The Good Muslim

Once a theologian asked Jesus what he had to do to experience the fullness of the gospel.

Jesus said to him, “You are an expert on the Bible. What does the bible say is the most important thing?”

The theologian quoted Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus replied, “That is correct. If you truly do this, you will know infinite life.”

However, the theologian wanted to be sure that he was being a good Christian, so he asked Jesus to describe ‘Loving your neighbor.’

Jesus looked at him, and told this story:

“Once, a 16 year old transgender girl came out to her parents. She came downstairs in a dress, and told them that her name wasn’t Mike any more—she wanted to be called Michelle. Her parents were incensed. They threw her out of their house with nothing but the dress she was wearing, and cut her off completely. None of her friends’ parents would even let her in the door either. The local church wanted to have nothing to do with her. With no other recourse she began sleeping in the park, and holding up a cardboard sign at a busy intersection—begging for money for food.

This went on for weeks. One day a pastor drove by Michelle. He saw a dirty boy in a dirty dress begging for money, and he shook his head at how twisted the world had become. The next day a bible scholar drove by Michelle. He said to himself that if that kid only really knew the word of God he’d never have ended up on a corner.

Later a young Muslim man was stopped at Michelle’s stoplight, and saw her. When he looked at her he saw the fear, and the pain, and the hunger, and he felt sorrow for the suffering of a fellow human being. So, he pulled over, and got out of his car. He asked her name, and took her to get a hot meal. She was running a fever, so he took her to the doctor, and paid her bill. During that time he heard her story, and discovered that she had been sleeping in the park, and had nowhere to go. He went to the bank, made a withdraw from his savings, he bought her some clothes, and rented her an apartment. Then he spent the next two weeks helping Michelle find a job.”

Jesus asked the theologian, “Which of these three, do you think was loving to their neighbor?”

The theologian answered, “The one who showed mercy.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

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13 thoughts on “The Good Muslim

    1. Actually, I had a fairly clear agenda in mind when writing this. You see I was lying in bed one night and couldn’t get The Good Samaritan story out of my head. I was trying my best to find the current cultural analogues of the story. Samaritans were a competing religion with the Second Temple Judaism that the contemporary Jewish culture saw as an enemy. About the closest thing we have in the US today is Islam, though Islam might even be a little weak to how Jesus’ audience may have felt about Samaritans. The Theologian, Pastor, and Bible scholar are direct enough that I don’t think they need defending. The Trans girl, however might. The man attacked by robbers and left by the road I feel has three major aspects that Jesus was drawing on: first, someone who was helpless and vulnerable, secondly, they were made so by systemic failures of society (unsafe travel conditions, and a land that produces banditry), and finally someone who was inconvenient, and unclean to aid. There are more than one way this could have been taken, it could have been a prostitute, or an addict, or several others. However the trans kid stood out to me because trans homelessness is an ignored epidemic in the US today, and to mainstream evangelical sensibilities in the US they hold an air of uncleanness. My agenda was to reflect the feel and impact the original parable would have had on the original audience.

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  1. A family member posted this article on our family Facebook page. I had prepared a response to them and it was suggested to me that it might better be sent to the writer of the piece rather than the niece who shared the link. What follows is an unedited version of the response that I may still post to my family:

