Monday, October 28, 2013

The Parable of the Gay Atheist

A family of dissheveled, unkempt individuals was stranded by the side of a major road on a Sunday morning. They were in obvious distress. The mother was sitting on a tattered suitcase, hair uncombed, all tattooed, clothes in disarray, with a glazed look to her eyes, holding a smelly, mostly naked, crying baby. The father was unshaved, dressed in coveralls, the look of despair as he tried to corral two other youngsters. Beside them was a run-down old car, steam coming out of it, obviously not getting them anywhere.

Down the road came a car driven by a prominent local pastor; he was on his way to church. And though the father of the family waved frantically, the pastor couldn't hold up all the people of his church, so he acted as if he didn't see them.

Soon came another car, and again the father waved furiously. But the car was driven by the president of the Kiwanis Club, and he was late for a statewide meeting of Kiwanis presidents in a nearby city. He too acted as if he didn't see them, and kept his eyes straight on the road ahead of him.

The next car that came by was driven by an outspoken local gay atheist, who had never been to church in his life. When he saw the family's distress, he took them into his own car. After inquiring as to their need, he took them to a local motel, where he paid for a week's lodging while the father found work. He also paid for the father to rent a car so that he could look for work and gave the mother cash for food and new clothes.

Ever heard this parable before? If you think you haven't, think again. It is a contemporary take of Jesus' parable of The Good Samaritan.

The original was written by professors Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart in their book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (p. 147). I updated it even more in parts to mirror our times.

What's the point in me sharing it? I have three:

  1. Know the point of The Good Samaritan: Have you ever known the real point of Jesus telling this story to the lawyer? Let me ask in this way: what did you feel after you read this? 
  2. Know how to tell good stories: I was reminded in the retelling of this how important it is for us to tell really good stories that cut to the heart of our lives. By our lives I mean the lives we live today. We must exposit the text and bring readers back to the original context, but if we don't make the point relevant to today and the stories of today, no ear will be able to hear.
  3. Know your own heart: Jesus' parables are just as much for you and me today as they were for the original audience. If you're still checking your heart in this, Fee & Stuart help make it clear for you and me: 
The second great commandment is to love one's neighbor as oneself. The lawyer had neat little systems that allowed him to love within limits. What Jesus does is to expose the prejudice and hatred of his [the lawyer's] heart, and therefore his real lack of obedience to this commandment. 'Neighbor' can no longer be defined in limiting terms. His lack of love is not that he will not have helped the man in the ditch, but that he hates Samaritans  (and looks down on priests). In effect, the parable destroys the question rather than answering it.

Who is your Samaritan? May we always be searching our hearts, repenting of the hatred that resides, loving with a love that can only come from God Himself.

By His Grace.


  1. Hi, my name is Mike and I am currently working on a book called, 'How to Debate Atheists.' I have completed the first three chapters and would appreciate any feedback.

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