At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “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?” 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. 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.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
I’m sixteen now, but when I was in sixth grade I found it very, very important to be popular, as most sixth grade girls do. Before I began middle school, I made a game plan (based solely on teen drama movies I had seen) to be popular fast. So I did my best to identify the popular kids and become friends with them. Although I freaked out when I found out they’d tasted beer, after a little while, I was what one would call “in”.
To be fair, I was in no way cool. Even my new friends didn’t think I was “cool” because I was still an upstanding Christian, and that doesn’t really cross over well into other circles as an accomplishment. But they liked me anyway, and I felt like God had put me there for a reason, because I felt them look at me curiously, wondering what was different about me, which was a good opportunity to minister to them.
Around eighth grade, a guy in my circle of friends came out as bisexual. It wasn’t exactly a shock, but still, it was a big deal to him. It didn’t bother me, in that, he was my friend. I wasn’t about to stop loving him because of his announcement. We never talked about it one-on-one. It became a fact and that was all. What did come as a shock was when he started dating a girl. It lasted about as long as middle school relationships last, but after they broke up my friend came out as officially gay; no more girls at all.
After the break-up, his ex-girlfriend became really nasty toward him, and said insanely offensive things. He put on a brave face, but all his friends knew that it tore him up inside to feel so out of place and hated. And at some point during all this, he said something that made me stop dead: “Gianna, I know you hate me, but even you aren’t this bad.” “I hate you?” I was shocked. I had never shown this boy anything but love and respect, at least I thought. At my response he looked at me as if he were talking about the weather. “Well, you’re a Christian.” It hit me like a baseball bat to the spleen. And my first thought was-geez oh man does the Christian church need to rebrand itself! But it’s easy to push blame off to someone else, and it wasn’t until recently that I forced myself to look inward and wonder if I had shown him something other than love and respect. Here’s what I can honestly say: I have not the foggiest idea. The Christian church loves to use the phrase “what would Jesus do?”
I thought to myself that age old saying while thinking all of this through. What would Jesus do? Read John 8:2-11 again. Do you notice how he addresses the adulteress? He calls her “Woman”. Not adulteress. Not whore. Woman. He looks at her as a person, not as her sin. He doesn’t condone her sin. He doesn’t say it’s ok to live in this sin, but he does not say it’s ok to stone her either. He says “go and sin no more” He says it’s a sin. He says it’s not ok. But he doesn’t condemn her, these are his own words: “Then neither do I condemn you.”
He could have said God hates you, or you’re going to hell. But He didn’t. He loves her even though she is a sinner, and she is grateful. She calls him sir, and is submissive to him. She knows she owes him one. Don’t we all.
She is now ready to hear him when he says stop sinning. If she had been stoned, she would have died without hearing those words, and only God knows where she would go. Jesus is God– Omniscient, Omnipotent. He knows what he’s doing. And so Jesus built a bridge to this sinner. He came to her. He made a connection instead of condemning a faceless woman.
No one is faceless to God. God loves every single person he has crafted in his image. Even the gay ones. Even the ones who drive us crazy. Even ones who offend and hurt us. Even the ones we wish that God wouldn’t love. He wants everyone to be saved and in His kingdom with him. Jesus saved a woman’s soul not by spitting on her and calling her names. He didn’t scare her or bully her into a life for God. He respected her. He called her a woman, and he told the Pharisees to back off. He loved her.
I never want to make someone feel like I hate them, or that God hates them. I also never want to tell them that their sin is ok, or that it doesn’t hurt God to see his sons and daughters living a life of sin, but if I throw my stone I will never reach them. No one will listen to me if I don’t show them love. No matter their sexuality. No matter how they irk me or hurt me. No matter if I find them amazing or annoying. No one will be saved if I start chucking rocks at them. When I ask myself what would Jesus do, that’s it. That’s what Jesus did. He built bridges. He showed respect. He showed love. And his is an example that we should all strive to follow.