Jesus On Eunuchs… and Homosexuality?

by Alastair Su

10 His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry. 11But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” (Matthew 19:11-12)

At some point of our lives, we’re bound to have friends who will express a different sexual orientation. For conservative Christians including myself, our probably response might be to panic as we try and determine the proper Christian response. Do we confront him and tell him that it’s outright wrong? Do we continue to love him, hoping that God might change his mind some day? Or do we do the easiest thing — slowly withdraw ourselves from him, as we can never quite view him in the same way. ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner’ your pastor says — one of those lines which sound great in theory, but notoriously difficult to practice.

Contrary to what the LGBT Christian camp will try and tell you, the Bible does condemn homosexuality in black and white terms. The key verse for me is not Romans 1:26-27, but Genesis 2:23-25; sexual union (“the two shall become one flesh”) was created solely for man and woman, and nothing else. One thing that the Bible isn’t very clearly though, is the possibility that without asking for it, some people may be born with different sexual orientations.

If we stop with the theory and think about real-life examples for a while, most of us would probably get a good idea of what I’m pointing to. We could probably think of persons who are good, honest people — maybe even be strong Christians — but somehow they’ve always struggled to “fit in”. They were never there when we discussed which MG girl we had a crush on, because they didn’t feel as we did. As we grew older, they became even more silent on these issues, before finally confessing how they really felt to receive either condemnation or warmth (depending on the friends you have), but mostly condemnation.

I’ve opened with Matthew 19:11-12 because its a rather enigmatic verse that it hints at this possibility — that some people are just born differently. After its hoo-hah in the last few years, the debate over the gay gene has died down somewhat, as scientists still struggle to find conclusive evidence. Yet homosexuals can rest assured, because Jesus may actually be picking up from that argument here.

The big task for us, really, is to properly exegete the term “eunuch”. To begin with, substituting “eunuch” with “homosexual” would be fallacious, though the two terms may share a similar meaning somewhere. In the context of his disciple’s question, Jesus was not referring to the “eunuchs” as the sexually mutilated servants of the ancient world, because this practice was strictly condemned by Jewish law, but rather those who chose to celibate. In this light, he states three means in which people come to celibate: 1) those who are born naturally, 2) those who are sexually mutilated and 3) those who voluntarily choose to celibate for the kingdom’s sake.

Now, while the second and third means can be understood plainly, it is the first means that really stands out. By stating that eunuchs can be born by birth, this would indicate a kind of person who harbours no attraction toward the opposite sex, and thus finds celibacy a natural option. While Jesus isn’t condoning homosexual behaviour here, He does indicate that sexual orientation may have genetic origins.

I say this because in its campaign against the LGBT movement, the church has lost a lot of ground simply by using the Romans 1:26-27 as its main theme and ignoring all possibility that God may have created some people differently. By saying that gay behaviour is hands-down abnormal from the onset, this alienates and confuses a good number of people out there who will either withdraw from the Church or turn to the wrong sources for help.

Controversial? Well, Jesus himself warned that this would be a hard saying that most people would not be able to accept. If you have other interpretations of the verse, feel free to raise them!