top of page


When Brothers Dwell in Unity

When Brothers Dwell in Unity:
Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality

Print ISBN: 978-0-7864-9517-7
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4766-2214-9
appendices, notes, bibliography, index
softcover (6 x 9) 2015


Bankers? They were to be forbidden communion, socially shunned, denied church funerals, and not commemorated during prayers for the dead. Men and women  who committed fornication or adultery? They were forbidden communion for years. Men and women who remarried after divorce or widowhood? They were to be forbidden communion for years and then only allowed communion on a few holy days and even then only after weeks of sexual abstinence. Men who had sex with other men? They were to be denied communion for either 7 or 80 days.

Penances traditionally attached to heterosexual sins--including remarriage after divorce or widowhood--have always been much more severe than those for a variety of homosexual acts or relationships. Just as Byzantine churches have found ways to accommodate sequential marriages and other behavior once stridently condemned, this book argues, it is possible for Byzantine Christianity to make pastoral accommodations for gay relationships and same-sex marriage.

What most disturbed monastic leaders was adolescent males being accepted as novices; adult men were considered unable to control their sexual desires for these "beautiful boys." John Chrysostom, the Archbishop of Constantinople (397-407), virulently denounced homosexuality, but was virtually the only Byzantine cleric to do so and may have only done so because of unresolved guilt following probable sexual abuse as a student.

Early Eastern Orthodox Church: A History AD 60-1453

Early Eastern Orthodox Church: A History AD 60-1453

(McFarland, 2018)

“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us,” the apostles declared at the conclusion of their council described in Acts 15. This apostolic council was the first of many councils to come as Christians sought to discern the will of God in the midst of historic challenges.

The faithful continued to struggle to express their new apostolic faith in new words, new languages, new places and new times. Many issues—the interaction of science and faith, divinity and humanity, Church and State—continue to be pertinent today.

This book tells the story of these struggles from the days of the New Testament to the fall of the city of Constantinople in AD 1453. It focuses on the Christian community in the eastern Mediterranean which eventually became known as the Byzantine Empire. Each chapter examines the personalities and theologies entwined at the heart of conflicts that shaped the medieval world as well as the modern cultures of Greece, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

A user-friendly text that presumes no previous knowledge. Each chapter includes suggestions for further reading if a reader wants to know more about certain periods or personalities.

bottom of page