The Centurion: An Ethical Pederast?

Ten YearsJesus’ acceptance of the Roman centurion and his pais has some troublesome contemporary implications. These troubling implications were highlighted in a comment from Charles Kinnaird over at Not Dark Yet.

Kinnaird was not taking issue with the substance of either my post or the particular point I was making regarding Jesus’ acceptance of the centurion and the pais. His concerns were three-fold: first, the very real problem of present-day child sexual abuse, second, the sense that Jesus was okay with pederasty and the related issue of sexual exploitation of slaves, and third, the alienation of people by this second point.

It’s interesting.  In writing that post, I knew the word pederasty was problematical. I felt that. I knew the word pederasty had exclusively negative meanings for most people today.  And I knew that I was not representing the centurion’s situation adequately.  Charles, thank you for giving me the opportunity to think aloud about the centurion’s relationship and about how we can address the phenomena related to age disparity in sexual relationships.

Charles Kinnaird’s Concerns about Discussing the Centurion and Pederasty

Here are a few excerpts that summarize his concerns.

    • My problem is in reading that passage with modern sensibilities.
    • Red flags just go up when one says that Jesus was okay with the sexual practices of his day if pederasty was involved.
    • My concern is that one of the objections to accepting the gay lifestyle is that they are often (mistakenly) characterized by many as child molesters. I must also add my own objection to those who advocate for man/boy relationships. Consenting adults is one thing, but involving minors is another.
    • I am just raising a concern that any indication that Jesus was okay with pederasty will cause some to discredit everything else that has been said. Again, I realize this is reading our own times and culture into writings from another time, but there has been a lot of hurt inside as well as outside the church from child molestation.
    • Lives have been shattered. Although I think that we must accept gays and lesbians into our circle of faith and into the community and that they should be allowed the same legal benefits of marriage as given to heterosexual people, it is just disconcerting to have pederasty and slave abuse thrown into the mix.

Elements of “Ethical Pederasty” in the Centurion’s Relationship

Briefly, the centurion illustrates the following elements of what could be called an “ethical pederasty.”

    • His servant-partner was an age-appropriate “aide-de-camp,” able to carry the centurion’s sword and shield into battle, help with tent set up, etc. He was not a boy of twelve, but, depending on his build, had to have been between 16 and 30 or older;
    • The centurion had a long-term commitment to his partner;
    • He provided for the material needs of his aide-de-camp;
    • He displays no evidence that one partner was as good as another;
    • He had deep affection for his partner;
    • His partner was extremely valuable to him;
    • He was more concerned about the survival of his partner than about his personal reputation;
    • He was more concerned about the survival of his partner than about the dignity and dominance of the Roman occupation army, if that was at issue;
    • He was aware of and took into account prevailing standards of morality.

Considering the aide-de-camp’s likely age, the word pederasty may not even be appropriate for the relationship between the two men. This underscores the need for definitions, as well as careful exegesis. This illustrates the value of discussing age differences in sexual relationships.

A Number of Audiences to this Discussion

The first thing I’d like to note is that in this discussion of pederasty we have several possible audiences in view. The people for whom we are concerned include

  1. those personally damaged by child sexual abuse, including the individual victims, their families, and subsequent partners,
  2. those with a primarily theological or academic interest in the topic,
  3. LGBT believers working to understand their place in the church, and their relationship with Christ,
  4. people whose main concern is polemical and hostile to equality and inclusivity, and
  5. finally, older gay males who are attracted to adolescent males, and who want to do the right thing in their relationship(s).

(I hope my tone and approach don’t feel too antiseptic or uber-logical. It’s just that I take this problem seriously, and I find that this sort of bullet-point presentation is best for clarity and understanding.)

The group for which I must have the least concern is number 4.  Comprised mainly of fundamentalists and other orthodox individuals, they are locked into their belief systems by temperament, rigidity, genuine phobias (coitophobia, sociophobia, coprophobia, haptophobia, etc.), and by their need to remain in good standing with their co-religionists. They will not be persuaded by mere words.

An Overlap of Audiences One and Four

Charles, I completely understand your “concern that any indication that Jesus was okay with pederasty will cause some to discredit everything else that has been said.” This is a valid concern, and different people will come to different conclusions regarding the problem of discrediting and rejection. We need to distinguish between the walking wounded, people who are victims of child sexual abuse, and church people who are dogmatic and delight in excluding people.

I would like to partially address your concern about discrediting people who support gay and lesbian believers and their full inclusion in church and society. I know you are already aware of the issues.

If my fundamentalist friends are the weaker brethren, why should I have to refrain from offending them? How long should I be expected to coddle these spiritual babes instead of challenging them to a more authentic faith?
(Charles Kinnaird, Pot Luck Sunday at Weaker Brethren Community Church)

There is a difference in how to approach people. Jesus welcomed the weary and burdened, and he castigated Pharisees to their faces.  We must not rule out a confrontational approach when dealing with dogmatic folks, the intolerant, anal, insecure, and controlling.

    • “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!” (Matthew 10:25)
    • “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38)

But quoting such hard-nosed, confrontational verses is far too simplistic a reply to your comments. Your concern for the wounded and damaged is equally important.

    • “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
    • Our God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

Your central concern is with the little ones, the wounded and the brokenhearted, which is appropriate. “Lives have been shattered. . . . there has been a lot of hurt inside as well as outside the church from child molestation.”

Our concerns and approaches are not mutually exclusive, but are complementary. Paul endorses a diversity of gifts and ministries. I’ve discussed this very diversity in my post, Diversity and Conflict, Spiritual Gifts, and Homosexuality.

In the past I have been too much concerned about offending the sensibilities of so-called weaker brothers. In general, they will not be persuaded by mere words, and can object to virtually anything. I must begin to disregard their sensitivities and objections because there are important concerns that progressive Christians need to consider and discuss without being “afraid of what people will think.”

Ethical Pederasty

Certainly the most controversial of the five audiences is number 5. For many people, even suggesting the possibility of a responsible, caring “pederast” is wicked. It is the delusion of NAMBLA.  It is an unimaginable concept, or, at least, a topic so controversial and dangerous as to defy calm, rational discussion.

If, however, we believe that Jesus accepted the relationship between the Roman centurion and his pais, then this is a subject that needs to be explored.  I don’t have all the answers, of course, and I know that we will never reach a consensus on the subject. But the impossibility of reaching consensus should not be a barrier to discussing what Jesus’ acceptance of the gay centurion means to us today.

Nothing in Jesus’ Life & Ministry Justifies the Sexual Abuse of Children

Jesus said, “Whatever you have done unto the least of these by brethren, you have done unto me.”  If you abuse, coerce, rape, or otherwise victimize children, Jesus takes it completely personally.

Unlike his more “serious-minded” followers, Jesus said, “Allow the children to come to me.”  Jesus didn’t take the playful, rambunctious, non-intellectual antics as a bothersome interruption of his “serious” teaching task.  If more of adults were engaged with children, it is possible children would be less lonely, less prey to exploitation. His delight in children, however, was public, and subject to the scrutiny of concerned parents.  As they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I would add to this, “It takes a village to protect a child, too.”

