A website by Jeff Miner includes a posting called “Jesus affirmed a gay couple.” It’s an examination of the story of a Roman centurion asking Jesus to heal his pais, as told in Matthew 19:10-12 and Luke 7:1-10. Miner says the word can have three possible meanings in English: boy/son, servant, male lover. In this case, he argues, it can only mean male lover. He gives three reasons for believing this.
First, the story in Luke includes the idea that this pais was an “entimos doulos (honored slave).” A son would not be called a doulos and an ordinary servant would not be called entimos. Therefore Miner concludes, we are left with “only one viable option – he was his master’s male lover.” I am not able to guess what sort of logic Miner has in mind. His claim that no other options are available simply holds no water. There is nothing whatsoever in the text to suggest this servant was anything more than a trusted and valued member of the centurion’s household.
Second, the centurion refers to his slaves but calls this particular person his pais. Miner thinks this indicates that the man was not a slave in the same sense as the others but must have been “a slave who was the master’s male lover.” Again, no step of logic will get us from the word pais to “male lover” in this story. It is a step of sheer imagination and can carry no interpretive weight at all.
Third, Miner thinks it unlikely that the centurion would have asked Jesus for this miracle if the servant had been any less than a lover. It is another leap beyond the bounds of logic.
There is, in short, no evidence that any of Miner’s reasons are even true, let alone that they constitute evidence that the centurion’s servant was his gay lover. Miner’s opinions do not count as evidence.
The Gospel writers tend to point out those times when Jesus was breaking the boundaries of first century Judaism. When he heals the daughter of a Gentile woman, for example, Mark points out that she was “a
Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin.” There is no hint in either Matthew or Luke that this healing of the centurion’s servant was an extraordinary breaking of the ordinary beyond the unmistakable fact that the centurion was a Gentile.
I cannot believe that the needs of the LGBT community will be met in the long run by abusing the Bible. In the eyes of those who have a deep respect for Scripture, such bending of the text to suit a bias will only increase the sense that something is deeply wrong in the movement.