Adultery: Caught in the Act Part II
"When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman [who had been caught in the act of adultery], He said to her, 'Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?' She said, 'No one, Lord.' And Jesus said to her, 'Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.'"1
Yesterday we talked about the jealous, religious bigots who wanted to do away with Jesus and brought the woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus for his judgment. Apart from making the hypocritical accusers look like idiots, Jesus teaches us a powerful principle in dealing with sinful acts that are self-destructive (which all sin is of course).
Can you imagine how terrified this woman must have been? The punishment for adultery in her day was death by stoning. And here she was caught in a deceptive trap and brought out in public. However, the crucial principle to understand is that before Jesus told her to go and not commit adultery again, he met the basic need in her life (that of acceptance), the lack of which was driving her into acts of sin.
This is such a profound truth—it desperately needs to be understood. Counselors tell us that many a prostitute, for example, is a woman who has been hurt deeply by her father or another significant male . . . often having been sexually abused as a child. Thus she is very angry at men because she had been violated and her own needs for loving acceptance were never met. And now, as an adult (or teenager), she is not necessarily doing this consciously, but in one way or another she is hitting back at her father (or her violator) by becoming sexually promiscuous. She also may be desperately and unconsciously searching for the father's love she never received as a child and is thus looking for love in all the wrong ways and places. Or she may be trying to prove to herself that she is wanted as a woman. This, of course, never works and only makes a woman feel more used and unloved for the simple reason this kind of sex is never love. (Some men do the same thing in looking for the mother's love they never received.)
When Jesus dealt with the adulterous woman, He looked beyond her outward sinful acts and could see her damaged emotions and unmet need for loving acceptance. While He didn't condone her sin nor condemn her for it, before telling her not to commit this sin again, Jesus first met the deep unmet need in her life—the lack of which was undoubtedly driving her into acts of sin—that is, the lack of loving acceptance. In all probability, for the very first time in her life this woman was loved and accepted by a man for whom she was—and not for what she had to offer. What Jesus did was meet her deep unmet need for a father's love. In so doing, He healed her deep father wound, delivering her from her compulsion to act out in self-destructive sinful behavior.
How unkind, how misunderstanding, and how un-Christlike it is of me to condemn people for their acts of sin without even trying to understand the cause or causes behind their behavior, let alone trying to meet their unmet needs. Added to our sinful nature is the lack of love that drives us into so many acts of sin; only unconditional love and acceptance will ever take us out again.
Keep in mind, too, the reason Jesus was able to help this woman was because she admitted her sin and didn't try to deny it—the total opposite of her accusers. Only those who admit their sins and faults can ever be forgiven and freed from them.*
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to admit my sins and faults and see the reasons behind my self-destructive behaviors, and lead me to the help I need to overcome. Also, help me to understand the same for others who admit their sins and faults, and use me to be a part of the answer in helping to meet the unmet need in their life . . . the lack of which is driving them into acts of sin. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. John 8:10-11 (NKJV).
*NOTE: Today's Daily Encounter is adapted from I Hate Witnessing—A Handbook for Effective Christian Communications, (c) by Dick Innes (2010 edition), pp. 166-167. Available at: www.actscom.com/store