Tucker's Reviews > Kingdom Eunuch: A Dialogue about Sexuality and the Kingdom of God

Kingdom Eunuch by Antoine Roston Sr.
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's review
Feb 05, 12

did not like it
bookshelves: finished, not-actually-about-eunuchs
Read on February 05, 2012 , read count: 1

As I wrote on my Amazon review: I bought this book hoping for some analysis of Matthew 19:12, the New Testament verse on eunuchs from which the book obviously gets its title. There was only a couple pages on this subject toward the very end and it provided no information of which I was not already aware. The book's real subject is Roston's accusation that gay people are personally motivated only by sex and that they tend to be a bunch of tormented, drug-addled atheist witches. At least, I think that was the main argument. It was hard to tell.

My Amazon went on for a few more short paragraphs, but for those who would like more specific information on why I called it "conceptually muddled," read on:

At the beginning of the book, Roston says the word "sex" should be properly defined as reproductive anatomy and should not be confused with sexual behavior, which he sometimes calls "reproductive sex" even when the act in question is non-reproductive. He also claims there is no such thing as "sexual orientation" in the sense of "thought or desire" above and beyond one's anatomy. He nevertheless uses the term "sexual orientation" in its ordinary sense later in the book.

He points out (correctly) that behaviors and feelings can change, and he seems to conclude that sexual orientation (if there is such a thing) must have an unchanging basis, but he cannot identify any such ground. In discussing whether there might be a gay gene, he refers to a twenty-year-old paper. He invokes the fallacious argument that "gays don't have reproductive sex" and therefore a gay gene could not be passed to offspring. (Actually, having a primary attraction to members of the same sex is not exclusive of being reproductively prolific, and furthermore, since a gay gene has never been identified, we cannot study how its carriers behave.) He thinks that the existence of people who have discontinued having gay sex is an argument against same-sex attraction possibly being genetically coded, since "you can't stop genetics." (Actually, our sexual anatomy is genetically coded and therefore its use is pretty obviously part of the same genetic inheritance, and this is not disproved by the observation that a person's sexual behavior changes over his or her lifetime. So the possibility that specifically homosexual behavior could be genetically coded cannot be excluded simply because the behavior can change over time.) Roston also seems unaware of the recent hypothesis that childless gay individuals may promote the successful raising of the offspring of their close relatives, thus propagating the hypothetical gay gene.

He says that non-reproductive sex with a same-sex partner "only fulfills a lustful desire" and is only "a seeking pleasure" [sic], whereas a similar act with a different-sex partner may enhance a spiritual connection. (This is not to be confused with the "occultist demonic" approach to sex acts as a magical tool for enhancing "awareness of the spiritual world." I don't know how to avoid conflating them; it is confusing to me.) He never breathes a word about whether he might share the Roman Catholic position against birth control, or whether sex without the intent of reproduction is ever permissible and, if so, why the gender of the partner would matter. (There is, however, one sentence in which he implies that "artificial insemination," like "the homosexual agenda," is driven by Satan because it implies the intention that someone other than God can create life.) He implies that unequal power dynamics - where one treats the other as "just an object for their personal pleasure" - are typical of gay relationships, and even suggests it is somehow relevant that some serial killers have same-sex desires; he refers to eating a murder victim as a "lifestyle of gay love." (Unless I am misled by his bewildering sentence structure.)

Without evidence, he alleges that gay churches "are not very much different than the parks" where men congregate to have anonymous sex. He claims it is historical fact that gay sex originated in "occulted, pagan worship" and had "elitist" associations, and to this day such acts remain "demonically driven...sacrifices to demons".

He says, in this book published in 2011, that gay sex is illegal in many American states, which hasn't been true since the Supreme Court invalidated those laws in 2003. "It's amazing that the homosexual or LGBT movement haven't moved that much forward from the 1800s," he concludes, rather obviously wrongly.

He quotes a 1999 book recommended by the reparative therapy organization NARTH that says same-sex attraction is caused by "weak" gender identity, mistrust of the opposite sex, and narcissism (in men) or loneliness (in women). The same book says that "activist" homosexuals allegedly advocate for "anonymous sex" and "unlimited promiscuity." Roston also cites a self-published book called Crossovers by Sidney Schwartz who claims to have channeled information from a nameless spirit that gay men are the reincarnations of the spirits of abused women and girls. Roston gets excited: "What I take from Schwartz is that homosexuality is rooted in the occult, and it is a spirit. I mean, a spirit with no name gave Schwartz this information." Which he seems to take literally and seriously.

He then immediately segueways into skepticism of "research, theories, and statistics" that purport to reflect anything about large populations based on a small sample size. He does not indicate that he knows anything about how statistics work. Contradictorily, he accuses gay people of "only believ[ing] their own truth" and rejecting "the Bible, history books, medical records, and scientific findings" about the possibility of changing one's attitude.

The Bible has no clear, positive examples of gay relationships, he points out (which I might agree with). He also claims that "the Bible is supportive and clear about 'heterosexual' marriages" (true), specifically that they are to be monogamous (false). Because there are Biblical passages where homosexuality is condemned, he does not accept that there could be a contradicting passage, since that "would make Yahweh a bipolar GOD." (He does not acknowledge the Bible contains numerous contradictions on many subjects.)

