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Jesus and the Eunuchs

Author: David Khan
Email: 19davidkhan1981@gmail.com
Part of the ''Metaphysics of the Holy'' series

PASSAGE FOR EXAMINATION :

1)And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he
departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan ;
2)and great multitudes followed him ; and he healed them there.
3)The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him,
Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause ?
4)And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which
made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5)and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall
cleave to his wife : and they twain shall be one flesh ?
6)Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God
hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7)They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of
divorcement, and to put her away ?
8)He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts
suffered you to put away your wives : but from the beginning it was not so.
9) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for
fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery : and whoso
marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
10)His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it
is not good to marry.
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.
Matthew 19, King James Version

So, we begin our investigation and the question we have is to whether Jesus granted a full
acceptance to those of a sexual persuasion other than heterosexuality. Verse 12 seems to be where a
solution is to be found; for this is where we have Jesus seemingly grant an exemption, following
what appears to be a question put by the disciples, from male and female union. Previous
investigations have centred their focus on the word ''eunuch'', but first we focus our own attention
on verse 10, the reason being that verse 12 is a response to what it is that the disciples say.
Verse 10 : '' His Disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good
to marry.''
It would appear that the disciples are asking a question, yet orthodox interpretation disagrees with
this. For now we shall assume that it is a question being put forth, but we shall certainly return to
the question of what this unit of language represents below. We must fully understand this unit of
language and so let us break it down:
(1)If the case of the man be so with his wife
(2) it is not good to marry
We have broken what the disciples say to Jesus into smaller units, and by this will we find that
underlying structure. It is in noting that unit 1 begins with ''if'' that we find that this sentence
shares its form with the simple syllogism known as Modus Ponens, written: If P then Q. Now
please note that I claim only that our sentence shares its form with the hypothetical syllogism
Modus Ponens. Nor do I state this sentence as a conditional for, despite the use of ''if'', it is not.
With formal argument the ''if'' works to mark out the possibility of a state of affairs attaining, but
here we find that the use of ''if'' shows the disciples referring back to something previously stated
by Jesus. Though still this is an argument, what is being referred back to as premise and the
argument held out to Jesus for deliberation. Our sentence is a bridging point which connects the
previous verses with the following, our sentence a junction of arrows pointing the way. The
disciples have taken something Jesus has said to imply something as being the case, so let us
discern just what Jesus stated. We know that it is something which explains how man comes to be
with wife, and we know this for this is the ''case'' which the disciples are referring to. The verses to
focus on are the ones which follow the initial question from the interrupting Pharisees, verses 4
through to 6; and I note that the Pharisees interrupt in order to emphasize some of the context:
Jesus has engaged a surrounding group in a healing process, as part of his mission to engender his
new system, so that what is spoken is as much for the ears of the surrounding crowd as it is an
answer to the Pharisees and disciples.
4) And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which
made them at the beginning made them male and female,(my emphasis)
5) and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall
cleave to his wife : and they twain shall be one flesh ?
6) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God
hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Jesus referring to a beginning with male and female is a reference to Adam and Eve, and we can be
sure of this with his stating ''Have ye not read'''. He refers back to the following tract of text from
Genesis:
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every
beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept:
and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman,
and brought her unto the man.
23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she
shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave
unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
 Genesis 1
We find, with verse 24 beginning with ''therefore'', that this passage also shares its form with that
same syllogism, Modus Ponens. The previous verses are the premise, the reasoning for the
universal truth concluded in verse 24. The text speaks of the way by which male and female
were created resulting in a metaphysical operator at work, working in, around and between as
that force of attraction which has man seek out wife, this a purely natural consequence of stated
metaphysical operator's design and existence. This is therefore our premise spoke of in verse 10,
the Disciples' question relating to exception to be noted to this original ordering between male
and female, which is portrayed in Genesis as a natural consequence of divine planning.
It is here that we can firstly gain answer as to who Jesus is referring to in verse 12. The disciples
have heard Jesus refer to male and female being made in such a way that they are bound by
divine providence to come together. The question that the disciples put, then, is in direct relation
to this. We know that Jesus notes an exception and there can be only one exception to different
sex relations and that is same sex relations. What may have hindered previous investigators in
concluding this can be found in part with unit 2 of verse 10: ''it is not good to marry''. The New
Testament Recovery Version has this to say on the matter: ''At that point the Disciples
realized .. marriage is the strictest bonds. It was such a realization that caused the Disciples to
think that it was not profitable to marry.'' The orthodox reading therefore takes the author to
have recorded an off-the-cuff remark from the disciples, parler de tout et de rein , which we are
then to believe has Jesus recall the clergy, amongst others, who will know the truth of marriage
as a negative? Are we to hold this as correct? This would therefore result in remaining single as
the true way, and that the wise are those who forego forming lasting relationships and hold
marriage as a foolish enterprise. Why would the author record such an exchange, rather than
maintain it as secret? And then as we move onto verse 12 we find that some are born naturally
averse to forming union? How could one know whether they are naturally averse or whether
their aversion was due to other temporal factors? Another factor which may have hampered the
efforts of previous investigators, and which will allow us to overcome this apparent problem for
interpretation, concluding definitive meaning is to be found with the question of the question
marks.
The book of Matthew reference to this episode notes the disciples ''question[ing]''(Mark 10:10). It
is also the case that verse 5 finishes on a question mark and yet is an iteration of those verses
from Genesis which feature no question mark. Not only is there no sense to found with the use of
question mark finishing verse 5, but there is no sense, given that verse 12 records an answer, in
holding verse 10 as anything other than a question. We can only conclude that there has been an
ancient error by scribe in relation to where the question mark was supposed to go, a simple
mistake which we can now rectify. If the Disciples take Divine planning as a goodness in itself,
and as they are following Jesus we can certainly hold them as doing so, then to think that they
propose that what is good is bad is a contradiction, senseless, so that along with the dubious lack
of question mark throwing some previous investigators, also shown is the ignorance of the use of
double negation. We often say things like ''is it not a good day?'', and so it is the case here. It is
also the case that ''good'' and ''bad'' have meaning only in relation to a standard by which
goodness and badness can be judged, and judged in relation to a context. The Disciples are
asking whether Jesus stating x implies that y, ''good'' here being synonymous with ''correct'',

