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A quote containing various takes or points on the saying, "go and sin no more". open for wherever it may go...

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Abusing scriptures: “Go and sin no more.”

Posted on October 4, 2013


—by Nicolas Poussin, from Wikimedia Commons:

 

"Jesus’ parting words to the woman caught in adultery are “Go your way, and do not sin again.” This is a favorite line for Christians who wish to maintain that Christian ethics demands forgiveness, but not the excusing of continued sexual immorality. It crops up with tiresome regularity in discussions about the acceptability of gay and lesbian love in church communities. (The argument only makes sense if you already agree that homosexuality is a sin). Jesus forgives the woman, goes the reasoning, but he doesn’t excuse her sin.

This is certainly one way to read the passage, and I’m happy to consider this understanding of it (even if I reject the implication that gay or lesbian love is the moral equivalent of adultery). But I find it troubling how we use this passage to construct a theological system about sin and how we approach it within Christian community. Doing so places us right back in the position of the murderous men.

 

A couple of preliminary points:

First, I think it’s important to point out that this story is an addition to John. I don’t think that necessarily decreases its legitimacy as a Jesus story, or as an authoritative, inspired text, but I think it’s important to point out before exegeting it.

Second, there’s a great detailed summary of the social situation of the woman in this blog post, which suggests that the title should not be “The Woman Caught in Adultery” but “Jesus and the Murderous Men.” Capital punishment by subjugated people under Roman occupation was actually illegal. Occupiers tend to frown upon native populations carrying out their own executions, which is why Jesus was handed over to the Romans to be killed. These men bring the woman to Jesus to be stoned in violation of Roman law and accepted Jewish practice, which called any council that condemned more than one person to death in seven years a “murderous” council.

If we want to figure out how “sin” is used in this story, it doesn’t make sense to talk about Jesus’ words to the woman without also connecting it to his statement to the men. They bring a woman (and not a man) to Jesus to be stoned. He tells them, “Let the one without sin throw the first stone.” So nobody does. They all walk away. But Jesus doesn’t tell them to go and sin no more. They leave of their own accord.

Why? Why wouldn’t they stick around to see if someone would pick up a rock? Why didn’t they engage in a discussion with Jesus about which sins are punishable by death and which ones are not? This is the usual pattern in discussions with Jesus and religious leaders. I honestly can’t imagine Christians who quote the “go and sin no more” line giving up so easily and melting back into the crowd. They would at least want to stick around and hear what Jesus said to the woman.

Is “sin no more” implied in Jesus’ words to the men? If he were to tell them to sin no more, what sin would he be referring to? To their private (and perhaps sexual) sins? To the sin of dragging a woman in front of him to be stoned? Or is their sin just sort of a generic, “We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) variety?

I really like Tony’s observations about the “muddy” situation that the woman is in, and that the whole violence-against-women narrative is not incidental to the story. Discussions about what constitutes sin (sexual or otherwise) and who is guilty of it are frequently tied to ways we legitimize violence. We don’t actually know her story. We accept the men’s accusations at face value. It is entirely possible that she has been sexually mistreated, married off at an early age and against her will. It is possible that she has been set up, or even raped. If so, “Go and sin no more” sounds like blaming the victim. Is Jesus complicit in a culture of rape and violence?

Or maybe Jesus means the words differently. Do we hear Jesus’ words to her in the same way we hear his words to the murderous men? Are we sure that his “Go and sin no more” is a reference to her adultery, or might it refer to something else? After all, if we’re going to let the men off with generic sinfulness, why do we assume the word “sin” refers to her alleged adultery?

Or maybe Jesus is just treating her as their equal (and equally capable of judgment and violence). Perhaps, having been cleared of her sin (“neither do I condemn you”), she is truly free from slut-shaming culture. If so then the men, it would seem, are still stuck in their sin. After all, Jesus doesn’t tell them to sin no more. Their shame keeps them from asking forgiveness from either Jesus or the woman they have dragged before him. They wander away before hearing any words that release them from their condemnation.

Shouldn’t they have apologized? Does our shame keep us from reconciling with people we have judged? It’s possible that this is not a happy ending. Her accusers go back to their judgmental ways. Are we to imagine that the crowd that had shamed her will treat her as an equal from now on, and not refer to her as “The Woman Caught in Adultery,” the way we do?

