Misogyny, Moralism and the Woman at the Well

by Richard on March 27, 2011

A fine post about the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, which comes via our friends at Caergwrle Methodist Church. The article challenges the standard reading of this text which makes the woman’s morality a central issue:

…why do so many preachers assume the worst of her? I would suggest two reasons. First, there is a long history of misogyny in Christian theology that stands in sharp contrast to the important role women play in the gospels themselves. Women, the four evangelists testify, supported Jesus’ ministry. They were present at the tomb when their male companions fled. And they were the first witnesses to the resurrection. Yet from asserting that Eve was the one who succumbed to temptation (conveniently ignoring that the author of Genesis says Adam was right there with her — Gen. 3:6) to assuming this Samaritan woman must be a prostitute, there is the ugly taint of chauvinism present in too much Christian preaching, perhaps particularly so in those traditions that refuse to recognize the equality of women to preach and teach with the same authority as men.

A second reason preachers cast this woman in the role of prostitute is that it plays into the belief that Christianity, and religion generally, is chiefly about morality. Treating the Bible as one long, if peculiar, Goofus & Gallant cartoon, we read every story we find in terms of sin and forgiveness, moral depravity and repentance. But this story is not about immorality; it’s about identity. In the previous scene, Jesus was encountered by a male Jewish religious authority who could not comprehend who or what Jesus was. In this scene, he encounters the polar opposite, and perhaps precisely because she is at the other end of the power spectrum, she recognizes not just who Jesus is but what he offers — dignity. Jesus invites her to not be defined by her circumstances and offers her an identity that lifts her above her tragedy. And she accepts, playing a unique role in Jesus’ ministry as she is the first character in John’s gospel to seek out others to tell them about Jesus.

Fine stuff. I wish more church websites were engaging with this kind of material. Kudos to Caergwrle!

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Kim 03.27.11 at 9:58 pm

Good points, excellent article. There is nothing new in the exegesis, but that only goes to show how mired in moralism - and sexual moralism at that - the church continues to be. There is certainly no suggestion that the woman is a prostitute, and there is a venerable tradition of interpreting her five marriages and present partner allegorically in terms of religious promiscuity.

Nevertheless, for all his spiritualising, John is quite attentive to literal detail, and I wonder whether interpretations that appeal to levirate marriage or domestic dependency, even if they aren’t special pleading (and there are sympathetic exegetes who think they are), actually protest too much. I mean, why try to rid the woman’s situation of scandal altogether and make it purely tragic? Let the scandal stand! For (a) that would fit exactly the kind of moral outrage Jesus is always causing by cavorting with sinners, and (b) it specifically demonstrates that in this meeting the woman’s morals, even if dubious, are quite marginal, indeed irrelevant, as far as Jesus is concerned, a point further secured by the fact that the main thrust of the dialogue in John 4:16-18 is the revelation of Jesus’ supernatural knowledge, not the woman’s lifestyle.

The essential bullets are that the woman is a feisty interlocutor, an interrogative theologian, a keen ecumenist (this meeting is actually the first recorded Faith and Order conversation), and a successful evangelist (hers, not Philip’s, is the first mission to the Samaritans - put Acts 8:5ff. down to androcentric airbrushing). She rocks!

2

Joseph W 03.27.11 at 10:00 pm

Not sure Samaritans were at the other end of the power spectrum to Jews. Neither Jews nor Samaritans had any real power, only the Romans really had power.

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, which didn’t necessarily mean he had any power at all. We know that some Pharisees allied themselves with the Herodians, and we know that others didn’t, and actually warned Jesus about Herod’s scheming.

Remember also, most of the Sanhedrin members were Sadducees not Pharisees.

3

Joseph W 03.27.11 at 10:08 pm

Although, of course, Nicodemus was a Sanhedrin member! But still, you it wasn’t really power, I don’t think.

4

Mendip Nomad 03.27.11 at 10:13 pm

Until this article it hadn’t even occurred to me that people might suggest the woman might be a prostitute - despite the fact I’ve heard plenty of sermons on this passage in my life and that I preached on it passage this morning!

