Tag Archives: Sex crime

ADULTERY: Sex crime headline misses the point

March 11, 2016


UnknownWhen it comes to the headlines in Jn 8:1-11, the woman caught in adultery is the lead story.  It is a sex crime.  It is salacious.  It is dirty laundry.  It was the talk of the town.

The mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of Jesus is the main point of this gospel.  Yet, because sexual offenses get so little attention in the gospels, and because the Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14), is commandment that deals with sexual sin, and because other sexual sins fall in this category, when it comes to this gospel it is common to fixate on the woman’s sexual sin, and by extrapolation, our own sexual sins.

Jesus and the woman may be on center stage, but who are the worst sinners in the story?  Who should be in the headlines?  Who are the real bad guys?

The scribes and the Pharisees caught a woman in the act of adultery.  They were the town snoops, voyeurs.  They violated her privacy.  They were the self-appointment morality police.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman out into the town square and accused her.  They made a spectacle of her and were glad to shame her in public.  They humiliated and embarrassed her, and it did not bother them at all.  They made her private sin known in public, and it would always be held against her.  They ruined her reputation.

The scribes and the Pharisees were legalists; they knew the letter of the law and insisted that it be applied fully.  They wanted to throw the book at her.  The law says that she should be stoned, and they were ready and willing to execute judgment.  They were without compassion or mercy.  Instead, they were harsh, heavy-handed, and cruel.

The scribes and the Pharisees tried to entrap Jesus.  They hoped Jesus would answer wrongly.  Their goal was to get some dirt on Jesus so they could accuse, convict, and kill him.  Jesus was honing in on their territory, and it was their sinister plot to eliminate the competition.

The scribes and the Pharisees used the woman as a pawn in their evil scheme.  They had no regard for the woman, whatsoever.  If they could use her to accomplish their goal, even if it caused grave harm to her, it did not matter.  They were callous, indeed.

The scribes and the Pharisees were “guilty as sin.”  To them Jesus wisely said, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8:7).  And remarkably, one by one, the scribes and the Pharisees went away.

When it comes to the mercy of Jesus, his compassion for the adulterous woman gets the most attention, but it misses a critical point.  While Jesus did not condemn the woman (Jn 8:11), it is imperative to note that he did not condemn the scribes and the Pharisees either.  There was no reprimand, no punishment.  They got off free.  The mercy of Jesus is incredible, beyond our comprehension.  It extends to every sinner, even scribes and Pharisees.

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