Saturday, December 20, 2003

Cause for Celebration

There is nothing that we here at Singletails love more than getting email responses to postings. And this morning has us positively giddy. Good feedback from the Bear Eye posting, and also an email on the gay marriage discussion I had with Marlboro Sir.

That got me to thinkin'.

John J. MacNeill was a priest in the Roman Church. A brilliant and learned man, he spent a lot of time causing headaches to the powers that be in the Vatican on the question of the Church's condemnation of homosexuality. At one point in his illustrious career, he claimed to have uncovered an the text of an early Christian (we're talkin Second or Third Century) ceremony wherein a church blessed the union of two men. Not only was homosexuality accepted, argued MacNeill, but communities of faith sanctified homosexual relationships. MacNeill's critics argued that the text in question was not about a sexual relationship, but was a celebration of a sort of Holy Friendship. It seems that back in the day (in the Greco-Roman world), friendship had a much higher standing than it does in our contemporary world. Friendship was committed and lifelong, often forged in battle. ("No greater love is there than one who lays down his life for his friends.") And those early Christians, good Greco-Romans that they were, decided to take their friendships up the altar, celebrating them with their communities of faith, and pledge undying friendship before God. In fact, I think it could be argued that friendship and brotherhood, rather than The Family, was the glue that held those societies together.

But were these friendships homosexual? It don' matter none. Although it wouldn't be surprising if homosexuality--which the Greeks were also famous for--was involved some of the time.

It's always a bad idea to develop an ethic based on what ought to be, rather than what is. (Thanks for that insight, Guy Kettlehack.) Look at your life, figure out what your values are and what you value, and clarify those as your starting point.

So there we have it: a model for same-sex relationships: Holy Friendship. Lifelong, committed, but by no means sexually exclusive. And in a way, there we have it: gay men have preserved this tradition within their own tribe.

And that, I would argue, is what we need to be taking into church with us... "Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I would lay down my life for this man whom I love. Like Damian and Pythias before us, we two are one. I invite you all to share with us the bread and the cup of wine at God's Holy Table, as we celebrate our Holy Friendship with each other, ask your prayers for us, and pledge that this love of ours is not something that will pass away, but is God's own, and is part of Eternity."

Now everybody rhumba!

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