Lifted out of context, this story is often told with implications about the woman’s sin and shame due to her presumed life choices. It is commonly used to demonstrate how Jesus will forgive anyone, even those with messy lives and deeply sinful pasts. Wendy draws our attention to contextual details that offer a dramatically different lens for interpretation. It becomes evident that the woman’s circumstances likely had little to do with her sin, and we notice how Jesus approached her with acceptance and empathy rather than judgment.
We discuss the importance of reading scripture with fresh eyes rather than approaching it from the viewpoint of what we already think we know. Negative bias, both in general and specifically towards female characters, can significantly influence what we take away from passages of scripture. When we interpret with a lens that holds a positive view of women, we see a different picture than when we interpret with a negative view of women.
It is a gift to learn from others who have different interpretive lenses.
We discuss the themes of shame and blame heaped on the woman that we have heard taught with this passage, and the personal impact of that negative view of the woman for each of us. In contrast, we talk about what we see in the story when we put aside our negative assumptions about her and pay attention to what is actually in the text. The woman was both a truth seeker and a truth-teller. Jesus gave her dignity and engaged with her in a deep theological discussion.
Jesus’ posture as he approached this woman was gentle, loving, and dignifying. There is healing power in meeting those who have been marginalized, abused, or traumatized with empathy and acceptance.
Music by Kate Short; Instagram @kate_tshort
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Episode produced and edited by Kelly Browning; show notes written by Sarah McDuffee, Marketing Director: Robyn Boren, Social Media Manager: Molly Baize, Episdoe mixed by Isabelle Le.