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But What Sayest Thou?


John says,


“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?”

 John 8:3-5

This verse presents the question of what to do when we are confronted with what clearly looks to be sin according to the scriptures.  In this example there is little doubt that the woman brought before Jesus was guilty of the sin of adultery.  The Pharisees said to Jesus that according to Moses she should be stoned to death and wanted to know His opinion on the matter.


Believing your right when you’re actually wrong


Legally the Pharisees were right according to the Laws of Moses. Since the law was given by God they felt that Jesus would have no choice but to condemn her also.  This wasn’t a sincere question because the religious leaders sought to tempt the Son of God to go against the scripture. They knew Jesus preached forgiveness of sins and thought to brand Him as ungodly if He forgave this woman contrary to the law. Yet, God manifest in the flesh said to the woman after all her accusers left ashamed “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”


What I wish to point out today is that we should always consider the human being before we condemn them.


Here is a truth,


 “Throwing stones costs us nothing while potentially costing others everything.”


Take for example the question about polygamy in Africa.  I use this example simply because it’s a “hot button issue” for many believers who condemn such practices.  As righteous as the pharisees, Christians judge others without thought or consideration of the human consequences.


Why do you hate King David?


When a Christian believer confronts this type of marriage arrangement,  they often denounce it as sin.  The words that fall from their lips are  unkind or condescending at best.  They have the “right” to treat a man with utter contempt while regarding the women with self-righteous pity.  Like the Pharisees of they feel justified to condemn these people for what they regaurd as sin.

Yet, those who so readily condemn rarely stop to consider what effect their words have upon those they are directed towards.  If the people who are practicing this life-style took what they said literally they would put away all but their first wives.  They would make “bastards” of whatever children fathered from those “ungodly marriages.”   This, in fact, was mandated by the first missionaries in Africa and is a terrible black mark on our evangelistic efforts to this very day.


But what sayest thou about the children?


How would you feel as a young child who loved his father and mother if you were told that Jesus said your parents were sinful?  What would you think if the missionaries who told you of a loving God that says you are the product of sin?  Moreover, what about the second or third wife that must now have no husband because of your merciless doctrine?  What about the man who loves all his wives and has to choose between them in order to obtain the salvation you preach? 

Do you have so little compassion that you can look such a man in the eye and say that God demands this from him?  Would you destroy his family in order for your doctrine to prevail?  If Christ spared the woman caught in adultery, how can you sit in judgment on such a matter?  Moreover, do you judge many of the greatest men of God you admire as sinners to?  If you can say yes in your heart to any of these questions then you are a heartless, legalistic, neo-pharisee.


To condemn others costs you nothing


To say that God does not accept polygamy costs you nothing, but for those you demand follow your doctrine, it costs them everything.  Is our doctrine more important than the human beings you are ministering too?  Man was not made for doctrine but rather doctrine  for man.  When our beliefs damage those we seek to save we ignore the heart of God in the matter. Hard sayings were present in many of Emanuel’s teachings, yet the common people heard Him gladly.  Can the same be said of you?  Moreover, those who so easily cast stones are not more righteous than those they condemn.  


Here is a truth,


Legalism is law without mercy

During the Middle Ages inquisitors actually tortured others if they would not repent of what they considered heresy.  These modern day Pharisees thought it best to kill the body rather than let their soul go to hell.  Thus, they thought, the greater good was served by tortures too terrible to imagine.  Read foxes “Book of Martyrs” to learn some of the methods used to encourage this primitive form of normative Christianity.

This same pitiless spirit of legalism still exists in the church today.  Thankfully, such tourtures are moderated by secular laws which prevent such abuses to basic human rights.  Today, we still do terrible things to people we feel do not meet our standards of righteousness and doctrinal purity.  The same spirit that could watch a fellow human being burnt to death for the gospels sake is the same spirit which condemn polygamy. This is the same type of spirit that caused religious Jews to cry “Crucify Him!”


He who has not sinned, cast the first stone


I ask you, “what sayest thou?” .  The purpose of this essay is not to defend or condemn the practice of polygamy, but rather to point out that believers should not be quick to condemn others when it costs them nothing to do so.  We must not seek to cast stones for one day we will ask for mercy and understanding from someone even greater.

In conclusion, what sayest thou?  Do you condemn those whom you do not understand or do you give them grace even though they do what you consider to be sin?  Truly loving a sinner does not mean you put on spiritual gloves to handle them but rather that you stretch forth your hands to touch that which you consider leprous.


Suggested book “Polygamy Reconsidered” Eugene Hillman