With the issue of LGBT rights continuing to grow across the globe, many are turning their attention to the topic of sexuality in religion. And now a late historian’s old theory about the ancient Christian church’s stance on same-sex marriage is garnering national attention again with the digital release of his final controversial book.
According to the Huffington Post, John Boswell was an openly gay, Catholic history and professor at Yale University who spent much of his career advocating that the early Christian church conducted same-sex marriages between men.
A year before his death in 1995, Boswell published Same-Sex Unions in PreModern Europe, which provided evidence of his landmark claims.
Boswell reportedly discovered more than 60 texts, dating back to the eighth century, that told accounts of ceremonies that were the equivalent of “same-sex unions.”
A 1994 New York Times review of Boswell’s book supported his claims and described some of the ceremonies that Boswell wrote about.
“There is no question that Professor Boswell has found records of ceremonies consecrating a pairing of men, ceremonies often marked by similar prayers and, over time, by standardized symbolic gestures: the clasping of right hands, the binding of hands with a stole, kisses, receiving holy communion, a feast following the ceremony. Some of these ritual actions also marked heterosexual marriages, but there remained differences in both actions and words between the two ceremonies,” read the review.
However, some critics, like cultural critic Camille Lapaglia, shot down Boswell’s claims, saying that the rituals were just expressions of intimate bonds between heterosexual men.
“Boswell’s treatment of the Middle Ages, ostensibly his specialty, is strangely unpersuasive,” Paglia wrote that same year. “Indeed, he seems grotesquely incapable of imagining any enthusiasm or intimate bond among men that is not overtly or covertly homosexual. … The cause of gay rights, which I support, is not helped by this kind of slippery, self-interested scholarship, where propaganda and casuistry impede the objective search for truth.”
Despite the criticisms, Boswell’s continued to advocate the idea that ancient same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, were sometimes facilitated based on financial rationales and resembled same-sex weddings of today.
And with celebrities, politicians and major religious officials promoting equality for the LGBT community, perhaps the world, or at least parts of it, is on the verge of seeing LGBT relationships being deemed as “blessed” again.
Checkout some pro-gay quotes from major Christian officials below. –nicholas robinson