I do admit, it is a provocative title. And I did not really think I would write anything relating to this on the blog. Ever. But the title, or the essence of it, has been sitting in my mind for a few weeks.

It began when I read John 8, specifically the record of the woman caught in adultery.

I had also been watching The Clinton Affair, so the themes of this story were already prominent in my mind and I could not help seeing the relevance of this story today.

The account of the woman caught in adultery can be found in John 8:1-11. In summary, Jesus was teaching in the temple court when the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in the center of the court and tested Jesus by recounting that the Law of Moses says to stone this woman to death for having committed adultery, but what does He say should happen to her?

In response, Jesus knelt down and began writing on the ground with His finger. The scribes and Pharisees were unrelenting and kept pressing Jesus for an answer. Jesus got up and said, “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7 AMP). Jesus then knelt down again and continued writing.

The scribes and Pharisees then began to depart the scene, slowly, one-by-one (starting with the oldest, the Amplified Bible says), until it was only Jesus and the woman left.

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?
She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11 AMP)

This happened roughly two-thousand years ago, but it’s something you see everyday today.

You only have to go online for a moment to see all sorts of heinous accusations and name-calling at the slightest thing. These hurtful comments and threats can be at anything and everything, not just at situations like the above. But for this post, I want to focus on a specific kind of accusation: slut shaming. Slut shaming refers to “The action or fact of stigmatizing a woman for engaging in behaviour judged to be promiscuous or sexually provocative”.

Essentially, this is what happened in John 8 when the scribes and Pharisees dragged this woman in front of Jesus in the temple court and demanded He sentence her for being caught in adultery. To clarify, adultery is when a married person sleeps with another person who is not their spouse.

Now, adultery is wrong. God clearly spelled this out in the Ten Commandments:

You shall not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14 AMP

And all throughout the Bible this is reinforced. Jesus also expanded on this in Matthew 5:27-28 when He said,

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who [so much as] looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28 AMP

The Bible is clear that adultery is wrong. There is no doubt about that, and I will not be contradicting that in this post. What the woman did in John 8 was wrong.

The scribes and Pharisees knew this too. So much so that they caught her in the act and dragged her to the temple court, made her stand in the center of it, in front of everyone and Jesus, and demanded Jesus sentence this woman.

To add to the matter, the scribes and Pharisees quoted the law of Moses by saying that this woman, because she has committed adultery, must be stoned to death (John 8:5).

Here’s what the Law says as recorded in Deuteronomy 22:22-24,

If a man is intimate with a woman who is another man’s wife, they shall both be put to death, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall remove the evil from Israel. If a young woman who is a virgin is engaged (legally betrothed) to a man, and another man finds her in the city and is intimate with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and stone them to death – the young woman because she did not cry out for help [though she was] in the city, and the man because he has violated his neighbor’s [promised] wife. So you shall remove the evil from among you.

Deuteronomy 22:22-24 AMP

This is tough to read.

Do you see a crucial thing the scribes and Pharisees missed when they brought the woman before Jesus?

The man. Where was the man?

You cannot commit adultery on your own, so where is the other guilty party?

This clearly does not escape Jesus, who was well versed in the Law of Moses, and who knew that the scribes and Pharisees were trying to bait Him. (Today, we would call this trolling).

So, what does Jesus do?

He does not “feed the trolls”, but stoops down and writes on the ground. The tro-, I mean scribes and Pharisees, kept pushing for a response from Jesus, which He eventually did give them.

…He straightened up and said, “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8:7 AMP

And then Jesus stooped back down and began writing on the ground again.

The Bible then says that at Jesus’ response, the scribes and Pharisees began to leave, “one by one, starting with the oldest ones” (John 8:9 AMP).

It is very easy to make judgements on situations, regardless of whether we know it in part or in whole. I can’t tell you how many times a day I can make an assumption (good or bad) about someone just by the way they’re dressed or what they say.

If this is something we do almost unconsciously, how much more do we do it when we are presented with certain facts with the intent to elicit a judgement? I know in this post I’m focusing on slut shaming, but we see this with almost anything.

It seems that everywhere we look, we are being presented with information to make a judgement. It can be the way a story is presented, how something is marketed, and even how we show ourselves on social media. From all of this, it is so easy to make judgements based on what we see, regardless of whether it is the whole truth or not.

And even though we try not to, we are probably still going to jump to conclusions about these things. But we do not need to let those conclusions influence how we respond to them.

In Part 2, I explore how just as we see an example of today’s slut shaming in John 8, we also see Jesus show us the resolution to that for today.

Photo by Kevin Jesus Horacio on Unsplash

3 thoughts on ““Slut Shaming” and the Gospel: Part 1

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