Q. I have often wondered about eunuchs in the Bible, e.g the Ethiopian eunuch, and the eunuchs our Lord refers to in Matthew 19:12. Why are they eunuchs, and for what purpose(s)?
A. In ancient times it was believed that castrating a man took away his male aggressiveness and made him a more trustworthy servant to handle important matters for his master. According to tradition Daniel was made a eunuch before being appointed to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. Harem guards were castrated as well, for obvious reasons.
In Matt. 19:12 the Lord referred to those who are unable to be sexually active due to a birth defect, those who have been rendered incapable through castration, and those who voluntarily choose celibacy as examples of men who can accept the idea that its better for a man to stay single than to accept the risks of marriage.
Paul also wrote of this in 1 Cor. 7:32-35 where he applied the idea to women too. He said that having a spouse distracts from our ability to be fully committed to serving the Lord.