There’s a lot of talk in America these days about moral values, godliness, the Bible and sometimes, even, Jesus.
Now I have to tell you up front (in case there’s anyone reading who doesn’t know this already): I’m a Jew. Consequently, I’m not a Christian.
I do, however, read bibles — both Jewish and Christian — often. And I can tell you the majority of people out there claiming to be godly, or Christian, seldom appear to be either one, or the other.
I think the reason this happens is that Christians just don’t spend enough time with either their Bibles or their G-d. To really know someone, after all, you have to spend some time with them.
If you can’t find that person often enough — if, perhaps, they’ve moved away from you or you’ve moved away from them for some reason — the next best thing is to read any writings they may have left you. This may be done out of some sense of mourning; you longingly read over what someone recorded about what they said. So, you read it to know more about them. Maybe you decide to read what they said, or remember the kinds of things they did, so you can emulate their ways and cause other people to think of them.
Sometimes, you only have other people’s memories of them. But if you happen to be lucky enough to have something they, themselves, either wrote or caused to have written — even better! And, in the case of the Bible, which Christians will tell you are G-d’s words — and remember that the Jerry Falwell-types will tell you that every one of those words is literally the word of G-d — well, what more could you possibly ask for?
But Christians apparently aren’t familiar with these words. That’s why the director of a homeless shelter could say, “Jesus would have done the same thing” when he kicked Valan Garland and her three boys — Xavier, 1, Javonte, 3, and T’Keel, 5 — out into the streets because she had a man in her room. A man in her room!
The man, it turns out, was her uncle, who came visiting prior to Christmas with his wife, Valan’s aunt. Who knows what hanky-panky an eight-months-pregnant woman, her three babies, her paternal aunt and uncle might be up to in her room at the homeless shelter!
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. — John 8:3-6 (New International Version).
I think we can all agree that you don’t want to run a homeless brothel. Rules that forbid temporary residents from bringing men into their rooms for sex are entirely justified. And I’ll also agree that violations should have consequences. As the Reverend Oliver S. Robinson said when he kicked Garland and her three babies out into the below-freezing night, “We have to have rules and order.”
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 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 still standing there. — John 8:7-9 (New International Version).
But what we’re talking about here is a homeless woman, with three babies, sitting in her room talking to her aunt and uncle. I’m sure this little pleasure would have been just as enjoyable outside; after all, the weather forecast for this week in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, calls for temperatures as high as 29 degrees.
According to the Reverend Robinson, his shelter is a credit to the community. That may very well be. It seems clear, however, that the Reverend himself is not.
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 8:10-11 (New International Version).
Ah…perhaps I was wrong about the “good” Reverend. It appears he was right. Jesus did say, “Go now.”