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Should Christian Males Be Castrated?
30 October 2013
 
 
SPECIAL NOTE: When I wrote this article three years ago I never imagined the reader replies and controversy that it would generate. After you read it, be sure to also read my special note at the end, and also all the reader comments and my replies which follow.
Should Christian males be castrated?!

What kind of question is that?! You might rightly exclaim, "Brian, this time you have really gone too far!

Not necessarily! For those of us on a search for truth, who want to live Biblically, this is a very relevant question. We who want to follow Yeshua (Jesus) with all of our hearts need to carefully consider every command, rule and implication mentioned in the Bible.

Of course, there are those who insist that because the New Testament teaches we are no longer under the law but under grace, therefore we don't even need to consider the commands in the Bible. Somehow it escapes their notice that two of the major themes of the New Testament are obedience and holiness. For examples of teaching on this see Galatians 5:13-26 and Romans 6. As a wise person recently wrote:
Too many for too long have misunderstood the nature of grace. It does not cover sin — only the Blood of Yeshua does that. God gives grace to enable us to bring to the light the darkness that yet remains within us. To refuse this gift is to essentially turn from the Giver.
Now about castration ... the topic comes up in one of Yeshua's discussions about marriage:
"There are eunuchs who have been that way from their mother's womb, there are those who were made eunuchs by others, and there are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who is able to accept this should accept it." (Matthew 19:12)
Is this supposed to apply to all Christians in our day? After all, they are the very words of Yeshua Himself — God in a human body. What about these other passages in the Bible?
  • Yeshua said, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me." (Matthew 19:21)
  • Buying a field is God's will — Jeremiah 32; Proverbs 31:16; Genesis 23.
  • The Apostle Paul's wish that all Christians would be unmarried, as he himself was — 1 Corinthians 7:7.
  • We should name our child Isaac (Genesis 17:19), John (Luke 1:13), Jesus (Luke 1:31), or even Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:3) !
  • We should share the Good News of Yeshua only with Jews, and not with non-Jews — Matthew 10:5-6.
  • When we go on a missions trip, we should not take any money nor any additional clothes besides what we are wearing — Matthew 10:9-10.
  • We should sell our coat and buy a sword — Luke 22:36.
  • If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out; if your hand causes you to sin, cut if off — Matthew 5:29-30.
These few examples are just the tip of the iceberg. It would be a very long list indeed if I included ALL the verses from the Bible which give instructions that could be followed literally.

So now we come to the big question: In order to be obedient followers of Yeshua, are we supposed to obey everything in the Bible literally, at face value, without any interpretation? To begin to answer that question I think it's a good idea to first take a good dose of common sense. It seems pretty obvious that we are not required to apply every single verse in the Bible to ourselves unconditionally. Just a moment's consideration of the above list should make that very clear.

If we are to apply them properly to our lives, it is vital to come to the realization that there are different types of instructions in the Bible. Some of them are universal, meaning that they are applicable to all people in all eras. A significant number of other instructions were directed to a specific person or group of people, and/or limited to a certain time period. Turning these kind of instructions into universal ones is a common mistake which causes much confusion and anguish amongst God's people.

A third category of instructions are communicated using allegorical or figurative language, and/or irony, sarcasm, hyperbole or other literary devices. The literal words themselves are not the primary meaning, but rather the ideas the words convey. For example, most people would agree that in the verse above, Yeshua was not instructing people to gouge out their eye or cut off their hand — He was using hyperbole to make a memorable and forceful point.

There are numerous instructions in the Bible which most Christians would agree are universal, applying to all people of all ages. Among others, these include, You don't need a special or specific word from God before you obey these commands, because they are the fundamentals of Biblical morality. On the contrary, the problem we have with these instructions is that they are so universal and absolute, us sinful humans try to find clever ways to NOT obey them without appearing guilty of disobedience.

