The Ethiopian Eunuch.
When evangelicals and fundamentalists share the gospel with gay men and lesbians, it is standard practice to tell the new believer he or she must stop being gay. Gays who get saved are encouraged to join Exodus International, Love Won Out, Love In Action or another Ex-Gay ministry. We now examine a famous eunuch in scripture to see if a Spirit-led preacher in the Bible exhorted a saved eunuch to change his sexual orientation.
Acts 8:26-40 tells the story of the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip, a deacon of the Jerusalem Church, 6:5, fled Jerusalem after the stoning of Stephen, 8:1-5, to evangelize Samaria. This is God’s clue that He is interested in evangelizing the outcasts. God wants Samaritan outcasts to be saved as much as He wants Jews to be saved.
After Peter and John arrive, the angel of the Lord instructs Philip to leave the revival and go south, into the Gaza desert. Always obedient, Philip heads south. In the desert, Philip meets the second Ethiopian eunuch mentioned in scripture (the first Ethiopian eunuch in scripture is found in Jeremiah 38:7). Eunuchs were another class of individuals considered by many Jews as outcasts. This eunuch was traveling south in his chariot, away from Jerusalem.
Very Old Isaiah scroll
Scripture describes this man as a
“eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians” Acts 8:27.
The diligence with which the eunuch read the Isaiah scroll, the earnestness with which he inquired of Philip, and the promptness with which he asked for baptism, after he believed the gospel, all testify to the lofty nature of this eunuch’s character.
Two thousand years after the fact, it is impossible to prove to everyone’s satisfaction, that the Ethiopian eunuch was a gay man. It is equally impossible to prove that the Ethiopian eunuch was not a gay man. What we can say is that the evidence points to the fact that the Ethiopian eunuch was a physically intact born eunuch or natural eunuch, not a physically castrated eunuch.
As a born eunuch, the most probable scenario is that the Ethiopian eunuch was a gay man.
Jesus pointed out to His disciples in Matthew 19:12 concerning eunuchs, that the first class of eunuchs were “so born from their mother’s womb.” Born eunuchs never made a personal choice to be a eunuch. Jesus made an exception for born eunuchs, to the heterosexual marriage paradigm.
Clement of Alexandria informs us that:
“a true eunuch is not one who is unable, but one who is unwilling, to indulge in pleasure” [with a woman].
And quoting followers of the Gnostic teacher Basilides on eunuchs, Clement further tells us:
“Some men, from their birth, have a natural sense of repulsion from a woman.”
As we will see, given these facts, it perfectly fits scripture to believe that this eunuch was not only a born eunuch but also a gay man.
After the Ethiopian eunuch expressed believing faith in Jesus Christ, Philip did not forbid him to be baptized but willingly baptized him. Deuteronomy 23:1 forbad entry into the Jewish congregation, of one “wounded in the stones” or with his “privy member cut off.”
This was understood by ancient Jews, to prohibit a castrated eunuch from entering the congregation of Israel. Because this prohibition was strictly observed among Jews, Philip, a Jew, would not have ignored the law of Moses.
Remember that at this time in history, no one on earth knew that Jews and Gentiles were one body in Christ because God had not yet given that revelation to anyone. It was eventually revealed to the apostle Paul and he wrote it down in his letter to the Ephesians, that Jew and Gentile would be one body in Christ, Eph 2:13-18.
Two Chinese Eunuchs, during the Victorian era, dressed in white.
The apostle Paul had not been saved yet and Ephesians had not been written. The early church was a largely Jewish group, who believed they were still required to keep Jewish law. They were still debating about keeping the Law in Acts 15, seven chapters after the events in Acts 8.
Therefore, because Philip was willing to baptize the eunuch and admit him to membership in the Christian congregation, he must have known that the Ethiopian eunuch was not a physically castrated eunuch.
A physically intact, born eunuch, could enter the congregation of Israel, according to the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Yebamoth, Folio 81a, and according to Jeremiah 34:15-19.
