Same Sex Unions/marriages a History of.

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Joined in 2006
February 29, 2008, 16:32


Same-gender romantic love or sexual desire has been recorded since ancient times in the entirety of the continent of Asia, right from the Middle East to South Asia to East Asia. Such desire often took the form of same-sex unions, usually between men, and often included some difference in age. There is far less information available on relationships among women in ancient times.

In China, in the southern province of Fujian where male love was especially cultivated, men would marry youths in elaborate ceremonies.[1] The marriages would last a number of years, at the end of which the elder partner would help the younger find a (female) wife and settle down to raise a family. Generally, this practice – though unusual even in China – was reflective of the value Chinese culture placed on the reciprocal relationship between benevolent elders teaching and guiding the obedient younger members of society.


In Hellenic Greece, the pederastic relationships between Greek men (erastes) and youths (eromenos) who had come of age were, it has been argued, analogous to marriage in several aspects. The age of the youth was similar to the age at which women married (the mid-teens, though in some city states, as young as age seven), and the relationship could only be undertaken with the consent of the father. This consent, just as in the case of a daughter’s marriage, was contingent on the suitor’s social standing. The relationship, just like a marriage, consisted of very specific social and religious responsibilities and also had a sexual component.


After the Middle Ages in Europe, same-sex relationships were increasingly frowned upon and banned in many countries by the Church or the state. However, Historian John Boswell argued that Adelphopoiesis, or brother-making, represented an early form of religious same-sex marriage in the Orthodox church, and Alan Bray saw the rite of Ordo ad fratres faciendum (“Order for the making of brothers”) as serving the same purpose in the medieval Roman Catholic Church. In the Balkans, same-sex marriage survived until modern days, in the form of the Albanian rite of vellameria, “brother bond.”[7]

In late medieval France, the practice of entering a legal contract of affrèrement provided a vehicle for civil unions between unrelated adults who pledged to live together sharing ‘un pain, un vin, et une bourse’ – one bread, one wine, and one purse


Same-sex marriage has been documented in many societies that were not subject to Christian influence. In North America, among the Native Americans societies, it has taken the form of Two-Spirit-type relationships, in which some male members of the tribe, from an early age, heed a calling to take on female gender with all its responsibilities. They are prized as wives by the other men in the tribe, who enter into formal marriages with these Two-Spirit men. They are also respected as being especially powerful shamans.


In the United States during the 19th century, there was recognition of the relationship of two women making a long-term commitment to each other and cohabitating, referred to at the time as a Boston marriage; however, the general public at the time likely assumed that sexual activities were not part of the relationship.


In Africa, among the Azande of the Congo, men would marry youths for whom they had to pay a bride-price to the father. These marriages likewise were understood to be of a temporary nature. In Ancient Egypt, Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum are considered by many to be the first male couple in history. They shared the title of Overseer of the Manicurists in the Palace of King Niussere during the Fifth dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs, and are listed as “royal confidantes” in their joint tomb. (kindve cute the guys were overseer of manicures 😉 )

Information gathered from Wikepedia. It seems with the introduction of Christianity in many places this was outlawed or as in some Tribal instances, they needed the growth of the tribe hence the same sex union being quite a few years in length only. The society tho did approve and promote the same sex marriages and unions.

Joined in 2007
February 29, 2008, 20:47


This is what I mean by inititation ceremonies. Older men ‘marry’ youths and teach them sexually. It is proposed that this then enables the man to satisfy his wife in later life. These are not life-long commitments of love which are reciognised as such by the society, they are more like traineeships.


This is true, however Ancient Greece also practised pologmy and relationships were not exclusivly homosexual. In fact it is noted that men who ‘married’ would live together but each have a seperate wife or wives. There was a great ‘dirty joke’ that life was like one big bisexual orgie, whether this is true or not is unclear. While it is true that men ‘married’ it is not the type of monogmous, loving commitment that homosexual people advocate today.


The Orthodox European comment and the France one have the same function. Ever seen ‘I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry’? Basically people realised early that life was easier financhially if you could share the costs and there were specific tax exemptions throughout Europe at the time for people who lived together. This is what the one bread, one wine, one purse stands for. They shared resources in the same way that housemates do today, hardly romantic. In terms of the church Orthodox priests could not marry in much the same way as Catholic priests cannot today. The brotherhood was just that, a relationship akin to being brothers and was drevived from the Christian influence of being brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes they lived together but this was merely for companionship and convienience.


Sounds alot like the Azandi to me. Can’t say I know much about them but I think based on the abuse of histrorical evidence the author has already displayed we are justified in being dubious.


Could be true, however a Boston marriage is likened to a defacto relationship today, its not a marriage per se and not reciognised by the broader community as a marriage in the same way as heterosexual marriage.


I actually studied the Azandi at university and for starters the Azandi is a Melanesian society of Pupua New Guneia not Africa… Makes you wonder what else they have wrong if something as simple as geography is wrong. Happily, the rest of their information on the Azandi is pretty accurate. Sharmans were semi-religious and seen as very wise and I guess took on the role of an elder. For all intents and purposes they did become a ‘wife’. However the Azandi were plogymous and men had several wives. You have to understand something about the Azandi culture to see why men would ‘marry’ men.