For example, "pro-choice" advocates engage in tortuous logical and moral gymnastics in order to convince themselves and others that killing babies through abortion is not murder, even though it clearly is. In a similar fashion, homosexuals use elaborate arguments and appeals to "love" and "equality" to convince themselves and others that homosexuality is not sexual immorality, even though it clearly is. The Apostle Paul wrote a scathing indictment against such truth-distorters in Romans 1:18-32.

It should be apparent that the first list of Biblical instructions I made at the beginning of this article belong to the second category of commands, which were directed to a specific person or group of people, and/or limited to a certain period of time. Just because God told Jeremiah to buy a field doesn't mean that it is God's absolute will for all of His children. It's obvious that even though God commanded Isaiah to name his child Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, all the rest of us are not also obliged to give our children such a name — thank goodness!

Just because Paul wished that all Christians would be unmarried as he was, or just because Yeshua said that some men might have themselves castrated for the sake of God's Kingdom, doesn't mean that we are all supposed to make such decisions. In fact, in these two cases, both Paul and Yeshua specifically said that only certain people are able to make such choices.

In the same vein, neither are the other instructions I mentioned — like sharing the Good News only with Jews, traveling with no money, buying a sword, or selling all of your possessions — universal commands which apply to all Christians in all ages. Rather, they were specific instructions, set in a certain time, directed to specific people.

Where Christians start to get into trouble is when they read these non-universal, conditional, limited-application instructions, and just because they are written in the Bible, which is the eternal Word of God given to us humans, they imagine that these kind of instructions MUST unconditionally apply to themselves and all other Christians.

Of course, it is very possible that God wants you remain unmarried, or to sell all of your possessions, or to obey one of the other non-universal instructions which He gave to a person in the Bible long ago, and He may very well use one of those verses to speak to you about it. But there is a huge night-and-day difference between GOD specifically telling you to do one of these things, and YOU telling yourself — or someone else telling you — to do so just because it is written in the Bible.

Another area of controversy and conflict are those instructions in the Bible which some people think are universal, but others think are non-universal. For example, in Paul's time some people considered one day more sacred than another while others considered every day alike. Some people believed they were allowed to eat anything, others felt that they should be vegetarians. Paul talked about all this in Romans 14, in which chapter he also gave some good advice:
Accept one another without quarreling over disputable matters.... Each person should be fully convinced in their own mind.... Let us stop passing judgment on one another.... Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.... Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. (verses 1,5b,13a,19,22a)
To state this in a different way, I'll paraphrase a famous saying: In universal Biblical instructions, obedience; in non-universal Biblical instructions, freedom; in all things, love.

A practical application of these principles would be regarding those Christians who believe that all followers of Yeshua should still be obeying the Old Testament laws which God gave to the Jewish nation, including strictly observing the Sabbath (from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset), celebrating the Jewish feasts, and eating kosher. I hope to examine this topic in more detail in the future, but for now I'll limit myself to the subject at hand.

Certain followers of Yeshua would argue that these commands from the Torah are universal — meant to be obeyed by all people in all eras — while most Christians would insist that they are not. To me, they are clearly not in the same category of fundamental Biblical morality as the commands against murder, lying, stealing, sexual immorality, idolatry and so forth. For a gray area like this, where each side has equally strong and valid arguments supporting their position, I think Paul's advice is the best way to go.

Rather than quarrelling over disputable matters, each person should decided between himself and God what God is asking him to do, without passing judgment on another believer because of the way God is leading that person. If these followers of Yeshua want to eat kosher, keep the Sabbath and celebrate the feasts, then they should. Why not? It's not breaking any obvious universal command of God to do so. But where they cross a red line is when they start insisting that ALL followers of Yeshua should be following their convictions. This kind of insistence is not appropriate for these gray areas that don't involve clear universal instructions.

Those followers of Yeshua who decide to obey the Torah should not be judging those who don't. Likewise, those followers of Yeshua who don't feel compelled to obey the Torah should not judge those who do. For the sake of peace and mutual edification, each one should generally keep what they believe about these things between themself and God rather than arguing about it and trying to force opinions on each other.

