A man without testicles was searching for God.
He found Jesus through a young disciple.
Then, he was immediately baptized.
And he went home to change the world.
I can’t help but think that Christ is looking for more Phillips; and for more stories like this.
“Beautiful that one of the first converts to Christianity was both a black man and a member of a sexual minority, who was thus forbidden from worshiping God at the temple.”
~ A Jonathan Puddle paraphrase of Nadia Bolz-Webe in Pastrix.
It’s in Acts eight where we find Phillip sharing the good news with an Ethiopian Eunuch (literally a castrated/emasculated man). A man who according to the law of Moses, he was not allowed to enter the temple, which meant he had no access to God (Deuteronomy 23:1).
Eunuchs were typically slaves or servants who were put in charge of the women who were the property of a ruler, to avoid them engaging in sexual activity with those whom they were supposed to be guarding. Since there were great hormonal changes that took place within the body of the eunuch, they had no sexual desire.
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. A man who had come to Jerusalem, to worship.
When Philip saw the Ethiopian eunuch “seated in his chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah… the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.”
And Phillip ran to him.
Yes, it was the Holy Spirit who said to Philip to go over and join him, engage him and approach him to talk. And I believe the Holy Spirit is telling the church to do the exact same thing today: find out where the sexual minorities are… and run towards them for a chat.
Approach them with love, and initiate the conversation that might prove to us how hungry they are for truth.
Maybe this comparison might not work for you. But this is only one of the many times, when either Jesus or the apostles, reached out to people who struggle with anything related to sex.
Whether it was sexual sin, sexual issues or sexual sickness.
Over and over again we see New Testament stories where those who were on the fringes became the target of God’s radical acceptance.
Now, a lot of Christians are angry with Target stores and are standing with the governor of North Carolina and the HB2 bill.
Other Christians are complaining about the other Christians who are complaining about Target.
While other Christians think we should support the marginalized; which either means Transgenders or Christians themselves (depending on who you talk to).
“We can’t war against people and win people at the same time.” Ed Stetzer
Trust me, I am not cool with a man walking into the bathroom when my daughter is there. I’m not supporting Target’s decision here. There are many moving pieces in this conversation and they are all important conversations to have. But as a believer of Jesus I choose not to join the righteous noise of boycotting, but rather join the chariot, to talk about God with those who have no access.
I prefer the way of the young disciple: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” (Acts 8:25)
I know I’m off target myself in some of the issues. I’m not even close to having all the answers… But I know one who does, He is good news and I hope I can point people to Him.
Still, I find myself with opinions in either direction. However, I want to focus on loving the radical conservatives who think everyone is wrong and loving the radical liberals who think everything is right.
And everyone in between.
Because I don’t want to miss the target of Jesus,
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:17
The problem is not that we are boycotting Target, the problem is that we don’t have enough Acts 8’s happening. The issue is not where we choose to shop, the issue is that we are forgetting the main thing, while being distracted with morality battles and hot topic debates.
If you want to skip Target for safety reasons, by all means. But please let’s not turn it into a right or wrong thing. If your boycotting is a righteousness decision, then you might need to turn off your iPhone and stop reading this article because the CEO of Apple is an openly gay man who supports boycotting North Carolina because of the bill that keeps transgenders out of their preferred bathrooms.
So if we keep boycotting each other, then when are we going to engage each other? When are we going to properly befriend those who are different, as Jesus did with the prostitutes, the traitors and the misfits?
My liberal friends want me to stand with Transgender people.
My conservative friends want me to boycott Target.
My friend Jesus wants me to love all.
I’ll stick with Him for now.
And hopefully I’ll have the courage of Phillip to the join the chariot of those who are different to me. I believe that is where we will see transformation and healing. And it will be those who we love, independently of where they are with God, who will go back home immersed in the waters of something new.
“Our task is not to protest the world into a certain moral conformity, but to attract the world to the saving beauty of Christ.”