A Parable For Our Time
by S M Chen
by S M Chen
submitted October 22, 2014
Based on Luke10:30-37; Matthew 25:41-45
“A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him.
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow, when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, ‘Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, ‘He that showed mercy on him.’ Then said Jesus unto him, ‘Go, and do thou likewise.’”
“Then shall the King say also unto them on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed…’”
But the priest protesteth, ‘Lord, when I looked upon the man, I could see that he was not like unto one of us, but was a sinner, who preferred his own kind. I knew that he was not destined for the kingdom. So I passed him by.’
Whereupon the King saith, ‘Who made you to be judge over man? If thou thoughtst this man would not inherit the kingdom, all the more thou shouldst have shown mercy and kindness, because, for this man, the only heaven he might know wouldst be on earth.’
And the Levite, not knowing what the priest before him had said, also protesteth, ‘Lord, the man must have been a sinner. Otherwise, why wouldst he have been attacked? The Lord protecteth His own, doth He not? And from the way he dresseth, his appearance to your servant was unnatural, and unbecoming to that of a man. I could not risk being defiled by such a one as he.’
The King saith, ‘Thou likewise art guilty. For what was the second greatest commandment given unto thee by My Son?’
The Levite replieth, ‘To love my neighbor as myself.’
‘And didst thou do that?’ asketh the King. ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.
I don’t pretend to understand homosexuality, or some other forms of alternative sexuality, for that matter. And what we don’t understand, we often fear. Holy Writ tells us that perfect love casts out fear. Might imperfect love do the same, or something similar?
I admit to being somewhat homophobic in the past, this trait in no way diminished by being accosted once in a restaurant restroom by a fellow who reminded me of Liberace in both demeanor and dress.
Then, through serendipity, by virtue of friendship with a hospice nurse, who home-visited men dying of AIDS, I had occasion to become acquainted with some of her patients. Some were intelligent, perceptive, sensitive, and gentle. One I would never have suspected as being gay. He was a writer and his rugged good looks reminded me of a slender Rock Hudson. He observed, more a statement than a question, ‘Do you think that, in a society such as we live in, I would choose this lifestyle?’ He wasn’t even in a relationship at that time, but it didn’t matter; he had become HIV+ from the past, and his Kaposi’s sarcoma was a grim visual reminder of the ineluctability of Galatians 6:7.
I know what Holy Writ says about homosexuality. I have also come to believe that, for at least some, sexual orientation is genetically predetermined. Regardless of the cause (which may well be, in some cases, mulifactorial), the response that would seem most acceptable, to society in general and its (oft self-appointed) guardians of virtue in particular, is celibacy. But is it fair to demand that?
Homosexuality, like the leprosy of olden times, is no respecter of persons.
The life and teachings of Jesus provide no example of His interaction with individuals of alternative sexuality.
We do know, however, how Christ related to those marginalized by society and the pious—women of ill repute, tax collectors, publicans, lepers, the halt and the lame. He treated them with dignity and respect. And love and healing.
Being sinless, He had the moral authority to say, “Go, and sin no more.” I lack that authority, but can still love those whom I am quite sure He would have loved, or would love today, did He live among us.
We are told angels walk among us. Who is to say what outward form those angels take? To me it is more probable that they would be the less socially desirable than the converse.
The writer Kurt Vonnegut admonished us to stay soft. Not to harden our hearts, which makes us impervious to the promptings of the Comforter.
Being human, I know I will err. I would rather err on the side of mercy than justice. Why? One of the Beatitudes concerns mercy. None concerns justice. We are told not to judge. That is God’s business.
In His parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ did not say why the priest and the Levite avoided the wounded traveler. In my version, I posit a reason that I consider plausible.
With apologies to Lord Chichester, if I cannot see Him more clearly, I yet wish to love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly.
For love represents the distillation of God’s relationship to man, from the beginning.