…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Walked Around

Who Are My Neighbors?

By Rex Goode


The Good Samaritan

After reading something on a mailing list to which I belong about the parable of the Good Samaritan, I brought up some discussions among friends in my life who struggle with same-sex attraction. The original idea that made me think about some of these things was a question about who some of the players in the parable might be in our modern day. The discussions, both on the mailing list and in person have had me thinking for several days.

It became kind of a substitution game. First, let me present to you the parable from the King James Version of the Bible:

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt alive.

But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

And Jesus answering said, 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 neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise (Luke 10:25–37).

There are many interpretations in this parable. I have heard it analyzed with Jesus as Samaritan, the victim, or the innkeeper. My purpose here isn’t to analyze it in this way. Whatever meaning Jesus had as it might refer to himself is only one way to look at the parable. I like to look at parables in the context of what they may teach me about myself.

I do this by thinking of myself in the various roles. The roles in this parable are the victim, the thieves, the Levite, the priest, the Good Samaritan, and the innkeeper.

I will eliminate the thieves from my considerations right away. To me, they represent the myriad of uninvited trials that may come upon us. I have never thought of this victim of having brought upon himself his trouble by traveling through dangerous paths. Remember that the Samaritan, Levite, and priest all also traveled that road. One of the saddest things I ever heard in church was a person in Sunday School who said the victim brought it on himself by being where he was. While I agree that it is best to stay out of places where trouble can be found, sometimes the way from one point to another lies through risky places.

I will also exclude from my analysis most speculation of in what ways I may be like the innkeeper.  Suffice it to say that as a social worker, I get paid to take care of people. I don’t, however, get an offer that I will get compensated for my expenses.

If you accept, as I do, that the Levite and priest can be likened to members of the Church today, that leaves only the victim and the Good Samaritan.

Who are some of the people that we tend to want to walk around today? As a skills trainer for developmentally disabled adults, I see people walking around my clients all the time. They stare too. People walk around the homeless as well. We walk around the mentally ill. We avoid having conversations about things like depression.

In my experience, in the Church locally where I live, we walk around people who deal with same-sex attraction. I’m talking about something here completely separate from what we understand as true doctrine around sexuality and marriage. We walk around the whole subject of homosexuality as if there is no point in addressing it here, because it must be so rare among Latter-day Saints that it isn’t worth giving our attention. I don’t think this is justified by our doctrine, but is thoroughly part of our culture.

I know that there are among us many who deal with same-sex attraction. Whether we are talking about those, like me, who have chosen a life consistent with the teachings of the Church or those, like some of my friends, who do not accept those teachings, including those who have never heard those teachings. All of us have found ourselves wounded and walked around by those who might have provided some comfort or friendship. The stories of abandonment, disowning, rejection, and even violence are heartbreaking.

The Samaritans were a people equally disenfranchised among the prevailing culture in Israel. Their religion, like their lineage, was a mixture of the Jewish and the pagan. They were deeply hated and resented by the Jews.

The point made by Jesus by using a Samaritan as the benefactor is profound. Service is service and a neighbor is one who serves. I love the teachings of Mormon in the seventh chapter. He teaches us that men who do good do so from a good heart and that it comes from God. Jesus showed the young lawyer that good men can come from the must surprising of places.

This is why I like a different interpretation and substitution in analyzing the parable of the Good Samaritan. Instead of switching the beaten man with people who have homosexual tendencies, make such people the Good Samaritan.

I just have never really appreciated or liked operating from a victim mentality. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I have my trials, not the least of which is being a man who deals with same-sex attraction in a Church whose teachings don’t include me acting on those attractions. Nevertheless, as hard as that may sometimes be for me, I don’t feel victimized by it. I have enough faith in God that I can give up things to be faithful to what He asks. Mormon said that when evil men do good, they do it grudgingly (Mormon 7:8).

Some people will stare blankly at the following statement, but I mean it sincerely. For me, same-sex attraction is not a liability. It is an asset.

I guess I tend to think of us as being much better people than we are given credit for. The Samaritans were the outcasts in old Israel. They were the ones accused of not being faithful members of the house of Israel. They were the ones looked down upon. However, when it came to compassion, the Good Samaritan of the parable did outshine the charity of the orthodox among the Jews. The Good Samaritan had probably many times been the recipient of the disdain and intolerance of the Jews, maybe even men like the one he aided. When it came to where the sandal hits the road, he was the one who showed compassion, probably because he knew what it felt like to be walked around.

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4 Responses to “Walked Around”

  1. Steve said:

    Great post Rex. I appreciate the new perspective it brings to the parable.

  2. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks, Steve.

  3. Eric said:

    Thanks for sharing this Rex. I really appreciate your insight.

  4. Jonathan Langford said:

    I like. I think the goal for all of us must be to be the Samaritan. (Indeed, part of the “twist” of the original parable, I suspect, was to force the listeners to take a positive example from someone they were inclined to despise.)

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