John 8: The Woman Caught in Adultery
(New International Version)
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?”
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger….and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
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 know what it’s like to be caught in that kind of sin. To be disgraced – and to deserve that judgment. For years, I was a modern woman caught in adultery. Of course, I wasn’t physically dragged to Jesus by a condemning crowd with an ulterior motive. I wasn’t literally in danger of being stoned. But I was just as guilty as the woman in John 8. When spiritually I imagined standing before Jesus, I felt overwhelmed with similar shame.
My life, too, was a total mess. I was a sexual sinner: an unfaithful wife involved with a man who was not my husband. And it wasn’t the first or the only time. I’d been down this road before, first with promiscuity as a teen, then acting out in multiple affairs after getting married. There was no reason to believe I wouldn’t go down it again.
It’s not that I thought what I was doing was OK. I didn’t. I clearly knew my behavior was sin. I knew the rules.
And I knew the consequences. I saw how my affairs affected my husband. I saw the confusion and fear in my children’s eyes. I watched families crumble in the wake of my infidelity. I had lost my self-esteem, my health, and very nearly my life because of my sexual behavior.
I felt totally without hope, perhaps like the woman who was brought to Jesus. If I kept doing what I was doing, I was surely going to die. Physically, possibly. Spiritually, certainly. But I could not stop. My life was unmanageable, and I was powerless to change it on my own. I saw no way out. I didn’t know where to turn.
I knew how the world dealt with women like me. I’d heard the jokes about loose women. I’d experienced the revolving door of exploitation on the one hand and condemnation on the other. I knew the world would see me as a loser if my secret were known, but I didn’t really care about the people of the world.
It was the religious folk I was afraid of. The Christians – the church people – those were the ones I wanted to avoid. I knew how the church dealt with sinners like me. They still threw stones. Maybe not literal ones, but sharp ones nonetheless.
Stones of gossip. I’d heard the whispers and the rumors.
Stones of withdrawal. When my story became public, I’d seen the averted eyes, the retreating backs. People avoided me. Who wants to associate with a woman caught in adultery?
Stones of judgment. The condemnation overwhelmed me. I try not to blame the religious folk. Most thought judging me was the right thing to do. Good Christians are supposed to take a strong stand against sin, right?
All I knew was that those stones didn’t help. The threat of punishment sure wasn’t turning my life around. Yes, I was afraid of hell, but I was already living in it, and I didn’t know a way out. I knew everything about rules. I had no clue about relationship.
Until I encountered Jesus.
His approach was totally different and surprising. He was kind with me and gentle. He looked tenderly into my soul and saw my pain. He saw my past – my history of sexual abuse and parental abandonment. He saw how desperately I wanted a different future. He knew I couldn’t do it on my own, and He didn’t expect me to. He offered forgiveness. He showered me with grace. He caught me with His love and threw His power against my pain.
Jesus gave me hope for the future and grace for the journey. Instead of beating me up with stones, He challenged me with His love. He called me to a different life. He led me to the resources that made it possible. He coaxed me into relationship.
And since Aug. 8, 1992, one day at a time, by the grace of my Lord, this sinful, sexually addicted woman has been walking with Him in a newness of life.
It’s not stones that help the sinner. It’s only a relationship with a Savior.