Love LGBT People As You Love Yourself or A Modern Day Good Samaritan

Christianity affirms the intrinsic goodness of creation and the essential goodness of man made in the image and likeness of God.  These are bedrock beliefs with far reaching implications.  In the realm of ethics and civil law these presuppositions  provide the only viable foundation upon which to build a case for civil rights and human dignity.  From a theological standpoint, they provide the context necessary for understanding Jesus’ profound summation of the Mosaic Law found in St. Matthew’s Gospel:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

But exactly who is your neighbor?  A lawyer, who desired to “justify himself” once asked our Lord a similar question.  Jesus’ response was to tell a story–a provocative story that is known today as the Parable of the Good Samaritan (see Luke10:29-37).

Sadly, this parable is no longer shocking; as it most certainly was to its original audience.  Frankly, it’s become rather trite–reduced to that of a charming bedtime story for children (or a slapstick musical comedy if you prefer the Veggie Tales version).  I feel quite comfortable saying the beloved parable hardly evokes the following emotions within the soul of today’s average reader:  conviction, disgust, anger, confusion, regret, sadness, empathy, or shock.  Yet this story is a fire starter!  It should turn your world upside down; it should force you to re-examine your life; it should pierce your heart, shatter your pride, and cause you to question your very standing before God.  But, for most of us, it doesn’t.

One way this is evidenced is by our general lethargy concerning the plight of the LGBT community.  In between sermons in which the pastor passionately proclaims in a bright red face that, “homosexuality is an ABOMINATION,” or attending a protest against same-sex marriage, Christians are often entirely indifferent to the emotional struggles of LGBT children who have taken their own lives due to bullying.  We sometimes yawn when we hear about the violent, and downright disgusting, mistreatment of LGBT people in Russia and other countries around the world.  Our general disinterest in the suffering of the LGBT community stands in direct opposition to the parable which seeks to explain the second commandment that is like the first.  More specifically, our behavior is discordant with the Christian principle that human beings have intrinsic dignity, value, and worth because they are made in the image and likeness of God.

Perhaps if we retold the story–taking our current mental environment into account–we might, once again, be shocked out of our self-righteous stupor?  Thus, I ask again:  who is your neighbor?

Let me tell you a story . . .

“A man was walking home from the office one night when a couple of young gang initiates pulled him into an ally, stabbed him, emptied his pockets, and left him for dead.  Now by chance a well respected pastor from a local mega-church was going down the road; and when he saw him in the ally he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a beloved seminary professor, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a successful gay business man, as he journeyed home that night, came to where he was; and when he saw him he had compassion.  He immediately went to him and, seeing that his injury was potentially fatal, bound up his wound using a piece of fabric torn from his own shirt.  He carried him out of the ally into the light of the street lamp, pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911.  As he awaited the arrival of the ambulance he held the man tight and spoke words of encouragement to him.  Later, he followed him to the hospital and remained there until the doctors assured him he would pull through.  It was then that he discovered the victim of this heinous crime only worked part-time and did not have medical insurance.  So he made arrangements to pay off the gentleman’s hospital debt himself.”

Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?

12 thoughts on “Love LGBT People As You Love Yourself or A Modern Day Good Samaritan

  1. The businessman was the neighbor. Modernizing the example however, has left out this nuance: is it a sin to be a Samaritan? No. Pursuing/indulging homosexual lusts, however, is. We would still have to tell the person to leave their life of sin even when we tend to their wounds / provide care for their wounds in place of stoning them to death.

    John 8:11 (NIV)

    “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

    Luke 13:2-5 (NIV)

    2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

  2. The issue of homosexuality has been a difficult one for me to navigate. While we absolutely need to love our neighbor, we also need to speak the truth in love. We need to call out all sin for what it is and what it will lead to, spiritual death. An eternity in hell, separated from God. If we truly love our neighbor we will warn them of this. While many ‘Christians’ seem to be harsh on this one sin and favor others, we can’t allow the message of repentance to leave our lips. Jesus calls all to repent and live holy, for without this no-one will see the Lord. It seems you care about people, and that is very important, but don’t forget the first part of the greatest commandment, love the Lord your God with all of you. Jesus explains how we can know we love Him, if we obey Him.

    God bless

    1. Thank you for your comment and for your emphasis on the first and greatest commandment. What fascinates me is how often we overlook the fact that to truly love the Lord we must love our brother: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen , how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)

      To obey Christ is to follow the commandments, which is quite simply to love our neighbor. As St. Paul states, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,”You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).

