Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

>About Jesus

June 15, 2010

>Yesterday Jesus burned.

Lightning struck a 6 story statue of “Touchdown Jesus” and it burst into flame.

Whether this statue was considered a graven image depends on how literal you take the Bible. Rick and Bubba, for instance, might think God smote the image of Jesus cause we just ain’t supposed to do that. This video is loud, but short.

UPDATE: here’s the song that clip comes from:

At any rate, while on the subject of Jesus, my blogger-friend Michael Bayly has brought up that Jesus really was a sissy. So many of us get called sissies, I guess if Jesus was one, it’s OK for us, too.

Michael’s post was actually based on a lecture by Dr. David Rankin from the 1980’s he heard on tape, which he transcribed and took excerpts from. Now I’m doing the same to Michael’s post, but it would be worth your time to read it yourself. Jesus was a sissy.

Jesus was able to feel and express a wide range of tender emotions. He wept
without shame, even raved and screamed and moaned and won no battles. He was an intuitive thinker, often the victim of wild imaginings and flights of fantasy.
He responded to beauty, embracing the birds of the air and the lilies of the
field. He nurtured little children, relating to them in the manner of a mother.
He freely touched other men and kissed them.

Rankin continues,

Does Jesus really fit the American ideal of manhood?” Rankin asks. Can we
imagine Jesus as a United States Marine? As a linebacker for the Detroit Lions?
As the Marlboro Man? “By almost every standard in our culture,” concludes
Rankin, “Jesus was a real live honest-to-goodness sissy.

Michael, and Rankin, point out that Sunday School teachers and some preachers portray Jesus as a warrior. Rankin says they were right in saying we should be more like Jesus, but wrong in their reasoning.

A man who walked around the countryside without position, without
possessions, searching for the meaning of life. A man who lingered lazily in the
fields in order to study the flight of a bird and the petals of a flower. A man
who embraced the lowly and the outcast and the leper and the stranger while
protesting their condition. A man was so physically frail that he could not even
carry a wooden cross to the top of a hill. A man who suffered a humiliating
defeat while blessing the enemies who had arranged his death. A sissy. One of
the greatest models in religious history was an honest-to-God, real live,
long-haired, soft-bodied sissy.

So why am I sharing this?

There is a link between Rankin’s words and today’s society. Michael quotes from Matthew Fox’s book, “The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.” (Emphasis mine)

Homosexuals offer humanity certain vital gifts that society would be
foolish to refuse. [One of these is] a flexible perspective on gender [which]
provides a kind of bridge between men and women. Heterosexuals in particular can become stuck in their society-created gender roles, and homosexuals remind everyone that sexuality exists in the realm of metaphor and not literalism.

When one’s sexual role is not determined by one’s body parts, life, imagination, and passion come alive. David Deida observes that “the gay and lesbian community is acutely aware that the sexual polarity is independent of gender. But you still need two poles for a passionate play of sexuality to persist in a relationship: masculine and feminine, top and bottom, butch and femme – whatever you want to call these reciprocal poles of sexual play.”

Gays and lesbians have much to teach the straight world about sexuality and about restoring passion to relationships. . . . [Also] there is a long history in many cultures of homosexuals as spiritual leaders. Many years ago, a Native American woman took me aside and said to me that it is well known among Native Americans that gay persons have always been the spiritual directors to their great chiefs.

Homosexuals, it seems, don’t just bridge male and female worlds, but human and
spiritual worlds. A homophobic society deprives itself of a deeper spirituality.
This same woman (who was also a Catholic sister) said: “When I give retreats to
gay people, it is always a deeper experience than just giving a retreat to a
mixed and mostly heterosexual crowd.”

No one knows about the sexual orientation of Jesus. But we do know many of his traits, and many homosexual men share them.

Jesus: God-like. Son of God. Or God. It doesn’t matter. It was his mild, peace-loving, nature-admiring, male-bonding demeanor that made him like God. God is love, after all.

And it is what connected him to the Father.

Fox says,”Homosexuals, it seems, don’t just bridge male and female worlds, but human and spiritual worlds. A homophobic society deprives itself of a deeper spirituality.”

