TWO DENARII: A DIFFERENT VIEW ON HOMOSEXUALITY

I had one of those old desks in third grade. You know the one’s that would flip-up and you could hide all kinds of favorite things: pencils, old valentine’s day cards and dreams. One thing that was for sure, was that everything had it’s place. The paper was pushed to the front of the desk so it wouldn’t get crushed when you closed the aching old lid. The pencils could have gone anywhere, but usually were placed in the black Knight Rider pencil case. Everything had its’ rightful place. I wonder if that childhood moment has had some effect on how we see society and culture around us? I wonder if we think everything should belong somewhere and if it doesn’t fit neatly then our world’s in disarray.

There was this well-known road in ancient Palestine where robbers would hide and strategically find ways to beat and steal things from the innocent pedestrians that made their way from Jerusalem to Jericho. One day a Samaritan comes along. We tend to race past this point of the story. We’ve heard it many times before. Like an old story our grandfather might have told us about the war he was in long ago. In the Jewish culture, a Samaritan was a racial enemy. Someone who didn’t fit in and was disliked. We can all probably think of someone we just can’t get along with, that is the protagonist in this story. He’s the good guy. But, unlike the desk, he doesn’t fit neatly into our stories. In fact, according to Jesus, the Samaritan is who we need to take our cues from. We need to learn from him. Back to the story. He comes along after the religious people. The guys who should have known the right thing to do. In the Jewish Torah, life is sacred. Period. According to the Law, they were responsible to protect any human life, even enemies. The first two guys would have known this. But they walk on? Us, do we follow after them as well? One of the many points of this story is that God can choose
to use anyone to get his message across. Even the Samaritan. Even a Muslim. Yes, even the homosexual.

There is an age-old debate circulating through the halls of our church and through the living rooms of our house churches. It is the question whether the homosexual or someone else who has chosen a different lifestyle can actually be used by God. Maybe even in a pulpit. Or in a
position of religious responsibility. If the story of the Good Samaritan teaches us anything, it teaches us that homosexuals have a purpose in the Kingdom of God. Let’s dig a little deeper in why this is so. The Samaritan pays two denarii (the equivalent to two days wages), this seems like another detail that is put in for effect. If you look deeper into the story and the history surrounding this narrative, you might realize that Jesus wants us to see God bigger than our own safe theology. Two denarii was also known as the half-shekel atonement.

At the age of 13, a young Jewish child went from being a boy to a man and one of the many responsibilities of a man in that culture was to pay a temple tax. The temple tax was specifically reserved to purchase animals for the typical once-a-year sacrifice that the priest would enact for everyone on their behalf. His action would atone for the sins of others. Jesus is playing on the issue of atonement. Of being absolved from our sins. Here in the story though, it isn’t the priest who absolves the victim, it is the Samaritan. The outsider. The homosexual. He atones for the victims’ sin. It’s as if Jesus is saying, bigger than right or wrong, than sin or no sin, the one thing that can absolve the sins of another is hidden in the act of compassion. And anyone can join in on this movement of compassion. There is hope that we all can be a people dedicated to not merely seeing the need of someone else and walking by, but that we all, as the human race can fight indifference and wrong theology with compassion and grace. This is the invitation. Are you in or are you out?

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8 comments

  1. Fred Conwell · August 1, 2009

    (“one thing that can absolve the sins of another is hidden in the act of compassion”? Only the blood of Jesus can absolve one’s sin.)

    Jesus gave us the bottom line on sin definition(Mt 22:36-40). The Ten commandments and all other “sins” are scattered around the Old Testament. “And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [Deut. 6:5.] This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [Lev. 19:18.] These two commandments sum up and upon them depend ALL the Law and the Prophets. How can homosexuality be a sin?
    Where is the sin in a loving Gay relationship? By definition, there is no sin. The Boss would agree.