    There is a real irony present here in this blog post. The message is clear. The writer has shuffled the deck, as it were, to place Christians in the place of the most reviled characters of the Good Samaritan story- the priest and the Levite. In Jesus’ parable there is the waylaid traveler who is morally inert, nothing is said of his character or situation. This character is treated as a blank canvas, where the writer places the new modern figment of imagination, a transgendered youth. That is, a young lady who has rejected her physical body, the name her loving family has given her, and all sense in leaving a home where people have loved her enough to keep her fed, only to be reciprocally rejected by her father. The story is meant to vilify and shame Christians of course, for their love of God and the His words in the Bible. The writer has to pick a passage like the Good Samaritan and stretch it beyond recognition in order to make that point.
    The parable was told to an expert in the law who had originally asked about how to “inherit the kingdom of heaven”, how to be saved basically. Jesus’ presses for his understanding of the law. Love the lord your God with all your heart,mind, soul, strength and love your neighbour as yourself. Keep two laws? Done. No need for anyone to go dying on a cross if we can obey those two laws! ….
    The problem is of course, that I can’t keep those two simple laws, and neither can you, and neither could the expert in the law. None of us wants to be convinced of our own failures however, not least a law expert! In order to justify himself, he has to change the laws of God, to make himself look good. He figures he is a good enough person, depending on the definition of neighbour. If neighbour means some one of your friends then yes, he has fulfilled the law, and may walk free and clear into the kingdom of heaven without the nonsense of having a perfect human being killed in his place. It is at this point that Jesus tells a parable, a totally fictitious story to show that your neighbour includes everyone including hated enemies.
    Where does the irony come in? It comes in the fact that the blog writer is using Jesus’ parable about loving your neighbour to launch a general accusation that Christians are being hateful. In order to justify himself, the blog writer has to completely change the parable told by Jesus. The writer has to completely ignore the purpose of parables which was, as Jesus explained, to hide the truth from some people as much as it was meant to reveal the truth others. The writer has to completely disregard the context of the parable of the Good Samaritan which was to reset back to the impossibly high standard of God’s laws required for salvation. He is seeking to justify himself; he might see himself as tolerant of all kinds of sexual expressions and religions and so might paint himself as a Good Samaritan against a backdrop of Christians who read the entire Bible and cannot uncritically support moral choices that flout God’s laws and intentions. And this is taken as hate, I suppose.
    In another irony, placing Christians in the role of the priest and Levite has lethal problems to the parable. Christians are people who know that they cannot keep God’s laws and have come to rely on Jesus death and resurrection on the cross. They have accepted the scriptures that Christ accepted and the writings of the apostles whom Christ picked to spread the good news. If Christians were in the position of the priest and Levite here, the story would implode. Jesus would be saying in effect, ‘Follow my words and leading, and you will disobey God’s commands!’ It is absurd to place Christians in the place of priest and Levite in the story. However, there are plenty of warnings about false believers, false teachers, and false prophets and these would easily fit into the category of the priest and Levite in the story. The behaviour of false believers is described variously, but certainly, when false believers are handling passages like the Good Samaritan which is a parable meant to hide and reveal truth, “the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” 2 Pet. 3:16. In changing the parable and in particular putting Christ followers in the position of the priest and Levite the blogger has clearly placed himself in the place of the law expert, doomed to fully and completely obey God’s laws to know salvation. I don’t think that it’s worth any such risk, just to serve the purposes of an ideological ax grind.
    I find this blog post disturbing in its intolerance. And I do not understand why the blog should be posted on our family page where we have wonderful examples of Christians who have, for decades, loved God first and also have been loving people with whom they most certainly would disagree. No one is perfect in love, or even close to God’s standards, but thank God that he has provided the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus Christ killed in the place of those who love him and risen from death to life.

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    1. Heya Jeremy, I hope you don’t mind if I offer some reactions to your reactions. I thought your thoughts on this piece were really revealing of some of the dynamics which seem to so often polarize folks these days and thought this might be a good forum to see if we can address them.
      Let me say from the outset that I totally disagree with your assessment of this retelling of the parable and of what Jesus was doing with the original parable of the good Samaritan.
      What struck me most when I read through your comment though, was the way you seem to have misread the original piece, it is almost as though your mind inserted and changed the narrative in some really telling ways. I noticed that you characterized the series of events which led Michelle to become homeless as follows:

      “That is, a young lady who has rejected her physical body, the name her loving family has given her, and all sense in leaving a home where people have loved her enough to keep her fed, only to be reciprocally rejected by her father.”

      but that is not what happened in the narrative. If you re-read it, you will see that Michelle came downstairs to her family, announced her new name and explained her gender identity and was then was thrown out of the house with nothing but the clothes on her back by and “incensed” there is absolutely no indication in the text that she left voluntarily or that her family was loving in any way. As a father myself, I can assure you that kicking a 16 year old child out of the house is not the act of a loving family. What I find particularly revealing is the fact that you seem to assume that the family which kicks Michelle out, is a Christian family despite the fact that there is also no indication of that in the text itself. This gives the impression that you are feeling pretty defensive about Christians and the way we have related to transgender children and teens in the recent past.

