While the woman had sinned, the goal of the religious leaders was not in the interest of community holiness, redeeming the woman, healing a broken family, or mending broken relationships. She was a pawn. Jesus knew all this and responded accordingly.
The death of Fred Phelps has been met with every emotion from exuberant joy to abject sadness. (Did you forget that Fred had a family who loved him, and that there are people in the world, good people, who mourn with those who mourn, people who grieve the death of all who bear the image of God?)
Between the calls for ironic protests of his funeral, and the cries against such protests, we've been thinking about the words of Christ in John 8 — "he who is without sin, cast the first stone" — esp. since we have a card about it.
When a woman was caught in adultery, and the religious leaders told Jesus that the Law required her to death, Jesus was the only one with the needed credentials to cast that first stone, but He didn't. Jesus, the fullness of grace and truth (John 1:14), told the woman to "go and sin no more:" He called her actions sin (truth), but did not sentence her to death (grace).
Like we said, with the passing of Phelps we've been thinking about this card in light of "good christian" responses to his sins. But then we remembered we had another card based on this same passage of Scripture: Jesus writing something in the sand (probably what type of an asshole you are) [John 8:1-11].
Because the woman caught in adultery wasn't the only sinner in the story: Jesus calls the assembled, ready-to-throw-stones masses on their crap as well.
Why is Fred's sin worse than yours? Worse than mine? Don't you have hate, malice in your heart at times, which you rationalize as righteous indignation? In your car, at the dinner table, over drinks, don't you spout the good and godly reasons you have for utterly despising "those people"? The people with their selfish agendas. The people causing the downfall of this country. The people with eye-gouge-worthy, insipid screeds. The mean, the ugly, the inhospitable. The self-centered bastards who are nothing like you.
[Jesus shakes His head and continues writing in the sand.]
From Jesus' perspective, what kind of an asshole are you? What would He write in the sand about you? Which sins would He enumerate? What words would you read to drop the stones from your hands, turn away, and perhaps get your own house in order?
Perhaps we should all pray that Jesus remains more loving, more forgiving than we seem to be.
But what do we know: we've accepted the truth that we'reassholes, sinners who made this game — yet saved by Grace — and you probably think we're going to Hell anyway.