The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”
Matthew 19: 10 – 12
These passages are confusing. In a modern context where there is a lot lest angst about is someone properly married and ‘eunuch’ is an outdated term. It can be hard to put ourselves in the shoes and understand this conversation.
Eunuchs had a somewhat ambiguous status in the ancient world. In a society with strict gender roles, where having a family was one of life’s most important goals, Eunuchs presented a grey area: they were not treated as men, but not considered women either. Many people’s solution to this ambiguity was to shun them and shut them out. In the Jerusalem Temple, which was segregated into men’s and women’s areas, eunuchs weren’t allowed into either. But there was a promise that one day this would change. In Isaiah 56 it says “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.” One day the people who were kept on the outside because they did not fit in, would one day find a home inside God’s house.
This conversation can seem to us very technical and even a bit judgemental, but we should remember the bigger story. God’s big picture is one of redemption, it’s a story where people of all kinds and backgrounds will be welcomed in to God’s family. Our bodies, our gender, our relationship history, these things matter, but they are no barrier to God’s love. Let us be grateful that in God’s house there is space for all of us.
Prayer: Loving God, you know me and my whole story and you love me completely. Thank you for accepting me into your family. I promise that in everything I do, every choice and every relationship, I will do my best to share the love and acceptance you have shown me.
Action: Take a moment to be grateful for God’s love and grace.