The Azandi believed that all their masculinity (encompassing their ability to be a warrior and hunter) stemmed from their semen, it was their essence. Male homosexuality was a mandatory initiation rite, young boys would become masculinised through the swallowing of semen and would in later years serve the ‘giver’ role for more young boys. Women were suspect because semen was expelled during sex wth women, they hence became less masculine. Men married men so they could have ready access to a substance that would make them stronger etc. technically you had to marry a man in oder to keep the tradition longer than the four year inititaion period though historians have noted illicit homosexual affairs between unmarried men. None of these things were long term commitments. Like a pair of high heels make some women feel more feminine so to did homosexuality make men feel more masculine.

What you have to realise is there is no love, no marriage in the sense that we see it as a declaration of commitment and caring. Men served a purpose for each other, homosexuality was institutionalised in this way and the practise holds no merit of gay Christians today trying to advocate for marriage.

Look, wikepedia is useless. Anyone can post anything they like. There is stuff on male pregnancy and cloneing on wikapedia… It’s hardly the most accurate referance. Some of what the author said may be true (though lets face it, totally out of context) though the fact remains that same-sex marraige has never been institutionalised as a monogmous, loving relationship between two people who choose to marry for life. It simply hasn’t been done. If you want to prove the existance of homosexual practise around the world then the author makes a case, for marriage however any university would give this paper zero due to its total lack of academic integrity.

Joined in 2006
February 29, 2008, 21:09

Well, the only point I was trying to make was that yes there were recognised marriage ceremonies for same sex couples regardless of what that marriage was purposed for. People heterosexual or otherwise still marry for the same reaons today, sometimes for love (mostly one would hope) and sometimes for convenience or because of hardship.

And outside of wikipedia there are historical books also that talk of such things. I personally would rather a same sex marriage based on love anyway. Thats all I gotta say about the matter. 😉 8)

Shantih Shantih Shantih
Joined in 2008
February 29, 2008, 22:28

…the fact remains that same-sex marraige has never been institutionalised as a monogmous, loving relationship between two people who choose to marry for life.

If these are the criteria for marriage, then this is a fairly strange issue, because to argue it consistently you must recognise all conditions under which a marriage may take place, and when you do that, you should realise early on that marrying for love is actually a relatively recent, very Western concept. Many cultures still exist wherein marriage is something undertaken because of strict social expectations rather than on the basis of feelings (and what’s more, it wasn’t too long ago that Western society itself was one of these). Moreover, many of the same cultures still allow polygamy, and have no problem with divorce.

One could contend that you are both wrong because the concept of marriage you are referring to did not commonly exist until (and this is merely an estimation based on what I know of Western history) the 18th or 19th century. Certainly, love was not an unknown phenomenon, but it wasn’t really the primary reason for marriage in most cases.

Well, that’s my opinion at least.

Joined in 2006
March 1, 2008, 09:45

That is actually true, even the Bible has marriages as such, for the growth of the Israelites and yes Europe was full of that kind of marriage for status and wealth and many times just utter need because of poverty. In my Mums family and Dads we had many such marriages in the past and not just us. I hope I didnt imply that love was the basis of the need for marriage of the examples I gave because its not what I was trying to show. Just the mere fact that same sex marriages as an accepted ceremony and accepted part of a particular society did exist. Personally I would hope to marry for love and hope others would too but thats not reality in many places and for many people.

Joined in 2006
March 1, 2008, 09:57

what I find interesting tho, is that God had no problem with the Kings he chose having concubines and such, even Abraham having a woman on the side. If he is into monogamy then how could that be? Then heres another one, David committed adultery with Bathsheba but sleeping with the concubines wasnt seen as such, so what was the difference? It seems that monogamy became a part of the marriage committment later in the picture but we know that the Jews still didnt practice such, they still had concubines. So the woman caught in adultery, was it a sin because she was turning the man away from his wife, something other than what a concubine would do, as also in the case of bathsheba and David? Im stumped!! 😯 So what IS Gods view on this if their was nothing said about polygamy before yet there was later? Did God change his mind? If you have something one way at one time and then have something another way at another time doesnt that show change? ( I have my own opinion to this but am interested to hear other points of view)

Joined in 2007
March 1, 2008, 18:36

Ok, you have a point William. However the idea of same-sex marriage arose in the first place (on this forum) as a justification for same-sex relationship and I am assuming an argument for same-sex marriage today. Within the context of western, 21st century society marraige is primarily defined as a love match under the conditions that I mentioned above. What I was trying to point out was that past marriages between same-sex individuals have no relevance to the current debate on whether same-sex marriage ought o be institutionalised in the here and now. Certainly one can argue that same-sex marriages do not exist (within western society) to fulfill strict social expectation today!

