In Matthew chapter 19 we read of a conversation on the subject of divorce and after the Lord taught the people that divorce is only permitted if one spouse commits adultery (verse 9) his disciple said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (verse 10). Perhaps they were thinking one could avoid committing this sin if they remained single. The Lord then said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it is given: For there are EUNUCHS who were BORN THUS from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were MADE EUNUCHS BY MEN, and there are eunuchs WHO HAVE MADE THEMSELVES EUNUCHS FOR THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN’S SAKE. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” (verses 11-12). Before we consider these three types of eunuchs, it is important to know that even though one may have been castrated (i.e. their testicles have been removed) to become a eunuch, this is not always the case. In fact, of the three examples given by the Lord Jesus, the male in the first case did not undergo castration and the third case (which is the one we are particularly interested in relation to your question) may not involve castration either.

1) One who is BORN a eunuch. This refers to a male born without the desire for sexual intimacy or the ability to procreate. In other words, he is born with a “physical defect” or “psychological defect” making it impossible for him to engage in sexual intimacy and to have children.

2) One who is MADE a eunuch. This is speaking of a man who is forced by another person to have his testicles removed, which would then leave him without the desire for women and the power of reproduction. This was often done by rulers who had slaves who would be serving in their harems. They did not want their slave to be attracted to their wives and concubines (which made up their “harem”) so they would force them to be castrated.

3) One who MAKES HIMSELF a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. This is a voluntary act where a man refuses, by an act of his own will, to marry and engage in sexual intimacy, believing he can better serve the Lord if he remains single. This means he does not have a physical or emotional defect and I doubt that this Christian man would actually resort to castration to accomplish this. Why do I say that? Because of what the Lord said in his closing words on this subject. He said, “He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” I believe when the Lord says, “He who is able to accept it,” He is referring to one who has the ability, by God’s grace, to control his natural desires for sexual intimacy. The apostle Paul, who himself had “made himself a eunuch for the kingdom” (he remained single), said this in 1st Corinthians 7:7, “For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has HIS OWN GIFT FROM GOD, one in this manner and another in that.” In this whole chapter Paul is speaking on the subject of MARRIAGE and encouraging some men to remain single in order to be freer to serve the Lord (see verses 27-32). Yet he knew that in order to do this, they would need “special grace” (grace is a GIFT from God!) to faithfully curb their natural impulses for the opposite sex. Paul had received this grace from the Lord and he knew others could too. But one must be sure they have this “gift to remain single” for he goes on in verse 9, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”  (DO)  (514.5)