Scripture Urges us to Defend the Rights of the Defenseless

In the Bible, God is described as having great concern for the fatherless, that is, young people who have no one to care, protect, and provide.  Without meaning to understate the equal importance of mothers myself, the patriarchal society of the past considered the protection of children the father’s responsibility. If we do not take care to protect our children, then they are, in effect, fatherless.

    • The scripture says that God “defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).
    • God is “defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror” (Psalm 10:18).
    • In legal and institutional settings, we are commanded to advocate for children. “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).  “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed” (Psalm 82:3).
    • Blameworthy officials and citizens are severely criticized for not actively advocating for helpless children. “Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them” (Isaiah 1:23).  They “have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not seek justice. They do not promote the case of the fatherless; they do not defend the just cause of the poor” (Jeremiah 5:28).

Jesus Accepted People Ostracized by Respectable Society

Jesus’ acceptance of the ostracized and marginalized is where a lot of our difficulties arise. I need not document, chapter and verse, the social cast-offs whom Jesus accepted: lepers, prostitutes, gentiles, mixed-race co-religionists (Samaritans), collaborating traitors (tax collectors), Jews who made no attempt to live according to the Law of Moses—designated sinners, and same-sex couples. 

Pariah Status: Cultural, Social, Legal, and Personal

The practice of same-sex relationships was debated in ancient civilizations just as it is today.  For example, some ancient Greeks highlighted the value of male same-sex relations, others denounced them.  Some ancient Romans accepted male same-sex relationships, and some argued against them.  There never was an absolute consensus of opinion among the Greeks or Romans, no matter what others say.

Government policy and the legal system are important in determining the pariah status of individuals. Until recently, sodomy was a crime punishable by imprisonment in many states. President Dwight Eisenhower, in 1953, forbade the employment of homosexuals in any branch of the federal government in Executive Order 10450. Gays and lesbians were thus forced into the closet for fear of losing their government careers and livelihood.

Personal factors also figure in to whether or not a person or a group has the status of pariah, of socially ostracized, of demonized. These factors, mentioned earlier, include temperament, rigidity, genuine phobias (coitophobia, sociophobia, coprophobia, haptophobia, etc.), the need to remain in good standing with their co-religionists, as well as personal experience.  Victims of childhood sexual molestation understandably find it difficult to distinguish between actual pedophiles, and gays and lesbians with no interest in children. The subject is not a matter of logic and fairness for them.

Personal factors also include personal feelings about age disparity.  Such disparities are listed in the Wikipedia article, Age Disparity in Sexual Relationships. I admit that despite my attempts to refrain from judging couples with a large age disparity, I nevertheless feel discomfort where a great age difference exists. My solution is simply to tell me that they are not accountable to my sense of comfort, nor to my inability to deeply empathize.  My acceptance is an intellectual thing, not, as some people would prefer, a matter of celebration.

An “Ethical Pederasty” Project?

If we accept the fact that the objectionable features of pederasty are culturally, socially, legally, and personally determined, then it should be possible to discuss an “ethical pederasty.” A discussion of “ethical pederasty” would need to address issues like

    • definitions
    • age difference
    • responsibility
    • social limitations
    • exploitation
    • abuse
    • social sanctions
    • reciprocity
    • emotion well-being
    • the meaning of metanoia–repentance–for older Christian gay men

In a much quoted passage, the discussion of abuse focuses on anal penetration.

Though paederasty was once accepted in many cultures, some modern observers have retrospectively labeled it abusive. Enid Bloch argues that many Greek boys who were involved in paederastic relationships may have been harmed by the experience, if the relationship included anal intercourse. Bloch writes that the boy may have been traumatized by knowing that he was violating social customs. According to her, the “most shameful thing that could happen to any Greek male was penetration by another male.” In this respect Bloch is in accord with Greek sexual morality, which also recognized a difference between ethical pederasty which excluded anal intercourse and “hubristic” pederasty which was believed to debase the boy as well as the man who penetrated him. (emphasis added)
(Dumézil, Georges, preface in Homosexuality in Greek Myth by Bernard Sergent, Boston, 1984)


One of the first steps in discussing pederasty is to address the definitions of pederasty, and the definition of “ethical pederasty” in particular. Definitions include:

    • Pederasty: sexual activity involving a man and a boy.
    • Pederasty: sexual relations between two males, especially when one of them is a minor.
    • Pederast: A man who has sexual relations, especially anal intercourse, with a boy.

Differences among these definitions: “sexual activity” could range from hugging to mutual masturbation, oral sex, and anal intercourse; “minor” status is legally determined, where “minor” status differs between states and countries; while “anal intercourse” is quite specific.

For purposes of discussion, we need to avoid the isolated word “boy.” It is imprecise and biased. There is a difference, after all, between a six-year-old and a sixteen-year-old. While the concept of adolescence is culturally determined, I nevertheless believe that “adolescent male” is a more objective label for the younger member of a “pederastic” relationship.

Ethical Pederasty

The definition of “ethical pederasty” seems to hinge on the absence of anal intercourse. This definition seems far too limited. An adequate “ethics of pederasty” would need to take into account far more than this, as I suggested above. 

The concept of ethical pederasty is nothing new. Numerous discussions of ethical pederasty are found in the many books and articles on Plato’s Phaedrus. I am a complete novice in this field, and people interested in ethical pederasty have vast resources at their disposal.

Age of Consent in History

The legal and cultural element intersect with this matter of minors. What people consider an appropriate age of consent or legal marriage has varied remarkably, which simply indicates that there is nothing absolute about our ideas of propriety.  In 1275, the legal age of marriage in England was 12 years of age. In medieval Europe, while the general age of legitimate marriage was between 12 and 14, records exist of marriages before 7, and purely legal marriages as early as 2 or 3.  These were, obviously, arranged marriages.

It may be desirable to prepare a book for publication titled, “The Ethics of Christian Pederasty.” I am not, however, the person to write such a book. But if we can write books about “The Christian Concept of Just War,”  “Christian Business Ethics,” “Religion and the Death Penalty,” “Christian Legal Ethics,” or “Toxic Christianity,” then discussing the Christian ethics of pederasty is certainly appropriate.

To discuss an ethics of Christian pederasty, we would need to keep in mind the purposes of developing such an ethic. It seems to me that the primary reasons for developing an ethic of responsible pederasty are

    • to protect younger partners from exploitation and abuse,
    • to encourage self-understanding for older partners,
    • to remove the stigma from the ambiguous and poorly-defined word pederasty, and
    • to relieve unvoiced tensions within the inclusive and affirming religious community regarding same-sex age-differentials.

I think I am right in my perception that for many, this is a taboo subject. It may be taboo for good reason, but it doesn’t have to be taboo for all of us.