I agree with Kim that some kind of scandal has to be allowed to stand - why is the woman at the well in the middle of the day if there is no scandal. But for me the scandal is not related to the woman per se but to the exclusion the woman has faced from her own community - an exclusion that is turned on its head when she testifies to her community about Jesus and brings them to meet him. There is scandal here, and, as usual, it is scandal that Jesus in part causes (a Jew asking a Samaritan for a drink) and in part over turns (looking past the woman’s situation and offering her a new of seeing and doing things).

The idea that the scandal might involve the woman being a prostitute certainly seems an odd one from the text (though I am but a young and relatively inexperienced exegete compared to some around here!)

5

jogger 03.27.11 at 10:58 pm

Mary Magdalene may have indeed written John’s gospel. When I was at Uni I read a great academic article postulating just this.

6

Bob Gilston 03.28.11 at 1:07 am

MN - I’m obviously a lot older than you and I have in my time heard preachers describe the woman as a prostitute. I agree with the post that Scripture doesn’t say that.

7

John Carney 03.28.11 at 1:20 am

I made reference to the HuffPo piece in my sermon this morning. It was quite thought-provoking.

8

Martin Crossley 03.28.11 at 9:20 am

Several years ago I heard a sermon on this from a missionary who’d spent much of his adult life in Africa. He said how mystified he was at the common assumption that the woman was sexually immoral. In the cultures he’d been working in, most people read the passage as indicating that she was barren. Each husband had, in turn, abandoned her because of her inability to give them children, and now the whole community spurned her, which is why she is at the well at midday.

I don’t know which back-story is correct and, as Kim indicates, it doesn’t really matter - there are good theological points to be drawn from each of the different readings.

But personally I find it sad to think that this woman may have been judged and condemned by generation after generation for suffering from a condition utterly beyond her control.

9

Chris H 03.28.11 at 9:50 am

I’m with Mendip Nomad, never once heard her described as a prostitute in any sermon. Don’t think I’ve ever read that interpretation either. As to the morality, that is framed in her society and I don’t see Jesus either condemning or judging.

10

PamBG 03.28.11 at 11:12 am

I have almost always heard her referred to as a “woman of loose morals” but not a prostitute. The picture painted is often of a serial monogamist who can’t be bothered to marry the men she sleeps with - yeah, right, in the first century like that was going to happen.

I cringed yesterday when the preacher said “And she was a woman of loose morals, right?” and then later pointed out that nowhere in the text does it say that.

The pastor of the church I’m at now is a fantastic preacher and it’s great knowing that the worst sermon you’re going to hear on a Sunday morning will be “good” instead of his usual “excellent” and sometimes “surprising and inspiring”. Yesterday was excellent and on the them of insiders and outsiders.

11

Doug 03.28.11 at 8:04 pm

How can a person claim that the Samaritan woman of John 4 is NOT a “woman of loose morals” when in verse 17 and 18 are such: “The woman answered, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou has well said: For you have had five husbands, and the man who you now have is not your husband.”

It seems to me the woman had “moral problems”. He “pointed out” the clear wrong that the woman was in. I have never heard of her being referenced as a “prostitute”. However, I have heard her referred to and correctly so as a “woman of ilrepute” or a “woman of loose morals”. To have 5 husbands and being with another who is not clearly shows that Jesus was pointing out indirectly her sin of fornication, possibly adultry, etc.

12

Pam 03.28.11 at 11:42 pm

ok, I’ll bite, Doug.
Have you thought about the “morality” of a patriarchal society that looked askance at a woman with 5 husbands, yet idolised a king (Solomon) who had hundreds of wives. Have you thought about the “morality” of a husband who could rid himself of a wife who was not “up to scratch”. Have you thought about the “morality” of a society that viewed Jesus even talking to her as somehow wrong.
I know who I would rather end up in a conversation with - if it came to a choice between yourself and the woman at the well. No contest, you lose, Doug.

