Common Wisdom
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One Comment

  1. Mark Berry

    I think we need to be careful in trying to apply modern queer terminology to practises in ancient imperial courts.

    Saying that a eunuch is genderqueer or nonbinary does little to explain or explore the history of how, why, or when boys or men became eunuchs or what their lives may have been like. On the one hand it doesn’t mention their lack of choice; on the other, it doesn’t consider their trusted role in the court and the sense of identity that may have come from that.

    Re. contemporary use, the nonbinary wiki (https://nonbinary.wiki/wiki/Eunuch) notes that “Eunuch is not necessarily a nonbinary or transgender identity.” Eunuchs’ lack of choice in becoming eunuchs, and the fact that they usually identified as men, apparently distinguish them from the modern definition of “nonbinary.”

    The message of inclusion is valid then as now. Isaiah 56:1-8 specifically names eunuchs (as well as foreigners) among those whom God wants to include in the fellowship. Philip’s encounter with the Ethopian eunuch in Acts 8 is an encouraging fulfilment of that prophecy and a valuable example of how God’s view is often broader than ours.

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