So how is a follower of Yeshua supposed to know which non-universal instructions from the Bible apply to him personally, and which ones don't? How is he to know if God wants him to obey the Torah or not, sell all his possessions or not, get married or not, or decided on a hundred other issues mentioned in the Bible?

The answer is very simple. In exactly the same way that the people in the Bible knew what God wanted them to do. And how did they know? Through personal, one-on-one contact with God. Our Heavenly Father doesn't want us playing Russian roulette with the Bible! What an impersonal, haphazard way to find His instructions!

No, God wants to have a personal relationship with each one of us. In that context, and in that context alone, can we find out God's personal instructions to us in the non-universal decisions of life. Merely following a list of Biblical rules apart from intimate relationship with God leads only to legalistic religion.

So, back to my original question: Should Christian males be castrated?! Obviously this is not a universal instruction, therefore I think Yeshua's comment on the subject is the best advice: "The one who is able to accept this should accept it." You know who you are!
SPECIAL NOTE: When I wrote this article three years ago I never imagined the reader replies and controversy that it would generate. I was completely ignorant and totally shocked to discover that there are males out there who seriously consider castration to be an option, or even worse, that castration could be the will of God. For me this is beyond belief.

I want to state as clearly as I can that I in NO WAY condone or support the idea of human castration, or ANY other type of bodily mutilation. And I in NO WAY believe that it is EVER God's will that a person cut off their hand, gouge out their eye, or castrate themselves. This is NOT God's heart towards His children! Rather, it is the will of Satan, who came to "steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10).

In a response to a reader's comment from September 2014, I made a reply that is so critical that I am reproducing it here, even though you can find it in the Reader Comments section below. I want to put it here to make sure it is seen.
I wrote that last paragraph of the main article tongue-in-cheek, using verbal irony. It would seem that because of the seriousness of your struggle with this issue, you took my paragraph just as seriously. But the exclamation point at the end of the last sentence is a clue that I wasn't being serious, but ironic.

Regarding Paul's astonishing statement in Galatians 5, where he wishes that those Judaizers who were leading the believers in Galatia astray with their false teaching, would go all the way and castrate themselves — I think that Paul, in his frustration, and in his paternal care for his spiritual children, was using an even heavier dose of irony than I was.

Paul was using an absurd application of the common idea — "if a little bit is good, then a whole lot is a whole lot better" — in an ironic way to make a point. If these Judaizers thought that cutting a penis a little bit (circumcision) was so great, how much better to go all the way and cut the penis off entirely!

Neither Paul, nor Yeshua, nor I were at all suggesting or condoning human castration. Paul and I were using irony to make a point. In Matthew 5, Yeshua was using hyperbole to make some points. I don't think there is any way you can say that Yeshua actually wants any of His followers to literally amputate any part of their bodies. As for me, it would never even enter my imagination to suggest such a thing!

Like Paul, it makes me angry and frustrated with the Devil that you and other have been tormented by Satan and his "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). I hope and pray that you and everyone else in your situation will find clarity of mind, truth from the Holy Spirit, and freedom from this demonic torment.
If you are struggling with any of these issues, I STRONGLY recommend that you find a good Christian counselor who can provide you with Holy Spirit guided psychological, emotional and spiritual help and healing. You may even need some sort of medical treatment if chemical imbalances in your brain are part of the problem.

I believe that there IS a solution for your problems. And I absolutely do NOT believe that castration or any other type of bodily mutilation is EVER part of that solution. PLEASE DON'T GO THERE!

The whole point of my article was to show how common yet unnecessary it is to misunderstand what is being said in the Bible by taking figurative speech literally. I am so dismayed that readers are using my article as support for the opposite view! Please don't be so religious and ignorant that you take everything in the Bible literally, when God obviously did not intend that.