13

Joseph W 03.28.11 at 11:46 pm

Pam, I wrote an article around this topic for BMJA Chai Magazine, you might enjoy I dunno:

http://roshpinaproject.com/2010/02/07/christian-feminism-and-messianic-jewish-femininity/?trashed=1&ids=3412

14

Paul F. 03.29.11 at 12:38 am

Adultry? Is that the sin of acting like a grown-up?

15

Richard 03.29.11 at 1:03 am

Paul — :)
Pam — that’s a useful way to approach this, I think

16

Kim 03.29.11 at 7:59 am

Well, Pam, “Whoever DENIES me before others, I also will DENY before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). “If we DENY him, he will also DENY us” (II Timothy 2:11). That woman was clearly one of the Den-ites. Mind, maybe she had a deathbed conversion.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Oh, and Pam - did you mean to put a comma after “bite”? ;)

17

Pam 03.29.11 at 9:02 am

Yes, I did mean to put a comma after ‘bite’. Doug is clearly not to my taste.
I think the woman at the well is where she belongs - talking with Jesus.

18

Doug 03.29.11 at 5:18 pm

Well, Scripture does talk about adultry as a sin and even in the time of Jesus. So for people to say there was not some morality coming into play as part of the discussion of Jesus with the woman at the well is doing a disservice to Scripture and what the message is about as well.

Are people wrong to suggest that the woman was a prostitute? Yes for Scripture doesn’t say that. Is it wrong to suggest that the woman had some “moral failings”? yes for Jesus poitned that out albeit in a very compassionate and caring way. What is important to know is that the woman was drawn to Jesus by the fact that Jesus pointed out her sin and she felt bad about it to the point of repentence and recognizing heart, soul and mind that Jesus was God.

My statement on woman’s failings is part of the story and it IS wonderful for Jesus to speak with her, show her kindness and to reveal Himself to her so as for her to turn her life over to Christ for eternal life.

Pam, I recognize the importance of Jesus talking with the woman at the well, I recognize the compassion toward the omwan with moral failings and the Grace to accept her clear repentence and turning to Christ for her Salvation. Pam, do you reocgnize the morality of a Scripture where Jesus says adultry and fornication are sin? Clearly the woman she was with was not her husband and we know what the NT says about that. I will add that Jesus pointed it out in an extremely compassionate way and that is one of the many points of the story of the woman at the well. Howeverm to suggest that the woman didn’t have “immoral failing” is incorrect from Scripture just as much as saying the woman was a prostitute.

19

Pam 03.29.11 at 10:14 pm

Doug, I wasn’t referring to the “morality” of scripture, as you seem to think, but the morality of a patriarchal society.

“Happenstance has played the greatest role in my life, forethought not being a strong suit.”
Opening sentence of “Trouble” by Kate Jennings. You could do worse than read that book, Doug (bite, bite!).

20

Doug 03.29.11 at 10:16 pm

I agree with what you say about a “patriarchal society” and that doesn’t at the same time contradict what I said. The society was immoral and so was the woman.

21

Pam 03.29.11 at 10:23 pm

I didn’t notice in your first comment on this thread any hint of condemning an immoral society, only condemnation of an immoral woman.
That’s what annoys me about you Doug. You point the finger, but never at yourself.

22

MendipNomad 03.29.11 at 10:31 pm

Where in scripture does it say that the woman was adulterous? Where does it say that her husbands had divorced her rather than died of natural causes? Where does it say that, if she had been divorced, it wasn’t on unreasonable grounds? Where does it say that she was having an immoral relationship with the man she lived with, could it not have been a male relative who had taken pity on her after 5 failed marriages? I am not saying that these are the right way, or even the sensible way, of understanding the passage, but the reality is that neither adultery or divorce are mentioned in the passage - I read it quite carefully before I preached on it last Sunday. You can’t claim that making such moralistic statements is a clear way of understanding the text with giving some proper, rigourous, thought out, contextually-based evidence for it. The woman admits the fact that Jesus speaks the truth of her situation, but all Jesus says is that she has had 5 husbands and that she currently lives with a man who is not her husband - all these criteria can be met without having broken Mosaic law. The fact she is gathering water at midday does suggest that her community views her as an outcast, and we might assume that John is explaining why by ensuring her history is raised in her conversation with Jesus (oh, whoops, did I let on that John, or whoever wrote the Gospel, might actually have had a say in how the story is told?), but the text does not specifically raise a clear matter of immoral behaviour.