I also don’t think the story is complete without looking at the ways Jesus discusses sin in other places in John. In one story, he tells a formerly paralyzed man not to sin so that nothing worse happens to him. In another, when his disciples ask him whose sin caused a man to be born blind, Jesus says, “No one.” Is it possible to put together a coherent theology of sin, forgiveness, and the divine will from these passages without doing intellectual acrobatics?

I love this story. It’s one reason I’m not content to say it doesn’t belong in John’s gospel. But I think it’s sad that we appropriate a scripture that explicitly rejects violence and inequality to legitimize more violence and inequality. It’s abusing scripture: abusing it and using it to abuse"

Edited by 3bob

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And did you notice that the man she supposedly had sex with was not brought forth to Jesus to be judged for his sins?

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And did you notice that the man she supposedly had sex with was not brought forth to Jesus to be judged for his sins?

 

yes, and many more points or observations such as the following:

 

"Is it possible to put together a coherent theology of sin, forgiveness, and the divine will from these passages without doing intellectual acrobatics?"

 

Which I think is related to why many people have more or less given up on certain aspects of religion as it is often expressed via what could be called orthodox and or fundamental ways that don't include or accept an inquiring mind...

Edited by 3bob
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Old gag...

And Jesus said...

" Let any amongst you who is without sin cast the first stone."

Silence.

Then, suddenly; a single rock flew from the back of the crowd narrowly missing the poor woman's head.

Jesus scanned the crowd tetchily and then called out...

"That was NOT meant as an invitation mother!"

Edited by GrandmasterP
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Morality and sins. These really vary amongst different cultures.

 

Being an Atheist I will have to be very sparing regarding my posts in this thread.

 

But yes, orthodox and fundamental dogma just doesn't work well if there are contradictions within the various dogma.

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Since it's also said after times that he healed people, I think it's just a general saying...not meant only for that one woman, but for everyone. I guess it could be thought that sin causes sickness or bad situations to happen...so to avoid those things in the future, try to live better. We're all supposed to stop sinning, or try as best we can, according to Jesus' teaching. "Try to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect". Part of not sinning simply includes forgiving others.

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Well BKA brought up a valid point in another string about dealing with [email protected]#$!& -Btw, the Book of Revelations in Christianity also brings it up and there-in Jesus and His angels then have and exercise other aspects besides forgiveness... (thus we can then be back to related comments made in post #3)

Edited by 3bob
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Yes, I know about dealing with AH's, in fact, I are one sometimes, but I won't talk about the Book of Revelations.

 

Many years ago I walked into a meeting place and the only two there at my arriving were two elderly ladies. (It was an Apple Computer User's Group) I asked them what they were talking about and they siad the Book of Revelations. I wish them luck with that and then added that whoever wrote that book was on some really, really heavy stuff. They smiled out of politeness but I'm sure they weren't interested in my observation.

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Old gag...

And Jesus said...

" Let any amongst you who is without sin cast the first stone."

Silence.

Then, suddenly; a single rock flew from the back of the crowd narrowly missing the poor woman's head.

Jesus scanned the crowd tetchily and then called out...

"That was NOT meant as an invitation mother!"

Those Imaculate mothers!

Edited by Spotless
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The implication that everyone else has done something as prohibited as her-and his own behavior is, in itself casting a rock, society defines what is prohibited behavior, and if society deems it fine to throw the rocks , and in fact it is expected of them to maintain the 'order' of the community.

Even if they had done equally 'bad things' for which they had not been punished, disobeying the societal responsibility to uphold its verdict would simply be an additional transgression.

Potentially , The correct thing to do was actually stone them both without motivation from personal bias.

Ist the king suggested to remove himself from the equasion , reflecting the verdict of the times , like a placid pool?

Does not, the following of orders, as long as they are considered the legal and proper orders, remove the responsibilty of the act from the perpetrator? or is every individual to question and be responsible for everything they are told to do?

The measure of a man can be seen in what he chooses to do , when he has choice, and its not evident, when he doesnt.

Edited by Stosh

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Fair arguement. I don't accept all of it though.