In closing, don't miss the important reader comments and my replies below!
This article is 7th a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
1.
19  Sep  2013
2.
1  Oct  2013
3.
7  Oct  2013
4.
12  Oct  2013
5.
15  Oct  2013
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16  Oct  2013
7.
Should Christian Males Be Castrated?
30  Oct  2013
8.
13  Nov  2013
9.
28  Dec  2013
10.
8  Jan  2014
11.
15  Jan  2014
12.
16  Jan  2014
13.
21  Jul  2014
14.
26  Jul  2014
15.
27  Jul  2014
16.
31  Jul  2014
17.
5  Aug  2014
18.
10  Aug  2014
19.
11  Aug  2014
20.
24  Aug  2014
21.
25  Aug  2014
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27  Aug  2014
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16  Sep  2014
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17  Oct  2014
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18  Oct  2014
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21  Oct  2014
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28  Oct  2014
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8  Nov  2014
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13  Dec  2014
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24  Dec  2014
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11  Jan  2015
32.
20  Jan  2015
33.
21  Jan  2015
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Reader Comments
On November 12, 2013, Mike wrote:
Hey Brian! Excellent article! You dealt with this issue perfectly!!!
On September 7, 2014, John wrote:
Hey Brian, I agree with the message of universal biblical instructions for all believers versus specific callings for specific individuals at specific times. But I have to disagree with your allowance and even tacit approval for the "you know who you are" individuals in the body of Christ.

There is an old saying, "Winners never cheat and cheaters never win." Well in our struggle to attain perfection in the spirit this move of making oneself a eunuch has been tried throughout Christian history and it fails every time to produce grace. Origen misread that quote and performed self castration when he was 18 and it haunted his ministry forever, you probably have a footnote about him below the text of Matthew 19:12.

I know because I am a 38 year old Christian and I have struggled with temptation to obey this "calling" since I was 20. I went through all the verses as well the above one, Matthew 5:27-30 even Galatians 5:11-12 where Paul wished Jewish proselytes seeking to circumcise people would go all the way and castrate themselves. That's because the Old Covenant of circumcision was done away with at the cross the act of circumcision is as abhorrent to a Christian today as castration was to Jews in under the Old Covenant (see Leviticus 21:20, Deuteronomy 23:1).

Plus in Christ we know our bodies are the temple of God where the Spirit dwells. If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him! (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Paul reminds people again to keep that in mind before joining the temple with a harlot (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).

Well if one member [of our body] that is pretty embarrassing is, in our estimation, "spiritually gangrenous" and will destroy our salvation and covenant with Christ, we can lop it off in a appropriate way, can we not? According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 we learn even those uncomely parts should have more abundant honor that there be no schism in the body just as there should be no schism in the body of Christ between Jew or Greek and men and women.

Now, I am sorry, but no matter if it is one Christian in a million who suffers from temptation from pedophilia, he just does not have biblical authorization to perform or pay for this surgery on himself! It is a completely unbiblical concept. I would love to dialogue with you more about this.

I had a older friend who took Matthew 5:27-28 literally with a band-saw and thankfully modern medicine was able to save him from his own foolish mistake. I pined and prayed about this possibility for God's will in my life for nearly twenty years and I can say it was a utter waste of prayer and had effects on my psyche that continue to this day. We need to keep up the spiritual battle but it must be in grace through faith, it is what Christ suffered and died for.
On September 7, 2014, Brian wrote:
Hey John! Thanks for all what you shared in your comments. I'm really sorry to hear that you have been struggling with this issue for so long. I'm also sorry that you misunderstood the last sentence in the article. I was in NO way making allowance for human castration! And I definitely was NOT giving tacit approval for such an act!

I wrote that last paragraph tongue-in-cheek, using verbal irony. It would seem that because of the seriousness of your struggle with this issue, you took my paragraph just as seriously. But the exclamation point at the end of the last sentence is a clue that I wasn't being serious, but ironic.