23

MendipNomad 03.29.11 at 10:32 pm

Doug, in case you can’t tell, the above is directed at you - though I’m sure you can tell :)

24

Tony Buglass 03.29.11 at 10:41 pm

And it’s “adultery”, Doug, not adultry. Sorry. Just though I’d say.

25

Pam 03.29.11 at 10:55 pm

Mendip - I agree with your interpretation. But arguing with Doug is a fraught business. And Kim’s keyboard must have been stuck on caps lock, cause he’s big into “denial”!
Tony - you can still condemn it, even if you can’t spell it. Or understand it.

26

Doug 03.30.11 at 4:46 pm

Mendip, the definition of adultry is what the woman did. Jesus said, “The man you are with is not your husband.” While it doesn’t say the specific word it does mention directly the definition of the word which is exactly like saying the word.

For exampl: If I’m talking about a house one cannot say that I’m not saying there is no foundation of the house because I didn’t mention a foundation in relation to the house. For by the very definition and understanding of the building of the house there happens to be an underlying foundation. The same goes for this as well.

Tony and Pam, I find it interesting when I mispell you are quick to correct but when Kim and others do the same no correction is pointed out. Can you say “double standard”?

27

Doug 03.30.11 at 4:49 pm

At the very least it was fornication “she currently lives with a man who is not her husband”

28

Mendip Nomad 03.30.11 at 5:29 pm

Doug, the definition of adultery is having sexual relations outside of a current marriage - whether or not the woman is having sexual relations with the man she lives with, which is never made clear in the passage, since he’s not her husband it isn’t adultery. As for fornication - as mentioned above, the passage does not make it clear (though it may be implied, then again it may not be) who the man she lives with is, it may be a male relative who has taken pity on her.

Oh, and I’ve known houses built without foundations. The definition of ‘house’ does not include the requirement to have such things.

29

Doug 03.30.11 at 5:44 pm

Mendip, I think you get my point. Did you read post #27? I refer to fornication. The point I’m making is one cannot say that this woman was not immoral. I think from what you said you concur albeit indrirectly. I think it is clear with the “man she is living with is not her husband comment” that it is clear she is living is in fornication. For if the person was a relative Jesus would have mentioned it and absolutely would have made reference as to the nature of the “male person”. The fact He didn’t shows Christ was compassionate with the sin she was in and at the same time showed even more by revealing Himself to her her innermost secrets.

“Oh, and I’ve known houses built without foundations. The definition of ‘house’ does not include the requirement to have such things.”
Okay the analogy might not work perfectly but you get my point. The point being just because the specific word is not mentioned and the definition of the word is mentioned doesn’t mean that the person is not refering to the word in anyway, when in fact it is by the very nature of the definition being mentioned directly. That happens many times in Scripture. To think otherwise is utter nitpicking in light what Scripture says.

30

Tony Buglass 03.30.11 at 5:52 pm

“Tony and Pam, I find it interesting when I mispell you are quick to correct…”

Actually, I resisted the temptation for quite a long time. And where exactly did Kim msspell?

31

Doug 03.30.11 at 5:59 pm

It was a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure if you ask Kim he will be happy to reveal it. For me to go back through to the post is difficult since I’m not the administrator.

Tony, thank you for resisting the temptation. I too resist it. We all misspell from time to time. Even you did msspell. :)

32

Pam 03.30.11 at 10:38 pm

Doug, I am truly impressed by the depth of your shallowness. A friend of mine wrote to me recently and used the term “tower of weakness”. But you are a tower of bulls***.

