Love is an Orientation (John 8:1-11)
8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Jean Vanier, in his book Drawn Into The Mystery of Jesus, writes that this scene presents Jesus with a test, in which, he can either contradict the law, which demanded the death of an adulterous woman, or contradict his own message of forgiveness. Instead he simply writes something in the sand but we are never told what he writes.
In the ANE, only women were tried for adultery. They were largely treated as “non-entities” by the religious leaders but not by Jesus. Who falls into that category today? It seems to be that it is the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) community.
The Marin Foundation (http://www.themarinfoundation.org/) has conducted the largest scientific survey on the spiritual attitudes of members of the GLBT community. Among their findings:
86% of the GLBT community grew up in a church.
73% no longer attend a church although many engage in “alternative spiritual pursuits.”
Why did they leave? The top 5 reasons are:
17.2% because of the church’s stance on homosexuality
16.2% because they believe religion is “destructive, deceitful & hypocritical.”
15.2% Not interesting.
12.1% Disagree with other doctrines or beliefs.
10% because they no longer believed in God or a higher power.
Yet, 1/3 of those who left are willing to give church another shot but what will it take? Again, according to Marin,
1) Patience & time.
2) A non-judgmental community
3) Support of family & friends
4) A place where they can feel God’s love
5) Teaching that is easily understood
But how do you handle the initial hostility of the GLBT community?
Marin lists the big 5 questions and recommendations on how to deal with them:
Do you think gays and lesbians are born that way? I don’t care.
Do you think homosexuality is a sin? I think we all sinners guilty of all sins (James 2:10).
Can a GLBT person change their sexual orientation? Jesus changes everyone who follows him. I don’t know how he’ll change you.
Do you think someone can be gay and Christian? Can a person be a sinner and a Christian?
Are GLBT people going to hell? Heaven or hell is largely determined not by what we do but by what Jesus has done (2 Cor. 5:21).
Please understand that this approach is not about affirming homosexuality. I (Matt) take a conservative stance on what the Bible teaches about homosexuality but it is about following Jesus in elevating the conversation and trusting the spirit to do it’s work.
What did Jesus write in the sand? No one knows but I think the message of whatever he wrote was “we are all broken” and that we need to treat each other as such.
Recommended Reading: Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin