In the bustling streets of Jerusalem, a group of Pharisees and scribes brings a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus. They were testing his wisdom and adherence to Mosaic law. They ask whether she should be stoned, as the law prescribes. Jesus responds with the famous words, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus’ response challenges the accusers to examine their own imperfections before condemning the woman. The accusers, convicted by their own consciences, drop their stones and leave. Jesus then turns to the adulterous woman, showing compassion and forgiveness, saying, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Adultery is prevalent at the present time. A study by the American Psychological Association found that 23.4% of men and 19.1% of women in the general population have cheated on their spouses.
Based on infidelity statistics, it is estimated that approximately 40% of unmarried relationships and 25% of marriages experience at least one instance of infidelity. Additionally, a publication in the Marriage and Divorce Journal reported that around 70% of all Americans are involved in some form of extramarital affair at some point during their married life.
Adultery and stoning in the Bible
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them.” – Leviticus 20:10-12
Adultery refers to the act of a married person engaging in sexual relations with someone other than their spouse. Stoning was a method of execution prescribed in the Old Testament for various offenses, including adultery.
Adultery is condemned in the Bible as a sin and a violation of the seventh of the Ten Commandments, which states, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). This essential command reflects the sanctity of marriage in Judeo-Christian ethics and the outcome of marital infidelity. The story of King David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12) is a prominent example of adultery that led to severe consequences. His children experienced violent deaths because of God’s wrath,
The Adulterous Woman: Did Jesus evade the Mosaic Law?
Some argue that Jesus’ refusal to condone the stoning of the adulterous woman signifies a change in Old Testament laws. However, Jesus declined to stone her because the complete requirements of Mosaic law for such punishment were not met. Her male counterpart was absent, and there were also no witnesses to her alleged adulterous acts.
Nevertheless, the New Testament maintains that the consequences of sin remain severe. Paul affirms that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), emphasizing the need for repentance. Jesus stressed that merely professing faith is not enough. One must also do God’s will (Matthew 7:21), consistent with God’s long-standing desire for purity and holiness.
Contrary to abolishing Old Testament law, Jesus clarified His mission as fulfilling it, asserting its permanence until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17). Rather than lowering moral standards, He heightened them, equating lust with adultery (Matthew 5:28). Both Old and New Testaments reveal the same holy, merciful God, condemning sin but seeking redemption through Christ’s sacrifice.
Within the Bible, the expression “sexual immorality” encompasses a spectrum of sexual actions regarded as sinful. The notion of sexual immorality in the Bible is frequently linked to transgressions of God’s directives about sexual faithfulness in marriage. Here are several fundamental facets of sexual immorality as delineated in the Bible:
1. Adultery. It involves sexual relations between a married person and someone other than their spouse. This notion is explicitly condemned in the Bible (Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; Matthew 5:27-28).
2. Fornication. This sin generally refers to sexual relations between unmarried individuals and is viewed as sexually immoral in the Bible. The Bible promotes sexual purity and abstinence until marriage (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).
4. Incest. Sexual relationships between close relatives, such as siblings or parents and children, are condemned as immoral in the Bible (Leviticus 18:6-18).
5. Prostitution. The Bible generally condemns prostitution and the exchange of sexual favors for money or goods (1 Corinthians 6:15-16).
6. Lustful thoughts. The Bible also emphasizes the importance of avoiding lustful thoughts and desires, equating them with adultery in one’s heart (Matthew 5:27-28).
Adultery as a contributing factor to divorce
Three people having a meeting. (Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels)
Adultery stands as a prominent factor contributing to divorce in numerous nations. When either spouse or both partake in extramarital relationships, it frequently undermines the bedrock of the marital bond. It ultimately results in loss of trust, marital troubles, and eventual divorce.
Based on statistics, approximately 17% of marriages end due to infidelity. It’s noted that women often engage in extramarital affairs seeking emotional connection, whereas men tend to cheat primarily for sexual reasons.
Numerous societal factors also advocate for the acceptance of simplified divorce procedures. In the United States, divorce laws are characterized by their leniency. It allows virtually anyone to terminate a marriage and enter a new one without significant constraints.
Through the adoption of “no-fault divorce,” individuals can assert “incompatibility” or “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce, even if their spouse strongly opposes the decision. Adultery also often leads to intense emotional pain for both spouses. It can complicate divorce by fueling resentment, anger, and a lack of cooperation during negotiations or custody disputes.
“Go and Sin No More”
A woman walking with a bike. (Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels)
She said, ” No one, Lord”. And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” – John 8:11
We are all sinners. Paul declared in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This verse reinforces that sin is a universal human condition, irrespective of background or status. It underscores that self-righteousness is unjustifiable, as everyone falls short of God’s perfection. Recognizing our sinfulness should cultivate humility and reliance on God’s grace for redemption.
The Bible teaches us to approach others with empathy and understanding, knowing that we share a common fallen nature. God’s truths inspire us to extend the same forgiveness and compassion we seek from God, fostering reconciliation and deepening our relationship with our Creator. They remind us of our constant need for divine grace and guidance in navigating the complexities of human existence.
The Lord’s message resonates in a world often marked by quick judgments and unforgiving attitudes, especially in the age of social media and cancel culture. It reminds us that extending forgiveness and providing avenues for redemption should remain fundamental values in our society.
The sanctity of marriage is a foremost command. The pious and root of a happy married life extends to the family and society. Approaching God in repentance and willingness to change from our sinful ways reverts us to a holy fellowship with our Creator.
The story of the adulterous woman illustrates the transformative power of compassion. In a world often characterized by judgment and division, mercy has the potential to heal wounds, bridge divides, and help individuals rediscover their true identity.
More from Crossmap: God is very serious about adultery. – Divorce Minister
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about The Story of the Adulterous Woman: Compassion and redemption in modern society.