Jesus as the measure by which correctness is judged by and from. Given what we have thus far
concluded, we are able to paraphrase verse 10 as so: ''If it is was made for man and woman to
be together, then this is the rule to be adopted for this new system going forward ?'' They have
made a deduction but hold it out to Jesus for guidance, they doing so showing that they know of
at least one alternative to different sex relations. Of-course there is only one alternative to
difference and that is sameness.
The dubious question mark – or lack thereof – is one of the points which has hampered
interpretation, but there is yet one other. The text reads ''if the case of the man be so with his
wife'' and so it has seemed that it is obviously the case that this sentence is with regards
marriage, the disciples question in relation to the question from the Pharisees. To note is that the
ancient Greek word which is being interpreted as ''wife'' is γυναῖκα , yet is interpreted elsewhere
as ''woman''. (1) On knowing how a word should be interpreted the orthodox method is to look to
context, but here we find that – along with noting what the ''case'' alluded to is - being attentive
to the structure of referring is essential for understanding as to how the word is to be understood.
(2) In fact we not only gain an understanding as to how the word is being used but to how Jesus
regards marriage in general.
The Pharisees have asked a question regards the temporal world legality of marriage, and Jesus has
referred them to the story of the original marriage with its transcendent truth conditions. Our
Genesis passage spoke of a universal law working as a force between couples, of love. (3) And it
is by way of his referring back to an original two that we find Jesus' understanding of marriage
as something whose truth value transcends the say of the temporally bound institutions of the
day, there being none at the time of Adam and Eve. In fact one should remember that Joseph
contemplated a sending away of Mary, who he suspected of being untruthful with regards her
immaculate conception.(Mttw1:19) This ''sending away'' he considered despite their not being
officially married. What is inherent to all marriages, however, is the promise between which acts
to bind one to the other, creating that one identity mentioned in verse 24 of our Genesis passage.
So, we know what the question is and we have been able to deduce the answer, given by the text
itself, but we shall proceed still to verse 12 for a definitive understanding of the text. But also,
we register that the ''saying'' spoke of in verse 11 is not the one the eunuchs receive. This is not
to say that the eunuchs do not receive their own calling; it is just not the one mentioned in verse
11. Let us now turn to verse 12 :
12) For there are some x's, which were so born from their mother’s
womb : and there are some x's, which were made x's of men :
and there be x's, which have
made themselves x's for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.
There are several reasons why I have chosen to exchange the word ''eunuch'' with the variable ''x''.
The primary reason is due to previous investigators of this passage having allowed their focus to
fall with this word. We shall therefore remove the word, removing what is held as problematic
with interpretation, and find what can be concluded without it. In fact we previously found that
the text, by being attentive to the structure of a previous verse, gives answer as to who is being
granted exception and acceptance. Though this verse clearly gives finer detail as to these men,
and it does so via how the word ''eunuch'' is being used. The word seems to have been taken as a
common noun, but this is a clear use of synecdoche. It is clear as Jesus does not state ''there are
eunuchs'', but has three separate descriptions linked to this word. If the word were being used as
a common noun then we would have Jesus needlessly repeat himself, for a common noun is so
by containing and solidifying those descriptions. This is a clear instance of synecdochal phrasing
i.e. descriptions linked to a concept word. The concept word shows all three of our x's to share a

