Homosexuality and the Centurion's Servant?

Question
Thank you for your site and the correct biblical stance on homosexuality. I was wondering about the Centurion's servant (Matt 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10). Some are using what I call a "rainbow interpretation" of pais (boy, or young man) in those texts saying it refers to a homosexual relation between the centurion and his slave.
Answer

Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10, and John 4:43-54 (see below) are interesting passages. Each contains a story concerning a Centurion (meaning "captain of 100"). Though closely related the different authors each write of a different set of events (in Matt 8:6 the servant is paralyzed and dreadfully tormented, while in Luke 7:2 the servant is sick and ready to die, and in John 4:46, 47, 49 we observe a sick son who is at the point of death).

The gay revisionist interpretation of these stories of these Centurions is of course unfounded in the biblical text for numerous reasons. Some of these include:

(1) Though Plato and some others (among them Thucydides, Eupolis, Aeschines, Callimanchus, and Plutarch) in secular history may have used the term pais on a "few occasions" to refer to "beloved or same sex lover" (note that their uses do not "all" indicate a homosexual use) what is at stake here is how the Bible uses the term pais. In reviewing numerous Greek Lexicons (including, Bauer, Liddell & Scott, Mounce, Spicq, Thayer, etc.) and various concordances/dictionaries (including, Kittel, Srong's, Vine's, Young's, etc.) not a single one refers to a homosexual relationship. Of the 24 uses of pais in the Greek New Testament, unless these closely related stories are the exception, it is never used of a homosexual relationship!

(2) In Luke 7:2 the doctor uses doulos (slave) to refer to the Centurion's servant and in Luke 7:7 he uses the term pais (boy) to refer to the same person. So, the words are being used interchangeably. Compare Matthew 8:9 which uses doulo (servant). Clearly, the meaning then is a 'young servant.'

(3) Though related to # 1 above, we need to re-emphasize that there is no possible way pais could mean a homosexual in: Matthew 2:16; 12:18; 14:2; 17:18; 21:16; Luke 1:69; 8:51, 54, 9:42; John 4:51; and Acts 3:13, etc.

(4) Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are Old Testament law regarding homosexuality. The Jewish elders in Luke 7:3-5 would not have supported a homosexual relationship. The elders of the Jews would not have been been pleading the Centurion's case had he been a homosexual. Rather they would have seen to his punishment!

(5) Jesus mere association with tax collectors and sinners does not suggest support for their behavior. Accepting someone where they are at in a moment of time for the sake of evangelizing them does not mean one condones the other's sinful behavior.

(6) Matthew, Luke, and John did not interpret Jesus' healing as support for homosexuality. Sex is not even a topic of concern by any of the writers inspired by the Holy Spirit.

(7) Last, but not least, the gay community seeks to prove too much. If we grant them their interpretation (which linguistically we can't), they must also take with that the Centurion's repentance ("I am not worthy to have you come under my roof," Luke 7:6; cf. Matt 8:8) and faith ("I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith," Luke 7:9; cf. Matt 8:9-12). In John 4:53, the Certurion and the whole household believed.

Repentance and faith (or belief) are flip sides of the same coin of conversion which comes after regeneration in the order of salvation. Though the Christian life is one of continual repentance and faith, repentance is a full and complete gift of God (2 Tim 2:24-26). It is total in scope (Isa 55:6-7; cf. Isa 40:3-4; Matt 9:12; Luke 13:5: Acts 2:38; 3:19). The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 15 says, "What is that turning from sin which is part of true repentance?" And the answer comes, "The turning from sin which is part of true repentance doth consist in two things. One, in a turning from all gross sins in regard of our course and conversation; two, in a turning from all other sins in regard of our hearts and affections." Robert Shaw in his exposition of the Confessions says, "True repentance includes grief, or deep contrition and godly sorrow for sin. . . . the sorrow of a true penitent is for sin as committed against God - as rebellion against his rightful authority - as a violation of his holy law, and as a most base, ungrateful return for all his goodness. Psa. 51:4."

So, seeing the Centurion repented of his sin, this had to include his "alleged homosexuality" (Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:26-27: 1 Cor 6:9-10).

Therefore, the gay community has just proven from their own isogesis (reading into a text that which is not intended) the just condemnation of homosexuality and the need to be delivered from it.

While we agree with this final conclusion (that is, the just condemnation of homosexuality and the need to be delivered from it), this is not what Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10, and John 4:43-54 are teaching us. However, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 does teach this principle. Please note that it teaches not only that homosexuality is a sin that needs to be repented of but numerous other sins as well. See "Is Passive Homosexuality Permitted in Scripture? 1 Corinthians 6:9" and "No Cake for You?" below.

The Bible speaks of one relationship approved and considered ideal by God; that of the marriage of a male and female (Gen 1:27; Matt 19:1-9). See "Same-Sex Love" below. Though polygamy and concubines were granted in redemptive history (see "Polygamy, OK?" below) it was never God's ideal. Homosexuality was (and still is) the result of depraved minds (Rom 1:18-32) and God clearly judged it as sinful (along with some other sins, Gen 19:8; Ezek 16:49-50) in Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:1-19:29). The Bible never speaks favorably of homosexual relationships. Christians are still under the moral law of God. See "Antinomianism and Homosexuality?" below.

The multi-colored use of pais to prove the homosexual case is just another indication of sinful minds at work (Rom 1:18-32) to justify a vice. Beware that similar to the cult of the Jehovah Witnesses and their New World Translation of the Bible or the Atheist's Skeptic's Annotated Bible, LGBT advocates are developing revised Bibles to showcase the errors of their translations (i.e. The Queen James Bible revises eight verses to support the homosexual lifestyle: Gen. 19:5; Lev. 18:22; Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:26; Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10; Jude 1:7).

Related Links:

Were Ruth and Naomi Lesbians?
Same-Sex Love?
Antinomianism and Homosexuality?
Is Passive Homosexuality Permitted in Scripture? - 1 Corinthians 6:9
The Queen James Bible?
No Cake for You?
Practicing Homosexuals Can Go to Heaven?
Was David a Homosexual? - 1 Samuel 18:1-4
Homosexuality or Inhospitality? - Genesis 19:5
Isaiah and Homosexuals? - Isaiah 56:3
God Hates...
A centurion came to him, asking for help - Matthew 8:5-13
The faith of the centurion - Luke 7:1-10
Jesus Heals a Royal Official's Son - John 4:43-54

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).