Of Eunuchs and Social Non-Contributors

REQUIRED READING: Before reading this post, head over to experimental psychologist Richard Beck's wonderful blog Experimental Theology and read the post The Exclusion and Inclusion of Eunuchs and the associated comments. This post serves as my contribution to that discussion.

The "eunuch story" may, at least in part, speak to the issue of social contribution or function. It seems that great emphasis was given to function in the old covenant "congregation of the Lord". In modern Evangelical terms, we would say that the "commission" of old covenant community focused around the growth of the Jewish nation, particularly in terms of the "be fruitful and multiply" directive. What we think of as evangelism wasn't a primary focus — having and raising children with a particular worldview and a peculiar kind of monotheism was. Eunuchs could not contribute to this social mandate, and were therefore viewed as vestigials, as supernumeraries. There was a central religious goal, and these eunuchs were people who, having no way to further that goal, had no place in the religious community.

So, when the Spirit of the Lord went to miraculous lengths to ensure that the first known Christian non-Jewish convert was both of an alien culture and a "functionless" eunuch, he clearly intended to make us think about what it means to have "function" within the new covenant community of faith, and further: about how the Christian community, like a family, must embrace a non-utilitarian society.

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