“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper.“
– Jesus in Luke 10:30b-35a, NIV
In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus responded to religious leader’s question about who he must love as himself–i.e. who counted as a neighbor. This is the famous “Parable of the Good Samaritan.” It is a parable that speaks to this day.
I suggest it has something to say about how religious people respond to faithful spouses as well. Let’s do a thought experiment and application of this parable to modern circumstances. In particular, let us consider the faithful spouse as the emotionally beaten, stolen from, and discarded man in the parable.
How do Christians react to meeting such a soul?
Is this a “Religious Person” or a “Good Samaritan” response to an infidelity survivor?
“Good Samaritan” Response:
A Good Samaritan responds to such need by having compassion on the faithful spouse. He stops. A Good Samaritan listens and thereby helps bind up the hemorrhaging emotional and spiritual wounds inflicted by the adulterous, lying partner. He does not judge or add further shaming wounds to the battered faithful spouse. The Good Samaritan does not give the hurting faithful spouse another kick while he or she is down. He recognizes the real-world needs of the faithful spouse. Finally, the Good Samaritan pays to make sure the faithful spouse is cared for in both treasure and time.*
“Religious Person” Response:
They leave the faithful spouse for “dead” crossing over the “street” as the Levite and Priest did in the parable. Their religious rules and assumptions about divorced people–like the rules for ritual purity in Jesus’ day–dictate avoidance. They do not want to get their proverbial hands dirty dealing with the messiness of a person ravaged by the theft of intimacy and rape of his/her soul. Besides the faithful spouse may have done something to deserve his proverbial beating and abandonment! That is what the religious person thinks. They do not have compassion on the faithful spouse recognizing like the Good Samaritan that it could be them in the ditch someday. And they certainly do not pause to bind up the emotional wounds with judgment free listening. Giving of their time and treasure to make sure the faithful spouse heals and is gets much needed support is out of the question for them! They are too busy running off to teach their “Marriage Enrichment” class to pause for faithful spouses bleeding emotionally in the ditch.
Jesus tells us, in Luke 10:37, to be like the Good Samaritan.
Relationship ought to trump religious rules and our convenience is a major takeaway I see in this parable.
I am sure it was scary and very inconvenient for the Good Samaritan to bind up this stranger and pay for his care. However, that is the standard Jesus’ sets for his true followers.
How are we doing as a church body today?
Are we responding more like religious people or Good Samaritans?
Sadly, I see a lot of people responding to faithful spouses like the Priest and Levite. We are still far too entrenched in the “Religious Persons” response camp. I hope that changes, though, as we become aware of what we are doing as a Christian body.
That said, it is not all bleak in the Church. God continues to send and use Good Samaritans today. I can testify to that in my own life. Those were the True Believers, and I thank God for them.
Why does it matter to care for faithful spouses? It matters, because God cares about those lying in the ditches of life and expects His people to as well.
*Also, please notice the Good Samaritan did not insist on the battered man passing some sort of test to get help. No mention is made of him blaming this poor soul for what was done to him. The care given was not condition on the beaten man “learning his lesson” about proper road safety ediquette. The Good Samaritan simply got busy meeting the clear needs of this awfully abused man.