Some will argue that the physical status of the eunuch was unimportant to Philip but that is highly unlikely. Paul was not yet converted when these events occurred. His conversion occurs in Acts 9. God’s revelation to Paul, that we are ‘not under law but under grace’ (Romans 6:14), had not yet been given. Pauline revelation would not be “revelation” if God gave it to Philip before He gave it to Paul. Therefore, Philip was operating as if the Law of Moses was still in effect.
And the Law of Moses forbad “one wounded in the stones or with his privy member cut off” [a castrated eunuch] to enter the congregation.
Lacking Pauline revelation about law and grace, not knowing that Jews and Gentiles were one body in Christ, (That Jews and Gentiles were one body in Christ was revealed to Paul and written by him, in Ephesians 2:15-16, some 20 years after Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch.) it is not reasonable to believe that Philip would ignore Deuteronomy 23:1 in dealing with the Ethiopian eunuch.
Natural eunuchs or eunuchs by nature or born eunuchs were physically intact men who, from their mother’s womb, possessed what Gregory of Nazianzus referred to as “natural chastity” or no sexual interest in women. Gregory understood that eunuchs by nature faced a different temptation, toward sexual relationships with other men. Gregory warned eunuchs by nature against cult prostitution in worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess.
This Delightful 2 Minute Video Is A Modern British Depiction Of The Ethiopian Eunuch Story
It is interesting to note that Philip did not instruct the eunuch that he had to stop being a eunuch. And Philip, who had power to heal the sick, did not heal the eunuch of being a eunuch.
It is inconceivable that godly Philip simply decided to ignore Deuteronomy 23:1. It is more likely that Philip ascertained from the eunuch that he was a natural eunuch, a eunuch by nature, a physically intact man, born a eunuch, from his mother’s womb, as Jesus said in Matthew 19:12.
This line of reasoning does not prove this eunuch was homosexual but it certainly makes more sense than the traditional teaching, that a Spirit-filled evangelist who believed he was under the Law of Moses, would intentionally violate the Law of Moses by allowing a physically castrated eunuch to become part of the Christian congregation.
Understanding that the Ethiopian eunuch was a gay man sets the story in an entirely different light. That God included the eunuch in the family of God before He revealed to Paul that Jews and Gentiles would be one body in Christ is a dramatic event.
When God does something this dramatic, He has a wise purpose. When a Spirit-filled evangelist is specifically directed by God, to leave an active revival, to preach salvation to a eunuch, a gay man, we discover that God loves homosexuals as much as God loves heterosexuals.
We also understand that God has a loving, redemptive plan for eunuchs-gays, which does not compel them to change their sexual orientation.
God shows us convincingly in Acts 8 that He intends born again gays to be part of His church. God intended to save this individual, even though he was a eunuch, a gay man. Philip willingly journeyed into the Gaza desert to lead a homosexual to Christ. What an incredible example for modern Christians to follow.
Are you following faithful Philip's example of leading gays to Christ? Do you lovingly care for the souls of your gay brothers and lesbian sisters?
The common Christian teaching is that when you get saved, God changes your sexual orientation and so He also saves you from being homosexual. Gays and lesbians are instructed to forsake their innate sexual orientation like they forsake fleshly sins. I will be charitable and assume that most Christians have good intentions but are simply acting out of ignorance of scripture when they tell a newly saved gay or lesbian something that silly.
It is interesting to note that Scripture records no command from God, instructing the eunuch that after salvation, he must change his sexual orientation and stop being a eunuch.
Scripture says nothing about Philip encouraging the Ethiopian eunuch to join an Ex-Eunuch Ministry or an Ex-Gay Ministry.
Scripture is clear that Philip, who had power to heal the sick and work miracles, Acts 8:6-7, did not heal the Ethiopian eunuch of being a eunuch or a homosexual.
God moved Luke to record that, after the eunuch believed with all his heart and was baptized, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip and “the eunuch saw him no more” Acts 8:39.
This statement by the Holy Spirit is of paramount importance. This is God’s clue in the text of scripture, that the Ethiopian eunuch was still a eunuch after he got saved. God saved the eunuch’s soul but did not change his sexual orientation.
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This page revised January 24, 2017
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