33

Doug 03.30.11 at 11:11 pm

Pam, prove that the woman was not of illrepute in light of the fact that the woman at the well was living with a man who wasn’t her husband?

Can you do it? How is that shallow when that is what Scripture states?

34

Pam 03.30.11 at 11:35 pm

My proof that the woman was “not of ill repute” is the fact that Jesus chose to speak to her and not some pumped-up little Pharisee. She was “not of ill repute” to Jesus but profoundly valuable to him. As you are Doug.

35

Richard 03.30.11 at 11:41 pm

>> ‘She was “not of ill repute” to Jesus’

Great response.

36

Pam 03.31.11 at 12:24 am

If only Doug thought it was a “great response”. :)

37

Tony Buglass 03.31.11 at 9:57 am

” She was “not of ill repute” to Jesus but profoundly valuable to him.”

That’s gospel. And that’s the point - Jesus breaks through every social convention in order to reach people and bring salvation:
- an unaccompanied man approaching an unaccompanied woman was at least questionable (see.v.27);
- a Jew approaching a Samaritan was very unusual to say the least;
- he knows that her home situation is not orthodox: she has had five legal husbands who have died or divorced her, and is now living with a man who is not legally her husband. That is explicitly stated. It is possible and indeed probable that she is ‘living in sin.’ It is possible that in the background there is a cultural disagreement about the legality of the marriage: the rabbis did not approve of more than 3 marriages, although any number was legally possible (so CK Barrett’s commentary on John, p.235). We could speculate that she was married according to local or Samaritan custom (their equivalent of Gretna Green?) but not according to legal practice, but this is simply speculation. The most likely interpretation to be put on Jesus’ comments is that she is living in sin with this man.

38

Mendip Nomad 03.31.11 at 11:33 am

Tony, I agree, but my point above was that while such an interpretation may well be the most appropriate one, it is, in the end, only an interpretation. We don’t know the woman’s precise situation, and to say that we do is to read more into the text than is there. I don’t have a problem with concluding the woman was “living in sin”, I just have a problem with anyone who assumes or states categorically that it is the only possible interpretation.

39

Doug 03.31.11 at 3:37 pm

Pam and all I agree that to Jesus, in the end when she turned to Faith in Christ, she was “not of illrepute”. We are all valuable to Christ but ones who receive eternal life are those who repent and Believe by Faith in Christ’s death and resurrection.

Tony, your latest response was what I have been trying to say for so lone on this thread. I will add that it seems such a stretch and strange to suggest that the woman was living with the man she was living with without “living in sin”. I don’t see it as possible. It seems those who adhere to that thought are projecting ones own view onto the text.

Mendip, do you have a problem concluding like the author the Caergwyle preacher does that she wasn’t living in sin? You can’t have it both ways.

40

Doug 03.31.11 at 3:38 pm

…you should have a problem just like you do of the view Tony and I have of the woman.

41

Mendip Nomad 03.31.11 at 4:50 pm

*sigh* Doug, I don’t have a problem per se with the reading of the text that you and Tony put forward (certainly in regards to her situation at the time), it seems to me like a perfectly legitimate way of reading the text. My issue is that it is not the only way of reading the text, and is certainly not what I would focus a sermon on when preaching on the text (as I did this Sunday just past).

And that’s the thing - I don’t see the Bible as something that can only be read one way: it can be read many ways, some of which are compatible with one another, some of which aren’t. My background is in the arts of philosophy, political science, economics, and marketing & communications. I am used to debate and approaching arguments and viewpoints from more than one position. I was brought up in a household where asking questions of assumed views and opinions was important - and doing so with an open mind. I am open to changing my mind on things, but to do so means primarily assuming that while I believe I am right, I may be wrong. Indeed, I have changed my mind on things while here in Cambridge, including becoming what some might describe as more conservative in some of my views - though in most people’s eyes I’m sure I’d still be seen as a raving liberal :) But when I do debate, if I’m going to change my mind, what I need to persuade me is evidence and logic, not simply a statement that I’m wrong.

