The doors flung open into the Temple where Jesus sat teaching. The doctors of the Law and the most elite religious leaders burst into the worship experience dragging behind them a barely clad woman. Their accusation against her is incontrovertible. “Master, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery” (John 8:4).
Caught in the act! There is no question about her guilt. Now how do you defend against that? The facts were not about to be challenged. The only challenge was the challenge they brought to Jesus. Is Jesus righteous or is he gracious? Is he a law and order Saviour or will he be soft on crime?
All forms of sex and sexuality that are not within the confines of a covenant between a husband (man) and a wife (woman) are by definition “deviant”. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge”. I Corinthians 6:18 says,“Flee fornication…but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body”. Ephesians 5:3 says,“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be named among you, as becometh saints”.
Sexual deviance in a church is not new. The Apostle Paul called sexual deviance “the unfruitful works of darkness”. He demands that sexual deviance be “reproved”. “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-12). Sexual deviance is to be reproved, not widely reported or constantly repeated. What sexual deviants do in secret should not be in our conversations. The word “reproved” means to “call to account, show one his fault and demand an explanation”. This is how restoration begins.
This woman caught in the very act is a sexual deviant. She is the accused. The churched leaders that brought her are the afflicted. She is accused of sexual deviance and they are afflicted with spiritual disorder. The are so spiritually disordered that this woman’s life and future means nothing to them. They are “grace haters”. They want to stone her. They want to headline her shame. They want to parade (in the middle of the sanctuary) somebody else’s sins and scandal. All they want is to make a point and win an argument.
I have lived long enough in the churched culture and context to know that the “holier than thou” are usually the “hollower than thou”. The selective moral outrage over this woman’s sexual deviance reeks of hypocrisy. She is not the only sexual deviant in the text. The accusation is adultery. Where is the person she was committing adultery with? How is it that we cannot stand sexual deviance in one, but have nothing to say about the sexual deviance of others?
Jesus never condemned those who were already condemned. Jesus never exposed those who were already caught. Jesus rebuked those who hid their sins while revealing the sins of others. Jesus condemned religious people who hated grace and showed no mercy. He knew her sin. He also knew her need. She needed a friend. Jesus is a friend. He is “the friend of sinners”.
“I will not condemn thee.. Go, and don’t do that sin again” (John 8:11). Jesus was not soft on sin. Jesus was gripped by grace. Grace saves and sanctifies. Grace delivers us from the deviances that almost destroyed us. Grace also disciplines our future actions and decisions. Truly forgiven and grateful people change when they are embraced by grace.
All those who came to accuse her discovered that day that Jesus came to deliver us from what we’ve done, not to destroy us by it. “He that cannot sin or has not sinned let him first cast a stone..” (John 8:7).