Facing the Homosexual Void
Speaking the Truth in Love to Homosexuals
by Frederica Mathewes-Green
I collect bumper stickers. I keep a notepad on my dashboard, and when I spot a new one, I jot it down. I like bumper stickers because they’re such a curious form of communication. Necessarily brief, every word, even every letter, must count. They’re the Morse code of culture.
Over the years I’ve seen a number of stickers that I’ve learned represent gay pride. There’s the Greek lambda symbol, the first letter of the word for homosexual. There’s the square rainbow symbol. And there’s the hot-pink triangle.
Some gay rights stickers are both cryptic and angry. “Hate is not a family value” and “God said, thou shalt not hate” are two examples. This can be puzzling, until you realize that you are the one they imagine is doing the hating. Another one reads, “Focus on your own damn family.”
“Gay” Patron Saints?
The interesting thing about these bumper stickers is that they indicate that a behavior has congealed into a movement, an identity. The movement even has an icon. In Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, the late Yale historian John Boswell claimed to have discovered an ancient ritual for homosexual marriage. Plenty of other historians scoffed: the unions may have been linking people of the same sex, but they appeared to be on the order of a servant swearing fealty to a master in return for protection, or concerning adoption or inheritance. To find sexual intent in these rituals requires oversensitivity to the topic, interpreting such Scriptures as “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brethren dwell in unity” with a leer and a wink.
Boswell finds his strongest support in the story of Saints Serge and Bacchus, and a seventh-century icon of the saints is on the cover of his book. These two constitute, according to Boswell, “by far the most influential set of paired saints.” Before their martyrdom in A.D. 309, they were soldiers in the Roman army and favored by the emperor.
“United not in the way of nature, but in the manner of faith,” their martyrology runs, “always singing and saying, ‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to abide in oneness!’” Boswell goes to lengths to prove that homosexuals use the term “brother” to mean “lover.” He cites sources ranging from the Satyricon to Elton John, including ample “evidence” from the classified sections of homosexual newspapers.
In his treatment of friendship in The Four Loves, C. S. Lewis says wearily that “it has actually become necessary in our time to rebut the theory that every firm and serious friendship is really homosexual.” The “wiseacres” who propound this, Lewis says, take the lack of evidence for their theory as proof—“the absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden. Yes—if it exists at all.”
Lewis goes on to make a telling point: Lovers pour all their attention into one another, unable to admit rival concerns; friends are united by an outside interest, whether merely a hobby or a grand and lofty cause. “Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other,” says Lewis; “friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest.”
Frederica Mathewes-Green is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and a contributor to the Christian Millennial History Project multi-volume series. Her books include At the Corner of East and Now (Putnam), The Illumined Heart (Paraclete Press), and The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer (Paraclete Press). She lives in Linthicum, Maryland, with her husband Fr. Gregory, pastor of Holy Cross Orthodox Church. They have three children and three grandchildren.
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