Eunuchs Explained (ATP)
What does eunuch mean in Matthew 19:11-12 and what exactly is Jesus’ answer to the Disciples’ question in verse 10?
In Deuteronomy 24 the law of Moses permits divorce if a husband finds uncleanness in his wife. When Jesus went about preaching the gospel, the Pharisees, the religious zealots of the day tried to test Him asking about whether it is lawful to divorce. We see His response in Matthew 19:8, “He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” He proceeds to give just cause for divorce and the disciples overhearing Him, asked wouldn’t it be better not to marry at all? Then we come to the scriptures from the original question in Matthew 19:11-12, “But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Jesus responded by saying not all men could handle abstaining from marriage because most men desire sexual intimacy. (1 Cor 7:9) Jesus distinguished between most men and those called to be Eunuchs.
The term literally means: a bed keeper, bed guard, superintendent of the bedchamber. Through scripture in many contexts, this term means a chief official, but in this scripture it refers to a man who has been incapacitated for bearing children. These men could be used as bed keepers or guards over the wives of the monarchs. Eunuchs held the position looking after the wives or the in-home affairs of the palace. They were made Eunuchs by men, essentially being castrated so they couldn’t take the wives they were looking after. Jesus refers to this concept, mentioning some were forced to be Eunuchs by men. If you can imagine Joseph in scripture, and how Pharaoh’s wife offered herself to him, you could see why these rulers would have wanted the men looking after their wives to be made Eunuchs. Thankfully Joseph was man enough to run, being that he wasn’t a Eunuch!
Others were born with some sort of incapacity to bear children. As far as being born Eunuchs, there is false doctrine going around that says homosexuals are just modern day Eunuchs, born that way. This is not so. When the word refers to some who are born Eunuchs it means incapacitated for child bearing such as in the event of birth deformities. The Word is very clear that God is not an author of confusion and that God’s intention was for men to mate with women, nothing else. That is why Jesus said the concept and acceptance of divorce wasn’t originally allowed. God’s intention was one man and one woman from the beginning.
Now let’s talk about those who have chosen to be Eunuchs. These are those who have conquered sexual impulses by the power of self-consecration to a higher life. A good example of this was the Apostle Paul. (1 Cor. 7) Paul was so committed to the call of the Lord that he refused to be distracted with the affairs of the home. He had a much different call than most Christians have had, being used to bring the gospel to the gentiles, to write more than half of the New Testament, to go through the trials and imprisonments to bring the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. Having a wife would have hindered the plan of God for his life.
We must remember, without the fall of mankind, there would have been no need for the salvation of the world, or for preaching the gospel. But of course, there’s great need for it now, as God is not willing that any should perish. This is why Jesus said, “He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” Jesus was at the same time trying to get the disciples to understand that if you have sexual desires that you can’t suppress it is better to marry, than to fall in sin.
It is a supernatural grace given to man in order to be able to put down the flesh in such a way. Most men will never be able to do this. We can’t just choose to be Eunuchs. There must be a purpose and a higher call.