A few friends and family members have decided I should continue the theme of "casting" something. What started out to be one post, has now become four and counting. We had casting, Crowns, Pearls, Movies, and Nets so far. Should the Lord continue to guide along this line, Votes, Shadows, Molds, Aspersions, Broken Bones, Out, Down, and Away are waiting in the wings. Today, I believe I need to write about Casting Stones.
One of the most recognizable responses to criticism is "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." Of course this means those who are openly immoral, whose reputations are widely known, have no right to judge the behavior of others. The common word for those who do so is "hypocrite." But what about criticizing those folks whose sins are hidden from the general public? We might say that their dwelling is not transparent, and their sins are less known. Is it okay for them to cast stones? In Israel during the time of Christ, casting stones was far more serious than mere criticism; the religious leaders sentenced people to death by stoning. Once the sentence was passed, the community was to gather outside the city to carry out the judgment. The person "pressing charges" or making the accusation, was to cast the first stone, with the rest of the community "finishing the job" (Deuteronomy 13:9-10)
John 8:3-11 tells of one such occasion. They brought a woman who was caught in the act of committing adultery. There was no denial on her part; she was guilty. Where was the man? According to the law, both parties were to be stoned (Deuteronomy 22:22). I do not know if it is explicitly written that those casting the stones be sinless, but from what I gather from this episode, Jesus seemed to think so. We don't know what He wrote in the dirt, but the most logical answer is that He wrote the sins of those who were ready to stone her. As He added each sin, those guilty of it were convicted and they left. I don't have a clue as to how many He had to write before they all left, but I am sure that if I were one of the crowd, I would have had to leave after the first.
During His time on earth, Jesus was still operating under the Law. Once the church began on the day of Pentecost, Christians were no longer under the Law. There is only one passage from Acts to Revelation that could be possibly be interpreted as supporting the Church's involvement in taking the life of others. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-6:8, Paul pronounced the sentence of death upon another Christian. Even in that case, the Church did not carry out the sentence. Paul appealed to God to allow Satan to take his life, but he knew that his soul would not be lost. In fact, he goes on to say that Christians aren't even to sue other Christians. Most conservative Christians today support capital punishment for especially heinous crimes, but the entire process from the arrest through the execution is the responsibility of the government (Romans 13:1-7). To quote the Son of God, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." Some have thought the Church was to excuse the sin of adultery, but notice what Jesus told the woman. He said, "Go and sin no more." To Jesus, and to the Church, adultery is still a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19). Remember, God does not need His children to have houses of glass to know their deeds; He knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). I long for the day when I can go and sin no more!