“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”…..
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:7, 9-11
I was driving with my son Mason to go pick up his older brother Zack from an after school activity. Mason picked up the book of questions for kids that I had purchased in my endeavor to use the little moments, like driving in the car, to further connect. He randomly picked a question and read it aloud, “If one thing had to be eliminated from TV shows forever, would you eliminate sex or violence?”
The first thought that ran through my head was, “WHAT was that question doing in a book for kids?!!!” My second thought was, “Shame on me for not previewing the book in advance for appropriateness!” But there is was – out there. So, rather than burying my head in the sand, I decided to go with it. I said that, as a mom, my preference would be to eliminate both sex and violence, although I knew that I wasn’t following the rules of the question.
My eight-year-old son’s response was, “I think I know what sex is.” Taking a big gulp, and praying to the Holy Spirit for help, I asked him what he thought it was. His answer about what happens between “a girl and a boy” was so blunt and graphic, I almost drove off the road!!! When I recovered, I asked him who told him that definition. When he said his nine-year-old brother Zack, I almost crashed into a tree!!!
It was in that moment, and later that evening when I spoke privately with Zack about it, that I realized I was at a motherhood crossroad. My natural reaction was to scream, yell, and punish my kids for talking like they were. But how I responded was going to determine whether they came to me in the future for guidance, or whether they went somewhere else out of fear, judgement, and punishment from me.
It was then that I remembered Jesus’ response to the woman who sinned. By challenging the crowd to examine their own consciences before throwing the first stone, He helped them realize that we all make mistakes and shouldn’t judge. By not condemning the woman Himself, He demonstrated understanding, compassion, and unconditional love. By telling her to leave her life of sin, He held her lovingly accountable for her mistakes, yet challenged and encouraged her to rise above them to become a better person. From this perspective, my choice on how to respond to my boys was obvious, and surprisingly easy.
I’m sure that this is only the first of many, many moments when this topic catches me off guard, like a deer in headlights. But it felt really wonderful to recognize and follow the sign at the fork in the road that Jesus put up for us centuries ago. I know it’s impossible to respond as well as Jesus did, but I felt true peace as I navigated this landmine, with Jesus’ example as my guide.