Ashley Madison and the Pharisees


Did users of Ashley Madison get what they deserved?

Condenscending_Wonka_Ashley_Madison_hypocrisy

7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

 

~ Jn 8:7

The entire Ashley Madison affair (pun intended) reveals in some the tendency to engage in judgmentalism. In this case, it comes in the guise of “gossip” or “news”, which sometimes are just covers for a critical yet hypocritical attitude. In reality, it just becomes a drama of Ashley Madison and the Pharisees of today.

What is perhaps most interesting is that very, very often people who engage in constant criticism of others unintentionally show their own true colors along the way. It is not 100%, and it is easily open to misinterpretation, but it is surprising how often it is accurate. For example, one such figure who criticizes everyone but himself may as well have been looking in the mirror one day recently:

There is an anti God website out there which habitually lies by taking small points out of context and spinning them to appear to mean the precise opposite of the truth. This is not a site trying to be accurate, but a site of willful lying. …

This person has often been called a Pharisee, and it is a title befitting him. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day did the same exact thing. They brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus in order to try to convict Him of something. Instead, He exposed their hypocrisy.

Can Crime Fight Crime?

Before we look at that example, however, please allow me to point out what is probably obvious to most people: Two wrongs don’t make a right. The people who hacked into the website committed a crime by doing so. The fact that they leaked private information only compounds their crimes.

During 1968 – 1970, there was a television show called To Catch a Thief. It had an interesting premise. The main character of the show was a convicted thief who was hired by the government in return for his early release.

As interesting as that was, is that how we want our government to conduct itself? Do we want the authorities committing crimes in order to catch criminals? It is not a trivial question, for this is in large part what is behind the very idea of entrapment. Legal authorities entrap others into criminal activity by themselves engaging in criminal activity and encouraging others to do the same.

What of other things not even sanctioned by the state? Some applaud bombers of abortion clinics, after all, but is it really “pro-life” to bomb centers where living people work? It may seem like a sort of poetic justice, but in reality who gives any individual the authority to carry out justice?

Yes, I know. You’re probably tired of the spheres of authority thing, but in reality isn’t that what everything comes back to? Isn’t mankind in such trouble because Adam and Eve did not recognize God’s authority? David understood authority by not raising his hand even against a wicked king. How little so many in the Church (supposedly) understand authority today!

Likewise, it may be a poetic irony that people feel betrayed by lax security on a website dedicated to cheating. Still, that does not make it right.

In fact, the only way it could be right if the perpetrator were not guilty of the very same sin. Yet, it is obvious they are not.

Perhaps the larger problem is that according to the biblical standard those who would most rejoice over this outing of adulterers are guilty of the very same sin.

This (should) be evident in the story of the adulterous woman.

Jesus and the Adulteress

So, let’s look at what it really says. It is easy to gloss over it, not read it, listen to prejudiced ideas of what it contains and totally miss how we should be applying the lessons in our own lives.

First, let’s read it all the way through to keep the context:

2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

 

~ Jn 8:2-11

There is a lot in this passage, and no single blog article can do it justice. Having said that, it is important that we at least begin to unpack it and see what we are supposed to take away from the story.

For example, some have used this passage as an excuse to tolerate sin. It nowhere in this passage says to do so. In fact, Jesus ends the account by saying to “Go and sin no more”, thus upholding the Law. Some have used this to say that Christians should be against the death penalty, but by upholding the Law, Jesus upheld the penalty for breaking it. In fact, Jesus encourages them to follow the Law, yet with a very huge caveat.

It is that caveat that many seem to get wrong, and I suspect some do so willingly in order to justify their own bad behavior.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple

This took place in the temple area. It would have been the area where justice was to be dispensed according to the Mosaic Law. The scribes and Pharisees came there for a ruling, interestingly which would have been done by a priest, of a legal matter. Of course, seeking a ruling is quite a different thing than seeking justice, as even our own courts can attest.

3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

So, they brought a woman accused of adultery. Now, if she were truly caught “in the very act”, then you have to wonder where the man was. After all, it takes two in order to commit adultery, does it not?

