Is the word Eunuch really the Bible’s way of saying homosexual?

Gay “Christian” apologists will adamantly defend the idea that God approves of homosexual relationships, and the Bible, rather than condemning homosexuality, genuinely commends same-sex couples and homosexual behavior.

They argue that the current debate against homosexual inclusivity to the Christian church is because bigoted Christians have misread the Bible and have warped Christ’s teachings that affirm same-sex relationships. That of course is historical and biblical revisionism. The so-called gay “Christians” advocating for the acceptance of homosexuality in the church are merely standing at the end of a long, twisting line running through church history filled with a vast assortment of goofballs, kooks, and weirdies who conveniently “revised” the Bible to fit their personal beliefs.One particular “proof” gay revisionists point to is Christ’s words in Matthew 19:10-12. They will translate the passage like so,

“His disciples say unto him, “If the case of the man be so with [his] wife, it is not good to marry.” But he said unto them, “All [men] cannot receive this saying, save [they] to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from [their] mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive [it], let him receive [it].” Matthew 19:10-12

Then they will draw the following conclusions,

Jesus is exempting three groups of people from the Adam and Eve marriage paradigm.

1) Eunuchs so born from their mother’s womb.

2) Eunuchs made so by men. 

3) Eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.

The term eunouchos did not simply mean someone who was castrated. If you know anything about the Greek language, you will know that Greek words have manifold meanings. Just pick up a good Greek lexicon and you will find pages of meaning for each word. Jesus shows three meanings of eunouchos.

Eunuchs so born from their mother’s womb are not impotent, or physically damaged in any way, but simply men who do not have inherent sexual interest in women (i.e. gay men). And Jesus is saying they are exempt from the Adam and Eve marriage paradigm.

That is an interesting take on Christ’s words, but does it hold up under any amount of scrutiny? Let me begin by considering what an Eunuch was exactly.

What are eunuchs?

The Greek word is a compound word that means literally “bed holder,” or simply put, a holder of the bed. The historical understanding of a eunuch is a man who had been castrated or had his genitals mutilated in some manner that prevented him from becoming aroused around women. Those men were commonly used as guards in royal harems, what would be known as a “bed guardian.”

Three of the standard theological and lexical works on the Old and New Testaments, The New International Dictionary of N.T. Theology, Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the N.T., and The International Dictionary of O.T. Theology and Exegesis, all state that the definition of a castrated man used as a harem guard was the standard, historical understanding of the word “eunuch.”

Glancing through a handful of other theological and lexical works will also affirm the typical understanding of the word. In addition to the idea of a castrated harem guard, the word did expand in meaning to include high court officials who held prominent positions in a royal court, but may not necessarily be castrated. None of those works, however, implied the word could be used to describe a person disposed to homosexual persuasion. That is something of a novel, modern invention cooked up by gay revisionists bent on distorting the plain teaching of Scripture against homosexuality.

So what did Jesus mean when He speaks of “eunuchs from birth?” Returning to Christ’s words to the disciples in Matthew 19:12, nothing in the context of this first category of eunuchs, “a eunuch from birth,” suggests Jesus had in mind natural born homosexual orientation.

What Christ really had in mind was the Jewish understanding of eunuchs as described in Leviticus 21:20 where the Bible says, or is a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye, or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch.  Basically, people who were born with the physical inability to engage in sexual intercourse. Those inabilities could be more than just sexual impotence, but could very well be crippling deformities like paralysis, Downs, or other mental retardation that prevents a person from being married to a spouse.

Moreover, and most importantly, Jesus could not have in mind homosexuals when he told his disciples there are “eunuchs from birth,” because in the larger context of the entire revelation of Scripture the participants in marriage are clearly limited to being only one male and one female and that is the model reiterated throughout the remainder of the Bible. There are no other combinations permitted, nor are there any other combinations, such as a same-sex relationship allegedly exempt from the divine ordinances established in Genesis for marriage.

To ignore these clear commands, or even worse, reinterpret them according to a new paradigm, demonstrates a desperation to make the Bible affirm the non-affirmable.

