BANNED PREGNANT TEEN

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CHRISTIAN SCHOOL BANS PREGNANT TEEN FROM GRADUATION, BUT WWJD? 

So this week a news story has been making the rounds. In Maryland, 18-year-old Maddi Runkles found herself pregnant, and has been banned from attending her own graduation ceremony at her Private Christian School.

Which brings to mind a conversation I regularly have with well intentioned Christians.

“You know, Jesus loved the sinner but was hard on sin!”

People say this all the time, and when I ask them where they see that in the bible, they usually go to the same scripture, reminding me what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery:

“Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Yes. To be clear, THIS is what people quote when they say Jesus was hard on sin. That’s it.

What’s most important is to remember this is the tail end of a story.

Jesus is teaching a group of people when the religious leaders of his day come forward with a woman who they caught in adultery. They claim God’s Law requires she die by stoning. But Jesus bends down and starts writing something (mysterious!) in the dirt with his finger.

The text reads (John 8):

[Jesus said] “Let any one of you who is without sin 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.

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.”

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So let’s just walk through Jesus’ actions here:

Jesus stands between the woman and her accusers.
Jesus refuses to let her be punished for her actions.
Jesus defuses the crowd by reminding them of their own sin.
After risking his skin for a woman he doesn’t know, he speaks to her with compassion.

He asks “who condemns you?” and when she replies “no one” he responds:

“Then neither do I condemn you.”

And THEN, after all that, he says to her “go and sin no more.”

Hard on sin? That’s the best evidence we’ve got that Jesus took a hardline on sin?

When “NEITHER DO I CONDEMN YOU” is the harshest you’ve got, you’re not dealing with an angry dude. He pushes away any who would condemn her, and then tells her what she already knows: she shouldn’t continue in an adulterous relationship because, d’uh, it’s a bad idea.

But surely she did something to earn this compassion, right?

She must have admitted what she did.
Or said she was so sorry.
Or undergone church discipline.
Or done Hail Mary’s.

But read the text again. Just stick with the text on this one.

Nothing.

She’s made some unwise decisions, and violent men are trying to punish her for them. Jesus stops the judgement without her having done a thing to earn it.

Turns out grace is a far better teacher than judgement.

I’ve read the four accounts of Jesus’ life over and over looking for another example, and I might have missed it, but to my count this is the ONLY TIME Jesus says anything even remotely “hard on sin” to a regular person.

When he speaks with women, people from other religious backgrounds, the poor or the sick, he always gives them good news. Often he just eats with them. But he never condemns or judges.

You know who he condemns?

Religious leaders who keep others out of God’s Kingdom. 
Those who are meant to open the doors of God’s love for everyone.
Those who try to erase God’s endless grace.

Jesus FREAKS out on the Pharisees, the religious leaders of his day, calling them a brood of vipers, telling them they are children of hell, and accusing them of forgetting that mercy is what God is looking for. (Matthew 23)

He gives them hell because they know better. They are the ones that are meant to share good news, and instead they’ve created bad religion.

So this week a news story has been making the rounds. In Maryland, 18-year-old Maddi Runkles found herself pregnant, and has been banned from attending her own graduation ceremony at her Private Christian School.

A CBC article reveals the schools reason for banning her:

The school's administrator, David R. Hobbs, has defended the decision in an open letter to parents.

"Maddi is being disciplined, not because she's pregnant, but because she was immoral," Hobbs wrote before quoting from the school's student pledge.

"A wise man told me that discipline is not the absence of love, but the application of love. We love Maddi Runkles. The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her immorality that began this situation."

A wise man may have said that…

But Jesus didn’t.

Jesus silences all those who sling shame on the vulnerable. Jesus says to David R. Hobbs and the school’s administration: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to ban her from graduation.”

I suspect Jesus would be giving hell to any pastor, administrator, or religious leader who shut the door in the face of a young woman who has been shamed.

Jesus says to this pregnant teen, who he loves with an endless love: “I do not condemn you.”

And probably follows it up with a smile: “Let’s go get lunch together… you’re eating for two now!”

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CBC As It Happens has the whole story here: http://www.cbc.ca/…/it-hurts-says-pregnant-maryland-teen-ba…

Justin Aitcheson

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada