Luke 10: 30-37 Paraphrased For 21st Century America [update]

Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was ambushed by robbers who  stripped him of his clothes, beat him, and left him half dead.  A best selling Christian author happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.  So did a popular talk show host; when he came to the place and saw him, he passed by on the other side.  But when a homosexual saw the man, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, applying antiseptics.  Then he put the man in his car, took him to a hospital, and put the bill on his credit card, telling the hospital, 'Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?

"Go and do likewise."

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(this link added Aug.8, 2010)

Shortly after I originally posted the above, I received this e-mail from “Bobby Winter”[1], a pastor I know, over my Good Samaritan paraphrase:

Why don't you insert 'pedophile' or 'murderer' or 'rapist' or 'bomb-wearing suicide bomber' or 'Adolph Hitler' in place of Samaritan?

I think you are missing the unique relationship of Samaritans to Jews in Jesus' day - the Jews did not consider the Samaritans inferior to them spiritually because of their 'actions' but because of their historical lineage (they had intermarried with local non-Jews and had split away from Judah and Jerusalem when Solomon died)

Be careful - a good paraphrase helps people grasp the truths of scripture (just look at The Message by Eugene Peterson) - but you can't substitute just any old 'unpopular type of character or nationality' when you come to an ancient people group in Scripture

I will grant you that some homosexuals today exhibit great kindness toward others and do love others as Jesus has commanded all of us to do - at times they may even be more loving and 'Godly' than Bible-toting, church-attending born-again-types

But our righteousness is not dependent on OUR actions but on our faith in JESUS' action - and Jesus invites all of humanity to confess our sins and repent (or turn away from them) - certainly many of us fail at doing that, but we nonetheless admit that we need to be turning away from what it is that we are doing that is wrong - if a person sins but will not admit that what they are doing is sinful nor will they turn away from doing what is sinful, it will hamper their relationship with God - there is no sinful behavior that can break off our relationship with God, but it can certainly weaken it

My response:

I selected “homosexual” as my Samaritan substitute for a number of reasons.  For one thing, it’s a passive descriptor:  It refers to their sexual orientation, not what they might/might not be doing (as opposed to “practicing homosexual”[2]).

It’s also a group that is defined not through any conscious choice they have made.  Whatever the cause of homosexual orientation, it does not appear to be the result of someone making a deliberate decision based on a rational comparison of the pros and cons of being gay.

Conversely, one has to make a conscious choice to become a murderer or a rapist.  Further, homosexual behavior has no direct impact on anyone other than the people engaging in the activity, whereas murder, rape, and suicide-bombing's whole intent is to have an impact -- a horrible, painful, eternal, tragic impact.

An active pedophile definitely has a negative impact on others, but a person who has the inclination but makes a moral choice to avoid the behavior is harmless.  Likewise Adolf Hitler sure couldn’t avoid being born Adolf Hitler, but it was his choice to march on Stalingrad.

I selected “homosexual” as opposed to “gay” because I wanted a more formal, more clinical neutral descriptor.  “Gay” carries a certain lifestyle implication; exaggerated comparisons would be “cholo” to “Hispanic” or “cracker” to “Southerner” or “narcissist” to “Los Angelino”.  As Samaritans were judged by the Jews not for what they did but for who they were, I felt homosexuals were also judged negatively by many people as a group, not for any specific behavior.

Homosexuals may not be an ethnic group, but unlike other groups, homosexuals find animosity to them transcends race/color/class/religious barriers:  They will find people who don’t like ‘em in every other group.  As such, it makes them more a better, more universal substitute for my paraphrase than other group.

At the risk of making what may sound like a sophomoric argument[3], it could be pointed out that we humans do need to take an action in order to obtain salvation:  We must choose to accept Christ as our savior and make a conscious choice to live in as Christ-like a manner as possible.

And as “Bobby Winter” points out above, we should be extremely cautious about saying a practicing sinner of any stripe is not assured of Christ’s salvation.  This is not to give a blank check for every sin and shortcoming, but (a) if all sins are equal in the eyes of God then (b) you[4] better be blessed well perfect before you accuse anyone else of not being a genuine Christian just because their sin of preference is different from yours.

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[1]  Pseudonym requested

[2]  Which I presume means they haven’t gotten it right yet.

[3]  Like this ever slowed me down in the past…

[4] Rhetorical

Thinkage [re-post]

Buzz Dixon Spent The Day Cruelly Abusing Teenage Girls [update]