Developing such an ethic would not be to persuade anti-gay crusaders to give up their campaign to beat gays and lesbians back into submission.  Admittedly, the discussion, as Kinnaird warns, could provide them with ammunition for their bigoted, un-Christian attacks. It might, however, temper the nightmarish imaginings of gays and lesbians among less vitriolic conservatives.

Ethical Pederasty–Rationalizing Sin?

If ethical pederasty sounds like “rationalizing sin,” it is not. Consider how much ink was spilled among conservatives as they struggled to accept the ordination of women, allowing the consumption of alcohol, giving up head-coverings for women, etc. When traditional practices become untenable, Christians put their brains to work to de-absolutize subjective cultural elements embedded in the Bible. Every major and necessary shift in a well-developed ideology requires sufficient discourse to remove internal tensions and conflicts. Sometimes guilt feelings are appropriate, sometimes they are irrational.

Dealing with Same-Sex Age Differentials

There are three different but complementary ways of approaching the issues involved. One way focuses on the fact of cultural factors. Another deals with differences in personal comfort zones. What is probably the most important way to deal with same-sex age differentials is to examine how Jesus dealt with concrete people, not abstract ideas.

As I considered this post, my first thoughts were to the limitations of language.  As far as I know, there are no popularly used equivalents for pederast or pederasty. At least in common currency among straights (that’s me). My background in this is admittedly quite limited. The only synonym with which I am familiar is “sugar daddy.”  A less loaded version in an ethics of pederasty deals with responsibility and provision for one’s family. I prefer discussing this under the rubric of “ethical pederasty” or “responsible pederasty.”

I believe that a substantive discussion of ethical Christian pederasty could easily begin with the centurion and his pais found in Matthew 8:5-13, and Luke 7:1-10. While related to these verses, John 4:46-54 does not address the specific topic at hand. In John the centurion is transformed into an “official,” and the servant into a “son.” It seems that the Johannine community found the obvious reference to a homoerotic relationship too uncomfortable to leave standing, or had other theological reasons for their redaction.

I don’t know how practical or generally needed such a project is. Certainly the subject of ethical, fair, responsible, and lasting gay relationships where a marked difference in age exists has been discussed.  I just know that changing conditions, primarily the legal and social acceptance of same-sex relationships and marriage, create the need for logical “next steps.”  I don’t presume to know what the logical next steps are for the LGBT community.  I have simply noted the complications that, in a Christian context, can arise in the particular discussion of the gay centurion and his aid-de-camp. 

In my own “defense” regarding my previous discussion. My brief discussion of the centurion and his pais was part of a summary of the Q gospel’s same-sex theme, not a detailed discussion of each of the thematic elements. The centurion discussion highlighted pederasty and the disposition of slaves in order to explain to readers the social context and plausibility of the sexual relationship between the centurion and his servant, lest they see the thesis as arbitrary and incomprehensible.  I discussed the centurion’s anguish over his servant’s life-threatening illness to emphasize the strong emotional bond between the centurion and his servant.


As a footnote, I published a satirical post a while back titled Slavery: Scripture’s Consistent Testimony. It’s a parody of an anti-gay tirade that John R. MacArthur published some years ago, in which I used reasoning and rhetoric identical to MacArthur’s. The post is a testimony to the fact that most Christians find it impossible to live strictly by the Bible.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
This entry was posted in Age Disparity in Sexual Relationships, Centurion and Pais, Child Sexual Abuse, Ethical Pederasty, Pederasty, Romans Homosexuality. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to The Centurion: An Ethical Pederast?

  1. Noel Goetz says:

    “The group for which I must have the least concern is number 4. Comprised mainly of fundamentalists and other orthodox individuals… and by their need to remain in good standing with their co-religionists. They will not be persuaded by mere words.”

    Ron, though you pound the pulpit against these folks, and yet “you” have become a stringent advocate and follower of your own with an outlook that is wholly orthodox and fundamental “with a need to be in good standing with (your) co-religionists”.

    How does it feel to be lumped in? You alienate, accuse and judge. The Pharasee’s were accused by Christ for the practice of it. It’s called being a ……..


    • Ron Goetz says:

      In answer to your specific question, I’m used to being lumped in with various people.

      I got used to being “lumped in” as a Christian high school student and my girl friend asked me, “How can you be a Christian. You’re so intelligent.”

      I got used to being “lumped in” as an advocate of gay rights when I was on the Sermon Index discussion threads and was told for weeks that I was a false prophet who was leading thousands to hell.

      I got used to it when I was accused of being a patriarchal sexist for some position I took, which I don’t even remember now.

      I think you might understand how I have taken it on the chin organizationally, with Christians ostracizing me for my position on gay and lesbian issues, and with LGBT folks distrusting me for being a Christian.

      For me, being “lumped in” is as natural as breathing.

      This reply may be a bit curt or flippant. Do you understand why, at a certain point, the sensitivities and objections of erstwhile “opponents” have to become less significant to you? Don’t you and your pastor have to stop being concerned with so-called “political correctness,” that is, worrying about what you’re allowed and not allowed to mention according to the standards of others?


  2. Alex Haiken says:

    I think the title of your post “The Untold Story of the First Gay Christians and How They Disappeared” is misleading as you are implying that the Centurion and his “pais” were gay. We know categorically that pederastic relationships existed in the ancient world between males who were not “gay”. The attitude of Antony, the Roman general under Julius Caesar (83-30 B.C.) on the subject of these kinds of relations is probably typical of Roman males. In a letter to Augustus, who like Antony himself was married at the time, Antony asked: “Can it matter where or in whom you put it?” To imply that the Centurion and his pais were gay is for you to do some serious frontloading right at the starting gate. You are trying to falsely ague: “You see everyone, Jesus didn’t have a problem with gay people.” To use an old cliche, the Bible is an empty closet.

    I also wonder how you can presume that the Centurion’s pais “was not a boy of twelve, but, depending on his build, had to have been between 16 and 30 or older.”

    As for the legitimacy of the relationship and the concept of what you refer to as “ethical pederasty,” while I agree that not every pederastic relationship in the ancient world was “abusive” in the strictest sense of the word, we do know that sex in the ancient world — whether hetero- (opposite sex) or homo- (same sex) was by and large categorized by something done to someone. For our ancestors sex difference was understood in terms of degrees of social power. Until quite recently sex as an activity was thought of in much the same way that we think of violence. That is, sex was primarily an operation a stronger person performed upon a weaker person for two purposes: to gratify the stronger and/or to stipulate or reinforce a “top/bottom” or “strong/weak” power relation. So I think your citing this passage to describe “the untold story of the first gay Christians” is a misnomer.


    -Alex Haiken


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Thanks for your comments, Alex.

      First, I’d like you to notice the first paragraph of the post you’re commenting on:

      What follows is a summary of my conclusions regarding (1) the presence of a large percentage of gays and lesbians among some of Jesus’ very first followers (the Q community), (2) the highly political and violent nature of the rabbis and Pharisees in years before Jesus’ ministry, and (3) the role of Rabban Yohannan ben Zakkai in the deadly campaign against the Q community.