 

There are always choices. Are we to always to do what society tells us to de even when we know doing so would be wrong and counter to our better judgement? I think not. But then, I'm an Anarchist.

 

Some person, likely a man, defined what a sin is. That's fine for that person. Doesn't mean it is a sin for another person.

 

Societies set the norm. Sure. But it is my opinion that some societies are really fucked up real bad. But that's just my opinion. I wouldn't go to a brothel and tell the ladies that they couldn't sell their services anymore.

 

But I would tell a man, as I was cutting his throat, that he couldn't rape thirteen year old girls anymore.

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Fair arguement. I don't accept all of it though.

 

There are always choices. Are we to always to do what society tells us to de even when we know doing so would be wrong and counter to our better judgement? I think not. But then, I'm an Anarchist.

 

Some person, likely a man, defined what a sin is. That's fine for that person. Doesn't mean it is a sin for another person.

 

Societies set the norm. Sure. But it is my opinion that some societies are really fucked up real bad. But that's just my opinion. I wouldn't go to a brothel and tell the ladies that they couldn't sell their services anymore.

 

But I would tell a man, as I was cutting his throat, that he couldn't rape thirteen year old girls anymore.

I agree wholly, the ' tricky' part of the post.. the idea that usually throws folks off, is the part about being 'proper', they want to do the ' right ' thing that is condoned by all three, the law, the locals present , and according to their own conscience ( as if these things were synonymous which only SOMETIMES they can be.)

As for the exception that you make about alway there being choices, yeah thats reasonably said , true etc, one can choose not to do the thing which they think socially approved of.

Say the guy who was to drop 'fat man' said hmmm, "I dont think this is good , Im refusing" , well ,,there are consequences to that decision to be dealt with ,, the ramifications of his choices may be very compelling its not a very free choice IMO , same as those thirteen yr old girls are not at fault, I dont think they had free choice either.

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Btw, I think a related tangent is spoken of in The T.T.C. Chapter 74, and more so in the highlighted and underlined text below done by me:

 

74.
"When the people are no longer afraid of death,
Why scare them with the spectre of death?

If you could make the people always afraid of death,
And they still persisted in breaking the law,
Then you might with reason arrest and execute them,
And who would dare to break the law?

Is not the Great Executor always there to kill?
To do the killing for the Great Executor
Is to chop wood for a master carpenter,
And you would be lucky indeed if you did not hurt
your own hand!"

 

(and I don't think the highlighted part of this chapter is only talking about a human executor appointed by a court or king...)

Edited by 3bob
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(and I don't think the highlighted part of this chapter is only talking about a human executor appointed by a court or king...)

I would agree with you. We do what we are capable of doing. To try doing what is beyond our capacity would be inviting disaster.

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-Btw, the Book of Revelations in Christianity also brings it up and there-in Jesus and His angels then have and exercise other aspects besides forgiveness...

 

This is just off the top of my head, but I think John of Patmos wrote the Book of Revelation, and he had never met Jesus personally. He didn't get the forgiveness memo, or didn't personally comprehend it if he did get it.

 

Not claiming the book should be discounted or something. But this can explain the seeming contradiction.

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John the Revelator was possibly an embittered exile and Revelation a biting satire on the Roman hegemony that exiled him to Patmos.

All that Beast and Harlot and such like could well be old John taking a swipe at the Roman occupiers.

That theory IMO makes as much, if not slightly more; sense than some of the wilder eschatologies built on and around Revelations.

 

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Yes, there are always ramifications, doesn't matter if we do something or do nothing.

Hmmm , instinctively Id agree with that, but but,, wouldnt that which was not-done be a figment of ones imagination?

Would it not require subjective expectations in order to exist?

Lets say a bank is getting robbed , I make no attempt to stop the robber fleeing the scene,

well ,one might say I was expected to do something to thwart the event.

1 Whats the ramification to me? Public opinion?

2 What if Im a 92 pound weakling ?

3 What if Im blind ?

4 What if Im in cahoots?

5 What if the cops tell me to butt out?

All these what ifs are just contingent imagination and opinion.