qualitative characteristic, this being what has them as x's. (4)
We have merit in claiming this as a set theoretic construction: in this passage we have a class of
males being referred to, that class being of three distinct types with a common qualitative
element held between as the defining characteristic. This has our synecdoche as carrying
intensional meaning, so how can we know the extension? We can know the extension by way of
what is already given. For example we know that we are dealing with men, and whose difference
is given by way of their being contrasted with men who form union with women - given through
our analysis of the question and its underlying structure - and this narrows the possible extension
to a point. This is how we find this use of synecdoche to be constructed. Though for now we
shall continue our investigation with only the narrow extension as certain, looking to conclude as
much as possible without need for recourse to the word itself.
Now we must note that marriage is marked by sex. I do not have to argue this for it has been done
for me, with x3 held as celibate and x1 commonly held as of some non-defined illness. We can
therefore hold this class of men as neither forming union or having sex with women. Logic deals
with facts by way of binary difference, so that the following is necessarily blunt; but the
possibility for this is with the misinterpretation.
Let us define our x's
The x's are male.
These are men who do not form union with women/have sex with women.
In being classed as x’s we find that these men share a common characteristic.
x1 : ''which were so born from their mother’s womb.''
We note that this x is naturally the way they are. They are men who do not form union with
women/have sex with women due to being born in a way that has them this way.
x2 : ''which were made eunuchs of men.''
We note that these x's are not naturally x’s, but become x’s of men; ‘of’ men which can be re-stated
as these x’s being made for other men. These x's therefore do what x1 do, but not through a natural
consequence. And in not being naturally the way that they are do we find that forming union/having
sex with women remains a possibility.
x3 : ''which have made themselves x's for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.''
These x's, we find, forego forming union/having sex with women '' for the kingdom of heaven’s
sake.'' x3 gives ''higher ideals'' as reason for abstention. But we are certain that Jesus is speaking
non-literally. It is told of how the kingdom of God provides the foundations for us all and is
contained within (Luke 17:20-21) And we know from several sources that the heavens are held
to be above in the sky(Genesis 1), which lends towards a light and airy tone. This should be kept
in mind as we continue.
It is x2 which allows us our way by which interpretation can be concluded. x2 are x's for men,
whereas x1 is naturally an x. If being an x entails being with men for x2, then we can conclude
that x1 is with men as a natural consequence.(for we concluded a link between x1 and x2 above)
x2 may still be doing with women what he does with men, and that our options are love and sex
we find that x2 will be doing both with both men and women. x2 is therefore bisexual, whereas
x1 is a ''straight'' gay. (for want of a better term) However this is not the case with x3. Whereas

x1 and 2 are ''active'' eunuchs, x3 has his being transcend the temporal. Therefore what x3 would
not be doing would be to be having sex/forming unions at all, whether it be with men or women.
x3 would be a non-sexual celibate, just as is the common interpretation. In fact, x3 being celibate
once more allows us to conclude the same as has been concluded of x1 and x2, for what x3's
position entails is a simple binary contrast: x1 and x2 are active and our options are love and sex.
So, we have, again, concluded that our passage refers to same sex couples, and note that on both
occasions have we concluded so without need for recourse to the word ''eunuch''. Now, we noted
that as all three are x's that all three must share a common characteristic. Gay men are taking to
be more feminine than heterosexual men, and so this could possibly be that qualitative
characteristic that the word ''eunuch'' is being used here to denote. Of-course it could be that I am
applying a modern stereotype to the past, so let us see if we can achieve a full sense of our
passage.
th
The Etymologicon by Orion of Thebes, 5 C.E., offers two alternative origins for the word eunuch.
One is a derivation taken from the role of eunuchs at the time as bedroom chambers, ''guarding
the bed'', and the other is ''being good with respect to mind'', which Orion derives due to eunuchs
being deprived of male-female intercourse. In regards to the first, and here is where common
sense is required: it should not strike one as absurd that a male prince, King, rich merchant, or
any male for that matter, would not hire a handsome lothario for the job of room attendant. The
trope which has the eunuch portrayed in popular culture as possibly homosexual we can
certainly believe to be legitimate. If we are to take the past as holding gay men as feminine then
we could conclude that femininity, and if not then we have yet further evidence that Jesus is
referring to gay men. With regards to the second : it is stated that these eunuchs forego forming
union with women, but not that they forego sex and/or relationships altogether. Of-course we
th
cannot infer that Orion held these men to be gay and so we shall continue. Leo IV, the late 9
century Byzantine emperor, attributed the lack of male-female sexual relations due to castration
in his New Constitution 98. Castration leads to hormonal changes, so that we could again
conclude femininity as that characteristic.
If we are to take it that femininity is the common characteristic which the use of the word is being
used here to denote, then we can interpret as to who these x's are:
x1 would be a naturally gay man.
x2 would be a bi-sexual.
x3 would be a non-sexual effeminate.
Now, I am sure the reader has encountered, or is, one of these male types. We have rendered a
perfect sense to the passage, concluded by being attentive to the structure of the text itself. And
note that our interpretation does not reduce love and marriage to simply a case of sex, which
surely is a derogation on the idea of both. But there is one further question to be asked and that is
how Jesus can overturn the very will of God which he alludes to. It is with how Jesus uses the
word ''eunuch'' that we not only find that he did not overturn the word of God , but shows again
that quick intelligence of Jesus the man. There is one thing and that is Being. Human Being has
two forms: the male and the female. In the symbolic world this is the masculine and the
feminine, each denoting a certain quality set. However, each Being is described with recourse to
the concepts used to describe both qualities, this being due to each Being having each quality set
to whatever degree. In reducing the male and female to what they represent, and in identifying
some men as dominantly feminine, Jesus is able to note the exemption without contradiction.

