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Essay on what the Bible *really* says about homosexuality. Shows how evangelists and others have been twisting words for years
There are several works available in the market today which deal with
the subject of homosexuality and the Bible. However, there are very few which
approach the subject from a conservative theological view without beginning
with a definite bias against homosexuality. Most of these available works are
either anti-gay or decline to view the Scriptures as an authoritative book of
doctrine. These latter writers prefer to view the Bible as a source from
which to build doctrine.
I approach this work as someone who has extensive training from one of
the most conservative Bible schools in America: Bob Jones University. It was
there that I learned the conservative hermeneutical tenets, and a working use
of Greek and Semitic languages. My perspective is conservative both in
theology and in the use of hermeneutical principles.
The Basic presuppositions of this work are as follows:
1. Plenary-verbal inspiration of Scriptures in their original
languages, that is, the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament and the
Greek New Testament were written by human agents in their own
natural style and grammar, but the end results of their writings
were the exact words which God intended to have recorded.
2. Authority and infallibility of Scripture. In other words,
everything stated in the Bible (in the original language and
context) are completely accurate and definitely true.
3. For any accurate understanding of a particular portion of
Scripture, it must be read in its entire context.
4. The best commentary on Scripture, is the Scripture itself.
5. The language of the original Scriptures must be understood as it
was used in the time it was written.
6. In order to understand why certain events and statements occurred,
we must understand the cultural situation of the time of whose
events and statements.
7. Before we can apply the teachings of the Bible to our present day
situation, we must understand the meaning of those teachings in
the day in which they were given.
I make no apology for my presuppositions as listed above. However, it
is understood that there are many Christian men and women who do not
share these same presuppositions. Although they may find this work
interesting and useful in some contexts, they may also want to use some
of the other available works with a theological assumption more closely
approximating their own.
The Rev. L. Robert Arthur
Los Angeles, CA.
1982 Chapter One
Sodom and Gomorrah
Perhaps one of the most unfortunate developments of the English language
is the use of the word sodomy to describe anal penetration and/or male
homosexuality. The mere fact of this linguistic development several millennia
after the events described in the Genesis account of the destruction of Sodom,
has sealed in the minds of many English speaking people that Sodom was
destroyed because of male homosexuality. Theologians have been guilty for
centuries of playing upon this unfortunate misunderstanding to condemn those
who found their sexual orientation to be homosexual.
Our narrative really begins back in Genesis 18 when, as recorded in
verses 1 and 2, Jehovah and two others appeared to Abraham in Mamre. They had
a two-fold message for Abraham. First they told him that he and his wife,
Sarah, would parent a son, in spite of their old age. Secondly of great
wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah. We see that Abraham understood this to mean
that they were about to destroy these cities, for he pleaded intercession to
spare them for the sake of any righteous people living there. In verses 23-33
we find that Abraham bargained with Jehovah, and won a promise that if as many
as 10 righteous people could be found there, Sodom would be spared. (Of
course we recognize Abraham's vested interest in Sodom, since his nephew Lot
Now according to verse 22, Jehovah stayed to talk with Abraham, while
the other men proceeded toward Sodom. The two who arrived in Sodom are
variously described as angels (19:1) and men (19:5). In 18:2, Jehovah and the
two angels are described as men. This is not really anything unusual in the
Bible, since we frequently read of angels, and even Jehovah, taking human form
to interact with human beings. (Cf. Genesis 3:8; Judges 13:15-16) So we read
of these two angels in human form arriving in Sodom, and being offered
At this point it is very important for us to understand the law of
hospitality which has been prevalent throughout ancient history. A story
which is strikingly similar to the account of the angels' visit to Sodom is
told by Ovid in his Metamorphosis (8:625 ff) about visiting gods being hosted
by a resident in a city which otherwise refused them hospitality, and being
saved from the city's destruction.
We must remember that our modern motel business was not thriving in
those days, and a traveler was dependent on the hospitality of those he met en
route. Even in this same story we find Abraham's example of hospitality to
these same angelic men in Mamre (Genesis 18:1-5).
We even read of God's command to deny access to Hebrew worship to
Ammonites and Moabites for ten generations, because of their lack of
hospitality to the wandering Israelites (Deuteronomy 23:3-4)
This same law of hospitality is found in various examples throughout the
Bible. Perhaps one of the greatest Old Testament examples is that of Rahab,
who in Joshua 2, risked her life to protect her guests, the spies who were
sent to peruse Jericho. Even as late as the New Testament, the disciples were
told not to waste their time in any place which did not receive them and treat
them with the laws of hospitality. In fact these cities are compared with
Sodom in their sin of not providing hospitality (Luke 10:10-13).