So, in relation to the text:

Do I think the woman is a prostitute? No.
Do I think there is evidence to suggest she is a prostitute? No.
Do I think she is “living in sin”? I’m open to the idea.
Do I think the text contains evidence for such a view? Yes.
Do I think those who take that view are legitimate to do so? Yes.
Do I think the evidence is conclusive? No.
Do I think her sinfulness is the focus of the story? No.
Do I think the Caergwrle blog raises legitimate issues? Yes.
Do I think my answers to these questions are correct to the exclusion of all other possible answers? No.

42

Doug 03.31.11 at 5:29 pm

Mendip, I don’t want you to take what I have written in a more than “harsh way” than it is. I think on this thread we have said both views to its ultimate conclusion. I will say that one can say what you have said to me to the Caergwrle blog with their view being as “exclusive as mine only in the opposite directi0n.

Mendip, while we don’t see 100% eye to eye, I consider you a wonderful person to talk to and always love to hear your views on things. :)

43

Pam 03.31.11 at 10:49 pm

Sorry, Doug, must continue. You really defy belief!
At comment 39: “when she turned to faith in Christ, she was not of ill repute”.
Jesus spoke to her “before” this happened. She was valuable to him “before” this happened.
You make non-believers look pretty good Doug.

44

Bob Gilston 03.31.11 at 10:58 pm

The original post via Caergwrle Methodist Church specifically made reference to preachers who brand the woman as a prostitute. David Lose (whose original post it was) quotes conservative preacher John Piper as saying she was a “worldly, sensually minded, unspiritual harlot from Samaria” (http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper84/040884m.htm)
He then goes on to expound the reasons for that sort of preaching as “misogyny” and “morality”.
I like Pam’s post “She was “not of ill repute” to Jesus but profoundly valuable to him.”

45

Pam 03.31.11 at 11:55 pm

Thanks Bob. Those hellfire preachers who love to rave on about “worldly, sensually minded, unspiritual harlots” makes me think - hmmm bit tired of the “holier than thou” lifestyle are we? Oops, I’ll get a reputation as being of “ill repute”!
I hasten to add that I view adultery as morally destructive, primarily in that it damages, in a deeply personal way, a relationship in betraying and hurting someone close. It also damages the fabric of society, just as many other “sins” do. It is never justifiable, but it happens and it happens to all kinds of people. How it is handled by clergy is very important - hypocrisy is never a good look.

I also really object to Doug using my name in the same sentence as some of his idiotic statements.

46

Doug 04.01.11 at 12:10 am

Because some people are Hypocritical should never be a reason to condone sin.

Pam, He spokle of her not as ill rupute because Christ knew the heart of the woman and knew that her heart was tender to Christ as Christ was to her in the midst of her condition. Once she turned herself by Fiath in Christ she became free as evident of her rejoicing and sharing her experience with the whole town.

47

Anonon 04.01.11 at 8:10 am

- Doug, that’s an interesting claim right there because once again Scripture is ambiguous about whether she does even truly become a believer in Christ. It is evident that she is amazed and shares her experience with the rest of the town but it nowhere says that she believed.

48

Paul F. 04.01.11 at 9:08 am

Well put, Anonon. For all we know, she put Jesus out of her mind and within a week went back to full-time whorin’!

(Tongue firmly in cheek, everybody. Tongue firmly in cheek.)

49

Pam 04.01.11 at 9:43 am

Like jokes Paul F, I have one for you:

There was a knock on the door yesterday morning, I opened it and there was a young bloke standing there who said: “I’m a Jehovah’s Witness.”
I said, “Come in and sit down. What do you want to talk about?”
He said, “Gosh, I dunno. I’ve never got this far before.”