      The post is basically a summary, although I provide more summarized evidence in the second half than I do the first half.

      What I wrote is a summary of my conclusions, not the detailed arguments supporting those conclusions. To suggest that I am “frontloading” my argument, a kind of circular reasoning, suggests that what is needed is a more careful reading of the text on your part.

      Second, it is not my intent to explain the differences between same-sex practices in the ancient past and same-sex practices in the present. I understand that same sex relations then were not “homosexuality” as many understand it today. I assume my audience understands those differences, and that I don’t need to continually review them in what in what I write.

      Third, I do not “presume that the Centurion’s pais was not a boy of twelve, but, depending on his build, had to have been between 16 and 30 or older.” It is widely agreed that the centurion’s pais was a “servant” (doulos). As the centurion’s servant, he functioned as an aide-de-camp–a servant who, as I described, carried his owner’s sword and armor into battle, who helped him set up and strike camp, etc. Such a servant would not have been a four-foot tall little boy.

      Alex, I doubt that power and dominance in sexual relationships were the overriding motivations you suggest they were. I think you are seriously underestimating pleasure, intimacy, and care as a motivation. I know that in some circles, emphasizing the power and dominance elements is popular, but we need to take care lest we are taken in by our own rhetoric.

      The story of the centurion and his aide-de-camp demonstrate this. The centurion “pleaded” with Jesus to heal his “boy.” The centurion tells Jesus that he is very “dear” to him. The centurion humbles himself to come begging this itinerant rabbi to heal his servant. This does not speak of a power-dominance relationship. This is all evidence of a deep, caring, love relationship.

      I believe this same sort of caring, loving relationships were more common than your description suggests. I am certain that humanism did not invent love, tenderness, and intimacy. Look at the Song of Solomon for evidence of that! People have always taken refuge and comfort in the bosom of their spouses, and have never in history been as uniformly ugly and nasty to one another as you seem to suggest.


      • Alex Haiken says:

        I didn’t say it was “ugly” and “nasty.” However, when you speak of “evidence of a deep, caring, love relationship” between the Centurion and his “pais,” I fear you might be reading more modern day realities into the biblical text than were actually there. That’s what I mean by frontloading, that is to say, reading our own personal, political, cultural or ideological beliefs back into the Bible, instead of reading out from the Bible what the original writers were saying. This process of reading one’s own ideas into interpretation of the Bible is called “eisegesis,” something we all have a tendency to be guilty of because we all read the Bible with modern eyes.

        What we know of as “love” and even heterosexuality” was very different in biblical times. Case in point: “Marriage” for us commonly refers to an exchange of vows between bride and groom, symbolized by a ring, in a church or government building, with a clerical or governmental official presiding. In patriarchal biblical culture, marriage commonly involved an arrangement in which the groom’s father literally “purchased” the bride from her father, perhaps, accompanied by a banquet (e.g. Genesis 24; John 2). Marriage in Ancient times was about OWNERSHIP.

        In connection with this, adultery in the patriarchal culture of the Bible most commonly refers to a property offense against the husband, not a betrayal of one’s spouse. Since no vows were exchanged, there was no infidelity. And divorce, since marriage was not a concern of state or church, involved at most a simple unilateral written statement (almost always from the male), not our often complicated legal process involving both parties, with lawyers and judges.

        In Hebrew law, adultery is defined as a man’s having intercourse with a woman married or betrothed to another. The male who commits adultery does not violate his own marriage, but that of the woman and her husband. Adultery was a PROPERTY-RELATED matter.

        Even “romantic love” as we know it today did not exist in Bible times. Romantic love as we understand it did not come into being until The Middle Ages, which is precisely why this period is referred to as the “Romance Period.” The concept of “falling in love” would have been completely foreign to anyone in ancient times. Few Christian theologians before the 12th century made any references to what is today called “falling in love” and the phenomenon would seem to have been completely unknown to Jesus and his followers and to most of the church until the rise of what is loosely termed “courtly love” in the 12th century. The Greek word for romantic love does not occur anywhere in the NT.

        Among no group of people would concepts of romantic love parallel to those common today have been the operative factors in arranging marriage. “Love” between husband and wife was something expected to develop as a consequence of marriage, not to occasion it. It consisted of fair treatment, respect and mutual consideration and often corresponded more to paternal affections in the pre-modern world. Age differences between husbands and wives may have contributed to that.

        -Alex Haiken


      • Ron Goetz says:

        Hi Alex,

        I am familiar with the history of marriage as property and romance you shared, but unfortunately it has little bearing on the issue at hand. The centurion and his aide-de-camp are not married, and not eligible to marry. So, while your history is accurate, it is not relevant.

        I’m sure you have read the Song of Solomon. It is one of the landmarks in world literature of romantic love poetry, with male and female expressions of longing, desire, courtship, and sensuality. Property arrangements notwithstanding, the Song of Songs represents is by far the high-water mark for romantic love poems in the Bible.

        Some elements probably date from Solomon’s time (tenth century BCE) to as late as the fifth century BCE or the third century BCE. And there are references to neither marriage nor property. Romantic love was not the creation of Christian humanism, the Renaissance, or the Enlightenment.

        If you think I am engaging in eisegesis regarding the relationship between the centurion and his servant / aide-de-camp, then you will need to do two things.

        First, explain the emotion laden word of Matthew 8:5, παρακαλῶνto, which is variously translated as pleading, beseeching, begging, earnestly implored, and imploring.

        Second, explain the meaning of the word ἔντιμος, which is variously translated as dear, valued highly, and highly regarded.

        The emotional content of this second word can possibly be diminished if you opt for “highly regarded” as your preferred meaning. But I don’t think you can easily deny the intense emotion in any of rendering options for the word παρακαλῶνto (pleading, beseeching, begging, earnestly implored, and imploring). This sort of emotional intensity seems illogical if you merely have a highly valued employee-slave in view.

        This intense emotional attachment was so strong, and the word παῖς (boy, child, youth) being such an odd word to couple with δοῦλος (servant), that the gospel writers faced a difficulty that resulted in an interesting variety of renderings, with John gospel turning the “servant” into a “son”.

        You wrote, “when you speak of ‘evidence of a deep, caring, love relationship’ between the Centurion and his ‘pais,’ I fear you might be reading more modern day realities into the biblical text than were actually there.”

        I don’t think so.


      • Alex Haiken says:

        Ron, I am indeed familiar with the Song of Solomon. The Bible can be particularly graphic when it comes to sex. The Song of Solomon, for example, celebrates Solomon’s favorite harem girl’s “rounded vulva, like a bowl always filled to the brim with sweet liquid” (7:2). She, in turn, sings of “my lover thrusting his shaft into the hole of my guts seething for him” (5:4). However, these is no mention whatsoever of marriage or even courtship, contrary to the insistence of many. Where is the “courting” you speak of? Where is the “romantic dating?” It’s simply not there unless you read it into the text. Solomon hardly furnishes the best example of marital devotion with his harem of 1,000.

