Last week’s ToTheSource newsletter discussed the issues surrounding the shameful media circus that occurs every time Pope Francis speaks. Chances are, they would do the same to Christ. We have a need to put people in our pre-labeled boxes, and assume that when they espouse a particular view of one apparent slant, that their views must completely conform to what is popularly seen as that slant. But Pope Fancis is as Jesus was in that respect: more than he appears to be at first glance…
Imagine how the press today would report the following startling incident in the life of Jesus Christ.
First, the necessary background. According to Judaism, adultery is a direct attack on marriage—a violation of the sacred sexual union between one man and one woman. The family is the origin of society, and the cradle of morality. The sacred marital union is itself a kind of image of the proper relationship of God to His own people, the divine bridegroom and His bride. One of the Ten Commandments directly and unequivocally condemns it.
Now, the actual event. A woman is caught in adultery—caught having sex with a married man, or herself bound in marriage and in bed with a man not her husband, the reports aren’t clear. As the Law commands, she is to be stoned, and those carrying out the sentence bring her before Jesus of Nazareth. “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
After some thought, Jesus replies, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
One by one, the Jewish elders walk away. When they are all gone, Jesus turns to the unharmed woman and asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she replies.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declares. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The next day AP reports, “Once again, Jesus Christ seems intent on overturning moral doctrines long held by the Right. Confronted by angry conservatives desiring to stone a woman caught in adultery—a violation of the alleged Ten Commandments, and rallying point of the Right—Jesus said to her, ‘I do not condemn you.’
Progressives, who have been pushing for some time for a more open interpretation of the Commandments and marriage itself, welcomed this latest statement by the Jewish radical, who seems much more focused on the plight of the poor, than bowing to the moral niceties and court pomp of the Pharisees and Sadducees. ‘I think Jesus is condemning condemnation—that’s the real sin,’ said one reform-minded source within the Sanhedrin, who requested he remain unnamed.
Conservatives are shaken, however. ‘I understand, of course, the need for mercy—God is most merciful—but it seems to me that some might take this latest action as a softening of the command, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ Do we really need that, when marriage is under attack in Roman pagan culture?’ complained one member of God’s Law for All, an advocacy group for marriage. Others on the Right noted that Jesus did say, ‘Go now and leave your life of sin,’ implying that the command against adultery is in full force, but wish that he would quit speaking off the cuff and be more clear about his position on such morally controversial issues.”