Native Americans recognized it. Our culture has become so far removed from the nature and teachings of Jesus, that we can’t see that. But we are learning. We are progressing. We will get there.

Advertisements

>The Bible and Homosexuality: Part 4 Jesus and the Centurion

April 13, 2010

>This is the fourth and final segment in my series on homosexuality and the Bible. The series is in response to questions raised by a letter writer in the Western Tribune.

Read part 1 (Leviticus) here Part 1

Read part 2 (Romans) here Part 2

Read part 3 (Jonathan and David)here. Part 3

This is the fourth in my series on homosexuality and the Bible.

In the New Testament Jesus himself affirms a same-sex relationship in the story of the centurion coming to Jesus and pleading for his servant’s healing, a familiar story.

Jesus offers to come to the centurion’s house but the soldier refuses, saying that all Jesus needed to do was to speak the word and his servant would be healed. The story is told in Matthew 8 and Luke 7.

The Greek word used in this story is pais, which could have three meanings depending on the context in which it was used. It could mean “son” or “boy”, it could mean “servant”, or it could mean a particular type of servant who was his “master’s male lover”. Servants were often purchased to fulfill that role, and the term pais sometimes describes that type of servant.

Why would we think that pais has this meaning in this passage? Look at the passage in Luke. In Luke the one who was sick is described as an entimos duolos.

Duolos is a generic term for a slave, and was never used to describe a son or a boy, so we can rule that out.

Entimos means “honored,” so this was no ordinary slave, so we can rule that out.

That leaves only the “male lover” interpretation for the word pais used in Matthew.

Further, in Matthew, when speaking of his ordinary slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos, but when speaking of the sick person he uses pais, again leaving the only definition that fits, that is, the “master’s male lover”.

Jesus did not use the example of the centurion and his sick lover as an example of God’s judgment on their relationship, rather he healed the man’s lover and then held the centurion up as an example of a man of great faith, the type of faith we should all aspire to.

In writing this series, I realized that there would be some who would argue that I am merely misinterpreting the passages to fit my agenda and I admit that it is impossible for me or anyone else to know precisely the intent of each word in a 2000 year old manuscript that has gone through multiple translations. But as I combine biblical interpretation with history and science I see no other way to interpret it.

>Am I my brother’s keeper?

March 26, 2010

>I’m just going to make a few comments on some letters in today’s Birmingham News. I will post the letters, or parts of them, then respond in general to them.

Letters to the Editor from the Birmingham News

The foes of progress are neither patriots, Christians

Now the forces that at one time divided this Union, blocked the rights of women, people of color and people who immigrated to this country; that opposed rural electrification, the highway system, Medicaid and Medicare, the space program; that have always been against progress, rally again.

They use the “N-word” and anti-gay epithets against noble, tested-in-battle legislators. They rally for “states’ sovereignty,” the same as states’ rights was the rallying cry for the preservation of segregation. They would like to tear down the United States public school system, the greatest investment of democracy in the world.

Don’t let them cloak themselves in the American flag or hide behind the cross. They are neither patriots nor Christians. Their actions thinly veil their hatred of equality, of every man and woman having the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

To deny health care denies the right to life. To deny a fair wage and an education stunts the opportunity to pursue happiness.

Support the right of every man and woman to be healthy, to be educated in a well-funded public school system and to have the opportunity to make their future according to their effort and ability, not to what station they are born into in life.

Stewart Evans
Hoover
*****

Are we our brother’s keeper?

After reading the letters and posts in the various Alabama newspapers of Alabamians’ response to the passage of health care reform legislation, I guess the majority of our citizens agree with Cain and believe we are not our brother’s keeper.

William Powell
Hoover

*****
Jesus didn’t mean government

Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. always presents an interesting view of the world; mostly inaccurate, but interesting. His column “The Gospel of Glenn Beck” (Other Voices, Monday) was no exception.

Pitts’ sarcastic explanation of Scripture is most revealing. Jesus did teach that each of us has a responsibility to help others. This was especially true for widows and orphans. I am not aware of any teaching that in order to accomplish this, Jesus gave government the responsibility or the authority to take from whomever it saw fit and give to whomever it deemed needy. That was Karl Marx, not Jesus. Jesus instructed you to give from your resources, not someone else’s.

