“Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say the Lord will surely separate me from his people; and do not let the eunuch say I am just a dry tree. For thus says the Lord to the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast to my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 56: 3-5 (NRSV).
I read this verse many times without paying too much attention to it, until one day I suddenly realized what it said. It was the word “eunuch” that alerted me. At that time a eunuch was not necessarily a castrated male, as we think of it now. The term included homosexual men. Jesus says something like this in the book of Matthew: “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:12)
Reading Isaiah 56:3-5 again and substituting “gay man” for eunuch, it seemed to me that it was one of the most beautiful promises in the Bible.
And although (in true Bible fashion) it doesn’t mention women specifically, I believe that it applies to both men and women — and to all who have felt like foreigners, outcasts, or eunuchs of all kinds. It says that if we obey God it doesn’t matter what our sexual orientation is … we have a place in the kingdom of God.
Phillip and the Eunuch
Acts 8: 26-40 contains another beautiful promise to gay and lesbian Christians. Here Phillip finds himself on the road to Gaza at the urging of an angel. He had not planned to be here, but God had His own reasons for putting Phillip in the desert. There he met an Ethiopian eunuch traveling the same road. The eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah, struggling to understand the passage that talked about the coming of Christ. Phillip joined the eunuch on his journey and told him “the good news of Jesus.”
This was a daring move for Phillip! The eunuchs were not allowed in the temples, they were not allowed to hear the scriptures taught from the altar. The word of God was not for them! But that day God led Phillip to bring the gospel to those who had been excluded before.
In Acts 8:36 they come upon a pool of water and the eunuch asks “See, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” Phillip could not think of any reason, and baptized the eunuch.
In this radical move, Phillip opened the door for gay and lesbian Christians to be accepted into the kingdom of God.
Others in Phillip’s time may have disagreed with his acceptance of the eunuch .. as many mainstream church leaders refuse to accept gays and lesbians even today. But, Phillip knew exactly what Jesus meant when he said “…whosoever.”