In addition to speaking frankly about his childhood sexual experiences, he tells us he worked at a fast food restaurant with a transsexual woman and served HIV-positive people at a clinic, and, of course, some of his best friends are gay. He explicitly opposes the Westboro Baptist-style God-hates-gays protests held at the funerals of gay people. (Good; that's the smallest possible bone he can throw to the gay reader.) He ups the ante by admitting that even if he disapproves of or cannot understand someone else's "lifestyle," his opinion may be irrelevant to them and to their working relationship. (Yup.) He even assures the reader there is nothing superior in a "straight" identity and he claims that all identity labels based on sexual behavior betray a lack of "spiritual depth," which is a more meaningful and interesting contribution on his part. However, he denigrates same-sex sexual attraction and sexual behavior as being "no different" than a pornography habit or a heroin addiction. He says he enjoys sex with his wife, yet "my marriage to her isn't about sex" and therefore "being heterosexual has nothing to do with sex" (a clearly invalid conclusion). He cites the Apostle Paul as having said that the inclinations for celibacy and marriage are both gifts from God. "I believe," he writes, "a heterosexual is a reflection of the image of GOD..." Well, I shudder to think what that implies about non-heterosexuals.

When he finally examines Matthew 19:12, the Bible verse from which the book gets its title, he does not clearly convey his point. Matthew wrote somewhat enigmatically that some eunuchs became that way for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Roston interprets this, as most have throughout history, as a Christian endorsement of elective celibacy. Such celibacy, he says, is "a gift from God." Later in the same paragraph, he says that the triggering circumstances for choosing celibacy "are clear signs that something is wrong with you." This is possibly self-contradictory: in what sense can a sexual inclination, or lack thereof, be "wrong" and yet "a gift from God"? He may have intended a distinction between the inclination and its triggering circumstances but this is not clearly spelled out.

"The transsexual individual is a very brave human being," he says, noting that the high financial cost of male-to-female surgical transition makes it "virtually difficult." (No. It is actually difficult.) However, he doesn't really understand the difference between homosexuality and transsexuality, as evidenced by his flabbergasted, horrified, and dismissive reaction to the existence of someone who is both gay and transsexual. He also calls surgically constructed organs "fake" and says that people who do this "have not really achieved a sex change" yet then backtracks and says their sex should be "left to interpretation." (Great, just want they want.) He also doesn't understand the difference between a gay identity and MSM (men who have sex with men) behavior, as evident in his use of research conducted with urban MSM men in 1997 who reported high levels of drug and alcohol use.

Both gay and straight sex, he says, "is about self-gratification, nothing more, and nothing less." Most humans would quibble with this analysis. Earlier in the same paragraph he made the qualifying remark that "Sex is self-gratification when you identify yourself by the kind of sex you have, in my opinion," but the qualifier had dropped off by the end of the paragraph.

He confesses, "I personally don't know gay couples who have been together for long periods of time," invalidly concluding that "those sorts of relationships are far and few between."

He observes correctly that human bodies can react with physical signs of sexual arousal when they are touched sexually even without mental arousal. This is a "natural reaction," he says, even if one does "not willingly desire the response, but because we are shaped in iniquity, the law of sin and death causes our bodies to respond." This information should answer his own question about how some gay people report unenjoyable sex with members of the opposite sex, yet he claims not to understand how they are physically possible to go through with the act if they are genuinely gay.

He wonders why a Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census found that "only" 15 percent of reported gay relationships were at least twelve years old. That actually seems like it could be a high number. For comparison, a report called the "Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009" by Kreider and Ellis found that just over half of American married couples had reached at least their 15th wedding anniversary. The gay consumer survey about "relationships" wasn't even looking at people who claimed the stability of marriage; it was including people who were simply dating. It may also be relevant that a number of gay people who were in relationships over a decade or two ago sadly died in the AIDS epidemic. One might also consider that, the longer one is in a monogamous gay relationship, the more likely it is that one has tired of responding to online surveys about gay consumers.

It's unclear whether he thinks that sin, in general, is natural. In one instance he points out that all three of his children, as small toddlers, would falsely deny wetting their pants. He characterizes this as a "lie," which I'm not sure is fair to apply to small children, who have trouble with the boundary between reality and fantasy. In any case, his point is that people's default state is sin and we have to be educated into righteousness.

In another place, however, he implies that at least some sins are unnatural: "Mankind knows that certain things are not natural, like robbing a bank, raping children and women, homosexual sex, or pornography. Most people who indulge in these things have to use drugs, alcohol, or peer support to indulge in these behaviors." These are the "tormented" people; the remainder "absolutely hate GOD". Toward the very end of the book he finally clarifies that he's addressing gay people who already believe in God. (Would have been nice to know earlier.) Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he declares: "It is not normal to have to practice witchcraft in order to have sex." (He never even accused anyone of doing this.)

"However, our opinion isn't what matters in the lives of people," he says. Yes. Exactly why I've refrained from writing my own book.

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