Redacted Scripture: The Woman Caught in Homosexuality

Jason Micheli —  October 10, 2014 — 10 Comments


The Woman Caught in Adultery Homosexuality.

In discussing homosexuality in the Church, I often feel as though those with whom I disagree read a totally different bible than me. I’m sure they feel the same way.

From my perspective, when you hold scripture to be the literal Word of God, you flatten out the texts so that they’re all equally authoritative.

Now the holiness codes of the Mosaic Law or a rhetorical vice list from Paul are on par- authority wise- with the witness of Jesus’ gracious welcome of sinners. A subject which Jesus himself never addresses now has the status of gospel.

The logic of biblical literalism allows all the texts of the bible to be mashed together into one voice, even if that voice is dissonant with the words of Jesus.

What you get, I think, is a bible passage, in this case John 8 (the woman caught in adultery) that might read something like this:

3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery homosexuality; and making her stand before all of them these straight men, 4they said to him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery homosexuality.

5Now because God clearly ordained sex to be within the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman the scriptures command us to stone such women sinners. The scriptures clearly say:

{add a pinch of Leviticus}

“If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman [and vice versa], both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense.”

Now what do you say? Are you soft on sin, Jesus? Do you not believe the bible to be the inspired Word of God? What other authoritative teachings are you willing to throw out the window because the cultural wind?

6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him reveal his lack of biblical faith and the purity of their own doctrine.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground tweeted about it. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without as grievous a sin be the first one to throw a stone at her.’ 8And once again he bent down and wrote updated on the ground his Facebook status.

9When they heard it, thinking he was just being rhetorical, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the sinner standing before him.

10Looking around disappointed, Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ That can’t be right. Liberals.

11She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Well, I do not condemn you.

{a dash of Romans}

For the my wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth…by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s my righteous judgment will be revealed. 6For he I will repay according to each one’s deeds.

[Just this once- because you caught me in a good mood] Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.

{come back around with a little Joshua}

Remember, I am a holy God…I will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.

{and bring it home with Romans}

For he I will repay according to each one’s deeds. 

This is the Word of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.

Jason Micheli


10 responses to Redacted Scripture: The Woman Caught in Homosexuality

  1. I like the spirit of the post, but find it a little, I don’t know, “bulky” or awkward. Might just be me.

    Editorially, in the paragraph that follows “add a pinch of Leviticus” I think I would write it differently. You wrote:
    “If a woman practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act…”

    I’d write (with CAPS just to show my suggested edit)
    “If a woman practices homosexuality, having sex with another WOMAN as with a MAN, both WOMEN have committed a detestable act…..”

  2. Rev. Stephen Bredesen October 10, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    I certainly agree about not passing judgment. Yet Jesus did not say she wan’t sinning, in fact just the opposite. “Go and don’t continue in your sin.” “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV84)
    God didn’t destroy the men in their sin in order to give them the opportunity to repent. He didn’t let the women be destroyed for the same reason, to give her an opportunity to experience His loving patience and repent. I am glad he has been patient with me and didn’t destroy me in my sin, but gave me the opportunity to repent.

  3. Is it smart to complain about people who flatten out the scriptures treating it all as equally authoritative and then to make your point try to show how Jesus was a gracious person using the most disputed passage in the Bible to do it?

  4. I’ve often used this text for commentary guarding against ecclesiocentrism siting the dubiously Augustinian quote, “the church is a whore; but she is our mother” as a sort of ad hoc commentary on this scripture.

    I think the temptation here (as much as I giggled reading this) is to bow to a privatization of sex and marriage in a way that misses the radicality of Jesus’ action toward the adulterous (or in the redacted case, lesbian) woman.

    The point (as far as I see it) isn’t to minimize the sin of the woman but to teach something that looks like a doctrine of (extensive) depravity; the prayerful hope that the double grace of God in the Son through the Spirit will heal her life (not to be confused with gay conversion, please!).

    If that is what she really needs, do not condemn because neither you or I could save her even if she were condemned because of her break with a political good that is quite historically founded; and certainly we are for grace healing before we deal with complex issues like this one in a matter-of-fact way.

    But Christs grace doesn’t make adultery any less unlawful to Jesus (at least I don’t think). You deal with sinners like sheep without a shepherd; not (as you infer) subjects without a Caesar. But an argument could be made either way as to whether homosexual marriage even makes any theological sense even if that is true. If (IF) it is sin, the sin must be responded to in a community that normativizes political goods; even if ones proclivities lie elsewhere. Otherwise, you get an unchecked capitalist/consumer mentality I’m doubtful makes any theological sense either.

    • These are good points, Bobby, and I don’t necessarily disagree with you. What I intended to poke at is the way in which literalism (particularly in how it’s applied to this issue) makes the revelation in Christ subsidiary to what are ultimately individualist readings of scripture that mute the objective nature of Christ’s sacrifice. I’d say that Christ’s refusal, again and again, to enforce the law’s clear stipulated punishment- while not making sin no longer sinful- clearly changes how we should read those texts and encounter sinners ourselves. Holding on to the very same readings of the scripture that the Pharisees have, literalists would have us believe that if Jesus encountered the adulteress woman again in a month or two and she was again caught in adultery then Jesus would this time say ‘Yes, go ahead and stone her.’

      • And, again I raise my question on the judgment of *THIS* text being used for objecting to literalism. My understanding is that this text was NOT a part of John originally. That makes it highly suspect that these events ever happened and that Jesus Christ’s refusal to enforce the law (at least in this periscope) is thus a work of fiction.

        • It’s a fair point, Gene, but on the one hand I’d say that I was only being cheeky with the passage to show how I think literalists play fast and loose in their own way with scripture and on the other hand I’d argue that it’s ultimately beside the point (and futile) to establish which Gospel stories are historically authentic to Jesus and instead just trust that they testify to Christ as the Word.

    • And really the entire problem with literalism- wielded so often as a weapon and thus, unChristian- is that we then read a scripture like this from Jesus’ vantage point instead of seeing ourselves as the Pharisees or the sinner. Christ is no longer the dispenser of grace but we, through our use of texts, are.

  5. So you’re confronting literalist oppositions to it so that there is a higher theological framework for thinking about the issue? That’s a worthy fight.

    If you’re gonna be a good Protestant you’ll have to show (like female ordination) how it is ultimately an issue of ecclesiocentric traditional hogwash up next to engaging with Scripture. Which means not in an abstract, ahistorical way the way advocates for the schism do (where gay marriage is an afterthought for them because they are so enlightened).

    For me, the issue is whether or not it could be called “matrimony” in a way that makes theological sense. I have not heard a good theological argument that does not sidestep the political element of sex and it’s procreative element (one that talks about guarding against the exploitation of women); Much to my displeasure mind you. Because I rather enjoy stuffing traditional hogwash down the vomiting throats from which it came!

  6. Oh. And if you want to get all historical Jesus fundy over this passage in John, Gene, historical Jesus scholars (Borg, etc) will say that only about 7% of what is written in John “actually happened.” So if you want to throw that exegetical card out there, you’ll need to throw a lot of John out; because his Gospel is probably the least historically matter-of-fact of any of the Gospels by a long ways. The problem is you can’t read John like you do Kings and Chronicles. John is theologically dogmatic in a way the predominately historical texts are not.

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