Are there any same sex couples in ancient history?
Serge and Bacchus,
a loving same sex couple
Rick Brentlinger Answers -
Thanks for such an interesting question. Same sex activity is mentioned in ancient writings as far back as 4000 years ago. Same sex activity in worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess was a part of ancient Canaanite culture for centuries before the children of Israel entered Palestine around 1450 BC.
By 1450 BC, there were already shrines and temples of Ashtoreth
all over Palestine, from the area we now call Lebanon in the north, to southern Israel.
Some theologians understand the opening chapters of Genesis as a theological attack by God and Moses against the goddess religions of the ancient near east. The presentation of God as male without a female deity as consort would have been revolutionary in 1450 BC since many false religions of the ANE (ancient near east), were goddess centered.
While shrine prostitutes
worshiping the fertility goddess are not analogous to homosexuality (since many of the participants were heterosexually married with children), the point is that people were engaging in same sex activity many thousands of years ago.
It naturally follows that gay and lesbian people were also engaging in same sex activity, not necessarily to worship the fertility goddess, although there are few records of same sex activity before 1000 BC which is not related to fertility goddess worship.
Tom Horner, in his book, Jonathan Loved David,
states that the Hittites and Philistines practiced male same sex partnerships between warriors, although many of the warriors were also heterosexually married. This would be around the 1000 BC timeframe, when David and Jonathan
were an item and David was about to become King of Israel.
The reason records are scarce prior to 1000 BC is that same sex activity in worship of the fertility goddess was widely accepted throughout the ancient near east EXCEPT for Hebrew culture. Exclusive same sex activity apart from fertility goddess worship would not have been much celebrated or written about by anyone.
Ancient cultures tended to be agrarian (farm based) and large families were needed to tend herds and crops and to look after parents in old age. Exclusive same sex relationships would have been difficult if not impossible to carry on in an agrarian community.
Perhaps on the outskirts of a community, where people existed as nomads or hunter-gatherers, exclusive same partnerships could have existed. Same sex activity between females was tolerated though not encouraged and is known to have been part of ancient Jewish life
although most of those ancient relationships were between heterosexually married women.
We simply don't have much in the historical record that explores same sex relationships which were unrelated to fertility goddess worship. It is conceivable for instance, that two Bedouin men could have carried on a successful, though closeted same sex partnership since they were nomadic and had long periods of time alone together.
Exclusive same sex activity apart from worshiping the fertility goddess would have been regarded as insulting to the fertility goddess. Imagine someone engaging in same sex activity which was not intended to worship the fertility goddess! Such behavior would probably have been viewed as challenging the prerogatives of the fertility goddess and may have been viewed by pagan society as sacrilegious.
Logic and knowledge of human nature tells us that committed gay couples have probably existed as long as same sex attracted people have existed.Did gay marriage in ancient times
include Serge and Bacchus?
Is there any evidence of an actual
gay marriage in the Bible?
Return to Gay Christian 101 Home Page.