In the New English Bible the story of the woman about to be stoned for her adultery (John 8:2-11 in the KJV) is included at the very end of John’s Gospel as a footnote. The scholars say that the language in the story is quite different from John’s style of writing (it is more like that of Luke) and was probably added to John’s Gospel by a copyist. Be that as it may, it is a good story and I’m so glad we have it. The story is as contemporary as TODAY.
A woman is caught in the act of adultery and condemned. The punishment: death by stoning (a very gruesome thing, if you ask me). All the “men” of the village have stones in their hands ready to deal out the punishment prescribed by the Law (the Bible of the time). Whatever happened to the “man” who shared in the act? He is nowhere mentioned, nor does he face the same condemnation. Now, that’s interesting! The man nowhere in sight (maybe he was with that group with stones in their hands) while the woman (women were stoned naked) stripped of her clothing and her dignity stood there alone condemned. Then Jesus came along and the religious leaders decided they could “kill two birds with one stone,” if they could get Jesus to contradict the Law (the Bible of the time).
The story tells us that Jesus stooped down and wrote something in the dusty street. We do not know what he wrote. Then he said, “That one of you who is faultless shall throw the first stone,” and bent down once again and wrote something in the dust. Whatever it was, it convinced the men with stones in their hands to walk away. I’m writing this on paper this morning and suggesting that we, too, ought to drop our stones and walk away from the contemporary acts of stoning. We are not without fault ourselves—none of us! We have no business stripping the clothes and dignity from anyone, no matter what Moses (the Bible of the time or of our own time) might say.
We call others “Liars,” when we too have lied. We condemn others for being what we are, I suppose, in order to hide our own weaknesses, mistakes, faults, and sins. Where was the man who shared in the act? How is it that he is seen as innocent and the woman guilty? Misogyny (manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification of women) has been around for a long, long time. It is now time to let it go! Jesus, in the story, seems to suggest that it should have been let go 2000-plus years ago.
|The Dahlias continue to bloom....|