The other day I noticed that Mark at Chesterstreet had put up some links to some pamphlets that the hate group Mass Resistance had put up. The hate group Mass Resistance was complaining about two early Christian saints, Sergius and Bacchus, who some believe were a gay couple. Mark had copied the entry from another site, which listed the two saints as St. Servius and Bacchus. I had never heard of St. Servius and Bacchus before, so I sent him a comment telling him that that was wrong:
For some reason many people have copied what you copied, and they have it wrong. There was no St. Servius and Bacchus. He is St. Sergius.
Mark replied the next day:
Thanks Kevin – duly noted and corrected.
You would think that would be it. But no. A woman (Christine) who runs a site called TalkWisdom put her two cents in (and really it is worth less than that):
I once read a story about a person who received a love letter which happened to have a few spelling errors in it. The receiver sent it back to the sender with the spelling errors marked in red – and corrected. It was quite obvious that the recipient had completely ignored the content of the letter.
Kevin’s comment here reminded me of that story.
For a man who claims to have studied "early church history" and plans to write a book on "Christian controversies;" one would think that Kevin would have the wisdom to pay closer attention to God’s Infinite Knowledge and Wisdom that is contained and revealed through His Word, the Bible, rather than the words of false prophets/teachers and his (their) "own views."
Perhaps he has been reading (and, tragically believing in) finite man’s made up, reprobate "theology" contained in those false gospel pamphlets…
It’s not gay…its SAD! VERY SAD!
6/01/2008 5:08 PM
Christine makes herself out to be a modern day prophetess, which is kind of strange considering what Paul had to say about women teaching churchly things:
As in all the churches of the saints,14:34 women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says.14:35 If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
2:11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission.2:12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.2:13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;2:14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
And don’t bother complaining to me about those sentences. Those are the words of God too, but it is pretty rare that anti gay women actually follow those commandments…
What I find most odd about this is that it is just the act of reading these stories of the saints is bad. Just reading them! I’ll make a few corrections here for Christine since she hasn’t bothered to read up on her own Christian history. The story of Sergius and Bacchus (which she can read here or here if she decides that it is safe to do so) is not a gospel. Far from it. The story is technically called hagiography, which has its origins in Greek–"hagio" means holy and "graphy" means writings, so they are writings about the holy people, or the saints. These are very important stories for early Christians because they were used as examples for Christians to live by. Many, many early Christians read or heard these hagiographies.
I don’t know if Sergius and Bacchus were a gay couple. Here is some of the text (I’ve given the links to two different translators above):
1. When the tyrant Maximianus was emperor great error had seized the race of men; for they worshipped wood and stone, the creations of man, and feasted on impure sacrificial offerings. Moreover those who were unwilling to offer sacrifice were forced by the infliction of violent punishments and penalties to serve the demons. Thus an edict containing the severest threat was publicly posted in every city. Thereupon the clean air was polluted by the diabolic stench from the altars, and the darkness of diabolic error was thought an opportunity to meet friends. Then, like earth-bound stars, Sergius and Bacchus exercised great influence in support of Christianity in the palace, and were honoured by the emperor Maximianus. Indeed blessed Sergius was the primicerius and commander of the schola gentilium, a friend of the emperor and trusted by him so much that he acceded swiftly to his requests.
2. For this reason Antiochus, a friend of Sergius, asked the emperor to make him the dux of the province of Augusto-Euphratensis; blessed Bacchus was a friend of this same man also, and he was secundicerius of the schola gentilium. They were one in the love of Christ, and were never separated from each other in their earthly military service, joined not by their natural temperament but by the chain of faith, always singing and saying, "How good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together" [Psalm 133:1]. They were, therefore, intelligent and happy soldiers of God, perfectly resolved by the divinely inspired scriptures upon the destruction of the devil’s error, and they exercised themselves fully in battle for the destruction of barbarians.
5. For they had not entered into the temple, thinking that it was wicked and unlawful to watch people offering sacrifice and feasting on the impure offerings: they stood outside and prayed, saying as if with one voice, "O King of Kings and Lord of Lords, you who inhabit the inacessible light, enlighten the eyes of the heart of those who live in the darkness of ignorance, who have exchanged your glory, that of the incorruptible God, for the likeness of perishable men, birds, four-legged beasts and serpents, and serve the creature rather than the Creator [Romans 1:23-25]. Convert them, that they may recog- nise you as the only true God, and Our Lord Jesus Christ as your only-born son, who suffered death and rose for us and our salvation, to rescue us from evil and free us from the error of vain idols. Preserve us pure and unstained along the journey of witness to you, that we may be changed in accordance in with your commands." And while this prayer was still on their lips even, the emperor sent some of his aides who were standing nearby, and ordered that they be brought into the temple.