      I am also intrigued by your assertion (you never provide any evidence for it) that the story was written to vilify and shame Christians. Clearly you are committed enough to that proposition that you felt the need to include it, despite (apparently) not having any evidence to support it (and given that the whole piece is written as a story told by Jesus, it would seem hard to support). And that leads me to wonder why you find it so, and whether you might not be experiencing some shame around the way you may have treated a transgender person in the past. Of course I cannot know whether that is the case (maybe this is all a simple instance of you having misread a portion of the text) but your defensiveness and attempts to justify people who would throw a 16 year old child onto the streets is certainly suggestive.

      I also wonder whether your reaction might not be as extreme as it is because you have an odd interpretation of what Jesus was doing with the original parable. When you argue that it would be inappropriate to cast Christians in the place of the priest and Levite in the original story, you seem to be missing the fact that they represented the “good bible followers” of their own day. Remember that the point Jesus is making is all to do with the primacy of love and what love looks like in action. You may also be forgetting that touching blood and a (potentially) dead body would have had the effect of making a priest of Levite “unclean”—a neat parallel to the objections made by the bible scholar and pastor in this piece.

      I would suggest (based on what you have written here) that you are confusing your interpretation of the Bible’s rules with an active love of Jesus and of other people. The result is that you seem to have entered into a space where you are experiencing rather extreme cognitive dissonance between the characters’ clearly unloving treatment of Michelle and Jesus clear command to love people. I am sorry to break it to you, but rejecting this story is not going to resolve that cognitive dissonance for you. The fact is that we are called to show real love to all persons and that the way the church has been treating transgender individuals are utterly incompatible.

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      1. Bill, Thanks for your response here. I’ve tried to write a more thorough response to you but there is too much to straighten out in what you are saying. I am not a Good Samaritan. The love that have to give will go to my wife and son and parents and family. It will go to my church family and then to everyone else. Pretty much in that order. My failures to love the first few on this list are enough for me to worry about for now. I am not too worried about being accused of failure to love made-up characters pulled and twisted from Jesus made-up parable; these characters who foist made-up sexual identities on to their physical biology. Am I to lose sleep because I don’t feel guilt when I read a blog post fiction? There’s no disconnect here.
        If you have a problem with an individual you should be more specific in your accusation and place it directly. If you want to accuse the entire church of misbehaviour you should be aware that groups are made of individuals and blanket condemnations like this have very little value to anyone including yourself. If you want to fish around for reasons why I, personally, might be someone who deserves your contempt —because I fail to meet your moral law – by all accounts you will find something. But you are not the Judge and there is no jury, so insinuate all you want.. it doesn’t mean much. My standing with God does not depend on my incapacity to fulfill God’s laws. I trust in the death and resurrection of Christ the Saviour, and his love for me. I will not post again. Have the last word. Take care all.

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  2. But their Identities aren’t made up. It’s who they are, there bodies don’t conform to who their minds and hormones (and sometimes even genes!) really are. And they are being killed because of people like you that don’t even try to understand because it doesn’t fit into your nice neat little boxes

