Adelphopoiesis--On Agendas and Faulty Scholarship

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Among the many riches of Jcecil3's site is a sort of statement of faith designed to show that he is, indeed, a faithful Catholic despite disagreement with some key and controversial church teachings. There are probably a great many things to say with regard to this, but the first and most important is to point out that it is not up to us (meaning those looking in) to decide the nature or breadth of another's faith or in what manner that faith is being lived. It IS up to us to refute error and to correct misdeeds, and to his credit, Mr. Jcecil invites this. But there is a variety of categorization that would suggest that it is up to some of us to decide where Mr. Jcecil is with respect to God--that, of course, is presumption--no one knows.

However, I do find some of the positions delineated by Mr. Jcecil untenable, and I do think it is important to state why. Among these positions "That the ancient rite of adelphopoiesis could be restored as a union for homosexual Catholics." Now, this was counter to my understanding of what the rite was established for, and what it really meant in context. As a result I felt led to do a bit more research and happened upon a very fine paper from The Stephanos Project that addresses, and I believe, successfully refutes this misappropriation of this rite to the blessing of same-sex unions. This entire site has some very interesting work examining many questions from the Orthodox perspective and is recommended reading for those who may already have considered Mr. Jcecil's plea, or those who wish to know more about this largely misinterpreted rite.

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I actually agree with you Steven, that the adelphopoesis was not originally intended as a "gay marriage". It was intended to say two members of the same sex were eternal brothers in a spiritual reality that went beyond the fact that they were biologically born of different parents.

However, I think a key component of Boswell's argument is missing in the critique made in your link.

Boswell did not argue that adelphopoesis was intended as a romantic relationship. Rather, he argued that it most likely functioned like one....kind of a don't ask, don't tell policy in the early Church.

Theologically, the meaning of the rite was two men could love one another with agapeic love. Practically, Boswell argues that this love was often expressed erotically, and those who were wise understood this, but didn't speak about such things.

I find Boswell's theory plausible, though it would be difficult to prove it beyond doubt, because the whole point was nobody asked, and nobody told. Boswell's best evidence is what appear in cases to be love letters between some men united in such rites, and even these are not quite explicit enough for us to be certain.

Nevertheless, I find it highly likely, because gay men and lesbian women certainly existed back then, and where those in adelphopoesis were not also in a heterosexual marriage, and lived together, it would seem to me highly probable they were homosexually oriented.

In Boswell's mind, this was a more tolerant position to homosexuality than today, where we not only openly condemn the relationships, but provide no way for a domestic partnership to occur "under cover" with ecclesial blessing. The modern argument is that we restore the practice, and drop the "don't ask don't tell" part of it.

Peace and blessings!

That was a very interesting link. I enjoyed the essay. Interestingly, being married to a Mexican woman, I have discovered that there is an "unofficial rite" of making someone a relative in that culture.

To celebrate close friendships a precious article is given by one friend to another to have blessed by the priest. The blessed article is then given back to the first person. The friend then becomes "Compadre", or "Comadre", and is treated AS family.

The ultimate example of this is infant baptism, when the child is given over to the Godparents who bring him to the priest to be baptized. In most Mexican families Godparents have a real place in te family and a real authority over their Godchildren. They would be expected to speak up and rebuke the child if, for example, he was running with a bad crowd. or dating the wrong person.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on November 20, 2003 9:06 AM.

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