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What will I find in this book?

Published by McFarland, this study is the first comprehensive examination of a wide variety of issues related to LGBT experience and marriage equality in the historic practice of Orthodox Christianity. These practices have implications not only for the Orthodox Church but for all modern Christians seeking to minister to the LGBT community or formulate a response to questions that arise in current debate.

Highlights from When Brothers Dwell in Unity include:

  • Monks found having sex together were forbidden to receive Holy Communion – for ONE WEEK only.

  • John Chrysostom was virtually the only Church Father to preach against homosexuality and his virulent denunciations of men who have sex with men were probably rooted in his own experience of sexual abuse as an adolescent.

  • Byzantine canon law condemns remarriage after divorce or widowhood MUCH more stridently than it condemns homosexual relationships, penitential guidebooks often giving male-male relations little more than “a slap on the wrist.”

  • Leo VI was involved in the 4th marriage controversy which established the accommodations for remarriage AND he was the made-brother of the Patriarch; the accommodations for remarriage can be seen as a model for the accommodation of matrimonial brotherhood as well. Remarriages are still strictly forbidden among the Orthodox even as there is a service to bless them.

  • Certain sexual positions between a man and wife are considered MUCH MORE sinful than between two unrelated men.

A MUST-READ for all those who either celebrate or grapple with the recent Supreme Court decision regarding marriage equality, When Brothers Dwell deserves a place in every parish library as well as in the library of all parish clergy and interested lay people.


StartFragmentI was sorry to see that Fr. Patrick Viscuso, in his article "Against the Myth of the Byzantine Gay Marriage Rite," simply repeated previous arguments against understanding "adelphopoiia" as a sexual relationship. Suffice it to say in the space available here that: 1. The exact nature of the relationship between Ss. Sergius and Bacchus is irrelevant because, as I point out in my book "When Brothers Dwell In Unity" (McFarland, 2016), they probably never existed (based on glaring anachronisms in their biography). 2. That the brother-making service bares little resemblance to the marriage service? Agreed. That is obvious. But it is virtually identical to the service to bless a 2nd/3rd marriage, which everyone agrees was a service to bless a sexual relationship that was frowned on but tolerated. I look forward to future thoughtful discussion on this and related topics as the Orthodox Church continues to respond to the pastoral issues which confront her in the 21st century.EndFragment

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