What about Clement of Alexandria?

Now in order to shore up that reinterpretation of Jesus’s words, gay apologists will also appeal to some writings of Clement of Alexandria. Two sources in particular, Paedagogus and the Stromata. The relevant sections state,

“…a true eunuch is not one who is unable, but one who is unwilling, to indulge in pleasure…” (Paedagogus, III, 4.)

“‘Not all can receive this saying; there are some eunuchs who are so from their birth, others are so of necessity.’ And their explanation of this saying is roughly as follows: Some men from their birth, have a natural sense of repulsion from a woman…” (The Stromata, III. 1.)

It is suggested by the gay apologists that what Clement is saying is that those individuals labeled “eunuchs” are not aroused by women because they cannot be so physically. In other words, they are not attracted to women, but to men. That is why they were assigned to watch over the royal harems, because they had no sexual interest in the women in those harems.

It is important to note that more times than not, appealing to external sources in order to “define” biblical words, like quotations from church fathers, may not be particularly helpful. In the case of Clement of Alexandria, he is nearly 200 years removed from Jesus. We need to ascertain what Jesus meant by His use of the word during His time period, as well as consider other Scriptural definitions of marriage and eunuchs before we make authoritative appeals to some external source who wrote a couple of centuries later.

Those two section of Clement’s writings, the Paedagogus (the instructor) and The Stromata (miscellaneous writings), can be viewed in their entirety here. Both works are divided into multiple books with multiple chapters in each book.  The first citation from the Paedagogus is found in chapter 4 of book 3. The second citation from The Stromata is found in chapter 1 of book 3.

First, concerning the citation from the Paedagogus, Clement is addressing wealthy individuals who employ domestic servants. After giving an extensive list of individual servant staffers, he mentions eunuchs. The entire citation reads:

“Many are eunuchs; and these panders serve without suspicion those that wish to be free to enjoy their pleasures, because of the belief that they are unable to indulge in lust. But a true eunuch is not one who is unable, but one who is unwilling, to indulge in pleasure.” Paedagogus, book 3, chapter 4

Clement really says nothing about their sexual orientation. He just says they are individuals who are believed to be unable to indulge in sex; but in reality, a true eunuch is not unable, but merely unwilling to indulge in the pleasure. Nothing is said by Clement as to why the eunuch is unwilling. It could be a vow of celibacy for all we know, and it is dishonest for homosexual revisionists in our modern day to abuse Clement’s words in such a manner as to make the Bible say something it isn’t saying.

The second citation from The Stromata reads in its entirety as follows (note my emphasis):

The Valentinians, who hold that the union of man and woman is derived from the divine emanation in heaven above, approve of marriage. The followers of Basilides, on the other hand, say that when the apostles asked whether it was not better not to marry, the Lord replied: “Not all can receive this saying; there are some eunuchs who are so from their birth, others are so of necessity.” And their explanation of this saying is roughly as follows: Some men, from their birth, have a natural sense of repulsion from a woman; and those who are naturally so constituted do well not to marry. The Stromata, book 3, chapter 1.

The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that Clement is citing the followers of a gnostic heretic by the name of Basilides, who also was from Alexandria. It is beyond the pale of dishonesty for gay revisionists to make readers think the words of a false teacher are the words of a church father.

Moreover, nothing in the text, which is a part of Clement’s larger discourses on marriage relationships, even hints at homosexuality. Basilides’ and his followers said those individuals have a natural repulsion of women and do well not to marry. Again, it is reading a 21st century understanding of homosexuality back into a text that is nearly 1,800 years old and drawing erroneous conclusions.

Rather than being shown the grievous error of pursuing this sexual sin, many individuals desperate to justify their homosexuality, will be led into destruction because they latch on to this type of fraudulent research as evidence for justifying their perversion. This is unconscionable in my mind.

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One thought on “Is the word Eunuch really the Bible’s way of saying homosexual?

  1. Pingback: Answering the Claims of Gay “Christian” Apologetics and Homosexuality in Culture | hipandthigh

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