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Saturday, 9 January 2010

Adultery, hypocrisy, and repentance.

I suspect that at least one person is less than upset at the ‘sensational revelations’ that have been made concerning Mrs Iris Robinson, M.P., M.L.A, wife of the First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly and her, apparently brief, sexual liaison with a young man some fifty years her junior. That person is Gordon Brown, who must be content – if not delighted – that the spotlight has been removed from him; that the heat is, albeit temporarily, off!

In the reports that I have read, and the comments thereon, much has been made of Mrs Robinson’s vocal opposition to the practice of homosexuality – what the media decided, a long time ago, and with no regard for etymology, to refer to as ‘homophobia’.

“What a hypocrite this woman is!” shriek her critics. And, of course, there is a very real sense in which she has shown herself to be exactly that. However, I am reminded of the story of the man who informed his parish minister that he didn’t ‘come to church’ because the place was too full of hypocrites. “I know”, replied the minister, sadly, “but we’ve always got room for another one!”

I certainly don’t condone this adulterous act that is now, so clearly, in the public domain. And I am not in a position to look into Mrs Robinson’s heart in order to judge as to whether her expressed sorrow is over the sin that she has committed, or because that sin has been so publicly displayed. However, I do know that there is a world of difference between a sin repented of, and stopped; and a life style that does not even recognise its sinfulness – even when practised by those who wear a clerical collar, and call themselves Christian ministers!

Some Pharisees from an earlier generation (and they are still with us, even if they do not use that name!) brought to the Lord Jesus a woman who, they claimed, had been caught in the very act of adultery – making one wonder what happened to the man who was involved! These Pharisees knew the strict letter of the Law. She should be stoned to death. But, in reality, they weren’t really bothered about her. They were out to entrap Jesus. Would he uphold the Law – and see this woman die, painfully, in front of Him; or would He set the Law aside – and demonstrate that He was not a very good Jew?

It’s never wise to go ‘head-to-head’ with God! Ultimately, we always come off worse. Initially, Jesus seems to have ignored them but, as they kept pestering Him, He looked up from whatever He had been writing on the ground and said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7 – see 3-11 for the whole story). They melted away like snow off the proverbial dyke. Jesus turned to the woman: “Has no-one condemned you?” “No-one, Sir,” she replied. “Then neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go now, and leave your life of sin.”

Those same, gracious, words are spoken to Iris Robinson. They are also spoken to homosexuals/lesbians who turn away from that perverse, un-natural, unproductive, lifestyle. And they are spoken to you, and to me for, “There is no-one righteous, not even one;” (Rom.3:10 ; cf. Ps.14:1, 53:3; Eccles.7:20). Jesus made it quite clear that I do not have to enter into a physical sexual relationship with a woman other than my wife (even one fifty years younger!) to commit adultery. He says that if I look at a woman with that kind of desire in my heart and mind, then I have already sinned by committing adultery in my heart. (Matt.5:28). And I don’t have to be directly, and deliberately, responsible for the death of another human being, to have committed murder. Even being angry with another is seen, by God, to be a breach of His law. (Matt.521-22). At that rate, I have to confess to being both a serial adulterer, and a serial murderer!

“There, but for the grace of God, go I” may not be a Biblical text – but it’s a saying worth remembering before we criticise those who have fallen into obvious sin, but who claim to have repented!


Anonymous said...

Dear Brian,

Many thanks for your musings, they are always most interesting and informative. Please keep up the good work, and may God continue to bless you in your ministry - from the pulpit and PC.

Yours in Christ,


p.s. Given that you've not posted since Saturday, I assume you've been out curling on the Lake of Menteith?!

Brian Ross said...

Thank you, Gordon. It's always good to know that there are those who are of such intellectual calibre that they read both my blog and the Letters page of The Herald!! However, I was too busy at Shotts and Allanton to manage to get to the Lake of Menteith for the 'bonspiel'. Now, can one as erudite as your good self offer an explanation as to why two foreign languages appear to have been used to coin that term? (bon = good [Fr]; spiel = game/play [Germ]; if memory serves me well)?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I don't know... but following a quick internet search, the phrase "bonspiel" appears to have come from Scots language, and apparently translates as "match" or "league.

Seek and ye shall find!


Brian Ross said...

A poster on a Scotsman newspaper forum provided the following: I checked my old Scots English dictionary and this is what it came up with:
Bonspeil: Old Scots: bonspel, bonspule, -speil, spale, a match or contest of any kind. The earliest quotation in the sense of a game of any kind is 1560.
The first element is gen. thought to be for bond = verbond, an alliance, a covenant, hence bonspell, a contest between different bodies.
Btw bonspeil could be used for any game, notably golf