Ethiopian eunuch: Early church welcomed queers

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch,
detail from 11th-century illuminated manuscript (Wikimedia Commons)
A black gay man was the first non-Jewish convert to Christianity, according to progressive interpretations of the Ethiopian eunuch’s story in the Bible. The term “eunuch” probably included a variety of sexual minorities that today would be called LGBT or queer. The account of the eunuch’s conversion in Acts 8:26-40 will be read in many churches this Sunday.

The nameless Ethiopian eunuch was a double outsider — queer and black — and his experience shows that the early Christians welcomed all kinds of outcasts, regardless of race, gender identity or other differences.

Divine intervention plays a big role in the eunuch’s story from the start. It begins when an angel gives some surprising advice to Philip the deacon. He is in the midst of a successful evangelistic campaign in Samaria, but the angel interrupts with an order to leave and take a lonely desert road through the wilderness from Jerusalem to Gaza.

– full reflection at Jesus in Love
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