Jesus, the Centurion, and His Lover
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Published in: November-December 2007 issue.


FEW HETEROSEXUAL COUPLES rate a mention in the New Testament, so the fact that there’s not much discussion of same-sex relationships is not unexpected. But maybe one gay relationship made it into the book, or rather the books, of the New Testament:

When he (Jesus) entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come here, ‘and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his]servant was healed. (Matthew 8: 5-13)


I believe this passage details Jesus’ encounter with someone who today would be regarded as a gay man. Three sets of factors—contextual, linguistic, and narrative—support this assertion.

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