I try to read all the articles posted here on Whosoever — including Dr. Robert N. Minor’s May 16th article titled “Who Are Those ‘Eunuchs Who Have Been So from Birth’ in the Gospel of Matthew?”
I know this article is talking about “eunuchs,” which means they were all male, but it still gave me pause: What about us women? I am not saying I didn’t like the article; in fact, to me it seemed like a great article if you were a man. I just had to admit that this passage about men seemed to have no relation to me, a woman. I am glad men have options, but the link to women was missing for me; I was having a problem relating to a eunuch because I know of no female version of a eunuch. I also know women were viewed differently then. So I wanted to explore that and write about it.
The passage, as Dr. Minor mentions, does refer to wives/women as property of a man, be it their father or husband. The article then goes on to analyze Matthew 19:11-12.
I looked up the text that he was using — it appears his own translation from the original Greek is closest to that of the also very literal New American Standard Bible (NASB). Here is how NASB translates the passage:
But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by people; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
This passage refers to Jesus defining, or should I say laying out, why a man may be a eunuch, for instance:
- Born that way
- Made so by other people
- Chosen that lifestyle for the sake of God’s kingdom
I know women were property back in the days of Jesus and Matthew. I wonder if being property made it easier for women to be a lesbian or to seek intimacy from amongst themselves, but I do not know. I can’t relate to it.
There are so many translations of the Bible, I wonder if a newer or more recent version such as The Message might give better insights for me, to help me relate, so I looked it up:
But Jesus said, “Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn’t for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked — or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.”
I found this version to be a bit more gender neutral. In this one the word “eunuch” isn’t used any longer, rather it’s just a general discussion of marriage. I related better to this version. Also, now that everyone can get married to any partner they choose, it might be easier for someone today to relate to this version.
Then I took a closer look at five options concerning marriage:
- Some are not mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace.
- Some from birth seemingly never give marriage a thought.
- Others never get asked or don’t accept the proposal.
- Some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons.
- But if you’re capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.
I am grateful that one can have the “certain aptitude and grace” to marry. I love that I know lots of people that have experienced that aptitude and found their “one true love.” Unfortunately, I also know some marriages where one or both parties weren’t able to grow into the largeness of marriage and they divorced. There is lots of growing a person needs to do to be in a relationship.
But again, I like to relate all this to my life. So here goes, as it relates to the five options above:
#1 — I think I am mature enough to get married.
#3 & #4 — Don’t apply — I wasn’t asked, and didn’t choose any kingdom reasons to avoid it.
#5 — Doesn’t apply — I am not married.
I relate best to #2 — I haven’t really thought about marriage. I figured it would happen when it happened. I had no plans or dreams about how I wanted my wedding day to be. It just was not on my radar. I am sure lots of that was because I was not attracted to guys. Even after I cleared my mind and said, “Hey, I am gay,” I still wasn’t ready to think about a committed relationship (the terms we used before LGB people were allowed to legally marry).
I do remember at the ripe old age of 25 talking to some friends who were married or engaged.
I remember thinking I had blown up the concept of the “womanhood” image I was given — i.e., to be married before 25 and have at least 1 child on the way by that age.
They did consider me a bit of a feminist at the time since I was working in a mostly male profession. Remember when I was the only female repair technician for an environmental monitoring firm? Even my bachelor’s degree was feminist: I graduated with a degree in Vocational Education, qualified to teach wood shop, electronics, and basic drafting. But getting a job turned out not to be in the works for me. Schools didn’t want a woman shop teacher.
Being a woman in a man’s world is no easy task; being a lesbian just makes it harder.
But back to the Bible passage: Marriage was just not on my radar. I can’t say I haven’t tried to find someone; I have, but some lack of open communication between parties would cause us to part ways.
Trying to find someone mature with the aptitude and grace for marriage isn’t easy. I can so relate to the Hallmark Channel love stories — you know, where two people meet and get to know one another and start feeling that “spark” of love develop. Then something happens to come between them. The lack of open communication almost does them in, but the ending is inevitably happy. I, on the other hand, have had my relationships end after that first misunderstanding.
I think that today, society is ready for LGBTQI people to meet and get married. Yet the challenge for me now in meeting a woman in my age bracket is finding a woman who has not lied to herself and come out late in life, or been horribly abused, or has always known and been out but is far more activist than I am or want to be.
I want to thank Dr. Minor. His article triggered a deeper thought process about myself. I can see and claim that the Bible does in fact speak of God accepting all LGBTQI people right where we are.
Now if we could just get society to do it, what a better world this would be.
Love you bro.
The longtime Vicar of Education for Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, Alyce Keener (she/her) has felt a twofold calling from an early age toward teaching and toward God. Her religious education started in earnest at her first vacation Bible school, which spurred the realization at a very young age of how important God and Jesus were in her life. She began to pray daily and later began studying the Bible in earnest in college, where she became involved with the Navigators, later taking classes at Moody Bible Institute. Born in Ohio, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Illinois, and was active in local churches, serving on a missions committee, helping develop a church library, leading educational programs and directing a young adults program.