        I never said people did not have sex drives or derive pleasure from sex. Far from it and we know rape was quite prevalent in the Ancient world. What I am saying however is that the parity that exists between relationships today and that you seem to read into your “love story” between the “gay Centurion” and his “gay lover” simply sis not exist in the ancient world.

        I would argue in fact, as do the classicists, that the only three expressions or forms of same-sex activity that were known in the ancient and biblical world were the following: (1) pagan cult idolatry and temple prostitution, as temples across the ancient Near East employed (or enslaved) both male and female prostitutes, (2) gang rape, as men and kings of conquered tribes were often raped by the invading army as the ultimate symbol of defeat and humiliation since this was a way for victors to accentuate the subjection of captive enemies and foes and a way of humiliating visitors and strangers, and (3) the exploitative form of pederasty that was popular in the ancient and Greco-Roman world.

        It was pederasty because, again as the classists agree, unlike male homosexual attraction today in which perceived masculinity is prized, the desired features in these boys were their resemblance to females. They were either prepubescent or at least without beards so that they seemed like females. At the same time they were not actually “inferior” females within the society of “superior” males in a male-dominated culture. The men were not running after men for sex but were using these boys as substitutes for women.

        As one ancient Greek text put it: “if man attempts a boy of twenty the limbs, being large and manly, are hard; the chins that were once soft are rough and covered with bristles, and the well-developed thighs are as it were sullied with hairs.” Each detail in this description of the overripe boyhood is intended to evoke repulsion and disgust. No muscle boys or leather daddies welcome here.

        The text also describes one who “was well provided with handsome slave-boys and all of his servants were pretty well beardless. They remained with him till the down first appeared on their faces, but once any growth cast a shadow on their cheeks, they would be sent away to be stewards and overseers of his properties in Athens.” If what the classicists have been trying to tell us for years is correct, the two free men like David and Jonathan could not have been “lovers” or a “couple,” as far too many have suggested, and the Centurion could not be carrying on with his “gay lover” whom you tell us was “a man of 30 or older.”

        Such relationships simply did not exist.

        Miss this and you also miss the significance not only of the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah text, but also the meaning behind other passages such as 1 Samuel 31:4 and 1 Chronicles 10:4 where Saul, gravely wounded by the Philistines, instructs his armor-bearer to: “Draw your sword and thrust me through with it lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me.” It may well take time to get used to seeing this in ancient writings — and none of us assimilates this notion on the first pass — but like it or not, this understanding operates in biblical interpretation and more and more bible scholars working in good faith and out in the open find this reality necessary for grasping what the biblical writers were talking about when they were treating something “sexual.”

        -Alex Haiken


      • Ron Goetz says:

        Alex, you and the classicists upon whom you rely have reduced the number of ancient same-sex relationships to “only” three—“only” is your word. 1) pagan cult idolatry and temple, 2) gang rape, and 3) exploitative pederasty. You emphasize the exploitation of youth, focusing on unpleasant physical details.

        Again, citing “classicists”, you insist that “the Centurion could not be carrying on with his ‘gay lover’ whom you [that would be me] tell us was ‘a man of 30 or older.’” (You misquoted me again, Alex. What I wrote was that his aide-de-camp had to have been “between 16 and 30 or older.” You need to read me more carefully and quote me more accurately.)

        Then you assert, “Such relationships simply did not exist.”

        I’m sorry Alex, but there is considerable evidence that same-sex adult male relationships between equals (characterized by parity) did in fact exist.

        I will be citing, using block quotes, a number of classicists who demonstrate the presence of parity relationships between gay men in ancient times.

        There are some significant examples of adult same-sex relationships among military men–which happens to be the focus of this discussion. One of the most famous military couples was Harmodius and Aristogiton, who together defeated a tyrant and founded the democratic city-state of Athens.

        Plato Discusses Gay Relations Between Equals

        Of Harmodius and Aristogiton, no less acute a mind than Plato’s observed that:

        Our own tyrants learned this lesson through bitter experience, when the love between Aristogiton and Harmodius grew so strong that it shattered their power. Wherever, therefore, it has been established that it is shameful to be involved in sexual relationships with men, this is due to evil on the part of the rulers, and to cowardice on the part of the governed. (Boswell, John, “Battle-Worn: Gays in the Military, 300 B.C., 2002, p. 7)

        Homosexuality, Democracy, and the Military

        The association of homosexuals with democracy and the military was intense and widespread, extending from Harmodius and Aristogiton, a pair of lovers who were believed to have founded the Athenian democracy by concerted violence against the last tyrant, who tried to come between them, to the noted generals Pelopidas and Epaminondas, to the great military genius Alexander and his male lover Bagoas. (Boswell, 2002, p. 6)

        Plutarch’s Emphasis on Male Love Affairs

        Plutarch put special emphasis on male love affairs in his biographies of Lycurgus, Solon, Agesilaus, Alexander, and Pelopidas. The “Life of Pelopidas” is of particular importance. In it, Plutarch gives a unique account of the Sacred Band of Thebes (378-38 B.C.), a regiment made up of three hundred lovers who fought as couples. Plutarch admiringly celebrates the unique discipline, high morale, and remarkable victories of this “army of lovers,” which made it possible for the Thebans to defeat Sparta and become the leading military power in Greece for over forty years. (Summers, Claude J., editor. Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage)

        The association of homosexuals with democracy and the military was intense and widespread, extending from Harmodius and Aristogiton, a pair of lovers who were believed to have founded the Athenian democracy by concerted violence against the last tyrant, who tried to come between them, to the noted generals Pelopidas and Epaminondas, to the great military genius Alexander and his male lover Bagoas. (Boswell, 2002, p. 6)

        Arguments for the Ennobling Virtue of Same-Sex, Age-Differential Relationships

        Plutarch’s most striking contribution to gay literary history, however, is not his Lives but his philosophical dialogue, the Eroticos, or “Dialogue on Love” (ca 110 A.D.). The dialogue is of great interest for the light it throws on attitudes to male love in late classical times. It takes the form of a debate on which is better, the love of males or the love of women. The debate has a lively and entertaining dramatic frame—it is sparked by a vehement quarrel among friends and admirers about whether a favored youth should marry. It represents opinion in Plutarch’s day as fairly evenly divided, although Plutarch himself argues in favor of married love. (Summers, Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage, 2002)

        Debates Regarding Marriage vs Same-Sex Relationships

        Plutarch’s most striking contribution to gay literary history, however, is not his Lives but his philosophical dialogue, the Eroticos, or “Dialogue on Love” (ca 110 A.D.). The dialogue is of great interest for the light it throws on attitudes to male love in late classical times. It takes the form of a debate on which is better, the love of males or the love of women. The debate has a lively and entertaining dramatic frame—it is sparked by a vehement quarrel among friends and admirers about whether a favored youth should marry. It represents opinion in Plutarch’s day as fairly evenly divided, although Plutarch himself argues in favor of married love.

