Today is the Feast of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, 3rd century Roman soldier saints, good buddies in the faith while alive, and supporters of each other through trials and martyrdom. Or as some would have you believe, very, very good buddies. In case you haven’t read some agenda driven tripe or seen a “History” Channel mocumentary, Saints Sergius and Bacchus are the poster boys for persecuted homosexuals dying for their forbidden love. Their Christian faith was in there somewhere to, but it’s their secret marriage and outting that gets all the attention. If you don’t believe me, try a search using the terms “Sergius Bacchus Same Sex Marriage”. There is more than one gay church using the saints’ lives as fuel for their religious version of Brokeback Mountain.
Some of the scholarly interpretations of the life of these two saints come from their life story wherein they are reported to have been stripped of their military insignia, dressed in women’s clothing and paraded through the streets. Others find proof in their depiction on icons as standing close together. (If that were all it took to label someone as homosexual, start with Saints Peter and Paul, and a whole bunch of others, many of whom never even met but were co-defenders of the Orthodox faith.) For an excellent refutation, read an old but still relevant article by scholar Robin Darling Young who puts this and a lot of other nonsense to rest.
From the website of the Orthodox Church in America you can also read the honorable and edifying story of these two saints, whose bond was as brothers in the faith, and whose love for each other was based on the love God has for all of us:
The Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria were appointed to high positions in the army by the emperor Maximian (284-305), who did not know that they were Christians. Envious people informed Maximian that his two trusted counsellors did not honor the pagan gods. This was considered to be a crime against the state.The emperor, wanting to convince himself of the truth of the accusation, ordered Sergius and Bacchus to offer sacrifice to the idols, but they replied that they honored the One God and worshiped only Him.Maximian commanded that the martyrs be stripped of the insignia of military rank (their belts, gold pendants, and rings), and then dressed them in feminine clothing. They were led through the city with iron chains around their necks, and the people mocked them. Then he summoned Sergius and Bacchus to him again and in a friendly manner advised them not to be swayed by Christian fables, but to return to the Roman gods. The saints refuted the emperor’s words, and demonstrated the folly of worshiping the pagan gods.
The emperor commanded that they be sent to the governor of the eastern part of Syria, Antiochus, a fierce hater of Christians. Antiochus had received his position with the help of Sergius and Bacchus. “My fathers and benefactors!” he said. “Have pity on yourselves, and also on me. I do not want to condemn my benefactors to cruel tortures.” The holy martyrs replied, “For us life is Christ, and to die is gain.” The enraged Antiochus ordered Bacchus to be mercilessly beaten, and the holy martyr surrendered his soul to the Lord. They shod Sergius with iron sandals with nails in their soles and sent him to another city, where he was beheaded with the sword.