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    • travelersnote · August 1, 2009

      the act of the cross is the ultimate reaction out of compassion. the hebrew definition of the word is to see something that needs to be done and to do it. mostly in the context
      of meeting a soul-need. Jesus did this. His compassion saves us. He said we could be just like him. what if our compassion can save others, just like jesus’ did. and the atonement payment wasn’t something i made up, it is in the jewish torah. the origin of our faith is from judaism, in that, which is what jesus is playing off of is that compassion (‘love your neighbour’ is the ultimate act of absolution). if scripture says that through this story, why would we want to take away from that. and the second paragraph, i agree with it wholedheartedly. well done.

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  2. societyvs · August 7, 2009

    I am in! Loved the interpretive piece from the Good Samaritan story – I just may borrow that when I speak of that story – the 1/2 shekel atonement.

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  3. george · August 10, 2009

    what i am finding even more interesting is that when studying jesus’ message from his culture and language (aramaic) how radical it is even for our time…crazy stuff. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  4. Logan · September 22, 2009

    “How can homosexuality be a sin?
    Where is the sin in a loving Gay relationship? By definition, there is no sin. The Boss would agree.”

    I am afraid you have a very skewed view of this issue. The bible SPECIFICALLY states in Leviticus,

    ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.’

    It is plain as day. And as for another part of your comment…”Where is the sin in a loving gay relationship?” There is no such thing as a ‘loving gay relationship.’ Homosexuality goes against the very premise of True Love. While two homosexuals may feel like they ‘love’ the other person, it is not a love. It is a lust (also a sin). A selfish desire to please one’s own self. True Love is selfless. By definition, homosexuality goes against everything that the Word says and what Jesus preached. Im truly saddened by the ‘evolution’ of some peoples faith now days. Finding any way to stretch and misconstrude the Word to conform to their own lifes, instead of conforming their life to the Word of God.

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  5. travelersnote · September 22, 2009

    Thanks logan! Good thoughts bro! I would ask first, who was the book of Leviticus written to and for? Was it written for us now or for specific group of people who have since it was written been disbanded?

    See my heart is for scripture to be read and even if it is difficult, accepted within its context. Now, I don’t think we ever have a right to ‘judge’ others on their lifestyle, it is not our place. I am not ready to comfortably stand in the place of God and say destructive things to other people. It is against the very verse that says “Love one another”.

    My question in this blog piece isn’t whether homosexuality is right or wrong. Too many people have been hurt on either side to give a clear response here. Again, hurting others is against the very mandate to “love one another” and “bear one anothers burdens”. How can we truly be doing that if we are adding havoc and pain to the life of others. We don’t own truth. God does. We can’t afford to break one of his laws to keep another. The laws weren’t the point. It all pointed to Jesus (his words, not mine). The laws were never the point. Love was. Remember when Jesus reduced the 10 Commandments down, what did he say about love in those words…it comes up quite a bit. The point is to love others. Love includes accepting people as they are. My question in this blog isn’t whether it is right or wrong, but that God can choose to use anyone he wants to build his kingdom. Luke (who wrote the 3rd Gospel would be modernized in our day in age as a native-american healer — no joke)…he would have been so far out of the fold that it would have pissed the Pharisees off to no end. So Jesus chose outsiders to build his kingdom. And my question is, if God so chooses to use someone that Christianity has labeled as an outsider to build his kingdom, who are we stand in his way? I think sometimes we have trouble allowing God to be God on his own terms and forget that He himself isn’t bound by the Bible. It wasn’t written for Him.

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  6. Pore Cleanser · November 17, 2010

    living rooms should be decorated with style that is why i always get some living room decoration idea on the internet “-:

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  7. Mary · September 20, 2011

    Love delights in the truth.
    If you want to have sex with another man then that is your choice.
    What worries me is that you are trying very hard to justify your own choice as something that God wants.

    I find it hard to believe that when God created man, he did it so that man could stick his penis into another mans arsehole. I don’t think that is a particualy good design do you?

    If you want to do that then go and do it. But don’t try to justify it as being what God wants.

    Perhaps he gave you these feelings to teach you the true meaning of self sacrifice, self control, purity, chastity, and obedience (the five dirty words of modern Christians!)

    We are not here to get what WE want out of life. We are here to serve God and each other. I pray you can descern what that means in your life. Keep praying from your heart and you’ll find it.

    Best wishes.

    http://www.medjugorje.org/

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