So we have reached our conclusion and perhaps we should finish on the remainder of verse 12 : ''He
that is able to receive it, let him receive it.'' Given what has been concluded, we find that if this is
not a dismissal of the question, it is at the least the dismissal of its need; a question of morality
simply not entering the mind of Jesus.

Notes

1.For example, Luke 7:44. For other instances, see: http://biblehub.com/greek/gunaika_1135.htm
2.Which is not to say that it should not be interpreted as ''wife'', but that how the term is to be
understood can only be understood on being attentive to the passage as a whole.
3.We find from verse 3 that the Pharisees' question is put in order to ''tempt'' him. Jesus is
delivering his message to a Jewish crowd and we can take that the Pharisees, by questioning as to
his position on holy law, attempt to show Jesus as antithetical to the Jewish way, thereby
dissuading that gathered crowd from attaching credibility to he and his teachings. But it is in
referring back to love that Jesus is found to hold the Pharisees' question as a debasing of what
marriage is truly about. Verse 7 has the Pharisees once more push on the matter and the response
Jesus gives is of particular interest: ''He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your
hearts suffered you to put away your wives : but from the beginning it was not so.'' By claiming
hardness of heart of those that the law was delivered to, Jesus admits a malleability to ''the word''.
However it is exactly this possibility for ambiguity which Jesus, by referring to an ideal for
measure, is attempting to escape. This allows us to further understand how the term ''marriage'' is
understood by Jesus. Our modern world gives an understanding of the term, and that gathered
crowd would have had their own historical understanding of the term. However, we find that Jesus
fixes his understanding at an entirely neutral and transcendent position. We may speak of the
marrying of certain ingredients together in order to make a perfect sauce, and this is the sense in
which the term is to be understood. It is a marrying together of two, love as the bind, and a shared
identity as consequence. The scope for ambiguity is negated. This move shows a true intelligence
and we shall find this intelligence elsewhere.
4.Just as I may speak of someone being an Einstein, in order to speak of their intelligence. Ofcourse if one were to have taken that unit 10 expressed a sentiment, therefore giving a person born
averse to forming union with another, then again we could only conclude that the word was being
used with a non-literal sense. The very fact is that the text asks the reader conclude three different
type of men and so should never have been thought a noun. This certainly presents a problem for
past works, and our understanding as to what a eunuch was, as for 2 millennia investigators have
attempted an explaining of this passage. Now lastly there is the task of showing a similar use of
synecdoche which can be easily understood by us today. Let me give a particularly colloquial
example: ''Well, whereas you've some born fly , and others made so by their place in society, there
are those whose flyness extends for just as long as there are pretty girls around.'' Of-course to be
''fly'' is to be ''cool'', and indicates a male of a certain fashion, perhaps from a certain socioeconomic milieu. It also tells of the general attitude and demeanour. But note that our third type is
not a ''fly'' male at all, but belongs to a different category at all other times. The point here is that
synecdoche, despite being informal, is capable of conveying information of complexity.
References
King James Bible Online
The New Testament, Recovery Version, LSM, 2005
Matthew 19:10 footnote, N.T. Recovery Version Online,, Date Accessed: 10/06/2015, 03:46
BibleHub Greek Concordance, http://biblehub.com/greek/gunaika_1135.html