I am afraid there will be no reward or joy in forced obedience to one of God’s commands. That is doubly true in that you have to violate several other commands to achieve this one.

That is why God gave us a free will. Or did that also come from the government?

Jesus also told us the poor would always be with us. That was so we could continue to receive the joy for helping them.

Doug Harkness
Hoover

*****
So here’s the situation.

All three writers are from Hoover.

The first writer makes the point that health care is a right, which I whole-heartedly agree with, and makes a constitutional argument for health care, something I did here, in September, 2009.

The next writer questions the values of the anti-reform crowd, and makes the biblical argument for health care, something also did at the above link.

The third writer questions the role of government by using the words of Jesus.

I am not aware of any teaching that in order to accomplish this, Jesus gave government the responsibility or the authority to take from whomever it saw fit and give to whomever it deemed needy.

It just seems a little hypocritical to me to say that Jesus does not want the government to do his work in assisting the poor, yet these same people are basically theocrats who want the government to rule on a biblical basis when it comes to controlling who we love and live with and when they declare holy wars on developing nations.

It is clear that the people of this country will not willingly help the poor to the extent that help is needed, otherwise my city of Bessemer would look a lot different. I know that we are a generous people, and only have to look at the response to Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti to know that. But those in our neighborhoods who do not have the ironic misfortune of a natural disaster to point out their needs are ignored.

Take this guy. He suffers from Parkinson’s disease and was at a recent Teabagger event.

Teabaggers mocked him and one guy even tossed money at him.

The man tossing the money had a epiphany, it seems.

“I snapped. I absolutely snapped and I can’t explain it any other way,” said Chris Reichert of Victorian Village, in a Dispatch interview.

In his first comments on an incident that went viral across the Internet and was repeatedly played on cable television news shows, Reichert said he is sorry about his confrontation with Robert A. Letcher, 60, of the North Side. Letcher, a former nuclear engineer who suffers from Parkinson’s, was verbally attacked as he sat before anti-health care demonstrators in front of Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s district office last week.

“He’s got every right to do what he did and some may say I did too, but what I did was shameful,” Reichert said. “I haven’t slept since that day.”

“That was my first time at any political rally and I’m never going to another one,” Reichert said.
“I will never ever, ever go to another one.”

>Living Like Jesus, Voting for Obama

January 17, 2009

> Picture credit : http://english.sina.com/p/1/2008/0709/170758.html

3 Days. In three days our country begins its recovery.

This picture is of Tai Shan, a panda at the Smithsonian Zoo, celebrating his third birthday earlier this year. The fruit circle, cut to make the numeral, is made of water and gelatin. Tai Shan is the first surviving panda born at the zoo, and still lives with his parents in the National Zoo Fujifilm Giant Panda Habitat. If you are going to Washington over the next few days, maybe you can visit Tai Shan.

Rev. Ed Dobson made pledge to live for a year like Jesus (Story). Dobson was one of the founders of the Moral Majority in the 1980’s, now he is vice president for spiritual formation at Cornerstone University.

“The one-time architect of the religious right is in hot water with some conservatives over his statement that living like Jesus during 2008 influenced him to vote for Barack Obama — his first presidential vote for a Democrat.”

Dobson acknowledged he has been criticized for linking his Obama vote to Jesus. While disagreeing with Obama on abortion, Dobson said the Democrat was closest to the spirit of Jesus’ teachings of compassion and peace.”

And while we are on the subject of compassion and peace, how about Kay Warren, the “purpose-driven wife” of now-controversial pastor Rick Warren, reminding us of this:

She spoke at Judson college in Marion, AL, and praised Obama for leading the way on HIV testing. She compared today’s AIDS epidemic to the biblical references to leprosy.

“I challenge you to find anyplace in the Bible where Jesus asks how someone became sick,” she said.

Warren, or Jesus for that matter, was not concerned about people’s “lifestyles,” to use a divisive term not used in his day. He cared about ministering, healing, bringing the downtrodden and the outcasts into the fold.

If only more of the churches that claim to follow Jesus would actually do so. You’ve got your angry, judgemental philosophy (and God) or your compassionate, loving philosophy (or God).

I will choose to follow the one Ed Dobson is following this year. The loving, compassionate One.