        Plutarch prefaces his defense of marriage with a long panegyric on male love extremely rich in historical anecdotes and literary material, an encyclopedia of (mainly positive) Greek ideas on the subject with much information that does not appear elsewhere. The paradoxical result is that though conjugal love gets Plutarch’s special approval, the Eroticos ranks closely after the Symposium and the Phaedrus as a document in the gay literary heritage.

        Plutarch prefaces his defense of marriage with a long panegyric on male love extremely rich in historical anecdotes and literary material, an encyclopedia of (mainly positive) Greek ideas on the subject with much information that does not appear elsewhere. The paradoxical result is that though conjugal love gets Plutarch’s special approval, the Eroticos ranks closely after the Symposium and the Phaedrus as a document in the gay literary heritage. (Summers, Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage, 2002)

        The preceding discussions demonstrate the existence of positive descriptions of gay relationships between men, and their existence among military men. Your uniformly negative description of the “only” three forms of same-sex relationships in ancient times (temple prostitution, rape, and exploitative pederasty) is incorrect.

        I am totally ready to accept the fact that these three forms of same-sex relationships were common, possibly even the dominant forms in ancient times. But your insistence that nothing else was practiced, anywhere in ancient times, is indefensible.

        Your statement was, “Such relationships simply did not exist.” That is far too extreme, impossible to prove, totally over the top. Is there some reason for your absolute, black-and-white statements that admit of no exceptions?

        And if this is not what you intended, then explain the meaning of “Such relationships simply did not exist.”


    • Alex Haiken says:

      I see several quotes in your reply are from John Boswell. No doubt Boswell has made many beneficial contributions to this discussion. His books were met with widespread acclaim and since then have become a staple in gay literature. However, among his fellow historians Boswell has not fared so well — including many who are supportive of same-sex marriage. Many of Boswell’s peers think his work is shoddy history. He rummages through Christian history and triumphantly concludes, “They [gay people] were everywhere!” And indeed the subtitle of his popular book ‘Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality’ is “Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century.”

      But he’s failed to persuade those who are expert in that period. It is widely understood that that the category “homosexual” is a late 19th century invention. Even Harper’s Bible Dictionary, says of homosexuality: “A word for which there is no specific equivalent in the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek New Testament, since the concept itself as well as the English word originated only in the nineteenth century.”

      Prior to that time, people did not speak about gay people as a class of people. And if, as Boswell himself insists, there were not “gay people” (in the contemporary meaning of the term) in the ancient world, and therefore Paul and other Christian authorities were only criticizing heterosexuals who engaged in homosexual acts, how then can one write a history of gay people in that period of history? Boswell creates historical realities that are self-contradictory and consequently unhistorical. Boswell himself admits that “the ancients did not think there was a class of people with sexual ‘preferences’ for the same sex.” The notion that there is a “class” of people defined by sexual preference is a very recent idea that has no basis in western tradition.

      You’ve quoted excerpts from ancient sources but ignore the consensus of the vast majority of historians and classists whose field of study and expertise is in understanding these ancient cultures. As biblical scholars continually remind us we can’t simply quote passages removed from their social and historical context.

      For more careful scholarship on this issue we can turn, for example, to someone like James W. Brownson, Professor of New Testament at Western Theology Seminary. In his seminal book, “Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships,” Brownson underscores the importance of historical distance between ancient texts and applications today. He, like most noted historians and classicists, explains that any sex act between men in the ancient world involved assumptions of status difference between them. He maintains “sexual orientation as discussed in popular culture today is something unknown to the biblical writers.” Says Brownson, “the perspective [that people might be sexually inclined only to people of their own gender] is found nowhere in the literature of Paul’s day.” In a later and more extended discussion he spells this out more clearly and takes Bowell’s assertions to task. He says, “The myth of human origins presented in Plato’s Symposium (189C-193D) assumes such a view: Aristophanes recounts how some humans long to be reunited with their ‘other half’ of the same sex, from whom they were divided by the gods in the beginning. However,” says Brownson, “the absence of such perspectives in early Jewish and Christian sources suggests that these Jews and Christians did not recognize even the possibility that persons might be naturally inclined toward desiring others of the same sex.” Where then is the basis for reading these modern day assumptions into the NT texts? Brownson goes on, “The whole modern concept of sexual orientation and the contemporary evidence of its deeply rooted persistence in some humans represent an important range of empirical data about the natural world that was not considered by the Ancient and Jewish writers.” [Brownson, pgs. 229-230]

      Brownson rightly explains, “This is not an attempt to rewrite the Scriptures, but an exercise in understanding the cultural realities that shaped the mindset of the Biblical writers who condemned certain same-sex behaviors.” And Ron, isn’t this exactly what we agreed exegesis requires? That is to say, exegesis (from the Greek verb which means to “draw out”) it about seeking to DRAW OUT FROM THE TEXT what it meant to original author and the original intended audience without READING INTO THE TEXT the many traditional interpretations that may have grown up around it. To accomplish this, we can’t just quote texts without insight into the historical context, the culture of the day and what the language meant at the time. Are “scholars” 2,000 years from now to conclude that our lady-killers murdered women and wise guys were known for their wisdom? Neither can we read our modern day fantasies about “romantic love” and “romantic dating” between “gay lovers” of the biblical and ancient world.

      Most other historians and classics scholars agree. Noted classists scholar Sarah Ruden explains of Paul’s world: “There were no gay households; there were in fact no gay institutions or gay culture at all”. Such factors were not in Paul’s purview. Nor were they in the purview of the other writers of the Ancient world.

      Where then is the basis for our adding them?

      -Alex Haiken


      • Ron Goetz says:

        Alex, thank you for introducing me to the valuable discussions in “Debunking John Boswell,” by Michael DiMaio, Ph.D. and Fr. Hans Jacobse, as well as to “In The Case of John Boswell,” by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. (

        Alex, I am not quoting “texts without insight into the historical context, the culture of the day and what the language meant at the time.”

        You also suggest that I am “READING INTO THE TEXT” meanings that are not there. Well, you will have to do more than simply accuse me of eisegesis. I use the actual language in the text, specifficaly the words “pleading-begging-beseeching” and “precious-dear-highly valued.” Also, their are ancient texts that record men discussing their young men using the word pais. My interpretation is based on what is actually present in the text, the actual words. If you can’t present a convincing case as to why those words do not speak of a close, caring relationship between these two men, then you are in no position to accuse me of eisegesis. You, on the other hand, seem guilty of ignoring what is in the text.

        I understand the demands of careful scholarship, that scholarship demands evidence careful definitions, and disallows things like sheer assertion, circular reasoning, and eisegesis, And while I am engaged in original, ground-breaking scholarship, I also know what it means to accept scholarly expertise.

        For example, I rely on the expertise of people like Jacob Neusner in the area of Talmud, and on John Kloppenborg-Verbin in the area of the gospel of Q. I rely on them, but not slavishly.

