John 8:7 “He among you who is without sin, let him throw the first stone.”
The opening verses of the 8th chapter of the Gospel of John contains one of the most iconic scenes in the ministry of Jesus Christ. The cancel culture of that time – the religious leaders – control the citizens with an iron fist. These religious elite believe they are morally superior to the people, calling them sinners while exalting themselves in their self-appointed righteousness. The similarity to today’s cancel culture is striking.
The scene that unfolds is early morning at the temple. Jesus has drawn a large crowd as He teaches them on the kingdom of His Father. Suddenly, in comes the religious leaders while He is teaching with a woman they claim they have just caught in the very act of adultery. They forcibly set her right in front of Him and announce their prize, reminding Him and everyone around them that she should be stoned to death according to the Law. But in an act of treachery, they ask him “What do You say we should do?”
Verse 6 explains their true motive: “This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.” They were not interested in the woman. To them, publicly stoning her for her sin would show their moral righteousness. They wanted to accuse Him. They wanted to “cancel” Him. This is the face of ungodliness, of man’s desire to promote themselves over God. This is the religion of secular humanism.
This week’s verse is Jesus’s answer to them. You can feel the impact of His words on them as you read verse 9: “When they heard Him, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, with the woman standing in His midst.” Those so intent on stoning her and catching Jesus breaking the Law are humiliated by their own conscience!
The reason you feel the weight of Jesus’s words is because everyone who reads this chapter knows what the guilt of sin feels like. We know what it means to be immoral, no matter how hard we might try to hide it from others. And the cancel culture of Jesus’s day is no different. Sin is part of the human experience.
As is typical when Jesus Christ confronts someone who, unlike these hypocrites, confesses their sin and seeks forgiveness, He forgives her! There is no condemnation for those who are real with themselves.
Fast forward to today. After standing 187 years in New York’s City Hall, a Mayoral Commission – today’s religious elite, voted to remove Thomas Jefferson’s statue because 250 years ago he owned slaves. As the Washington Times wrote, “We are witnessing a movement to remove statues and monuments to historic figures because something they did or said during their lives now offends one or more people.”
The truth is that Jefferson was the most outspoken of the Founding Fathers about the evils of slavery, even though he never freed his slaves. For example, in his February 11, 1788 letter to Brissot de Warville, he said “You know that nobody wishes more ardently to see an abolition not only of the slave trade but of the condition of slavery: and certainly nobody will be more willing to encounter every sacrifice for that object.”
In his 1782 letter ‘Notes on the State of Virginia,’ Jefferson hoped for the ending of slavery: “Since the origin of the present revolution, the spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation.”
Jefferson’s anti-slavery views were radical in his day. 250 years ago slavery was the norm. But as is typical with cancel culture, the goal is condemnation of all whose sin violated their standard of self-righteousness.
America’s cancel culture, not the Jefferson statue, is what should be truly offensive to Americans. Where is the humility to admit they are indebted to men like Jefferson for giving us such a great country as the US?
The arrogance of the NY City Commission to decide they are the arbiters of morality, rewriting history by labeling Jefferson as unworthy to be honored, is the result of decades of America rejecting the wisdom of Jesus Christ and replacing it with a man-centered secular humanistic worldview. It was only 10 years ago, in February 2011, that the American Humanist Association praised Barack Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast because he emphasized his secularism: “It is refreshing to hear President Obama reiterate his secular roots. The importance of these secular values shouldn’t be underestimated.”
The rhetoric of our cancel culture does not have to represent the worldview of Americans. Elections do have consequences. Voting for those who follow the teaching of Jesus Christ will cancel cancel culture.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance _ Article #476