When Jesus Met a Gay Man

June 13, 2008

I put this on my myspace page a few years ago and probably would not have thought to post it here but then Darryl came along. Darryl has been posting comments on a previous post ( Vote Today… ) about my views on religion and sexuality and he wrote, “There is nothing in the Bible that supports the gay lifestyle. Not a single verse…”

Now Darryl, unlike some of the people placing comments in the past, is cordial, seems intelligent, and is able to carry on a conversation in writing without resorting to screaming and name calling. However, he is wrong. And what he wrote sounded like a challenge.

I could have paraphrased this, but the authors do such a good job and I didn’t want to mess up their logical progression of their case.

When Jesus met a Gay Man

An excerpt from The Children Are Free by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. Emphasis is mine.

From our days in Sunday School, many of us are familiar with the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. The story is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In Matthew, we are told that the centurion came to Jesus to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus said he was willing to come to the centurion’s house, but the centurion said there was no need for Jesus to do so. He believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Marveling at the man’s faith, Jesus pronounced the servant healed. Luke tells a similar story.

Just another miracle story, right? Not on your life!

In the original language, the importance of this story for gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians is much clearer. The Greek word used in Matthews account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending upon the context in which it was used. It could mean son or boy; it could mean servant, or it could mean a particular type of servant one who was his masters male lover. (footnote18) Often these lovers were younger than their masters, even teenagers.

To our modern minds, the idea of buying a teen lover seems repugnant. But we have to place this in the context of ancient cultural norms. In ancient times, commercial transactions were the predominant means of forming relationships. Under the law, the wife was viewed as the property of the husband, with a status just above that of a slave. Moreover, in Jesus’ day, a boy or girl was considered of marriageable age upon reaching his or her early teens. It was not uncommon for boys and girls to marry at age 14 or 15. (footnote19) Nor was it uncommon for an older man to marry a young girl. Fortunately civilization has advanced, but these were the norms in the culture of Jesus day.

In that culture, if you were a gay man who wanted a male spouse, you achieved this, like your heterosexual counterparts, through a commercial transaction purchasing someone to serve that purpose. A servant purchased to serve this purpose was often called a pais.

The word boy in English offers a rough comparison. Like pais, the word boy can be used to refer to a male child. But in the slave South in the nineteenth century, boy was also often used to refer to male slaves. The term boy can also be used as a term of endearment. For example, Jeff’s father often refers to his mother as his girl. He doesn’t mean that she is a child, but rather that she is his special one. The term boy can be used in the same way, as in my boy or my beau. In ancient Greek, pais had a similar range of meanings.

Thus, when this term was used, the listener had to consider the context of the statement to determine which meaning was intended. Some modern Christians may be tempted to simply declare by fiat that the Gospels could not possibly have used the term pais in the sense of male lover, end of discussion. But that would be yielding to prejudice. We must let the word of God speak for itself, even if it leads us to an uncomfortable destination.

Is it possible the pais referred to in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 was the roman centurion’s male lover? Lets look at the biblical evidence.

The Bible provides three key pieces of textual and circumstantial evidence. First, in the Luke passage, several additional Greek words are used to describe the one who is sick. Luke says this pais was the centurion’s entimos duolos. The word duolos is a generic term for slave, and was never used in ancient Greek to describe a son/boy. Thus, Luke’s account rules out the possibility the sick person was the centurion’s son; his use of duolos makes clear this was a slave. However, Luke also takes care for indicate this was no ordinary slave. The word entimos means honored. This was an honored slave (entimos duolos) who was his master’s pais. Taken together, the three Greek words preclude the possibility the sick person was either the centurion’s son or an ordinary slave, leaving only one viable option: he was his master’s male lover. (footnote20)

A second piece of evidence is found in verse 9 of Mathew’s account. In the course of expressing his faith in Jesus’ power to heal by simply speaking, the centurion says, “When I tell my slave to do something, he does it.” By extension, the centurion concludes that Jesus is also able to issue a remote verbal command that must be carried out. When speaking of his slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos. But when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. In other words, when he is quoted in Matthew, the centurion uses pais only when referring to the sick person. He uses a different word, doulos, when speaking of his other slaves, as if to offer a distinction. (In Luke, it is others, not the centurion, who call the sick one an entimos duolos.) Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing: a slave who was the master’s male lover.