It should be clear that adultery was punishable by death. That means at least two witnesses were required (Dt 17:6). In fact, the witnesses would be the first to throw any stones should she be found guilty (v7).

This should lead you to question: Who would be the first witness in adultery? Isn’t it convenient that no man was brought before Jesus?

5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

Um, no, that is not what the Law says. Here is how subtle false teachers can be at twisting Scripture. Here is what it actually says:

10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

~ Lev 20:10

Jesus saw right through their twisted thinking, though. Did you? Do you recognize such twisted thinking of false teachers? Do you recognize it when you try to justify yourself?

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him.

They wanted to accuse Him. They were under Roman rule. If He said to stone her, the religious leaders could accuse Him of insurrection and causing a riot. If He said to not stone her, He would be accused of disregarding the Law of Moses.

Isn’t it interesting how often the enemies of God don’t change their tactics? Skeptics today ask why Christians do not stone people if they really believe in the Bible. Most people cannot adequately answer it because they do not understand that God has granted each of us spheres of authority, and God has placed rulers with wider spheres than those being ruled over.

Instead, mainstream Christianity claims the Law has been done away. Of course, that does not and should not impress any thinking person, let alone a skeptic.

Worse, though, the average COG person cannot answer it either. They have either been erroneously taught that the Church is God’s government on earth (verse, please?), in which case the Church is guilty of not carrying out God’s judgment, or they have been taught that portions of the Law have somehow mysteriously been spiritualized away into thin air and not applicable, which contradicts the notion that Jesus, Who gave the Law, is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).

God-given authority is at the heart of everything that is wrong with this planet. The entire story of humanity is one where mankind has rejected divinely revealed knowledge and rejected the authority behind it.

Jesus understood this. He realized that even He, as a human being, must submit to rightful authority, even if that authority is unrighteous, as long as the authority does not command breaking God’s Law.

It has often been said that if we cannot learn how to be ruled, then we cannot learn how to rule others.

But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

We are not told what Jesus wrote upon the ground, but what ever it was made them feel guilty.

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her…. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience …

I’ve heard some odd speculations about what Jesus wrote on the ground, but he most straightforward possibility is that He wrote down dates that each of those men had visited her themselves. Perhaps He even wrote their names beside those dates.

Are You Guilty?

Even the scribes and Pharisees, with Jesus’ help, realized they could not stone the adulteress without convicting themselves of death also. There is quite a lesson here. We must be mindful that we ourselves do not engage in hypocrisy.

And, are you guilty of adultery? Are you sure you are not?

28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

 

~ Mt 5:28

Perhaps there is a woman reading this who has never lusted after another, but you’ll have to forgive me if I remain skeptical. I can say as a man that any man who claims he has never lusted after someone else is either a liar, a eunuch or both.

Attitude

Then, there is the even more destructive attitude of salivating over the hurt of others. The Bible also has examples of these. These are the gossips, the backstabbers and those with a root of bitterness.

17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

18 Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him [and turn it towards you!].

 

~ Pr 24:17-18

And,

…he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.

 

~ Pr 17:5b

The Missing Puzzle Piece

So, what does this leave us with? After all, isn’t there a contradiction in Scripture where some imprecatory Psalms call for rejoicing of the righteous in the destruction of the wicked? What of the song that Moses and Israel sang which rejoices in the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in the sea?

The key is that it is the righteous who rejoice. Who are the righteous? Are you one of the righteous? The righteous are those who keep God’s Law, but who of us has not broken His Law?

Who are the righteous? “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

As I said earlier, he who cannot be ruled will not qualify to rule. More importantly, he who will not rule himself will be disqualified to rule others. He who claims to be without sin has shown that he is unwilling to rule himself and is a liar (1Jn 1:8). He who judges others harshly will himself be judged harshly (Mt 7:1-2).

You know, next time some false teacher criticizes such-and-thus of being lax in keeping the Law, it might do well to keep Jesus’ warning about condemnation in mind.

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