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March 13, 2007

Some Christians today have it wrong

These days, a lot of people love to use the phrase "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Unfortunately, too many people leave off the rest of this, choosing to only take what they want from it rather than understanding the context. Here is the rest of it, John Chapter 8.
1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11 "No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
Jesus acknowledged that those around him could not claim to be perfect, and questioned their choice of punishment. But there is no doubt that Jesus also judged this woman. He spoke of her adultery as what it was; a sin. In "casting a stone", he is questioning their execution of punishment, not their judgment.

Today, there is a large contingent of Christ followers who miss this, and want to condone sinful choices, not least of which homosexuality. One thing to remember is that God's word cannot conflict with itself. The Bible may be confusing sometimes, but it is consistent. The Old Testament is mostly filled with laws and the prophecy of the coming Messiah. The New Testament shows how to follow in Christ's footsteps and the coming return of the Messiah. Two parts, but one Word.

There is nothing wrong with wishing not to judge others; however, we must recognize that God despises sin, despite his love for the sinner (that is, all of us). I suspect people of other faiths (and yes, this includes atheists; they have faith that there is no God) and agnostics (they may have a case in saying they have no faith) may feel differently, but the context must still be understood. Forgive sin, but do not condone it. We are not above sin, but we ourselves must also work to avoid it.

And also, know the purpose of a Bible verse. Using one short snippet may sound good, but it may not always fully express what God intended. But, I guess in the day and age of the ever-shrinking sound byte, I guess I should not be surprised.