Now with reference to our narrative in Genesis, we read that Lot offered
these two visitors his hospitality. Along with that hospitality was implied
security and protection. Therefore when the men of Sodom came knocking at
Lot's door, seeking to do harm to these visitors, it was imperative for Lot to
provide them with protection. Much has been said about one Hebrew word found
in this passage. This is the Hebrew work "Yada". Its basic meaning as a verb
is "to know." However, since Hebrew is a verbal language, they have a rich
variety of verbs which English does not have. Whereas in English we have
several shades of meaning for any one verb, Hebrew has different verbs to
express those shades of meaning. For example, where we translate a verb
meaning "to know," the Hebrew has a variety of verbs as follows:
bin: to consider
yada: to know thoroughly
nakar: to discern
sakal: to understand and act upon
shama: to hear with understanding
raah: to see with understanding
sakan: to become acquainted with
This verb "yada" is sometimes used in the sexual sense. In other words
to thoroughly know a person, is to sexually know them as well. We read in
Genesis 4:1, that "Adam yada Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bore Cain,"
(KJV). It is therefore obvious that in Genesis 19:5, the men of Sodom wanted
to sexually know the visitors (who were obviously unwilling), because the
Hebrew word "yada" is used in this verse. Furthermore, invoking the law of
hospitality, Lot instead offered his two daughters to them who are described
as never having "yada" a man (19:8). When the same word is used twice in the
same passage, we have no choice but to understand it in the same way. Since
Lot was obviously offering his daughters for sexual use ("yada") or rape, then
we must believe the intent of the men of Sodom was to sexually use ("yada") or
rape the visitors. What greater violation of the law of hospitality can
exist, than to rape your guests?
This was the so-called "straw that broke the camel's back," proving the
already reported sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the angelic messengers
warned Lot to flee the coming destruction of the cities. Ten righteous people
had not been found.
Now of course there are those who would lift the nineteenth chapter out
of context and try to prove that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of
their rampant homosexuality. But we can see from the context that well before
their destruction, and this attempted rape, that God had pronounced their
judgment to Abraham.
Following our presupposition number 4, we now turn to other Scriptures
to find the commentary on the destruction of Sodom. Probably the clearest
analogy in the New Testament is found in Luke 10:10-13, where the disciples
are told that the judgment on those cities which do not show them hospitality
will be more severe than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we also have
comments in many other places in the Bible. Another good example is Ezekiel
16:48-50 where the sins leading to Sodom's destruction are listed as follows:
Uncaring for Poor and Needy
Committed Abominations Before God
Nowhere in this list do we find reference to homosexuality. But in
comparing this list and the comment in Luke with the narrative in Genesis
18-19, we do see each of the above descriptions as a good commentary on the
way of life there which was so displeasing to God.
There are those who try to see in the word "abomination" a reference to
homosexual activity. However a brief word study will show us quite otherwise.
This Hebrew word, "toebah" is found frequently in the Old Testament. If one
were to read it in the context of every place it occurs, one would find it is
always connected with or synonymous with idolatry. After all, the very first
commandment is to have no other gods before Jehovah. Probably one of the
clearest definitions of this word "toebah" is found in Deuteronomy 7:25-26
where we see that the abomination is the idol used in false worship. However,
the word "abomination" does occasionally have a broader use: to indicate
anything to do with false worship (Proverbs 21:27). Obviously, the people of
Sodom were involved in false worship practices in order to degenerate to the
level of sinfulness they exhibited at the time of the angelic visit.
Of all the places in the Bible that refer to the sins of Sodom, perhaps
the one that is most misused is Jude 7, where we read that Sodom and Gomorrah
suffered the vengeance of eternal fire because they were "going after strange
This is a good illustration of the violation of presupposition number 3.
Although trite, the saying is true that states, "A text out of context is a
pretext." As is true with statistics, so anything can be proven with
Scripture taken out of context.
For a ridiculous example, let us put the following verses together:
Matthew 27:5: "[Judas] went and hanged himself."
John 13:15: "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have
Admittedly, no one would be foolish enough to claim on this basis that
we are all expected to hang ourselves. But is it not just as foolish to claim
dogmatically on the basis of Jude 7 that since "going after strange flesh"
means homosexuality, that this is the reason for Sodom's destruction?