The third piece of evidence is circumstantial. In the Gospels, we have many examples of people seeking healing for themselves or for family members. But this story is the only example of someone seeking healing for a slave. The actions described are made even more remarkable by the fact that this was a proud Roman centurion (the conqueror/oppressor) who was humbling himself and pleading with a Jewish rabbi (the conquered/oppressed) to heal his slave. The extraordinary lengths to which this man went to seek healing for his slave is much more understandable, from a psychological perspective, if the slave was his beloved companion.

Thus, all the textual and circumstantial evidence in the Gospels points in one direction. For objective observers, the conclusion is inescapable: in this story Jesus healed a man’s male lover. When understood this way, the story takes on a whole new dimension.

Imagine how it may have happened. While stationed in Palestine, the centurion’s pais becomes ill experiencing some type of life threatening paralysis. The centurion will stop at nothing to save him. Perhaps a friend tells him of rumors of Jesus’ healing powers. Perhaps this friend also tells him Jesus is unusually open to foreigners, teaching his followers that they should love their enemies, even Roman soldiers. So the centurion decides to take a chance. Jesus was his only hope.

As he made his way to Jesus, he probably worried about the possibility that Jesus, like other Jewish rabbis, would take a dim view of his homosexual relationship. Perhaps he even considered lying. He could simply use the word duolos. That would have been accurate, as far as it went. But the centurion probably figured if Jesus was powerful enough to heal his lover, he was also powerful enough to see through any half-truths.

So the centurion approaches Jesus and bows before him. “Rabbi”, my the word gets caught in his throat. This is it the moment of truth. Either Jesus will turn away in disgust, or something wonderful will happen. So, the centurion clears his throat and speaks again. “Rabbi, my pais, yes, my pais, lies at home sick unto death.” Then he pauses and waits for a second that must have seemed like an eternity. The crowd of good, God fearing people surrounding Jesus probably became tense. This was like a gay man asking a televangelist to heal his lover. What would Jesus do?

Without hesitation, Jesus says, “Then I will come and heal him.”

Its that simple! Jesus didn’t say, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to heal your pais so you can go on living in sin!” Nor did he say, “Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that your pais is sick; this is God’s judgment on your relationship”.

Instead, Jesus’ words are simple, clear and liberating for all who have worried about what God thinks of gay relationships. “I will come and heal him.”

At this point, the centurion says there is no need for Jesus to travel to his home. He has faith that Jesus’ word is sufficient. Jesus then turns to the good people standing around him those who were already dumbfounded that he was willing to heal this man’s male lover. To them, Jesus says in verse 10 of Matthews account, “I have not found faith this great anywhere in Israel.” In other words, Jesus holds up this gay centurion as an example of the type of faith others should aspire to.

Jesus didn’t just tolerate this gay centurion. He said he was an example of faith someone we all should strive to be like.

Then, just so the good, God-fearing people wouldn’t miss the point, Jesus speaks again in verse 11: “I tell you, many will come from the east and the west (i.e., beyond the borders of Israel) to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs (i.e., those considered likely to inherit heaven) will be thrown into outer darkness.” By this statement Jesus affirmed that many others like this gay centurion, those who come from beyond the assumed boundaries of God’s grace are going to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven. And he also warned that many who think themselves the most likely to be admitted will be left out.

With this story, we rest our case. Who could ask for more? In this story, Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow. What more do our fundamentalist friends want? Who is Lord? Jesus or cultural prejudice?

Footnotes:

18. K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1978), page 16; Bernard Sergent, Homosexuality in Greek Myth (Beacon Press, Boston, 1986), page 10.

19. Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, Macon, 1994), page 554.

20. For an excellent and thorough discussion of the terms pais and entimos duolos in these two gospel accounts, see Donald Mader’s article The Entimos Pais of Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, (Source: Homosexuality and Religion and Philosophy, Harland Publishing, Inc, New York, 1998).

*****************************************************************************************************
If you have made it this far, you may want to read more. The book is The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, published by Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. Jesus MCC. Or just ask. I will loan you the book.

