Who Can Judge Us?

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There are several important challenges in this passage about the adulterous woman in John’s Gospel. The first is that we cannot judge another, precisely because we are not guiltless ourselves. All of us are sinners. Those who think themselves sinless, who place themselves in judgement of others are dangerous to others and to themselves.

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The second truth is that, even though we are sinners, Jesus does not condemn us either. He says to the woman, “Go, but do not sin again.” And there is the third truth: If we accept God’s forgiveness in the moment, but continue to sin, we condemn ourselves.

Jesus entered our humanity in order to establish a personal relationship with each of us. On his part, he freely, generously and unconditionally sacrificed himself. He did not come to judge us, but to forgive our sins. All of us are that woman in this passage. Jesus does not condemned us, even though we deserve it. How ought we respond to this? What is our responsibility in this relationship? It is to give thanks for this generous gift by humbly turning from our selfish concerns, by keeping our eyes on Jesus, and by developing the virtuous character to love and to forgive others with the same kind of generosity he gave to the “adulterous woman.”

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.