50

Beth 04.01.11 at 9:53 am

I had a similar experience many years ago, Pam. I opened the door, and a young lady holding a Bible asked me “Have you come to know Jesus Christ as your Saviour?” I replied “Yes, thank you.” There was a long silence.

It was really quite sweet, rather like your poor JW!

51

Pam 04.01.11 at 10:04 am

:)

52

Kim 04.01.11 at 10:19 am

It is the consistent witness of the gospels that Jesus is always on the side of the accused, never the accuser (of course: the Accuser is the devil). Nor is he in the business of pointing out people’s faults with respect to what is usually called “personal ethics”, let alone judging and denouncing “sinners”. Nor - very interestingly - do the gospels tell us about people’s “repentance”, their change of behaviour or life-style - except when it comes to justice and mercy, i.e., social ethics (e.g., Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10). What moralists and legalists like DH never seem to get is that it is precisely Jesus’ refusal to condemn that opens up the possibility of people turning from sin and living grace-fully (e.g., the woman taken in adultery in John 8:1-11 - and BTW, I think that the command “do not sin again” has as much to do with Jesus’ concern that if the woman makes a habit of cheating she will find herself facing a mob again as it does with the destructive nature of adultery itself).

Oscar Wilde was on the mark about a lot of what passes as Christian ethics when he described morality as “an attitude one adopts towards people one doesn’t like.”

53

Doug 04.01.11 at 3:42 pm

Kim, Scripture is clear in the Gospels and elsewhere that sin IS pointed out. Scripture states that Holy Spirit is ther “to convict of sin, righteousness and judgement.” Jesus and even John the Baptist state “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Morality of Scripture is not an attitude given to people one doesn’t like.” Jesus understands and myself as well as a Believer that one can have compassion on people who sin and that Grace is made available to all and entered into by repentence and Faith in Christ’s death and resurrection.

It is very clear the command to the woman to “go and sin no more” is what it is. She wants her to follow on with the attitude of ones heart of what Christ did for her at that time.

Well annon and Paul F., I know no one who would put themselves in the woman’s shoes could do what she did without having Faith in Christ.

Pam, why don’t you condemn Paul F. for calling the woman a whore? I never stated that or believed that in anyway. She may have done fornication but being a whore absolutely not.

“Because some people are Hypocritical should never be a reason to condone sin. “

54

Paul F. 04.01.11 at 7:34 pm

Since it’s April Fools, I’ll try one, Pam:

Two overzealous evangelists visited a non-believer at his home one day, asking him the usual questions, such as “if you died tonight, where would you go and why”. Well-schooled in contemporary evangelism tactics, they refused to take “not interested” for an answer.

After 10-15 minutes of patiently listening to their sales pitch, as they pressed him to decide for Christ, the man abruptly cut them off.

“Wait, are the two of you going to heaven?” he asked his visitors.

Surprised, the boys looked at each other for a moment. “Yeah, sure. Of course we are!”

The man replied, “Well, then I definitely don’t want to go there. Thanks for stopping by.”

55

Pam 04.02.11 at 5:04 am

Kim, I read your comment (#52) and how it sits alongside your comment (#16) has certainly made me ponder a bit.
I think preachers can target a certain behaviour - say, adultery, or it could be non-compliance with what they wish them to do - and justify their personal view of this by interpreting scripture in a certain way. And they can use the pulpit (and other means) to further that agenda. Your observation that Jesus was “not in the business of pointing out people’s faults with respect to what is usually called personal ethics” is only half right (in my opinion). He most certainly pointed out people’s faults in personal ethics - hypocrisy, revenge, judging others.
All things we all do rather well.
The command “do not sin again”, in my view, is entirely a personal instruction and the damage that can continue to blight a life can only be overcome by following this. Much easier said than done though in the ‘real’ world. Being concerned with what society would think (”facing the mob”) may not be uppermost in the mind of someone who does commit adultery - a personal and highly private battle.
Preachers who lack sensitivity on this issue cannot reach those who need them most.

