This article will begin a short series of reflections on several verses of Scripture dealing with marriage.
Today’s article is delicate work but it must be dealt with....for the sake of our community, our country, and our children. We, as Christians, must not allow our voices to be silenced concerning marriage, the bedrock foundation of civilization.
First, I want you to look at Matthew 19:11-12. These are the words of Jesus
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 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.
A certain individual recently attempted to argue his case for “alternative marriage models” by using Jesus’ and Paul’s words. First, he stated that Jesus (in the verses above) makes exceptions to the male/female marriage model, using the eunuch’s section as support for this.
What is a Eunuch? I will give you three definitions from respectable encyclopedias and dictionaries.
First, the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - This book reveals, “Primarily and literally, a eunuch is an emasculated man.” The word emasculate means to deprive of virility (the ability to function as a male in sexual activity) or procreative power: in other words to CASTRATE.
Second, the Lexham Bible Dictionary states that a eunuch is “a male servant or supervisory official in the court of a ruler; often castrated.”
Third, the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionaryreveals that a Eunuch is "a male deprived of the testes or external genitals.”
What does the Bible say about Eunuchs? In the Old Testament, the word Eunuch comes from an Akkadian word meaning a “kings lead servant.” In the OT, the term may refer to a royal servant rather than a castrated male. As an example of this, consider Potiphar in Genesis 39:1 and 7. The word officer in verse one is the same Hebrew word that we know as a eunuch, but note that Potiphar was married….to a woman.
The New Testament uses the term “eunuch” in two passages (See Matt 19:12; Acts 8:27). Thus we come to the teaching of Jesus on Eunuchs. Jesus differentiates between three types of eunuchs (remember, a Eunuch, generally speaking, but not always, is a male that is incapable of reproduction):
1. Those born eunuchs (For example, Congenital Anorchia; Aphallia).
2. Second, those that become eunuchs (because of social and political obligations),
3. Those who voluntarily become eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom. (This is in
no way referring to modern transgender surgery - or gender-affirming surgery)
When Jesus, in Matthew 19:11 made the statement, “This saying,” what “saying” was he talking about? He was obviously talking about his previous statements found in
Matthew 19:1-10. “This saying” was teaching concerning marriage and divorce in the
context of a biblically sanctioned marriage (i.e. Man [male]and Woman [female] - See
verses 3-5 - In fact, look at the gendered terms throughout this whole passage - vv. 1-12). This union of man and woman is what God has joined together (v. 6).
So what did Jesus teach concerning marriage?
i.Marriage was the normal and common state of man.
ii.Marriage is between a man and a woman
iii.The eunuch state was a rarity. The exception to the normal state of marriage (between a man and a woman) was the eunuch (castrated male or otherwise) who could not receive Jesus’ saying because they do not marry.
iv. A Eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven is likely a metaphor for one choosing the single life in order to be more useful in the Lord’s work. See I Cor. 7:32-34. (But it could be literal - Origen infamously (and foolishly) castrated himself to fulfill this saying of Christ.
Jesus did not say, in this passage, that there was an exception to the normal male/female marriage model.