A book by historian John Boswell around the origins of equal marriage is being released in digital edition for the first time in August, and discusses that almost 2,000 years ago, the Christian church performed same-sex weddings.
The book Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, looks at the origins of same-sex unions before the modern era. It was originally published in 1994.
Annalee Newitz profiles Bosewell, who is a Yale scholar and religious Catholic on his work.
Newitz reflects on Boswell’s work on the early Christian church, saying: “There were dozens of records of church ceremonies where two men were joined in unions that used the same rituals as heterosexual marriages. (He found almost no records of lesbian unions, which is probably an artefact of a culture which kept more records about the lives of men generally.)”
Boswell argues that the church in the 13th century redefined marriage “to be for the purpose of procreation”, and worked hard to cover up any trace of same-sex unions.
He also notes that there is no evidence of unions between women, and that all of the historical unions were between men.
The same-sex unions, Newitz notes, do not necessarily fit the modern definition of marriage today because of taboos around homosexuality which are a construction of modern society.
Boswell noted many cases of two people of the same-sex getting married which were consecrated by the Christian Church.