31 July 2020

Eunuchs in Scripture

"Eunuch" is not considered a kind word. Most commonly, in English, it refers to a castrated man. In Hebrew, the word is "saris" and in Greek it is "eunouchos." Both of these words can be used to refer to someone who has been castrated, but both languages have other words to communicate the same concept. Further, not everyone who is called a eunuch is castrated.

In Hebrew in particular, the word takes on a particularly favorable meaning. It is translated as "official" or "commander" and has connotations of being trusted, experienced, and reliable. In Greek, it refers to a person which attends to handmaidens, or virgins, as well as those who serve in high court positions.

When reading the scripture, it is important to remember that most eunuchs would not have been castrated, unless their job specifically involves the care of women. One notable example is Potiphar (Genesis 39) who was a eunuch and was also married.

In Matthew 19:11-12, Jesus talks about marriage and divorce, and then about eunuchs. He says, "Not all men can receive this saying, but those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it."

Jesus recommends that people who can live like eunuchs should do so. He recommends against marriage, but he does not explicitly advocate celibacy. This is because eunuchs, along with not necessarily being castrated, are not necessarily celibate. Eunuchs do not marry and do not have children of their own; this is partly what makes them so trustworthy and dedicated to their work. Their work is their legacy, not their children.

So what are eunuchs if not celibate, castrated, or married? They're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or non-binary. They do not have children for the simple biological reason that two men or two women cannot reproduce. These are "eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb." Jesus specifically tells people of the LGBTQ community to be themselves. There's nothing wrong with you, it's just that God made you special, set apart, holy.

Why would Jesus recommend that people be gay to be closer to God? Well, maybe because he and John were cuddling at the Last Supper (John 13:21-25). Maybe he had a special relationship with John, which is why he asked him to look after Mary, his mother (John 19:25-27), and why Peter wasn't sure whether it would be him or John to lead the church (John 21:20-23).

Regardless of Jesus' actual sexual orientation, there have been plenty of people who thought it was likely that the Son of Man was gay. King James notably said, "Christ had John, and I have George." Perhaps that is how we ended up with so many condemnations against male homosexuality in the King James Bible, the translators were not happy with their king's "defect."

This concludes my series of articles on the Bible and the LGBTQ Community. I hope you have enjoyed and been edified by it. I hope you also noticed that in all the references I made to scripture, not once are lesbians mentioned (Romans 1 not withstanding). Weird right? That's because they're never mentioned in scripture. Not once. But I'm going to leave that as an open mystery for now.

If you'd like to continue reading about this subject, I can recommend an excellent book, The Gay Gospels by Keith Sharpe (Amazon, B&N) is well researched and excellently written.

More than anything, remember that God is love and love is of the same God who made humanity in his image and who gave his name as "I Am What I Am."

Peace be with you.

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Please remember to be kind to your brothers and sisters in Christ.