Centuries of Gay Marriage in the Catholic Church
A collective gasp was heard around the world from different Christian communities, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, when the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in all 50 states on June 26, 2015.
With the high court ruling, all rights and recognition that were part of the US Constitution and bestowed to heterosexual married couples could now be enjoyed by same sex couples.
For the Roman Catholic Church, this was a sign of the end of civilization as they knew it.
The hidden histories of gay marriage
But buried deep in the recesses of history is a long tradition of gay marriage. This tradition didn’t follow today’s concept of a wedding but was still recognized by the early Catholic Church. Back then, same sex couples were blessed by a priest at an altar following a ritual that was witnessed by their friends and family.
In Yale Professor John Boswell’s book entitled Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, he wrote that ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples went as far back as the 10th century with titles such as “The Office of Same Sex Union” or “Order for Uniting Two Men.” Then, it was called adelphopoiesis (Greek for “blessed by the church.”)
Moreover, in the 18th century, lesbian weddings were still being recorded in Dalmatia long after the rise of anti-homosexual sentiments in the 14th century, particularly in the Catholic Church.
In the archives of the church during the Byzantine period, gay weddings were also documented in various places such as the Vatican, Paris, Istanbul and Sinai. They were likewise recorded in Ireland in the 12th to 13th century by Gerald of Wales, where a gay ceremony was included in a book of Greek prayers collected by the Dominican Jacques Goar.
The gay marriage of saints
The most famous of gay couples who eventually became saints were the Roman soldiers St. Serge and St. Bacchus. The wedding ceremony of these Christian martyrs was depicted in a painting with Jesus Christ behind them acting as their Best Man.
In the documentation of the saints’ wedding, a priest invoked God to “vouchsafe unto these Thy servants grace to love another and to abide unhated and not cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God and all Thy Saints.”
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church has always downplayed the love between same sexes by arguing that since gay marriage is not in the bible, it should be forbidden. But considering how much has been lost or omitted from the Bible, it would be a good idea to revisit history and update it accordingly.