>When Jesus Met a Gay Man

June 13, 2008

>I put this on my myspace page a few years ago and probably would not have thought to post it here but then Darryl came along. Darryl has been posting comments on a previous post ( Vote Today… ) about my views on religion and sexuality and he wrote, “There is nothing in the Bible that supports the gay lifestyle. Not a single verse…”

Now Darryl, unlike some of the people placing comments in the past, is cordial, seems intelligent, and is able to carry on a conversation in writing without resorting to screaming and name calling. However, he is wrong. And what he wrote sounded like a challenge.

I could have paraphrased this, but the authors do such a good job and I didn’t want to mess up their logical progression of their case.

When Jesus met a Gay Man

An excerpt from The Children Are Free by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. Emphasis is mine.

From our days in Sunday School, many of us are familiar with the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. The story is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In Matthew, we are told that the centurion came to Jesus to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus said he was willing to come to the centurion’s house, but the centurion said there was no need for Jesus to do so. He believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Marveling at the man’s faith, Jesus pronounced the servant healed. Luke tells a similar story.

Just another miracle story, right? Not on your life!

In the original language, the importance of this story for gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians is much clearer. The Greek word used in Matthews account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending upon the context in which it was used. It could mean son or boy; it could mean servant, or it could mean a particular type of servant one who was his masters male lover. (footnote18) Often these lovers were younger than their masters, even teenagers.

To our modern minds, the idea of buying a teen lover seems repugnant. But we have to place this in the context of ancient cultural norms. In ancient times, commercial transactions were the predominant means of forming relationships. Under the law, the wife was viewed as the property of the husband, with a status just above that of a slave. Moreover, in Jesus’ day, a boy or girl was considered of marriageable age upon reaching his or her early teens. It was not uncommon for boys and girls to marry at age 14 or 15. (footnote19) Nor was it uncommon for an older man to marry a young girl. Fortunately civilization has advanced, but these were the norms in the culture of Jesus day.

In that culture, if you were a gay man who wanted a male spouse, you achieved this, like your heterosexual counterparts, through a commercial transaction purchasing someone to serve that purpose. A servant purchased to serve this purpose was often called a pais.

The word boy in English offers a rough comparison. Like pais, the word boy can be used to refer to a male child. But in the slave South in the nineteenth century, boy was also often used to refer to male slaves. The term boy can also be used as a term of endearment. For example, Jeff’s father often refers to his mother as his girl. He doesn’t mean that she is a child, but rather that she is his special one. The term boy can be used in the same way, as in my boy or my beau. In ancient Greek, pais had a similar range of meanings.

Thus, when this term was used, the listener had to consider the context of the statement to determine which meaning was intended. Some modern Christians may be tempted to simply declare by fiat that the Gospels could not possibly have used the term pais in the sense of male lover, end of discussion. But that would be yielding to prejudice. We must let the word of God speak for itself, even if it leads us to an uncomfortable destination.

Is it possible the pais referred to in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 was the roman centurion’s male lover? Lets look at the biblical evidence.

The Bible provides three key pieces of textual and circumstantial evidence. First, in the Luke passage, several additional Greek words are used to describe the one who is sick. Luke says this pais was the centurion’s entimos duolos. The word duolos is a generic term for slave, and was never used in ancient Greek to describe a son/boy. Thus, Luke’s account rules out the possibility the sick person was the centurion’s son; his use of duolos makes clear this was a slave. However, Luke also takes care for indicate this was no ordinary slave. The word entimos means honored. This was an honored slave (entimos duolos) who was his master’s pais. Taken together, the three Greek words preclude the possibility the sick person was either the centurion’s son or an ordinary slave, leaving only one viable option: he was his master’s male lover. (footnote20)

A second piece of evidence is found in verse 9 of Mathew’s account. In the course of expressing his faith in Jesus’ power to heal by simply speaking, the centurion says, “When I tell my slave to do something, he does it.” By extension, the centurion concludes that Jesus is also able to issue a remote verbal command that must be carried out. When speaking of his slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos. But when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. In other words, when he is quoted in Matthew, the centurion uses pais only when referring to the sick person. He uses a different word, doulos, when speaking of his other slaves, as if to offer a distinction. (In Luke, it is others, not the centurion, who call the sick one an entimos duolos.) Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing: a slave who was the master’s male lover.

