Baptizing the 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).

References

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://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2577.

Thirty Years that Changed the World: The Book of Acts for Today

by Michael Green

Three crucial decades in world history. That is all it took. In the years between AD 33 and 64 a new movement was born. In those thirty years it got sufficient growth and credibility to become the largest religion the world has ever seen and to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It has spread into every corner of the globe and has more than two billion putative adherents. It has had an indelible impact on civilization, on culture, on education, on medicine, on freedom, and of course on the lives of countless people worldwide. And the seedbed for all this, the time when it took decisive root, was in these three decades. It all began with a dozen men and a handful of women: and then the Spirit came.

While there are many studies and commentaries on the book of Acts, few focus on the amazing achievement of the people found within its narrative. The first Christians chronicled in Acts turned the world upside down in the space of a generation. In this book Michael Green opens up the gripping story of Acts, highlighting the volcanic eruption of faith described there and comparing it to the often halfhearted Christianity of the modern Western world.

The Book of Acts has so much to say to our half-hearted and cold-blooded Christianity in the western world. It rebukes our preoccupation with buildings and ministerial pedigree, our syncretism and pluralism, our lack of expectancy and vibrant faith. As such it is a book supremely relevant for our time.

Combining trusted scholarship with a popular, enjoyable writing style, Thirty Years That Changed the World is an ideal book for church, group, or personal study. Green explores the life and faith of the Christians of Acts, answering such questions as What kind of people were they? How did they live? and How did they organize and practice as members of the new church? Besides unveiling the nature of life in the early church, Green discusses how we today can apply the first Christians’ dynamic efforts at church planting, pastoral care, social concern, gospel proclamation, and prayer.

The Christian faith has been around so long that it is easy to forget what it was like when it was new. Thirty Years that Changed the World examines different elements in the impact which the first century Christians made on the world of their day. If we are prepared to pay the price and follow their example, the gospel they proclaimed and embodied can and will transform society. Few things are more needed than that.

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