        The history of Biblical scholarship is littered with “sound scholarly consensus” proven wrong. Scholars used to assert that the Hittites were a figment of some Hebrew writer’s imagination, that there was no record of them anywhere but in the Bible. But lo and behold, that evidence was discovered. Scholars used to assert that Moses couldn’t possibly have written any part of the Pentateuch because writing didn’t exist yet. Again, lo and behold, Sumerian tablets literally “came to light,” thereby demolishing yet another scholarly “consensus.”

        Alex, you rely on “Debunking John Boswell” by DiMaio and Jacobse as part of your critique of Boswell. In this critique, their attack, they write,
        “If homosexual behavior was tolerated in the past, the [faulty] reasoning goes, then the modern prohibition is strictly a modern invention and can be discarded as easily as it was applied.”

        Alex, your experts, the ones who “debunked Boswell,” DiMaio, Jacobse, as well Neuhaus, believe that:

        1) Homosexual behavior should not be tolerated, and

        2) [W]e are Orthodox and, thus, seek a higher standard, we have to respond in a clear and truthful way.

        3) “We should never assume that homosexual behavior is in any way pleasing to God.

        They are making an argument, which is their right and duty as Christian scholars. And I am also making an argument, which is my right and duty as a Christian scholar.

        I have clearly stated my thesis: Jesus accepted sexually active gays and lesbians, and have analyzed in the context of the gospel of Q, First, the story of the centurion and his aide-de-camp; second, the Beelzeboul controversy; third, Jesus’ treatment of Sodom; and fourth, the two couples material. I have not laid out the entire argument yet, but believe me I am not making sheer, unsubstantiated or unargued assertions. Be patient.

        There is nothing warm and fuzzy about my case. It is carefully reasoned. I have made more historical investigations of primary sources than I can remember. If you’ll hang in there, I will be publishing these posts in the weeks and months to come. If you want, I again suggest that you check my banner area and peruse the headings.

        In our conversation, I have addressed the objection you have articulated, that nowhere in the ancient world was there any form of same-sex activities except 1) prostitution in the temple and at the high places, 2) wartime rape of males and females in defeated populations, and 3) exploitative pederastic relationships.

        Because of your categorical generalization which allowed no possible alternatives, you refute any internal textual evidence I provide in favor of something less brutal and ugly as simply impossible–because of your scholarly consensus, despite the fact that there is no universal consensus. When I provide evidence from both scholars and ancient sources, you invoke this scholarly consensus again.

        You have yet to give an alternative interpretation of the three words I asked. First, how do you explain the centurion’s highly-emotional “pleading” to Jesus for the healing of his pais. Second, how do you explain the fact that the aide-de-camp is very dear to the centurion, possibly even precious. There may be reasons why you can’t even conceive of such a personal, emotional, and caring relationship between two sexually involved in men. This is of deep concern to me, Alex.

        I am also concerned that you gravitate to the likes of DiMaio, Jacobse, and Neuhaus, who are such “orthodox” stalwart opponents of 1) same-sex relationships, and 2) Christian acceptance of same-sex couples.

        I’m sure you are familiar with the GCN: The Gay Christian Network, The GCN has two sub-groups: Side A and Side B. Side A’s are gay Christians who affirm the validity of active sexuality, and Side B’s are gay Christians who affirm the desirability of abstinence.

        Your emphasis on the physical coarseness of post-adolescent males as love partners (as seen in the ancient sources you quoted) suggests a personal distaste for something related to sex between grown men.

        You also have no apparent value for the expressions of desire and longing in the reciprocating love poems in the Song of Songs, and focus on the x-rated passages. On my blog I have also made reference to the less-than-pious elements in the Song of Songs, but that doesn’t prevent me from appreciating the expression of strong physical attraction, the crushes, the obsessions, or the romantic feelings expressed in the poem. You have denied that romance exists in the poem.

        There is a pattern here, Alex, and I am more concerned about you as a man than I am about “winning” this argument.


      • Alex Haiken says:

        Ron, I will attempt to answer all questions and raise a couple of my own:

        You said: “If you can’t present a convincing case as to why those words do not speak of a close, caring relationship between these two men, then you are in no position to accuse me of eisegesis. You, on the other hand, seem guilty of ignoring what is in the text.”

        Again, let me be clear: I did not infer that every pederastic relationship that existed in the ancient world was categorized by overt cruel abuse and torture. See more on this below, but for now suffice it to say, what I am stating is that you must be cautious about what you read into your understanding of what you refer to as “a close, caring relationship between these two men.”

        You also said to me: “Alex, your experts, the ones who “debunked Boswell,” DiMaio, Jacobse, as well Neuhaus, believe that: 1) Homosexual behavior should not be tolerated, and 2) [W]e are Orthodox and, thus, seek a higher standard, we have to respond in a clear and truthful way. 3) We should never assume that homosexual behavior is in any way pleasing to God.”

        Ron, please do not — I repeat, DO NOT — associate me or my words with people who make such misguided judgements. Au contraire. I specifically quoted as a more credible source James V. Brownson, Professor of New Testament at Western Theology Seminary, and his seminal book titled, “Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships.”

        I did so because he believes none of the nonsense you cited in your #1), #2) and #3) immediately above. Rather, he maintains, as do I, and most historians and classicists who are experts in that period, that the only three expressions or forms of same-sex behavior you’ll find in the Bible and in the ancient Jewish and Christian writings, are the three I have repeatedly cited here, namely (1) pagan cult prostitution, (2) male-on-male rape as the ultimate symbol of defeat and humiliation or as a way to humiliate visitors and strangers, and (3) the form of exploitative pederasty that existed at the time.

        You also asked me: “How do you explain the centurion’s highly-emotional ‘pleading’ to Jesus for the healing of his pais.”

        The Greek term “pais” can indeed refer to a male concubine or erotic relationship between an adolescent and an adult man. But the word “pais” appears 24 times in the New Testament and has a range of meanings that include “adolescent,” “child” and “servant.” In the LXX (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) it appears numerous times and it always refers to a “servant.” It is also true that “pais” could be used as a term of endearment for slaves. As bad as slavery was (and is) there were cases when a slave and master did become close. But that does not automatically translate into homosexuality or “romantic gay lover.” So my point remains that for you to insist: “Umm, its homosexual; that settles it, let’s move on,” is as forced an interpretation as that of the Fundamentalists go quote the clobber passages and say: “Umm, its homosexual; that settles it, let’s move on.”

        You also said: “There may be reasons why you [meaning me] can’t even conceive of such a personal, emotional, and caring relationship between two sexually involved in men. This is of deep concern to me, Alex.”

        Rest easy, Ron. This could not be further from the truth. I happen to be openly, unashamedly and unapologetically gay, as I have quite clearly and repeatedly state so in my blog, which I have provided the link for at the end of each one of my comments here, and I am also involved in a long-term relationship with my domestic male partner of almost 10 years. So you need not be “deeply concerned” any longer.
        What I cannot conceive of however is that the kind of “romantic gay relationships” and “romantic lesbian relationships” that you seem to find scattered throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments — and neither can most Bible scholars, classicists and the historians who are experts of that period. And they cannot conceive of it for sound exegetical reasons.

