Trigger warning: sexual abuse
A woman was journeying and fell among a youth pastor. He groomed her, making her feel special for one of the first times in her life. Eventually the special attention moved into sexual touch that culminated in intercourse. It was confusing to the young woman when he soon discarded her and then threatened her not to tell. Did he not love her? Was she not actually special? When all was said and done she felt stripped, beaten down, and left half dead.
One day when she was a bit older, through a pastoral counseling session, she told some of her story. The pastor responded by rebuking her for having carried on this affair. He warned her that if she told anyone else this story she could ruin this young man’s thriving ministry. She would do great harm to the body of Christ by telling people what she had done.
She remained in the ditch. Half dead.
As she still found herself in the ditch of despair she decided to see a counselor. Her counselor began to talk to her about the need to forgive this youth pastor. He said she was clearly holding onto bitterness and it was eating her alive. She needed to release her attacker and move on from the situation. But there was no need to confront him and risk harming his young family. Forgiveness is choosing to bear the consequences of another. The counselor told her that Scripture demanded she forgive.
She continued in the ditch. Almost entirely dead.
But an LGBTQ-affirming sexual abuse advocate found her and had compassion. She understood all the dynamics of abuse and for the first time was able to name what happened to this young woman. It wasn’t a consensual affair. It was abuse. She had been groomed and manipulated into these actions. This youth pastor knew what he was doing. This LGBTQ+ affirming advocate walked with the young woman through reporting the abuse, finding helpful counseling, and pursuing justice. For the first time in a long time she was climbing out of that ditch.
Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the woman who fell among the youth pastor?
He said, “The one who actually helped.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Adapted from Luke 10:25-37)
If an organization is LGBTQ+ affirming but actually helps a survivor where the “priest” and the “Levite” left her on the side of the road our response is not to refuse their help. Our proper response is to ask why didn’t we respond appropriately.
LGBTQ+ affirming organizations are often leading the industry in sexual abuse response, training, etc. They are “doing mercy”. They are trauma-informed and survivor-centered. They are helping.
The Samaritan likely had deficient theology, but he was being a good neighbor. As such he did far more than the priest or the Levite in this story. Their theology wasn’t of such that could pull people out of a ditch. If you’re a priest or a Levite who doesn’t like that, then listen to this parable. “Go and do as the Samaritan”.
Just because an LGBTQ+ affirming organization does better at being trauma-informed it doesn’t mean that trauma-informed and survivor-centered responses are somehow deficient or ungodly. The Samaritan’s helpful care isn’t rejected in this parable because it came from the hands of someone who had deficient theology. Rather than questioning the “Samaritan” care to find deficiency, we’d do well to question our poor responses.