 

Another ex, what if I begin climbing the eiffel tower (on the outside) , well, the route I take is the only one that I actually take ,and the time it takes is exactly whatever time it takes ( say thats 24 hours) any other calculated time isnt what happened and theres a huge number of calculatable times , (not even counting the thousand ways there are to fall off)

Every other route never happened !

 

Can you come up with some scenario where some thing was not done that isnt requiring some imaginative re-write of the event from the reality of it? I cant.

If I didnt feed my cat Sunday , I have to imagine that the cat was somehow supposed to be fed by me and as well that feeding her is a possible thing to have happened , which didnt.

I also didnt lock her in the closet , nor did I paint her nails pink, nor did I drop a mouse on her head , nor did I put her in her travel case, ( ad-infinitum) all the bazillion things I didnt do, ALL would have to have 'ramifications' all at the same time!

 

So what one does not do cant be said to have a specific trail of ramifications - events which occur in its wake- since only actual events are specific.

 

( to which one might say, Well if you dont feed the cat she will starve. And I would agree , by saying, I imagine so.)

Edited by Stosh

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This is just off the top of my head, but I think John of Patmos wrote the Book of Revelation, and he had never met Jesus personally. He didn't get the forgiveness memo, or didn't personally comprehend it if he did get it.

 

Not claiming the book should be discounted or something. But this can explain the seeming contradiction.

 

Actually I think it was implied that John at least met Master Jesus in a great vision or telepathic encounter.

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John the Revelator was possibly an embittered exile and Revelation a biting satire on the Roman hegemony that exiled him to Patmos. All that Beast and Harlot and such like could well be old John taking a swipe at the Roman occupiers. That theory IMO makes as much, if not slightly more; sense than some of the wilder eschatologies built on and around Revelations.

 

Hey man I suggest reading Edgar Cayce's interpretation of the Book of Revelations to get a better handle on what the heck is being talked about, (btw, I would agree with a lot of what Cayce transmitted although and maybe not all of it) This part of the Bible imo & ime is largely in "code" (so to speak) just as a lot of the rest of the rest of it is.

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Hmmm , instinctively Id agree with that, but but,, wouldnt that which was not-done be a figment of ones imagination?

Would it not require subjective expectations in order to exist?

Well Stosh, I'm not sure I can make a sound rebuttal to this as you did support you consideration quite well.

 

To do nothing, when faced with a choice, will allow events to take their present course. Let's say you see someone trying to break into your car. You can do nothing and report it to the police and then the insurance company. Your doing nothing here required you to do things after the fact.

 

Same person trying to break into your car. You holler at them, "Get the **** away from my car." and they run off. No damage, no reports.

 

Same person, same car, same hollering but the dude pulls out a handgun and shoots you. You are no dead and nothing matters.

 

But there were consequences in all three scenarios.

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In the Biblical idea everyone has original sin (except of course the Imaculate mother of Jesus - this is the meaning of Imaculate Conception - she had no original sin as she was conceived in her mothers womb - additionally she like all the mothers of major gods before her was also a virgin.

 

So the notion of casting a stone without sin is impossible for the rest of us.

Edited by Spotless

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Hi Spotless, that was likely the first concept that eventually caused me to leave Christianity. A virgin having a baby. Come On!!!

 

I can't handle miracles. There is no logic or rationale to them.

 

Now Y'all go and sin some more.

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Well Stosh, I'm not sure I can make a sound rebuttal to this as you did support you consideration quite well.

 

To do nothing, when faced with a choice, will allow events to take their present course. Let's say you see someone trying to break into your car. You can do nothing and report it to the police and then the insurance company. Your doing nothing here required you to do things after the fact.

 

Same person trying to break into your car. You holler at them, "Get the **** away from my car." and they run off. No damage, no reports.

 

Same person, same car, same hollering but the dude pulls out a handgun and shoots you. You are now dead and nothing matters.

 

But there were consequences in all three scenarios.

Well, we agree a lot , Im just making an esoteric expanation to describe a difference between 'things that do happen- and things that happened-not) Yep there would be consquences to each of the scenarios if they happened.

Before you shoot at the target , you cant say what your score will be for certain, (yeah you can guess based on previous scores ) after you hit the thing, hindsight reflects one single accurate event happened, and anything else ..didnt (like virgin births and sin :) )

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