The Good Samaritan and a Hurting Culture: A #metoo reflection

There they lay, along the side of the dirt path, half dead. The road was known for being treacherous, and it was not uncommon for bandits to take advantage of vulnerable travelers, which was apparently what had happened to this individual. They were likely assaulted, robbed, and abandoned. This is the scene described by Jesus in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

As the narrative continues we learn that two people, a Levite and a Priest pass by the wounded traveler and avoid engagement. Maybe they were in a hurry and didn’t want to be inconvenienced, or maybe they didn’t want to contaminate themselves with something ritually unclean. Ultimately we don’t know the exact reason they crossed to the other side of the road, though there are many great interpretations. What we do know is that this was not neighborly love, which is sort of a big deal to Jesus.

After the first two travelers pass by on the other side, we’re then introduced to another character, a Samaritan. To Jesus’ audience this group of people would have been considered political, cultural, and religious enemies. As this unlikely character enters the scene they not only care for the abandoned traveler in that moment, but also offer substantial assistance for some time after.

As with most parables, their aim is to challenge and change their audience, and this is also true of the narrative crafted by Jesus here. What is the change and challenge that we should consider? First, we’re invited to consider how we often avoid the messiness of helping others and change our ways. Secondly, we’re challenged to be like the Good Samaritan by noticing the people on the side of the “roads” of our life and help them, even if it costs us.

In our world there are many areas where this challenge can be lived out, but there is one area that our collective culture has been wrestling with significantly in recent months: domestic abuse and sexual assault. For far too long those who have been hurt, abused, or assaulted have been silenced and abandoned.

Statistically one in three women and one in six men will experience some form of these two in their lifetimes. What makes this issue even worse is the reality that those who have lived through it are often forced into silence, not believed, or shamed into thinking it was some how their fault.

As people of faith who are striving to live into the ethics of Jesus, the Parable of the Good Samaritan speaks directly to how we should respond to those who’ve been hurt. We must learn to see the pain of survivors, believe their stories, and do our best to offer help, support, and solidarity. These issues are not isolated to any particular segment of culture and are tragically present with churches as well. This is most notably apparent of the past year as many individuals have bravely shared that they have been hurt in some way by sharing the hashtags #metoo and #churchtoo.

If you’ve been subject to sexual assault or domestic abuse, we want you to know that you are not alone. God is with you and there are many others who’ve been through this too. Abuse and assault are not ok. God is a God who defends and heals the vulnerable and also convicts and transforms those who’ve hurt others. Our hope and prayer is that God will continue to offer hope and transformation for our broken culture and that we will be like the Good Samaritan by standing in solidarity with our freinds and family who are hurting.

If you or some one who you know is going though a situation where there is abuse please check out the below resouces:

-Talk to some one (There are a few folks at Oak Life who’ve offered to talk to anyone who needs it)
-The Allender Podcast

-Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick

-Why He Does That by Lindy Bancroft