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    1. Monica (I am assuming that is your name) and others, I was not intending to comment again, but considering the accusations you have made with scant attention to any of the ideas being expressed, I thought I might offer a response. You are accusing me, (and people who agree with me), of ignorance, violence, and simplicity. You pack a lot in to a few lines here, but all are revealing. I would have responded earlier but I am a parent and I work and both of those make greater demands on me than cleaning up messes on the internet. As it turns out, this blog has the attention of some members of my family so I will respond to what you have said here, with that in mind as well.
      1. Transgenderism is not believable. If such a person existed that is capable of self-reproduction, I’m sure there would be something to talk about. There is not such a person. Such people do not exist. The idea of transgendered individual, made so with a declaration, makes no sense. It has serious problems in biology, science piles up against it. It has problems philosophically, psychologically, socially. In the face of these problems, do you actually expect to convince everyone that gender can just be declared and that has more value than biological function? You won’t convince everyone. Not without the bullying tactics that drives the revolution – silencing critics, shaming those who disagree with you, political and corporate pressure, bullying and vitriolic hatred. I do have to admit that the bullying and shaming has largely been effective.
      2. ‘Transgendered’ is an empty classification. It is meaningless. There is no definition of what it even means to be transgendered, except that it is a claim to be made. When people claim they are fat and refuse to eat or throw up what they do eat, their claims of being fat are not to be believed. When people are on the tops of buildings thinking they can fly, their claims are not to be believed. When people have functioning male parts, an absence of biologically functioning female parts, yet declare themselves to be transgendered, it makes no sense to believe them. A transgendered youth is a little bit like a unicorn. Sure there are plenty of people who wish unicorns would exist, but until the physical evidence comes in, unicorns are better left for fantasy. The logic of your comment suggests that people that who don’t believe in unicorns are responsible for the murder of unicorns? George W. Bush roused the bloodthirsty Americans to support another Iraq war, claiming the existence of WMDs. Without WMDs there was little case for war; the failure to find WMDs should have made Bush a war criminal. The LGBT revolutionaries have generally made war on anyone who stands in their way, and anyone not supporting their fabled unicorns, WMDs, or the dubious biological claims of transgenderism will certainly get accused of not only being unloving but also murderous as you have done here. I don’t believe in leprechauns or unicorns. I never believed in the claims that WMDs existed. And I don’t believe that declaring your gender without the defining reference of sexual reproductive biology is a good idea for anyone including yourself. Americans that didn’t support the war were cast as unpatriotic, but the fact is, making war for false pretences ensured that the troops performed the job of thugs and murderers on a global scale. LGBT heroes are tearing down much and building up little, but the revolution will not end well without the physical science backing it up. We are not talking about love here. This whole issue is about truth. It is never loving to lie to someone, or to believe someone else’s lies. Patriots do not support murder. The most loving thing to do is to talk truth. Rational and good people do not believe in fantasy and lies. Of course, there is no living person so rational, good, or loving to make a real difference in this world. The goodness is in Jesus Christ alone.
      3. The intent of this blog article is not to balance the way the church thinks of loving their neighbour. The intent of Aaron Brooks in rewriting this Bible passage is to accuse. I have already argued that the writer has ignored just about everything important in the passage in Luke to make a point that is completely foreign to the purpose and meaning of Luke. And not only to Luke but to the consistent message of the Bible from the first few chapters all through the books of Moses, the wisdom literature, the prophets, all the other messages of Jesus in the gospels and the letters of Paul and others in the new testament. There is nothing to support the accusation that Aaron wishes to make, therefore Jesus’ parable is unfairly used to make this accusation.
      4. If Aaron wrote this story to encourage love between enemies, he would certainly not have thought to approve of your comment by ‘liking’ it. Monica does not know me. All that is known is that we disagree about the nature of fictional characters in a story and in life. Yet that is all that she needed to condemn my character. I suppose you are taking your cues now from the current American president, Trump, who so easily accuses others of violence without cause, without facts, without knowing anything. Neither are facts important to you, if you are going to accuse me of murderous violence, as Trump has done with the millions of Mexicans living in the US. You don’t have real arguments; you have taken a pot shot on my character by equating my worldview with murderers. And careless, hateful people have ‘liked’ your comment. Aaron, I have suspected hypocrisy and self-righteousness on the first read of your story, but nothing reveals your position more than your willingness to approve hateful and intolerant comments on your own blog page. Good grief. A good muslim, or a good samaritan could not so easily stand by when someone’s character is impugned, but I suppose it is easier for you to just walk on by, as far to the other side of the road as you can. You missed an opportunity to prove the point of your article, but you don’t believe the truth of Jesus’ parable, and as it turns out, you don’t believe your own parable either.

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