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Charles's avatar

Has "The Church" always been against same sex marriage?

Asked by Charles (4815points) May 11th, 2012

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.”

So, Christian churches performed same sex marriages throughout antiquity and throughout medieval times, and in one case as late as the eighteenth century.

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9 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

There seems to be strong support among some clergy in catholic church for same sex fondling. I wonder if that is a carryover from the early and medieval practices noted in the question.

ETpro's avatar

Dr. Boswell is right. It depends on what church and what time in history. The notion, articulated by Mitt Romney, that marriage “has always been defined as between one man and one woman” is not only a lie, but a particularly absurd lie when told by Mr. Romney, seeing as his great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney had 5 wives and his great-great-grandfather, Parley P. Pratt, an apostle in the church, had 12 wives.

It is as hard for me to believe that Willard Mitt Romney doesn’t know this as it is to believe he doesn’t remember assaulting and bullying classmates he thought were gay in high school. I remember every fight I had, and every bullying incident, and Willard’s 5 friends that helped him in the attack all remember it. It tells me the guy is either unfit for the office because he’s a pathological liar like John Edwards is; or he’s unfit because he has early onset dementia and he seems like an Etch-a-Sketch because he truly doesn’t remember what he said or believed yesterday.

jca's avatar

I think organized religion is usually in favor of populating, so their religion grows. So heterosexual marriage would usually be the way to populate. Hasidics, Mormons – all the same.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes, Christian churches officiated same-sex marriage ceremonies, but no, that doesn’t nessecarily mean that The Church as an institution was ok with them. There are many instances of local priests and bishops doing their own thing (not just on this issue), of dissenting opinions that fail to be approved as church doctrine.

@ETpro Well, since we’re talking Church with a capital C, and pre-Reformation, there’s really only the one church… two, at certain points, if you want to get all West vs East…

Ron_C's avatar

The idea of bringing sex into politics and government is abhorrent, to me, as bring religion into government. I frankly don’t care what Romney’s grandparents did and what Christians now say about marriage. Marriage is a contract between two people (hopefully) to cooperate as a family, care for each other and support each other financially, until death do they part. What we need is more of this and not limit marriage to comfort the prejudiced.

ETpro's avatar

@Aethelflaed You can only hold that opinion if you are so chauvinistic that you are convinced that Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jains, Zorasrerians, and all the other world’s religions do not exist.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ETpro No, I mean, when it’s a church, it’s a lower-case c. When it’s the Catholic Church, it’s capitalized, and is often simply referred to as The Church. (Plus, church normally does refer to a Christian house of worship – other religions have houses of worship, but most don’t call them churches).

Plus, it’s Boswell. He’s not talking about any other religion, he’s talking about Catholicism in late Roman and medieval times.

ETpro's avatar

@Aethelflaed OIC. Thanks for the clarification. I apologize for my misunderstanding you.

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