Joined in 2008
March 2, 2008, 10:26


The issue of same sex marriages and unions and its legalisation in this country will very much be dictated by the infleuences not only of the Christian Chruches but also of the Islamic and Jewish Unions both of which appose even more strongly the issue of homersexuality then do the Christain Church. Modern politics the way it is much of what is passed as law is governed in part by which interest group has the loudest voice and can influence the most number of politicians. Not just the leaders while they dictate policy and drive debate to make change there needs to be support from the lower and upper house. It is usually advisable to have support on both sides of the sitting parliment. Also another major controling factor for its legalisation is who holds the balance of power in the senate. This will usually be a minor party such as family first or a highly vocal independent. Deals are made between the major parties and this group to permit other legislative changes through in return for not pushing forward issues such as same sex marriages and unions.

I am fortunate I am legally married to my partner. I can maintain this for as long as I have male on my birth certificate. For me to change my birth certificate I need to be post SRS and have that documented but I also cannot be married to another woman. I won’t be changing my birth certificate becuase my marriage to Sharon means so much to me personally. I would love to have my true gender on my birth certificate but it doesn’t not change my legal recognition that I am female on other important documents such as passports, licences electrol roll all show that I am female. This off subject but I thought you might be interested.

The Internet is full of arguments for and against same sex marriages and unions some of which are quite challenging. It is amazing to see both sides using the same scripture for their arguments. This only confuses things for those who want to understand the truth about the matter.

I think the debate of whether same sex marriages and unions should be legalised would be better served by not trying to justify it through debates over Chritian ethics but to look at it without emotion as a basic human right. If a couple be it same sex or not … if they want to be married then the same rights should be given to both. Especially if the law of the land states that the same sex couple can cohabitate and have a relationship.

To be honest on the issue of whether same sex relationships are ok in God’s eyes and if so under what circumstances, I am not sure where I stand on the matter … I am comfortable in my relationship before God and I don’t judge others for theirs … I hold to Romans 2:1 “You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condeming yourself, becuase you who pass judgment do the same thing.” God will judge the motivations of our hearts … it is at that point as to whether He will find our relationships good or bad. I am sure that there will be equally as many heterosexual and same sex relationships that will not pass this test.

As far as the motivation for marriage … today’s culture while short in historical duration does dictate that love be a guiding factor in the commencement of the union. But that should be love in its purest sense the giving of one’s self in complete fullness to another no strings attached. As humans that is hard to do. Even though arranged marriages where they are commenced without this I have heard of many who still approach it in the same manner and as such get so much more out of the relationship. As an example in my own relationship of that type of love … I delayed starting hormones because my wife was ill and could not handle the changes I would subsequently go through. This time allowed me though to deal with other issues and learn more about myself. So while traditionally love has not been a part of marriage if you want it to be a good one that both parties get the most out of it needs to be included as an integral part. Because I loved and respected Sharon I never kept from her my struggles with GID and she supported me in that before we got married. She is very much inflential in me transitioning and coming out. She is a great example of what that love really is.

Just my thoughts on the matter … it is a topic that can bring about much emotional debate for and against. That is for sure.

Shantih Shantih Shantih
Joined in 2008
March 2, 2008, 13:27

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care – not in the least little bit – whether or not same-sex marriages are legalised. If homosexuality is all right by God, than there’s no problem with it; if homosexuality is condemned by God, then same-sex marriages are hardly going to make society more decadent (and even if it does, so what? The Second Coming probably isn’t far away and decadence is largely what I expect from society).

However, I admit that the humanitarian in me is (and always has been) quite incensed by the assertion that marriage is a basic human right.

I think the debate of whether same sex marriages and unions should be legalised would be better served by not trying to justify it through debates over Chritian ethics but to look at it without emotion as a basic human right.

I don’t mean any offence, Michele, I know you only have the best of intentions – but I’m afraid that I’ve always found that argument to be pompous. Basic human rights include things like access to food and clean water, shelter, to live without fear of being killed on a daily basis, education, etcetera, etcetera. Marriage isn’t one of these – it is a privilege, nothing more.

I’m sorry if this comes off as harsh, and I know it’s not really relevant to the discussion, but I feel compelled to say something about it. I just don’t think that this particular argument for gay marriage is justified in any way.

Shantih Shantih Shantih
Joined in 2008
March 2, 2008, 14:50

The term human rights as I see it refers to equity and equality.

Well, that is where we differ, I think. Certainly, equity and equality are important, but they are not what define ‘basic human rights.’ I believe that it is more a case of necessities and those things that make life that much better which define them.

I would agree that the right not to be discriminated against is a basic human right – and this applies to same-sex couples just as it does to race and gender – but that does not mean that marriage is one. Marriage is something that you can live without (whether you can live without a relationship with someone else is arguable, but that’s not the issue) and as such, cannot be seen as important enough to warrant BHR status.

Moreover, if you look at it from the perspective of those without the things I mentioned previously (such as those living in extreme poverty) then marriage really isn’t a high priority for them. They will willingly do without marriage in order to have something to eat, I think.

In a sense, BHRs work from the ground up – what we need for survival, and what we need to make our survival bearable. Marriage doesn’t fall into either of these categories.

In regards to your last paragraph, however, I couldn’t agree more. As G.K. Chesterton said, “To have a right to do something is not at all the same as being right in doing it.”

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