First of all, what is so strange in the flesh of another human being
constructed sexually the same as one's self? But, more importantly, what is
the meaning of the first part of verse 7: "EVEN AS Sodom and Gomorrah and the
cities about them IN LIKE MANNER?" Obviously the two phrases in caps are
referring back to a previous verse. So let us look at verse 6. Here we read
of angels who left their own habitation being punished. Then verse seven
tells us that the people in Sodom and Gomorrah were acting IN LIKE MANNER to
the angels when they were "going after strange flesh," and why it may be so
detested by God that both the angels and the humans should be so severely
For our understanding of the sin of these angels, let us look back to
Genesis 6. Here we read of a time when the "sons of God" cohabited with the
"daughters of humans" resulting in a strange progeny called in the Hebrew
NEPHILIM, a rare word indicating something weird or strange. Immediately
after this event God sent the flood to destroy all humanity except Noah and
Now of course, the question is who were the "sons of God" and why was it
so wrong for them to cohabit with the "daughters of humans"? For an
understanding of the phrase, "sons of God," we need to look at Job 1:6. Here
we see that Satan was before God as one of the "sons of God." Now we know
that Satan is a fallen angel, so we would understand the "sons of God" to be
other angels. We again get this same understanding from Job 38:7. If we
therefore conclude that the Hebrew phrase "sons of God" refers to angels, we
see that what happened in Genesis 6 is a cohabitation between angelic "flesh"
and human "flesh." This event was the "last straw" before the flood, and
according to Jude 6, before the punishment of the angels involved.
Jude 7 then tells us that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were IN LIKE
MANNER. Remembering that the two visitors to Lot were angels, we see humans
committing the same sin of attempting cohabitation with angels, or "going
after strange flesh," resulting in the same consequences as Genesis 6;
destruction. Again, we are not reading of homosexuality, but of the mixing of
two distinct orders of creation.
We read of a situation occurring in Judges 19 that some have compared to
Genesis 19, the story of Sodom. Here, however, are several difference. First
of all, the male house guest was a man, not an angel. Secondly, the people of
the tow of Gibeah accepted the woman in place of the Levite man, and raped her
until she died. Again, we are not reading of homosexuality in this passage,
but of rape. The men wanted to rape the Levite, but were satisfied by raping
his concubine. Again, the city of Gibeah was destroyed (Judges 20:38-44), but
not for homosexuality, but for rape (heterosexual at that) and violation of
the law of hospitality.
There is one other passage we should consider in this chapter; Genesis
34. Here we read of the rape of Jacob's daughter Dinah by Shechem the Hivite.
As a result of this heterosexual rape, Shechem's home town was destroyed. Yet
in spite of this destruction, we hear no one condemning heterosexuality on the
basis of this passage, but rather a condemnation of rape. So also is the case
with Sodom. If we consider one of the many sins of Sodom for which they were
destroyed, an attempted rape of men (who were really angels), then the
condemnation should fall squarely on rape, not homosexuality.Chapter Two
There are two verses in Leviticus which we often hear quoted in polemics
against gay and lesbian Christians: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with
womankind, it is abomination." 18:22 KJV. "If a man also lie with mankind, as
he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall
surely be put to death; their death shall be upon them," 20:13 KJV.
In both verses we read the word "abomination" in connection with the
proscribed activity. Now in the last chapter we indicated that abomination is
integrally related to idolatry. In what way then, is this activity connected
with idolatry? Again the context can help us.
In both chapters we find this activity in a list of proscribed
activities, but all in some way related to the worship of Molech (18:21;
20:2). We must remember that the levitical law was given to the people of
Israel as they were traveling through hostile territory where the inhabitants
were all idolaters. The major god of these desert peoples was Molech, a fire
The major thrust of God's instructions to Israel is summed up well in
Leviticus 18:3: "After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt,
shall ye not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, to which I bring
you, shall ye not do; neither shall ye walk in their ordinances," KJV.
God intended the chosen race to be a "peculiar people," untainted by the
practices of the surrounding nations. Anything which could possibly identify
the people of Israel with the surrounding people and their practices was to be
scrupulously avoided. For this reason we read of several peculiar
prohibitions in Leviticus. All of these practices were part of the heathen
worship of Molech:
Child Sacrifice (20:2)
Beard Trimming (19:27)
Menstrual Intercourse (20:18)
Any violation of these proscriptions would tend to identify the
Israelites with the worshippers of Molech and make them appear to be idolaters
(committing abomination). So God made these part of the legal code of Israel.
