The Early Church Did Not Affirm A Gay Eunuch
Jeff Miner and John Connoley have co-authored a book titled The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships. A portion of that book is posted on the Web site www.whywouldwe.net under the title, “The Early Church Welcomed a Gay Man.” The premise of the excerpt on the Web site is that the Ethiopian Eunuch, who was converted in Acts 8 by Philip, was a practicing homosexual. The opening paragraph of the section states: “In the ancient world, eunuchs were widely associated with homosexuality. Here a self-avowed eunuch is welcomed in to the early church without any concerns about his sexual orientation. He was welcomed on the same basis as other people—his faith in Jesus Christ” (2002)
Judging by the title of the section, one would assume that the authors, or the Web site operators, have Scriptural evidence to defend the boldly stated concept that the “early church welcomed a gay man.” A closer look, however, shows the opposite. The “evidence” is nothing of the sort. The authors correctly state that many eunuchs who lived during the first-century were homosexuals. The article title then implies that since many Eunuchs in the first-century were homosexuals, and the man in Acts 8 was a eunuch, that means he must have been a homosexual. This false implication is a classic logical fallacy known as “proof by example.” Just because some examples in a particular category have a certain characteristic, that does not imply that all do. For instance, if some eunuchs were Ethiopian, then would all eunuchs be Ethiopian? Of course not.
The authors, in spite of the misleading title, recognize the problem with such reasoning, and attempt to protect themselves by stating: “We have no way of knowing whether the Ethiopian eunuch was in fact gay. But we do know he was part of a class of people commonly associated with homosexuality and that this fact was completely irrelevant to whether he could become a Christian.” Notice, however, that while they make this statement near the end of the section, the title reads: “The Early Church Welcomed a Gay Man.” So, which is it? The fact of the matter is, there is no possible way to logically contend that we know the eunuch was gay.
The irony of the article lies in the fact that we have other texts that specifically state that the early Church did welcome homosexuals—once they repented of their sinful lifestyle and stopped practicing homosexuality. First Corinthians 6:9-11 explains that unrighteous people, such as fornicators, idol worshippers, adulterers, and homosexuals will not (and cannot) “inherit the Kingdom of God.” Verse 11 of that passage, however, states: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (emp. added). In truth, all homosexuals, fornicators, adulterers, and sexually immoral people are welcomed to follow Jesus and be added to His Church—if, and only if, they are willing to repent of their sexual sins and live the righteous life that God calls them to live. So, yes, the early Church welcomed all kinds of sinners, including homosexuals, based on their repentance and faithfulness to Christ. But faithful churches did not welcome those into their fellowship that refused to abandon their sexually immoral lifestyles (1 Corinthians 5).
Miner, Jeff and John Connoley (2002), “The Early Church Welcomed a Gay Man,” http://www.whywouldwe.net/site/the-early-church-welcomed-a-gay-man.
Miller, Dave (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” http://apologeticspress.org/articles/2577.