6. He said to them as they entered, "I see it this way, that trusting in my great clemency and humanity, with which protection the gods have provided you, you are willing on top of this to scorn the imperial edict as law-breakers and enemies of the gods. But I will not uphold the complaints which have made about you unless they are proven. Approaching, so, the altar of great Jove, offer sacrifice and taste the mystical offerings, just as the rest do." However Sergius and Bacchus, the martyrs and most brave soldiers of Christ, said in response, "We must discharge to you, O emperor, the earthly military service of our bodies; but we have a true king, Jesus Christ eternal in heaven, the Son of God, to whom we devote our souls, he who is our hope and saving refuge. We offer to him everyday a holy and living sacrifice, and reasoned worship; for we do not sacrifice to, or adore, stones and wood. Your gods have ears but they do not hear the prayer of men. They have noses likewise, but they do not smell the sacrifice which is offered to them. They have mouths but they do not talk, hands but they do not touch, and feet but they do not walk. May they and all who trust in them become like thos things which they make" [Psalm 134:18].
7. Thus the emperor was infuriated, his whole face changed, and he ordered that their military belts be immediately removed, that they be stripped of their cloaks and any other military garments, and, at the same time, that their golden collars be removed from about their necks. He dressed them in women’s clothing, and he ordered that they be dragged in this way, with the heaviest chains about their necks, right through the middle of the city as far as the palace. When the holy men were being dragged through the middle of the forum they chanted together, saying, "Although we walk in the shadow of death, we shall fear no evils, since you are with us," [Psalm 24:5] and the words of the Apostle, "Denying to this extent all wickedness and earthly desire, [Titus 2:12] and having removed the clothing of the old-man, [Colossians 3:9] let us rejoice naked in our faith in you, O Lord, because you have clothed us in the garment of salvation, and you have wrapped us in the tunic of joy. You have adorned us in women’s clothes, like a spouse, unite us to you through our con- fession [Isaiah 61:10]. You, O Lord, have put your trust in us, saying, "You will be led before kings and governors on my account, and when they hand you over [to trial] do not worry how you will sound or what you will say. You will be given what to say at that hour. For they will not be your words which you are speaking, but words from the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" [Matthew 10: 19-20].
14. Late that night they sang psalms together, and prayed as if with one voice, both saying, "O Lord, you who crushed the heads of the great serpent, who have dried rivers, caused springs and floods to burst forth, you who have made the ends of the earth; look down upon us, Lord Our God, since the enemy has abused us on account of your name. Do not surrender the lives of men who trust in you to these men who are more savage than wild beasts even. Do not leave neglected to their end the lives of wretched men. Remember your covenant, for the lands have been filled and darkened with houses of wickedness. Let us not return in shame, wretched and distressed, to praise your name [Psalm 123: 13-21].
18. The dux, Antiochus, replied, "We do not avenge the gods; but through their foresight our enemies’ every strength is subjected to us; but we accuse you because your’s is an unholy and impure worship." But the holy martyrs responded and said to him, "You are the impure and unholy, and those who fol- low you and sacrifice to demons and adore wooden objects which are hurled into the fire a little while afterwards." Then, greatly angered, the dux Antiochus ordered that blessed Sergius be taken back into custody again, but that blessed Bacchus be stretched out and beaten with heavy clubs until those that were beating him fell exhausted upon the ground. But when these were tired out by their work he ordered others to ?????? the holy martyr and beat his stomach again, and he himself said, "Let us see if Christ can help, he whom you call God." When the saint’s body had been beaten for a long time, and blood was flowing all about, the martyr Bacchus said to Antiochus, "Satan’s servants have wearied of their beating, your wickededness has failed. The tyrant Maxi- mianus has been defeated, and so has your father the devil. To the extent that that which is external, my body, is destroyed, the being within is renewed for future life."