In addition, the Hebrew theology of women was based on their
understanding of the creation of men and women. Since the Hebrews believed
that men were created in the image of God, the earthly likenesses of God must
be treated with the same awe and respect as one would treat God. However,
since they believed women were created in the image of men, they were one more
step removed from God, and not deserving of the same respect. As a result the
place of women was under men, and completely dominated and used by men for
their own purposes. Women were used sexually at the whim of their husbands,
and not free to determine their own destiny. If a man were to treat another
man in the same manner as he was free to treat women, that would be degrading
the "image of God" to a mere human possession, as women were. This would be a
direct affront to God and God's image, the man. So to "lie with a man as with
a woman" was a blasphemous action degrading God to a mere possession. (Of
course Paul attempted to correct the Hebrew theology of women, viz. Galatians
We know that the purpose of the law was two-fold; to keep the Israelites
pure and undefiled among the heathen nations; and to teach them the
impossibility of being perfect and the need for a perfect sacrifice to atone
for imperfection. When Christ, that perfect sacrifice came, the law had
completed its purpose and its usefulness was cancelled.
The early church struggled with the problems of legalism: how much of
the law need Christians live up to? Paul addressed the question quite
forcefully in his epistle to the Galatians. Since the perfect sacrifice has
freed us from the condemnation of the law, we are no longer under the law's
demands (3:23-25). We who are of the faith are not to associate any longer
with the teachings of the law (4:30-31). In fact, if we attempt to live up to
the law, we as much as call Christ foolish in that he died for nothing (2:21).
It is certainly very dangerous to start trying to pick a few laws that
are still binding, and agree that all others are nullified. There are very
few Christians today who would impose on us the laws forbidding certain foods,
trimming beards, or even having intercourse with one's wife during
menstruation. Yet, somehow, one particular law is selected to bind lesbian
and gay Christians. Is this really consistent hermeneutics? Christ gave us
two laws to live by: Matthew 22:37-40.
Love your neighbors as yourself.
If we live up to these laws of Christ, we are to separate ourselves from
all other laws and those who would impose them on us (Galatians 4:30-31;
3:23-25). Chapter Three
One of the errors of the translators of the KJV has been corrected by
later translators in many of our more modern version. However, much damage
has been done by those who use only the KJV by applying certain passages of
the old Testament to gays and lesbians.
The Hebrew word gadesh (plural:gedeshim) was translated in the KJV as
sodomite(s). This is a very unfortunate translation, especially since it is a
noun form of the root verb which means "to be holy." A better translation of
the word would be priest. But since the normal Hebrew word for priest is
gadosh, a distinction needs to be made between gadesh and gadosh. The
distinction in the Hebrew mind was that a gadosh served Jehovah God, and
gadesh served some pagan deity.
By looking closely at the six passages of the Old Testament where gadesh
is found (Deuteronomy 23:17;I Kings 14:24;I Kings 15:12;I Kings 22:46:;II
Kings 23:7; Job 36:14), we soon see that in each case these gedeshim were
priests who served in fertility cults. They in essence were assigned to the
temples of the various fertility deities to receive the sexual sacrifice of
their worshippers. Thus some of our more modern translators have used the
more appropriate term "cult prostitute."
Naturally, Jehovah would prohibit the men and women of Israel from
serving in these capacities (Deuteronomy 23:17), and ordered them eliminated
from the land. However, this certainly has little or no relevance to a
homosexual person, especially a gay or lesbian Christian.
As we move into New Testament times, we still encounter fertility cults
such as Diana (Artemis) of Ephesus (Acts 19). Many of Paul's converts had
been involved in the worship of these false gods, and he writes to the
Corinthians to specifically tell them to forsake the practices they had
acquired in that worship. Even though Christian liberty allows a great deal
of freedom, it still does not allow us to serve as facilitators of the worship
of these false gods. In chapter 6 of I Corinthians, he gives a list of
descriptions that would apply to the gedeshim of Corinth, as well as to many
of the worshippers of these false gods.
One of those terms he uses is the Greek word arsenokoites. This term
has caused problems for translators for centuries. Paul seems to have been
the first person to use this term in writing. John Boswell, in his book
"Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality", does a good word study on
this subject. But the conclusion he reaches is that the arsenokoites is a
male prostitute who took the active role in sexual encounters. Obviously this
Greek word could easily have been Paul's equivalent for the Hebrew gadesh.