It's interesting that I was just reading about this last night. In his famous book On Writing Well, William Zinsser advises:
Resist using an exclamation point to notify the reader that you are making a joke or being ironic. "It never occurred to me that the water pistol might be loaded!" Readers are annoyed by your reminder that this was a comical moment. They are also robbed of the pleasure of finding it funny on their own. Humor is best achieved by understatement, and there's nothing subtle about an exclamation point.
If I had been following Mr. Zinsser's guidelines, I would not have put that last exclamation point at all. But I wanted to make sure my readers really understood that I was being ironic. Obviously I didn't achieve my goal, and I'm sorry that my failure caused you distress. Hopefully future readers will see your comment above as well as this reply, and any confusion will thereby be cleared up.

Regarding Paul's astonishing statement in Galatians 5, where he wishes that those Judaizers who were leading the believers in Galatia astray with their false teaching, would go all the way and castrate themselves — I think that Paul, in his frustration, and in his paternal care for his spiritual children, was using an even heavier dose of irony than I was.

Paul was using an absurd application of the common idea — "if a little bit is good, then a whole lot is a whole lot better" — in an ironic way to make a point. If these Judaizers thought that cutting a penis a little bit (circumcision) was so great, how much better to go all the way and cut the penis off entirely!

Neither Paul, nor Yeshua, nor I were at all suggesting or condoning human castration. Paul and I were using irony to make a point. In Matthew 5, Yeshua was using hyperbole to make some points. I don't think there is any way you can say that Yeshua actually wants any of His followers to literally amputate any part of their bodies. As for me, it would never even enter my imagination to suggest such a thing!

Like Paul, it makes me angry and frustrated with the Devil that you and other have been tormented by Satan and his "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1). I hope and pray that you and everyone else in your situation will find clarity of mind, truth from the Holy Spirit, and freedom from this demonic torment.
On September 9, 2014, John wrote:
Hello Brian, I apologize for my presumptuous admonition before reading between the lines in your thoughts. I truly believed you were making an exception in rare, bizarre cases and circumstances. Certainly there are men out there who struggle with fantasy that condemn themselves and are ready and eager to latch onto such extreme measures. In the cases of men whose fantasies and sexual addictions are criminal, there are many in society who would say "Amen" to that action to those "You know who you are's." out there. So there may have been men who read your last sentence in an accusatory sense and they are truly desperate for relief.

Isn't it amazing that the same devil who tempts those kinds of men with those thoughts and offers it to them during their times of tribulation and pain and loneliness is now the accuser and whispers such outlandish practices that destroy the temple of God on the threat that it will be the only way for that man to see heaven or connect again with his God after the sin that the devil has infected him with clouds mind, soul, and body? Yet read Paul's words in Colossians 2:16-23 — when men dwell on these things they get puffed up in the mind that they lose their head; that all the body is supplied and knit together through the joints and bands to increase with the increase of God; it takes the whole body to achieve this one part cannot be left out.

In Ephesians 5:28-30 Paul cannot even fathom a man hating his own flesh and exhorts men to love their wives as Christ (Yeshua) loved the church. And he went on to explain how the marriage covenant is a great mystery that mirrors Christ and the church. In fact I am convinced that men who struggle with this demonic oppression are not even called to celibacy, as evidenced by their desire to achieve its perfection in the flesh (or sacrifice thereof), and is one of the major reasons I took a wife three years ago. And we both know that forbidding to marry is a doctrine of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-5) and I think the anchorite lifestyle of isolationism is why demons perpetuate this doctrine.

