times past – and rather recently – it was clearly understood that this woman
had committed a most serious sin. Indeed, the death penalty in the Jewish Law
was imposed only for murder, adultery and idolatry. Things have changed a
great deal since then.
we had to sum up our world’s view of adultery, it would be this: it’s no big
call it “an affair” – like a party. In this we see how Satan twists words
so that sin is seen as a lovely thing.
accord ourselves (and others) permission for adultery if there is any sign
of trouble in the marriage. Even when there was no trouble, it’s viewed
as the inevitable outcome of “falling in love.” Passion alone justifies
four bare legs in a bed.
it does cause trouble in a marriage, our attitude is, “You can always get
of our modern attitude comes from our acceptance of the feminist world view.
There are three points of this which I would bring to your attention:
the attitude that “marriage is slavery.” This has been sold to three
generations of women now, which ought to have exterminated church weddings
in general. It seems that this is the excuse after the fact.
the best way to deal with the double standard (in adultery, at least) is
the attitude, “I can do it too.” You are to empower yourself to destroy
your marriage (which, being slavery, is now good.)
woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” I, woman, am strong (and
arrogant). The problem here is that her kids need a father desperately.
I say it is. We want the respectability of marriage without the obligations
and work. So if I say marriage is between a man and his dog, that’s just a
change of definition – and thus that relationship carries the respectability of
marriage with it. (Satan at work on our words again.)
the same time, our society holds marriage to be “old fashioned.” This is
particularly true of sex; liberated women have sex with a different man each
night until Prince Charming shows up. They move in together and, if everything
works out, get married a few years later. (Telling the prince from the toad is
still a problem, however.)
this? Because marriage is viewed by those shacked up together as an expression
of love – he wants to make it permanent. Even in these times marriage is
somehow to be seen as permanent. Even though we treat it as temporary.
so there is no mistake, the Christian view hasn’t changed:
is designed to be life long. (One reason for a senior partner).
wife is to be in submission to the husband (who holds his authority from
Christ, and therefore is obligated to follow Christ’s way.)
outside of marriage is wrong. Sinful. Yes, you read that right.
the woman taken in adultery would agree. She knows she’s a sinner – and like
the rest of us, she sins anyway.
Joh 8:1-11 NASB
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. (2)
Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were
coming to Him; and He sat down and began
to teach them. (3) The scribes and the
Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center
of the court, (4)
they *said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in
the very act. (5) "Now in the Law Moses
commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" (6) They were saying this, testing Him, so that they
might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger
wrote on the ground. (7) But when they
persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a
stone at her." (8) Again He
stooped down and wrote on the ground. (9)
When they heard it, they began to go out
one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the
woman, where she was, in the center of the court.
(10) Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" (11) She said, "No one, Lord." And
Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go.
From now on sin no more."]
those who would imitate their Lord, please note the preparation that Jesus has
made before this event:
has probably spent a goodly part of the night praying, as He was
accustomed to do on the Mount of Olives.
arrives at dawn – on time. Good work habits still count.
sits down to teach – he does not stand up and rattle the crowd.
is not immediately obvious what kind of trap this is. Most of us would see it
as two options:
to condemn her, and thus ruin his reputation for righteousness.
her, and risk is reputation for mercy and love.
is, in fact, the exact dilemma that God must deal with in all sinners. Is God
righteous? Then He must condemn. Is He merciful? Then He must forgive. But
God must do both – which He did at the Cross.
is a third option – a subtle one. Christ could also take advantage of the fact
that the Romans forbade the Jews capital punishment. He could then uphold the
Law and bemoan the Romans, blaming the occupation on Israel’s sins. He then
becomes just another smart rabbi.
Jesus chooses none of these three.
with his finger
understand what Jesus did, you must remember His mission: to seek and save the
lost. That includes those lost in hypocrisy as well as adultery. It’s just
that the former take a little more persuading.
woman, you see, knows that she has sinned. The Pharisees don’t. That’s why
most interpreters think that Jesus was writing the sins of the others on the
there is another possibility. This is one of two instances in the Bible in
which God is portrayed as writing with His finger. Do you remember what the
other one was?
Perhaps He was writing again the Ten Commandments – lest they forget that they
are sinners too.
Jesus refuses to condemn her can be misinterpreted. The earliest copies of the
New Testament do not include this section, but it is included in the Vulgate
(Latin) version. One reason for this was to prevent others from concluding
that Christianity permitted adultery. Jerome explains that this is a valid
section of Scripture (some doubt as to whether or not it belongs precisely
I make the obvious point? We are not given the task of judging those outside
the church, but those inside.
So how, then, do we justify the frequent condemnation of abortion and
homosexuality coming from the church?
note I said “abortion” and “homosexuality” not “abortionists and
women” or “homosexuals.” It is often not recognized by the outside world
but we are still to “hate the sin and love the sinner.” (I have a lot of
practice at this; the sinner in question being me.)
too, that we are experiencing some difficulty in this. The church, per
the Scripture, should have a similar attitude towards divorce and
adultery. Have you heard that from the pulpit lately? Perhaps the church
does not come to that discussion with clean hands?
we to judge those inside the church? Yes indeed – but very carefully:
all things, we are to remember that a servant of God stands or falls
before his Lord – and that Christ can make him stand.
church discipline we are to restore the sinners. But the warning is there
too: we are to watch out, lest we fall into the same sin. You don’t send
an alcoholic to rescue a drunkard. You send a recovering alcoholic,
upheld by prayer and accountable to the church.
any form of church discipline, you are to examine yourself first. There
is a reason we are told to do this at communion.
is the radical condemnation of sin” (Bonhoeffer)
is a sticky remark. I looked up the entire phrase on Google, and found only
our class website with it. But I think it expresses the truth. Consider:
rejects the sinful way of condemning sin. Love does not attempt the
second wrong to produce what’s right.
restores the sinner gently (“go and sin no more.”) It is not love to
ignore the sin; it is not love to condemn the sinner.
of all, love lives a life of purity – a light for the world.