Many translators over the years have tried to make arsenokoites
equivalent to arrenokoites, which generally refers to homosexual men, and so
most English translations use some form of homosexual activity to translate
arsenokoites. This does seem strange however, when one of the sources quoted
in Greek lexicons for determining the meaning of this word is a passage in
Jejunter of the sixth century. The context there is "men are even playing the
part of an arsenokoites with their own wives," - hardly a homosexual
Understanding arsenokoites to be equivalent to gadesh, we find much more
meaning in Paul's letters to Corinth (I Corinthians 6:9) and Timothy (I
Timothy 1:10). (Timothy was the bishop of Ephesus.) Those who facilitate the
worship of false gods are not fit for the kingdom of God.
Paul and Homosexuality
We have already looked at one of the words Paul used which has been
mistranslated; arsenokoites. A brief comment would be in order as to a second
such word; malakoi. This Greek adjective is also found in the list of types
of characteristics which render one unfit for the kingdom of God in I
Although malakoi is translated "effeminate" or "catamite" by many
English versions, this Greek adjective is found frequently in Greek
literature, and rarely connotes any sexual meaning. In fact, it is properly
translated the other three times it occurs in the New Testament: twice in
Matthew 11:8, and once in Luke 7:25. It basically means "soft." But when
applied to people it usually means "gutless." Someone who will not stand up
for what is right is certainly not fit for the kingdom of God. Viz. Luke
7:62. This understanding of malakoi certainly fits in much better with
Pauline theology than any homosexual meaning. Paul was continually urging his
converts to stand for the truth no matter what the cost. (Philippians
Perhaps the most often quoted Pauline passage on this subject is Romans
1:26-27. However, a quick glance at the first phrase of verse 26 ("For this
cause") tells us immediately that any reference to these two verses is
inadequate without looking at its entire context; the whole first chapter.
What is the point of the first chapter? Paul is warning that many
people become guilty of worshipping the creature more than the Creator (verse
25). Anything which is loved more than God becomes an idol; and the love for
that idol is an unnatural love called lust. Lust brings its own natural
results, and God turns the idolaters over to their own lusts and their natural
There are three examples of lust given in Romans 1. First there is a
lust for the idol of wisdom. The natural result of that lust is foolishness
(verse 22). Secondly, some women allow sex to become their god. When
perverting of their natural love for sex into something unnatural (verse 26).
Paul does not specify what that unnatural sexual conduct is. For different
people it could be different things. But whatever it is, it is something not
natural for those persons because sex is their god.
Thirdly, Paul says that some men allow sex to become their god. Again
the same thing happens. They will abandon what is natural for them and turn
to unnatural sexual activities to satisfy their lust for their god, sex (verse
Especially for Christian lesbians and gays, this passage should not
apply. For to a Christian, God is first in our lives, and all other desires
fall into second place. Therefore sex is not a god, and we do not fall under
the condemnation described in Romans 1.
However, in this verse Paul describes men as naturally preferring women.
For men whose natural preference is women, the result of making sex a god
could very well be the turning from women to lusting after other men. Note
the word "lust" - not love. It is interesting also to note that these men
must "katergazomai" the act of sex with other men. The Greek word "ergazomai"
alone means to work or accomplish. But when the preposition "kat" is put with
it, the extreme energy required to accomplish that deed is referred to. This
would indicate a violation of the natural tendencies of that man who has sex
with another man. Could the act of rape be indicated by selecting this
particular verb? At any rate, for a gay man, whose natural preference is for
other men, it would certainly not require "katergazomai" to accomplish a
sexual act with another man.
But of course there are those who would say that anything unnatural is
out of God's will for us, and so since Paul labels opposite sex preference as
natural, those who would prefer the same sex are not in God's will, and cannot
receive God's blessings. This is certainly an unfortunate understanding of
Paul's use of the term "natural."
From this same understanding of Paul's use of the term "natural," there
are many churches who would condemn a man whose hair is too long, based on I
Corinthians 11:14. However, why is it then that God gives exceptional
blessings to men who take the Nazirite vow which includes the promise of never
cutting their hair? Perhaps the most famous of those who were so blessed by
God for not cutting his hair was Samson. When his vow was violated by the
cutting of his hair, he lost that special blessing of strength God had given
him (Judges 13-16).
This then cannot be the meaning Paul attaches to the word "natural."