56

Kim 04.02.11 at 7:04 am

Pam, in my comment at #16 I was taking the piss out of DH, who is well know around here for his profligate use of the “If you DENY me” text, and for his hilarious references to the “Ites” whom God religiously slaughters in the OT.

As for my comment #52 and your references to the faults that Jesus does point out, I think they prove my point, though I see I should have been clearer. They are the sins of the Pharisees, not the sins of the “sinners” - these latter are the ones I had in mine when referring to “personal ethics”, which I was using euphememistically. Perhaps, for our context, I could have referred to “sexual” ethics. In Jesus’ day, however, the concept would have been broader - “purity” ethics might be the term. And, further, the term “sinner” (as Joachim Jeremias points out) “was not only a fairly general designation for those who notoriously failed to observe the commandments of God and at whom, therefore, everyone pointed a finger, but also a specific term for those engaged in despised trades [like tax collectors].” In any case, my point is that Jesus was not a finger-pointer when it came to the sins of those the leaders of Israel called “sinners”, while - you are right - he was most definitely a finger-pointer when it came to the culturally and religiously divisive sins of the leaders of Israel themselves. He always stood with the accused and against the accuser. And as the biblical scholar Theodore Jennings observes, “Only when it is a question of social ethics, or rather of justice and mercy, are we told of a transformation in the sinner.”

I hope that’s helpful.

57

Pam 04.02.11 at 7:33 am

“I hope that’s helpful”. Sort of. It dodged a few tricky questions. Me, a Pharisee, never! Just does not apply to me.

I’ve been reading Richard Glover (Sydney Morning Herald columnist) today and his article “Why the internet will destroy the planet”.
Last paragraph: First thing tomorrow the whole internet will collapse, unable to cope with the quantity of bile pumping through the pipes. There will be a final Nigerian email pinging into your mailbox and then silence for ever. We can but hope.

58

Pam 04.02.11 at 7:52 am

Paul F’s comment #48.
Didn’t say it last night. But I’ll say it now. Totally offensive. We can say all sorts of things and then “tongue in cheek, just joking everyone”. I don’t know whether he is a minister/member of congregation/professional layabout but most definitely not a comedian. At least I hope not.

59

Kim 04.02.11 at 8:26 am

Pam, I am gobsmacked that you think I think you are a Pharisee. What have I said that could make you infer such a personal thing? It’s like being in Taxi Driver and you’re Travis Bickle: “You talkin’ to me? YOU TALKIN’ TO ME!” I think I’ll just shut up.

60

Pam 04.02.11 at 8:28 am

I did not say that you, Kim, think I, Pam, am a Pharisee. Rather the reverse. Why are my comments being moderated? Why don’t you answer the questions I put to you in comment 55.

61

Richard 04.02.11 at 8:39 am

Be calm, Pam. You’re starting to ‘fly off the handle’. Your comments aren’t being moderated. One was, for reasons that are not personal to you. Trust me on this.

62

Pam 04.02.11 at 8:41 am

“I think preachers can target a certain behaviour - say, adultery, or it could be non-compliance with what they wish them to do - and justify their personal view of this by interpreting scripture in a certain way. And they can use the pulpit (and other means) to further that agenda.”
You have unfairly targeted me at another blog - and now you are running away from what you’ve done. Yes, by all means, shut up and don’t answer.

63

Kim 04.02.11 at 8:52 am

Me, a Pharisee, never! Just does not apply to me. (#58)
I did not say that you, Kim, think I, Pam, am a Pharisee. Rather the reverse. (#60)

Go on, square the circle.

You have unfairly targeted me at another blog
WTF!

We obviously here have a failure to communicate. And if you think it’s all my fault, that’s okay. Goodbye and good luck.

64

Pam 04.02.11 at 9:04 am

You treated my comment 55 with your answer at comment 56 with disregard to the true purpose of my comment. You have also deliberately misinterpreted “Me, a Pharisee, never! Just does not apply to me.” I have cleared that up but there’s still a “failure to communicate”.
Goodbye and good luck sounds like a pretty sweet idea to me.

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