        You also asked me if I was familiar with the GCN: The Gay Christian Network.

        Yes, I’m very familiar with the GCN. Justin Lee, the GCN’s founder is a friend of mine and I can tell you that he is in agreement with me that these “romantic gay relationships” you describe cannot be found anywhere on the pages of the Bible.

        As for your suggestion that I have “no apparent value for the expressions of desire and longing in the reciprocating love poems in the Song of Songs, and focus on the X-rated passages,” I must correct you again.

        The point I was raising is that the Bible can be very graphic when it comes to sex and indeed one whole book (Song of Solomon) is virtually filled with “soft-core” erotic poetry with no really evident theology at all. But the prudish couldn’t stand it as it was, and for centuries they insisted on turning the Song of Solomon into an allegory of love between God and the church. As one Bible commentator observed, “Interpreters who dared acknowledge the plain sense of the Song were assailed as enemies of truth and decency. The allegorical charade thus persisted for centuries with only sporadic protests.” And even today, the erotic imagery is yet way too scary for many Christians. On the other hand, Charles C. Ryrie of Dallas Theological Seminary correctly asserted that the allegorical interpretation of the Song “is contrary to all principles of normal interpretation and must be rejected.” Ryrie says that it is “rightly [understood] to be the historical record of the romance of Solomon with a Shulammite woman.” He notes “the rightful place of physical love” in this love story.

        In addition, since many other Christians use Song of Solomon to illustrate the monogomistic relationship between husband and wife, I also pointed out that Solomon does not furnish the best example of marital devotion with his harem of 1,000 girls. If we’re looking to champion the Song as celebrating monogamous marriage — and there are very good reasons for supporting monogamy — this celebration of Solomon’s sex life is hardly one of therm. And as I also pointed out, to use the Song of Solomon to support your theory that the Bible is filled throughout with “gay romantic relationships” also has no basis at all.

        We know nothing about this pais/slave and what role he fulfilled. But if he was a slave that managed the centurion’s house well and was in danger of dying, the Centurion might have asked Jesus to heal him so that he didn’t lose his financial investment as well as a good manager. This scenario is just as likely, if not more so, than suggesting that the two were somehow sexually involved and referring to the passages as “The Untold Story of the first Two Gay Christians.”

        -Alex Haiken


      • Ron Goetz says:

        This reply will be brief, but pertinent. I would take more time responding, but I’m planning a trip.

        Alex, you associated yourself with DiMaio, Jacobse, and Neuhaus when you quoted them verbatim, and without attribution. If you cite their material so exactly, then you are associated with them, whether or not you choose to credit them.

        Don’t tell me so emphatically not to associate you with them. You did it yourself.

        If you don’t like this picky, adversarial tone, then please refrain from being so adversarial yourself. I was not going to mention your plagiarism, but you defended yourself so inappropriately that I felt I couldn’t let it continue to pass without comment.

        I’m not sure if I will return to reply further to this comment. This is getting tiresome: silly, tit-for-tat, misleading statements, your careless reading of what I’ve read and the resulting mischaracterizations of my position–very tiresome and overly time-consuming.


  3. noelgoetz says:

    I think that at its core, the danger in Christianity is allowing yourself to become lumped in organizationally. I further concur that preaching the gospel will in its very nature alienate you from sister, brother, father, mother and friend.

    Tread lightly if befriending those who will agree with you, based only on their need to be comforted and befriended, versus a true hunger for the truth of the gospel. This befriending and adoration though satisfying to the flesh is temporal and emotional at best. These are the the very same people who in one moment will roll out the red carpet until you preach the “Whole Gospel” and thus coming to fully understand your mission. They will turn on a dime and call for you to be crucified with your blood on their children and their children’s children. Unless we preach and teach the whole gospel, we are hiding the light under a bushel and our saltiness has lost it’s savor.


  4. I know that when I was sixteen, I went out actively looking for older men. I thought they were sophisticated and comfortable with the act of sex in the way a partner my own age never was. As I grew older, I recognized the attractiveness of those considerably younger than I, but was never tempted to engage with them, sexually. I believe this attitude has something to do with my natural penchant for submissiveness and youth, except perhaps among themselves, have no credibility as dominants.

    Of course, at 71, this is an academic question, now.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Yes, age does change things, doesn’t it.

      What you said reminds me of young women who are attracted to older men, and not men their own age. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about age disparity in sexual relationships. With age disparity, the problem may arise in relationships we are not used to seeing on television or motion pictures. A hetero example of this: we’re used to seeing “old rich guys” with “bomb shells,” but not so used to seeing older women with much younger men. Of course, it may be that I’m not watching the same movies as everyone else!


  5. Ron,

    Thank you for addressing my questions from the previous post. I am flattered that you perused my blog to find my essay about the “weaker brethren.”


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Charles, I appreciated your concerns, and the time you took to express your concerns over material that was troubling. And your manner of expression was consistent with your posts on Zen and Christian mystics, and your preference for haiku.


  6. josh hutcheson says:

    Hello Mr. Goetz,
    I have very much enjoyed your blog posts so far, the whole Lukes gay apocalypse study was particularly interesting, and a referrence i had never caught before. Thank you for your research and interest in LGBT affirmation. I am 25 now, and growing up I had no other side to the story besides the “God hates fags” rhetoric, but thanks to the work of people such as yourself, and the calming presence of the Holy Spirit, I have shed the mental anguish and shame that was heaped upon me as a young gay christian.
    I first found peace when I went back and read the story of Jonathan and David for myself and at the urging of the Spirit. There I found the story of two men whose love for each other and surpassed the love of women. It was then that I knew my desire to love another man with my whole heart was not a temptation from Satan but an invitation to an abundant life from God.
    I have always tried to model my sexuality and desire for affection from men after the love D and J had for each other. I believe it is the example of what a biblical gay marriage would look like. Two souls that are knit together, live together, share everything, protect each other, make a covenant between the two of you and God, then live happily ever after.
    I also would like to point out that God gave this man, this kind of love, and this kind of marriage, and all the Holy Spirit asked of me, was to wait on God’s instruction and to remain abstinent until God revealed the one to whom my soul was to be knit. Nine months ago I met this man, and it has been nothing but bliss, ever since. Im telling you this because my husband is 60 and i am 25, so we have a 35 year age difference. I actually think this is a wonderful thing because, he is much more financially secure than i am, he is more mature, responsible, and intelligent than I am, yet he chooses to share his life, his heart, and his last name with me. So yes, age gaps can be hard to conceptualize, but I wouldn’t trade mine for the world, and I would actually recommend to other gay guys my age to seek an older soulmate, if the Spirit leads them to this, as they seem to have so much more to offer at least in my humble opinion.
    peace be with you.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Josh, I am glad to know that God has blessed you with a partner who brings you such joy. That is a true blessing. I’m also glad that you found encouragement in some of the things I’ve published here. Life is a struggle for all of us, I think, and the best we can do is help shoulder one another’s loads. Blessings, my friend.


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