In future correspondence I would love to share my ideas as to how I see this happening even in today's churches. Have no doubt the struggles and trials are great from nearly twenty years of yearning to be a eunuch, but I found the only real road to recovery is by sharing of the body — "I speak of the marriage covenant" — to grow in the body of Yeshua and his glory, attaining it step by step, glory by glory. And prayers are always appreciated in that areas for all believers. Keep posting my friend and God bless. I would love to further correspond with you. In Yeshua's love, John
On August 28, 2016, Josh wrote:
In the American Bible Belt certain cults will castrate a young man if he is showing gay tendencies. As no medical person will perform such a procedure for purely religious reasons they usually castrate him with a Burdizzo. I was witness to the castration of a twenty-three year old farmer. It was carried out before the assembled members of the cult. There was much Bible reading and praying. The young man was lead to the alter and held face downwards by a number of young men. Once his jeans had been removed it took a young farmer who was experienced in the use of a Burdizzo less then a three minutes to castrate him. I had never seen a Burdizzo being used before and I was amazed how simple it was to use. Once another young man had pulled back the lad's testicle allowing his spermatic cord to be positioned correctly between the jaws of the Burdizzo, the young farmer using the Burdizzo swiftly closed it tightly shut, not without using a great deal of effort, I might add. I felt sorry for the young man who had been castrated as he screamed in pain the moment the jaws of the Burdizzo crushed his cords. But his pain was all for Jesus.
On August 30, 2016, Brian wrote:
Well, my goodness! After considering the experiences of Josh and John posted above, I’m almost sorry that I wrote this article! In my naiveté, I somehow understood that such barbaric acts were left behind with the Dark Ages. Obviously I was quite mistaken. I can perhaps understand how castration just might have some validity for criminal justice, in certain extreme cases. But even then, I’m not so sure. But castration for religious reasons is SO far from God’s intentions that it can only be demonic in origin. For in the end, all religion has its roots in Satan. As I explained in a previous article, God did not create us for religion. Furthermore, Yeshua (Jesus) did not come to earth to start a new religion. Christianity as we know it today is an invention of man and Satan. God created us, and Yeshua died for us, so that we could have intimate relationship with them, not so we could have religion and be religious. The young man Josh witnessed was castrated for religion, and for a religious false Jesus. In the end, he was castrated for Satan. He most definitely was NOT castrated for the living, true Jesus.
On December 2, 2016, Willy wrote:
I'm 28 years old and have struggled with masturbation for 12 years. About 10 years ago I decided to castrate my self because of Matthew 19:12, Matthew 5:27-30 and Luke 14:26b. As a farmer I'm experienced with using a elastrator on calves but decided not to go through with it because I'd only used it on young animals and didn't know if there would be complications on someone more mature. I hoped that I would get victory over my sin by spiritual means alone but I still haven't got victory and now I'm tempted by fornication. I believe no one should marry with out getting moral victory first. I can't stand the thought of having this temptation for the next 50 years so I'm thinking about castrating myself. I'm rather upset to be accused of believing doctrines of demons, please explain that one better. I hope to find the will of God for my life so I'm looking at all the different viewpoints. I think I'll ask my friend's friend who tried cutting off his hand because of Matthew 5:30.
On December 10, 2016, Brian wrote:
In reply to Willy's comments: I want to state as clearly as I can that I in NO WAY condone or support the idea of human castration, or ANY other type of bodily mutilation. And I in NO WAY believe that it is EVER God's will that a person cut off their hand, gouge out their eye, or castrate themselves. This is NOT God's heart towards His children! Rather, it is the will of Satan, who came to "steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10).

I STRONGLY recommend that you find a good Christian counselor who can provide you with Holy Spirit guided psychological, emotional and spiritual help and healing. You may even need some sort of medical treatment if chemical imbalances in your brain are part of the problem. I believe that there IS a solution for your problems. And I absolutely do NOT believe that castration or any other type of bodily mutilation is EVER part of that solution. PLEASE DON'T GO THERE!
On December 14, 2016, Willy wrote:
I repented of self hatred and unbelief. I was upset to have my position called a doctrine of demons when I wrote my last comment. So I studied it for myself and it makes a lot of sense, I had never looked at it that way before. Satan twisted scripture when he tempted Yeshua and he is still doing it today. I also did not really believe God was able and willing to sanctify me. I would have said so then but my thoughts and actions proved otherwise. What you believe has a huge impact on what you think and do. I have dramatically changed my thinking in the last to weeks due to your article's comments. Thank you.
 
You can also send comments to me privately at: 2bits@briansbits.com
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