3 The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, 4 they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.
7 They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” 8 Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. 9 Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.
John 8:3-9, CEB
I recently had a conversation with a fellow NSC person as a result of our weekend messages on fear. This person was sure that the gay marriage issue in our country was a moral issue and that our country was surely embracing immorality by legalizing gay marriage and was very afraid by that prospect. I found this person’s level of outrage rather interesting. We’re pretty close, so I asked him about the immorality in his past (and present) that we both knew about. I asked him if he thought his immorality contributed to the downfall of our country, and whether or not he was afraid of that. He smiled and said, “I see what you’re doing.”
I personally don’t think this debate has much to do with morality, but let’s assume it does for a second. Anytime we accuse someone else of immorality, we must consider ourselves. We have to reflect on our personal inventories and the ways in which our own immorality has helped to create the world around us. We’ve all done it. Do we then have the right to tell other people to stop doing what they’re doing? Only in certain cases.
I can hear people asking, “Surely we need a line in the sand somewhere?” Sure. My line is me. As I wrote yesterday, I can’t control the world around me, I can only control me. I follow God to the best of my ability. I trust that others in our community do the same. Many people in our community have asked to be in accountable relationships with the community. Those people have asked for moral accountability. Therefore, when something is off, the community has the permission to step in and hold that person accountable. This is when we have the right to speak up on another person’s morality. I have asked for this kind of accountability and try to listen when others hold me accountable. I’m not perfect, but I try. I try to speak up when others have asked for the same back.
The problem is, there are SO many people in this world who aren’t interested in accountability. There are people in our community who don’t want it and haven’t asked for it. I can’t control that. So what are our options? We can take our own inventory and constantly take ownership for our own wrongdoings when we realize that’s what we’ve done. We can demand (or, you know, gently request) moral accountability from those who are in accountable relationship with us. We cannot do that when people haven’t asked for it. In fact, it’s just a waste of time. When it comes to moral outrage, you can cast the first stone if you want. I’m walking away.
When it comes to fear, you should only be as afraid of this as you are unaware of your own imperfections. If you ignore your stuff, then be very afraid. That’s the kind of thing that gets us and our communities in trouble.