by Jay Johansen | Jan 19, 2014
You probably know this story:
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"
She said, "No one, Lord."
And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
John 8:3-11 (NKJV)
I've heard many discussions of this story that point out that the Pharisees brought only the woman and not the man. She was "caught in adultery, in the very act". This would rather imply that the man was there at the time also. So why didn't they bring him to be stoned as well? It's always assumed that the reason why they only brought the woman was sexism: A woman who commits adultery is shameful and a slut and deserves to be punished. A man who commits adultery is just, well, boys will be boys, right? What's the big deal?
Non-Christians in particular like to point this out. They often present it as an example of the out-dated sexism of Christianity.
But as the text doesn't say anything about the man, we should not jump to conclusions about why he was not also brought to Jesus. It is possible that the reason was sexism. But frankly I think this is unlikely. The Pharisees were fanatically devoted to the letter of the Old Testament Law. And the Law was very clear on this point: Leviticus 20:10, "The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death." Both the man and the woman were to be executed.
There are many possible reasons why they might not have brought the man. Sexism is one. But other possibilities are:
Whatever happened to the man is, apparently, not important to the story, so the writer does not mention it. All we can do is guess. But we can't leap to the conclusion that the reason was sexism, no matter how trendy an explanation that may be for everything.
By the way, even if it was sexism, it is not clear how this is something that Christians should be embarrassed about or need to explain away. It wasn't Christians who did it, it was the Pharisees, who were the enemies of the Christians.
By the way number two: Note that Jesus did not tell her that her adultery was okay as long as she and the man really loved each other. He concluded by telling her not to sin any more.
© 2014 by Jay Johansen
Viktor Jul 23, 2014
Nadine, this is more a general conmemt but its also relevant to this case.I am aware you dont like to hear it, but I think -generally speaking- the best approach to reform our community is somewhere between traditional/Religious norms (That should be modernized) and newly Global standards that proved problems generator as well (I personally intended many debates in Sweden where some reconsiderations are demanded to rebalanced the social ship). But as in the east, change is slow and take time in the west as well. Noting that I am NOT suggesting a compromise as there are no compromises in such things. I am hoping for a mature approach that goes beyond cloning regulations like underdogs. We can make our own stuff. From draft. Really. The problem in Lebanon (and third world in general as I noticed), is that both sides -and let me say it without wearing any gloves- are not open minded enough to see the big picture, though both sides stress on the fact that We are doing things right and for the best of all .Lot of new regulations are on the table in Lebanon these days, and thats all good and needed. But most of it clone internationally approved regulations that is already subject to lot of critic where it is applied, whether regarding the Parents-Vs-Children regulations, schools, marriage, you name it. I think we need to take the positives of the mentioned regulations and mold it in a way that fit us best hoping to avoid its negatives. So far, this is not the case. its still a Copy-Paste approach.Back to this specific case so I dont make the conmemt long-er. Everything is an Ethic question after all. If a witness lies in a court, thats a crime. But may be its just that he is a lier, why should that be a crime, I mean the judge asked and he answered. If we are calling for Civil Marriage, shouldn't that kind of marriage be considered as a legal commitment? No brainer. Beside, not all offenses that the law considers as crimes need legal bases to back it. Racist conmemt is illegal for example (or should be in Lebanon if it isn't). There is no contract between the racist and the victim. But the fact that one offended the other is a crime, and it requires punishment. Whether am married or not, “official” or not, my relationship with my partner is private and whatever problems and decisions we face are private too. Including violence problems? And is the violence just physical? I don't want to go further on the gate such assumption open, but the contradiction is too bold to be ignored.Beside, there is a huge difference between being married or not (everywhere in the world btw). If I am married and I die for example, my wife get (most) of my property unless if I decided otherwise on advance. If we are not married she doesnt. That may sound silly, but its on the nail. Marriage IS a deal where there are rights and obligations. This is a very long argument and it is not valid if we dont discuss it thoroughly, but thats not possible through a conmemt on a blog. I will just say, lets ALL think outside our boxes, and be willing to consider the fact that maybe we are not as right as we believe, and maybe we need to give things another -objective- thought.Final note: Crime does not mean the punishment should be jail. Thats a very classical way to see things. But again, lets keep it short. Keep the good work:)