      We must speak the truth in love and it is impossible for us to speak the truth about human nature, gender, and sexuality, if we are not loving the LGBT community. This means standing strongly against bullying, discrimination, and any form of abuse directed at them.

      1. I agree we should stand up against bullying and even strongly. But we must just as strongly preach a message of repentance, and that message may seem intolerant or judgmental. My problem isn’t speaking out against homosexuality. It is harshly condemning someone, and doing so when the person is living in their own personal sin, like sex outside of marriage, drunkenness, viewing pornography, slandering etc. If we personally know the depths of our own sin, we will first allow Christ to cleanse us of it, and then we can help others to get free as well. The only issue I had with your original post was that you did not clarify that homosexuality is a sin and will send an unrepentant person to hell. If we do not tell that part of the story we could be guilty of their blood as stated in Ezekiel. True love will tell the truth about all sin.

      2. trustyehua, there is a process and a priority list that should be followed when confronting those that are openly sinning, if they are of the world your first concern is to get them to accept Christ, if they refuse , let them go, their sin is on their head. If they are in the Church then confront them gently, if they refuse to listen then your obligation is fulfilled. If asked by an unbeliever if homosexuality is a sin you should answer truthfully, yet confronting them with their sin if they do not want to hear about it will push them away from the Church very quickly and in some places make you guilty of violating the laws of the land governing hate speech.

      3. Christianity affirms the intrinsic goodness of creation and the essential goodness of man made in the image and likeness of God. These are bedrock beliefs with far reaching implications. In the realm of ethics and civil law these presuppositions provide the only viable foundation upon which to build a case for civil rights and human dignity. (Matthan) Christianity affirms the intrinsic goodness of creation and the re-created man. Man that is not born again is depraved.God was in Christ reconciling the world to Him, but until a person accepts the grace of God, He/she is lost. If we start with the presupposition that man is good, where is the need for repentance and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Man without God can do good works inspired by the teachings of the great philosophers and for ulterior motives for personal interest, but that does not make him intrinsically good.. What was the motive that the first two passed by and the gay businessman stopped. Any analogy eventually breaks down, but you have given us an excellent prolegomena in wrestling with the LGBT issue and the modern church’s refusal to love them as Christ did.

      4. Hey Ben, thank you for your comment! I think you are confusing two very important concepts: ontological goodness and moral goodness. When I stated Christianity affirms the essential goodness of man I meant this to be taken in an ontological sense. Namely, I was making a statement about what it means to be man (i.e. the nature of manness). To be a man (and I use this term in its universal sense; designating both male and female) is to be made in the image of God. This is what fundamentally distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom. To say that man is essentially good is not the same as claiming he is morally good. Man might be capable of doing good things but, as you pointed out, he is morally reprehensible and depraved. In other words, man chooses to act against his own nature (he misses the mark to use St. Paul’s terminology). Sin is a depravation of good; a degradation of the image of God in man; not a substance. We must start with the presupposition that man is essentially good or we have no grounds for believing God loves mankind, for believing that every man has intrinsic value and dignity, and no foundation for basic civil rights.

  3. I have heard another interpretation of this story – that the priest and levite avoided the dying man due to their greater concern with keeping the (old) Law ( This interpretation frames the parable as a commentary on the inadequacy of the Law itself – just recently ‘simplified’ by Jesus. How might your modern paraphrase change to include this approach, if it would in fact change? Are our actions towards each other bound up so rigidly anymore that we have gained all accountability now?

    1. Hey Jameel, my dear brother, thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate you bringing this aspect of the parable to the table. I’m not sure if it would radically change my “modern retelling” or not? I think Jesus is certainly trying to emphasize the “spirit” of the old law by pointing out that love for neighbor is its foundation. “If I have prophetic powers, ” says St. Paul, “and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). St. Paul seems to be making this point a lot as well in his critique of the “old law”. Jesus illustrates this point in the original parable so dramatically by making the “hero” – the man truly showing love to his neighbor – someone the Jews considered a heretic and a sinner. I think my retelling can maintain some of the interpretation you’re bringing up (although, it admittedly lacks the Jewish cultural context so important to the original) . . . okay, I’m rambling now 🙂

  4. Geia xara!!!Hmoun anamesa stous 5 Ellines pou phsavretairen stin Amversa. Telika ekproswntas tin xwra mas imastan mono 2 athlites.Monadiki empeiria 🙂

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