As Africa was the birthplace of civilization it should come as no surprise to find that the earliest known reference to same-sex marriage in history can also be found there. Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep were royal manicurists in the court of Pharaoh Niuserre during Egypt’s Fifth Dynasty. The artwork in their tomb leaves no doubt that they were viewed as a couple. The men are depicted in near constant embrace. They are shown with their noses touching (the most intimate embrace permitted in Egyptian art of the time, a form of kissing). Even their names speak to the intensity of their bond. When the names Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep are put together, it translates into “joined in life and joined in death.”
And though Egypt may have the first recorded instance of a same-sex union, they were by no means the only culture in Africa to show open acceptance of homosexual marriages. The famous British anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard documented that male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely married young males between the ages of twelve and twenty. The younger men helped with household tasks and had sex with their older husbands, though anal sex seems to have been slightly taboo and intercrural sex (between the thighs) was apparently preferred. Pritchard noted that many warriors married younger males. It was the custom for the warrior to pay the boys’ parents with spears, just as he would if he had married their daughter. The couple would also refer to each other as badiare, “my love” or “my lover.”
I’m beginning to think Rick Warren never read a history book.