Originally created 08/29/98

Column: Should we pray for Clinton or throw stones? 082998 - The Augusta Chronicle



THE ASSEMBLY OF holy men were holding rocks. There was no need for expert witnesses or for corroborating testimony. The woman was undeniably guilty -- she had been caught in an act of adultery. Her accusers had seen her do the deed. No additional proof was needed.

But the entire matter was a setup. They knew this woman lived loosely. They knew it would only be a matter of time until they would catch her. Speculation is, they knew the identity of her lover. Regardless, they were waiting. But in total violation of their law, the holy men allowed the man to escape. As with a porno movie, he was only a prop. The woman was what this was all about.

They did not care that the Law of Moses had been violated. The only thought in the minds of the religious scholars and the Pharisees was to set a trap for Jesus, to trick him into making some incriminating statement so they could bring charges against him.

If I ever am called to direct a movie about a Bible story, I want to do this scene. The camera angle is in front of Jesus. You can see him writing in the dust with his finger, but you cannot read it. The camera cuts sharply to the face of oldest Pharisee, who is standing directly behind Jesus. His expression goes from anger -- that Jesus is ignoring him -- to disbelief at what he sees in the writing, to sheer terror, to soul-searing hatred.

AT THIS POINT Jesus stands up, turns around, and looking directly into the face -- and the heart -- of the oldest Pharisee, says, "The sinless one among you, you go first."

There is a stone in Jesus' right hand. With his left he reaches across, grabs the Pharisee's right hand and pounds the stone into the hand of the holy man. Then Jesus releases his grip and looks at the ground where he has just been writing. He looks back at the Pharisee and says, "Go ahead! Throw the stone!"

There is more hatred in the eyes of that Pharisee than you have ever seen on the face of any human being. He draws back and for an instant you do not know if the stone will hurtle at Jesus or at the woman. Then he pushes Jesus aside, scuffs his foot through what Jesus has written, drops the rock, and walks away.

The stone lands in the middle of the now smudged writing so that no one can read what it had revealed.

SLOWLY THE holy men leave the arena. At last there is only one young hot head, who thinks he is sinless, and Jesus and the woman. From the edge of the crowd, the man who left first barks the young man's name. Startled, he, too shrinks away.

Jesus did not rehearse the woman's past, just as earlier he had not rehearsed the past of a woman who had been used and abused by five men (she had been married five times and in a culture where only the man could institute divorce proceedings, even a simpleton could tell she was a sex-toy -- used and discarded).

Jesus did not dismiss the adulteress' past as being of no consequence. Far from it. After telling her that in the absence of other accusers, neither would he condemn her, his next remark reveals the seriousness of what she had done.

"From this day onward, living the life of one forgiven, starting over at this point just as if you were a virgin, go and never again return to a lifestyle of sin."

MEANING WHAT? Meaning that what she had done, the lifestyle she had been practicing, was sin. It was a violation of God's laws. Her sin is not primarily against the men with whom she had cohabited, or their wives, or their children. It was not even, primarily, against her own self, although humanly speaking that was where the damage began. Her sin was first, and foremost, against God.

I picked up a rock. President Clinton, by his own admission, and by all of the testimony against him, is guilty. And it is about sex. And it is about lying. And it is about abuse of trust, no matter what the spin doctors want you to believe.

It is not about prying prosecutors, no matter what the spin doctors want you to believe. It is about sin. It is not primarily against Monica. It is not primarily against Hillary or Chelsea. It is not primarily against Bill Clinton. It is primarily against Almighty God.

The evidence being gathered may warrant a trial. A trial may require punishment. But I looked at the rock in my own hand, and I remembered Jesus said, "How can you exam a brother's eye when you can barely see out of your own?"

I DROPPED the rock. And I prayed for President Clinton. And I prayed for myself.

The author is a local free-lance writer. E-mail address: david@groupz.net.