM

As an addendum, would someone mind telling the Christians that the reason some of us *know for sure* that neither the Torah nor the Christian NT have anything to say about homosexuality is that there was *no word* for homosexuality in ancient Hebrew, Ancient Greek, or Ancient Latin? I mean, forget the fact that Jesus never says anything about gay marriage (neither, of course, does the Torah); Jesus COULD NOT HAVE said anything about gay marriage because he would not have had a word for "gay." I guess if he cared a hell of a lot about it he could have used periphrasis "And, when, you know, like two people are a man and a man, not a man and a woman, and they are in love and so on... I mean 'love' love, not just like 'I like you, Shlomo,' but like... well, you know, like the kind of love wherein you only want to be with that person... damn, I don't know what we call that. Anyway, you know those people? Well, I don't think they should be married according to Jewish law. I'm feeling pretty strongly about it."

He could have said that, if he really felt that strongly about it. But he didn't, did he? And although I'm betting the absence is not just due to the fact that he didn't have a word for "homosexual," the fact is that he didn't have a word for "homosexual."

Not back then.

Did not exist. Just as there was no classical word in Greek or Latin for "believe in God" in a religious sense, there was no classical word for "homosexual."

Posted by Abulafia | June 8, 2007 11:58 AM

Beyond all that, the prohibition against gay marriage isn't about behavior. It's about discrimination on the basis of sex.

A gay man could marry a gay woman, no problem. Hell, switch that around in any permutation you want. Any man can marry any woman (informed consent issues, etc., taken into consideration). It's not about behavior.

It's about sexual discrimination. It's discrimination on the basis of genetics—XX and XY are Ok for marriage; any other genetic combination is not—which is to say, on the basis of something as inborn as skin color. Men can't choose to be men any more than black people can choose to be black people (expand this for women, white, and so on).

Those who seek to prohibit (and continue to prohibit) marriage between same sex partners are are withholding civil rights on the basis of an inborn characteristic. Not the gay part; just the chromosomal part.

Actually, since XXYs and such can clearly get married (to, say, a XX), the discrimination is just against Genetic Typicals (XX or XY), or GTs.

"core requirement (since civilization began)..."

What a moron. I love it when people with no freaking concept of anything say things like "since civilization began." I'd love to talk "the beginnings of civilization" with this idiot.

Posted by Abulafia | June 8, 2007 12:08 PM

Ahh, the choice argument.

If sexuality is a choice, could someone please ask Tony Perkins when he chose to be straight?

(Assuming of course that he's not one of those talibangelicals that has to take a cock out of his mouth long enough to condemn homosexuality).

Posted by Original Andrew | June 8, 2007 12:11 PM

@8 - I don't remotely think the biblical argument holds any weight whatsoever, but didn't Jesus allegedly say something along the lines of "if a man lies down with another man as a woman, then blah blah blah sin hell etc."? I thought that was where they got it from.

But in the end, I don't care what the Bible says. It's a stupid old book written by a bunch of crazy douchebags thousands of years ago. Screw 'em.

Posted by Levislade | June 8, 2007 12:24 PM

@11: ""if a man lies down with another man as a woman, then blah blah blah sin hell etc."? "

Not Jesus. That comes from the Torah, Leviticus 18.22. Hold on.

Here it is (ya always gotta have a Torah handy):

"Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence."

There is also Lev. 20:13:

"If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death" [yikes! That's gotta smart!]

Ok, so first. Not in the Christian bible. Jesus did not say these words. This is the Jewish bible, which (1) predates Jesus by, say, at least... 600 or so years, and (2) which, in these passages, is addressed to priestly families and activity connected to temple services, and (3) which is addressed to the majority population, which is to say men who would have been expected to live in heterosexual unions—the point is that these passages seem to be about men raping other men (passages around these are about incest and so on) rather than "same sex union" in any understanding of the term, and (4) all of Leviticus (and certainly these passages) is mainly concerned with prohibiting abuses of power, because the Torah is a book of Laws for the governance of an archaic community that sought to prevent abuses of power.

Oh, and one more thing. Even if the Torah passage *had* said anything, word one, anything at all, about homosexual marriage, the Christian claim is that the "Old Law" became obsolete upon the arrival of their messiah. Which means that even if same-sex unions had been prohibited in the Torah (and they aren't; nothing about union in there), that would have become—for Christians—null and void upon Jesus' "resurrection."

So, no. Jesus didn't say that. Certainly no one ever said you go to hell for it. When you hear a Christian make that claim, they got it from their pastor, not their god.

I don't think either the Torah or the Christian bible are "stupid old books." They are fine old books, and full of important ethical and philosophical notions as well as some great mythology, rip roaring adventure, sexy stuff (uh, Song of Solomon, anyone? Yowza!) and nice poetry. It's not the stupid old books that bothers me. It's the stupid old people.

Posted by Abulafia | June 8, 2007 1:03 PM

I think that's right around where it tells you to sacrifice a ram, not to cut your hair at the temples, not to eat shrimp, and not to get tattoos.

Posted by No Expert | June 8, 2007 1:08 PM

Technically, it's just "things that swarm in the water." Shrimp, ok. Maybe shrimp can swarm.

But crabs are known to avoid swarms whenever possible, and until someone shows me a swarm of oysters, they can back the hell away from my kumamotos.

But let's get back to it:

Torah doesn't mention homosexual union. Doesn't mention homosexuality. Doesn't have a word for it.

Christian NT doesn't mention homosexual union. Doesn't mention homosexuality. Doesn't have a word for it.

Greek Orthodox and RCC sanctioned, for over a millenium, same sex unions sanctified by a priest.

So, can someone explain to me how it is that Christians claim that homosexuality is condemned by their god? Anyone?

I'd also like to know when, exactly, Perkins thinks civilization began. I'm thinking maybe he's, like, a super duper "New Earther." Or perhaps this is merely the logical consequence of the New Earth position. If the world was created only 5000 or so years ago, then I guess you can claim that civilization arose only two centuries ago. Why not? Who is to dispute this thing?

Posted by Abulafia | June 8, 2007 1:26 PM

@12: Yowza, indeed! Can anyone read this line, from the Old Testament:
"Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies,"
and not get a little hot and bothered?

Posted by Eric in Boulder | June 8, 2007 5:01 PM

Fun stuff, Meinert!!

Posted by lawrence clark | June 8, 2007 11:09 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 3:05 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 3:06 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 3:06 PM

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