19. As he said this a voice descended from heaven, saying, "Come now to the kingdom which has been prepared for you, my athlete Bacchus." Hearing this voice those who stood about were amazed and struck speechless, and when the saint was being killed he surrendered his soul into the hands of angels. In his anger Antiochus ordered that his body was not be buried, but was to be thrown out for the dogs, wild-animals and birds. When his body was thrown out a long way from the camp there gathered a crowd of beasts who surrounded it; but birds hovering above did not permit the cruel beasts to touch it. And they continued guarding him until night-time. When it was evening some of the brothers who lived in caves there came down and took the body. They were allowed to do by the animals, as if by intelligent human-beings, and they buried him in one of their caves. But blessed Sergius, who was greatly sad- dened and distressed, was left alone and cried as he wept, "Alas for me, my brother and messmate Bacchus, never will we sing together saying, "How good and pleasant it is for brothers to live together." Ascending into heaven you have been separated from me, and I have been left alone upon the earth."
20. When he had said these things there appeared to him that same night blessed Bacchus, dressed in military garb with his face shining like that of an angel, and he said to him, "Why are you sad and distressed, brother ? Even though I am not physically present with you, I am with you in the chain of faith, singing and saying, "I hastened along the way of your commands when you broadened my heart." So hurry to reach me, brother, by a good and whole con- fession, guarding your faith and achieving your end. For righteousness and a crown have been laid aside for you with me." Therefore, rising at dawn, he described to those who were with him the garb in which he had seen blessed Bachus that night. In this way the dux, being about to leave Barbarissus for Sura, ordered that blessed Sergius follow him also, and besought him to offer sacrifice. But rejecting his enticements he made his journey in silence.
23. Angered by this the dux said, "It seems that my humaneness has made you bolder and more insolent." Thus he called his adjutant and said, "Dress him quickly in boots pierced with nails, with the nails left upright." When he was so dressed Antiochus, sitting in his carriage, ordered him to run before him, instrucing that the horses be driven swiftly as far as the fort Tetrapyrgia. This fort is nine miles distant from Syrus. As he ran he prayed the psalms, saying, "I have awaited the Lord in expectation, and he has looked down upon me and led me forth from the lake of pagan misery and the mud of filthy idolatry, and has set my feet upon the rock of confession." When they reached the fort of Tetrapyrgia the dux Antiochus said, "I am amazed at you, Sergius, that having being interrogated in so great a court you have been able now to endure such great punishments." But the holy martyr of Christ said in response, "Your punishments are not bitter to me, but sweeeter than honey from the comb." Descending from his carriage the dux entered the praetorium, order- ing that the martyr of Christ be placed in military custody.
25…Further exasperated Antiochus took his seat again in the carriage, and ordered him, wearing the same boots, to run before him as far as the fort of Resapha, nine-miles dis- tant from Tetrapyrgia.
27. Then a great crowd of men and women followed him in order to see the death of the blessed martyr. When they saw the freshness of his face and his great youth they wept most bitterly, sighing over him. Even the beasts of that region, leaving their dens, all gathered together. Attacking no-one, and touched by their cries, they reflected upon the death of the holy martyr. When they were drawing near to the place in which the martyr of Christ, Sergius, was about to be killed, he asked the guards to provide him with a little time to pray. Stretching out his hands to heaven he said, "The beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, recognising your lordship and rule, have gathered for the glory of your holy name, that by their confession they might turn the mind of intelligent men to you, you who by the nod of your goodness and will desire that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Suspending their death, and awaiting their repentance, heed not, Lord, their sinful ignorance which they directed against me on account of your name.
28. Enlighten the eyes of their hearts and lead them to recognition of you. Finally, take my soul and lay it to rest in your heavenly tents with those of this age who have pleased you. For I entrust my soul to you, since you have rescued me from the snare of the devil." Thereupon, when he had said these things, he made the sign of the cross, and knelt down. He was beheaded and surrendered his soul to the angels. Moreover a voice was heard from heaven, saying, "Sergius, my soldier and athlete, enter into the kingdom which has been prepared for you. For the ranks of angels, the numerous patriarchs, the unions of Apostles and prophets, and the spirits of the just await you that you might learn with them the good things which have been prepared for you." Moreover the place in which the life of the holy martyr was taken was split and formed a great abyss, God so arranging, so that those who wallow in filth like pigs would not dare, because of their fear of the abyss, to draw near and trample upon the blood of the holy martyr in that very place. For this reason was that great void created, and that place has remained so right until the present day, preserving signs of the will of God of old, that a firm founda- tion for faith may be laid in [the hearts of] those who do not believe by the existence of this special miracle.
So in her ignorance Christine, from TalkWisdom, calls this hagiography a false gospel. She doesn’t understand her own history nor does she understand how important these stories were to Christians who were suffering the ultimate penalty for their faith. As I said, maybe a little less talk and a little more wisdom might be in order here…