If you had told someone in the 1950s that, in about two generations, homosexuality would largely be normalized and faux (same-sex) marriage would be gaining widespread approval, they’d have called you crazy. Never, ever under the stars and stripes. Why, pugnacious pundit Bill O’Reilly himself opined as recently as 10 to 15 years ago that faux marriage would never be accepted in America. Ah, what a difference a decade makes in the (mis?)information age, where ideas can be transmitted worldwide at a button’s touch.
I can’t tell you exactly when I knew faux marriage would gain traction — not in terms of date and time, anyway — but suffice it to say it was at least as soon as I heard the idea uttered by some obscure academic or activist on society’s fringes. As for homosexuality, there were some sagacious souls who realized decades ago that it would eventually be accepted. How? The same way a few of us knew in high school, almost instinctively, that our education paled in comparison to that of previous generations: trajectory. If you know an asteroid’s trajectory, you can predict not only where it was years ago, but where it will be in the future. And so it is with cultural trajectory.
Yet if I say that our current cultural trajectory — a bizarre trek that has caused us to boldly go where no American had gone before — has as a point on its arc the acceptance of pedophilia, I’m sure I’ll hear “never, ever under the stars and stripes!” This is a normal human reaction. But the past is a picture of futures man inevitably will paint again, and history hollers its warnings for those with ears to hear.
First consider a simple fact: There is virtually no historical precedent — if any at all — for faux marriage, yet we’re accepting it. But there is great historical precedent for pedophilia, that thing most would currently say we could never accept. And the obvious place to start here is with ancient Greece. The civilization is well-known for its acceptance of homosexuality, yet what actually was most common in this arena was pederasty, sexual relationships between men and boys. It is said that in the mid and late periods of ancient Sparta, the practice was institutionalized in the city-state’s military camps, with a 12-year-old boy being attached to a mature man who would become the child’s mentor and, apparently, molester. And homoerotic ancient Greek art and, more significantly, the casual way prominent Greeks spoke of pederasty attest to its widespread acceptance. As to the latter, historian Plutarch addresses Theban pederasty in Life of Pelopidas and explains that it was an educational device for boys that was designed to “soften, while they were young, their natural fierceness” and “temper the manners and characters of the youth.” The poet Solon gushed about pederasty in his poem “Boys and Sport,” and tradition tells us that the warrior group the Sacred Band of Thebes comprised pederastic man-youth pairings. In fact, the Greeks even had words describing the players in man-boy relationships: An erastes was an adult man who courted or was in a sexual relationship with a boy (this accounts for part of the derivation of “pederast”), who himself was known as an eromenos.
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