The third piece of evidence is circumstantial. In the Gospels, we have many examples of people seeking healing for themselves or for family members. But this story is the only example of someone seeking healing for a slave. The actions described are made even more remarkable by the fact that this was a proud Roman centurion (the conqueror/oppressor) who was humbling himself and pleading with a Jewish rabbi (the conquered/oppressed) to heal his slave. The extraordinary lengths to which this man went to seek healing for his slave is much more understandable, from a psychological perspective, if the slave was his beloved companion.

Thus, all the textual and circumstantial evidence in the Gospels points in one direction. For objective observers, the conclusion is inescapable: in this story Jesus healed a man’s male lover. When understood this way, the story takes on a whole new dimension.

Imagine how it may have happened. While stationed in Palestine, the centurion’s pais becomes ill experiencing some type of life threatening paralysis. The centurion will stop at nothing to save him. Perhaps a friend tells him of rumors of Jesus’ healing powers. Perhaps this friend also tells him Jesus is unusually open to foreigners, teaching his followers that they should love their enemies, even Roman soldiers. So the centurion decides to take a chance. Jesus was his only hope.

As he made his way to Jesus, he probably worried about the possibility that Jesus, like other Jewish rabbis, would take a dim view of his homosexual relationship. Perhaps he even considered lying. He could simply use the word duolos. That would have been accurate, as far as it went. But the centurion probably figured if Jesus was powerful enough to heal his lover, he was also powerful enough to see through any half-truths.

So the centurion approaches Jesus and bows before him. “Rabbi”, my the word gets caught in his throat. This is it the moment of truth. Either Jesus will turn away in disgust, or something wonderful will happen. So, the centurion clears his throat and speaks again. “Rabbi, my pais, yes, my pais, lies at home sick unto death.” Then he pauses and waits for a second that must have seemed like an eternity. The crowd of good, God fearing people surrounding Jesus probably became tense. This was like a gay man asking a televangelist to heal his lover. What would Jesus do?

Without hesitation, Jesus says, “Then I will come and heal him.”

Its that simple! Jesus didn’t say, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to heal your pais so you can go on living in sin!” Nor did he say, “Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that your pais is sick; this is God’s judgment on your relationship”.

Instead, Jesus’ words are simple, clear and liberating for all who have worried about what God thinks of gay relationships. “I will come and heal him.”

At this point, the centurion says there is no need for Jesus to travel to his home. He has faith that Jesus’ word is sufficient. Jesus then turns to the good people standing around him those who were already dumbfounded that he was willing to heal this man’s male lover. To them, Jesus says in verse 10 of Matthews account, “I have not found faith this great anywhere in Israel.” In other words, Jesus holds up this gay centurion as an example of the type of faith others should aspire to.

Jesus didn’t just tolerate this gay centurion. He said he was an example of faith someone we all should strive to be like.

Then, just so the good, God-fearing people wouldn’t miss the point, Jesus speaks again in verse 11: “I tell you, many will come from the east and the west (i.e., beyond the borders of Israel) to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs (i.e., those considered likely to inherit heaven) will be thrown into outer darkness.” By this statement Jesus affirmed that many others like this gay centurion, those who come from beyond the assumed boundaries of God’s grace are going to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven. And he also warned that many who think themselves the most likely to be admitted will be left out.

With this story, we rest our case. Who could ask for more? In this story, Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow. What more do our fundamentalist friends want? Who is Lord? Jesus or cultural prejudice?

Footnotes:

18. K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1978), page 16; Bernard Sergent, Homosexuality in Greek Myth (Beacon Press, Boston, 1986), page 10.

19. Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, Macon, 1994), page 554.

20. For an excellent and thorough discussion of the terms pais and entimos duolos in these two gospel accounts, see Donald Mader’s article The Entimos Pais of Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, (Source: Homosexuality and Religion and Philosophy, Harland Publishing, Inc, New York, 1998).

*****************************************************************************************************
If you have made it this far, you may want to read more. The book is The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, published by Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. Jesus MCC. Or just ask. I will loan you the book.