Thursday, March 10, 2011

God loves Samaritans, too (and one more story about women)

Today on Facebook I followed a discussion thread about a church sign that said, "Regardless of what you may have heard, God loves gay people." One comment said the God of the New Testament may be love, but not the God of the Old Testament. Nosy person that I am I offered that it's the same God but in the NT He more fully demonstrates his universal love for all mankind.

We see something of that truth in the story about the Good Samaritan. The little-noticed preface to this story in chapter 10 is the quirky ending of chapter 9. Jesus sends messengers into a Samaritan village to make preparations to stay the night. When they are rudely turned away, James and John want to make like Elijah in II Kings chapter one and call down fire from heaven. There is at least a flimsy consistency to their proposal. But Jesus rebukes them, and the village is spared the First Century version of an air strike or a natural gas pipeline explosion. 

Later he tells the story of the Good Samaritan. The term has lost emotional currency to us, so for purposes of illustration we could call this person the Good Gay Man. Mosts Jews from Judah pretty much assumed that all Samaritans were "bad" and had nothing to do with them. And yet here is a Samaritan showing neighborly concern for a Jew in distress, in contrast to the apathy shown by his holier-than-thou co-religionists. It's really a scandalous story.

Jesus didn't approve Samaritan worship, which was idolatrous. Nor did he justify their habitual lack of hospitality towards Jewish pilgrims traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem. But he said, "treat people who are different from you with love and concern and humility. Treat them like they are your neighbors. Because in God's Kingdom, that's who they are."

Does God love gay people? Absolutely. Therefore, so do I. Are they my neighbors? Absolutely. So I will treat them (and everyone else) accordingly. To do so serves the cause of the universal New Testament gospel. 

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Luke is the only gospel to recount the popular story about busy Martha and devoted Mary. Just one more proof that Luke is the Gospel most concerned about, and probably most sourced by, women. 

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