What then does he mean when he uses the word? What do we mean when we use the
word? Simply put, the word "natural" means that which is customarily
observed. (Cp. Romans 11:24) Certainly in Paul's day as well as our own the
commonly observed preference of people is for the opposite sex. But that does
not mean that the 14% of people who prefer the same sex are any less blessed
One other interesting note is found in the greetings Paul sends at the
end of the book of Romans. If Paul were so hostile to homosexual men and
women, why would he send greetings to one who was notoriously gay? Yet we
find in Romans 16:11 greetings to the household of Narcissus, who was Nero's
famous lover at the time. In fact, many early church historians like
Dionysius claim that Narcissus was the one who successfully interceded with
Nero for Paul, and got him acquitted after his first arrest.
It is rather difficult to picture Paul as being the anti-gay and lesbian
person that many people claim he was. And as we have seen, there is nothing
in his writings that would indicate to the contrary.
Christ and Homosexuality
If Christ is the center of Christianity, then of course anything He said
on the subject would be definitive. However, search as we may, we can find
not one word on the subject from His lips anywhere in the Gospels.
There are some who look at His statements in Matthew 19 as pertaining to
the subject. When the Pharisees asked Him for His teaching about divorce, He
made the comment that from the beginning God did not intend for divorce. It
is from this passage that the familiar statements in our popular wedding
ceremonies are taken; "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother and
shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. Wherefore, they
are no more two, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together,
let no one put asunder."
What some call the argument from natural order of creation goes like
this. Since God intended from the beginning that a woman should be with a
man, homosexuality is not in God's plan for humanity. After all, "God did not
create Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve." Therefore, one can only be truly in
God's will if married heterosexually.
Of course, we immediately wonder how Christ could be in God's will,
then, if He was not married. And we wonder why Paul would be so bold as to
recommend the single state over God's will of marriage (I Corinthians 7:7-9).
But we are not the only ones with such a question. We find in this same
chapter (Matthew 19:10) that the disciples said then that they could not
understand why anyone would want to get married. So Jesus replied with a
rather unusual statement in verses 11-12. This plan for marriage with no
divorce is not meant for everyone, but just for those to whom it applies;
those who get married.
He then gives a curious statement as to who some of those are for whom
it is not intended; eunuchs who were born eunuchs, eunuchs who were made that
way in life, and those who chose to be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's
sake. Who then are these eunuchs?
Most people think of eunuchs as only castrated males. However, neither
the Greek of the New Testament or the Hebrew of the Old Testament would
support this idea. The Greek word used in Matthew 19 is "eunouchos", which is
a masculine noun referring to men who are in the state of "eunouchia", a noun
which means the state of being unmarried. That one need not be castrated to
be a "eunouchos" is denoted by the use of that word in the Wisdom of Solomon
3:14, where it talks of eunuchs masturbating. In the Old Testament we read of
a man who was married, yet called a eunuch. Potiphar was described in Genesis
39 as a "saris" (Hebrew word translated elsewhere as eunuch). Here the word
chamberlain is used to translate "saris", because he was married (but without
children). Apparently he was impotent, and it was for this reason that his
wife tried to seduce Joseph.
In ancient cultures, the greatest curse upon a family was to be without
heirs. Anyone not producing an heir was called a "saris"(eunuch). The
feminine equivalent of the male "saris" is "sarisa". Although the only
eunuchs referred to in the Old Testament were male, there were most certainly
female eunuchs because the feminine form of the word is found in the Talmud.
So now if we properly understand Christ to be talking in Matthew 19 of
people who are either incapable of having children, or for some reason do not
have children, either due to circumstances of life or for religious choice,
then no eunuch is under this teaching of marriage. No matter what
philosophical or psychological explanations are used, it is obvious that most
gay men and women do not have children*, and are therefore not included in the
specialized instructions given to married people in Matthew 19.
There is also an interesting passage in Isaiah 56:3-5. Here we are told
that eunuchs (both male and female) who hold fast to God's covenant will
receive an inheritance in heaven better than the inheritance of those who are
called the sons and daughters of God. This is certainly similar to Christ's
teaching in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:10). How often have modern day
eunuchs (gay men and lesbians) who hold fast to the new covenant as Christians
faced persecution from other children of God? If we stand firm on that
covenant, we will certainly inherit the kingdom of heaven with a better reward
than the other sons and daughters of God.
*In fact, Christ states that grounds for divorce is fornication, which in
Greek indicates any use or abuse of one's sexual partner to satisfy one
person's needs without care for the other. Most lesbians and gay men who find
themselves in heterosexual marriages are usually in just such an abusive
situation, and they therefore have Biblical grounds for divorce.
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