For The Someday Book

Explaining the Eunuch

Posted on: December 3, 2009

This one is a moment from my pastoral life. It got me so flustered (and so deep into a fit of giggles) that I could barely concentrate for the rest of the day.

I got a phone call from a little old lady in the church. She told me she had been studying her Bible and had something she couldn’t figure out and wanted me to explain it to her.

This thrilled my heart. Every pastor awaits this call, and it so seldom comes.

Her question was this: “I’ve been reading about eunuchs in my Bible, in Matthew and Acts. I don’t know what a eunuch is, so I called to find out.”

At this point, I was still feeling confident. I could handle this one, with ease. Until she continued: “I looked it up, but I still don’t understand it. Can you explain it to me?”

Um. Yeah. Well. Uh. I guess…

My mind is racing. So, she looked it up and she still doesn’t understand? How am I supposed to delicately explain this one? My mind fails, and I can’t think of  a single proper term–only really bad slang ones. And the proper terms she looked up have already failed her. Stumped, I tell her, “Well, I can, but it’s kind of explicit.” Dumb.

Finally, I remember: “A eunuch is a man who’s been castrated.”

Then I launch into something about eunuchs having high positions at courts and sometimes a special spiritual role.

She is quiet, and I couldn’t tell if the answer satisfied. I manage to get off the phone without having to give further explanation, but I’m still not sure she understood.

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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