The Adulteress or the misogyny of Jesus Christ




A dear friend and a learned author Kalavai Venkat who is a "Silicon Valley-based writer, an atheist, a practicing orthodox Hindu, and author of the book "What Every Hindu should know about Christianity." has written an article in the following blog:

http://indiafacts.org/adulteress-misogyny-jesus-christ/

The views of the author

The Bible narrates an episode about Jesus and an accused adulteress (John 8:1-11). In this narrative, Jesus is in an assembly with his disciples. A mob brings a woman to the assembly, accuses her of having committed adultery, and prepares to stone her to death in accordance with the biblical law (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22). In our own time, Pope Francis claims that the mob had even bound her hands although the Bible doesn’t mention that. Perhaps, god revealed this additional information to the pope in a private missive. 

My comments

I fail to understand why the learned author drags Pope into the picture and quote him as if Pope had written the gospel. In all the gospels, it is nowhere mentioned that the woman was bound or her hands were tied. In the Old Testament books referred to by the author, there is no mention that the erring woman needed to be bound. The author in his zeal to repudiate the gospel lays his hands on any unauthenticated information that he comes across. An author has to be just and fair in his judgment, especially, when he attempts to disprove an established fact.

The views of the author

I will first provide the Christian version and interpretation of the rest of the story. The mob asks Jesus whether she should be stoned to death. The question is intended as a trap. If Jesus affirmed the punishment, the mob would unleash a propaganda accusing him of not defending the woman. Had he asked the mob to forgive her, he would have been accused of violating the biblical law. After all, Jesus had vowed to fulfill such cruel, misogynistic laws in letter and in spirit (Matthew 5:17).

My comments

No doubt, Jesus declared that He came not to destroy the law of Moses but to fulfil it. The Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, was binding on the woman not to commit adultery. The Law of Moses which had apparently become the source of the law of the land in this world was not a misogynistic law. The English Law drew its source from the Law of Moses. What is the basis of the learned author to come to this erroneous conclusion on the Law of Moses which has been accepted by the Abrahamic religions? 

The views of the author

First, the reasonable critic is struck by the fact that Jesus took no initiative to intervene when the mob prepared to stone the woman to death. The sight of a helpless woman with her hands bound (if what Pope Francis claims is true) and terrorized by a mob baying for her blood would move any empathetic person.

So, Jesus is in a quandary. He remains silent and keeps doodling on the ground but the mob insists that he reply. Finally, Jesus replies by urging one of the mobsters who is sinless to cast the first stone at the woman. Every one of the mobsters, evidently recognizing that nobody is sinless, disperses. Jesus then admonishes the woman against sinning and asks her to leave.

My comments

The author says that Jesus took no initiative to intervene. What the author wanted Jesus to act when the Pharisees brought the woman caught in the very act of adultery to Him for His judgment? Was  Jesus expected to fight with the Pharisees as in the movies of Bollywood to rescue the woman from her captors? If Jesus had to use force to rescue her, He would have saved Himself from the Romans and the Jews who were baying for His blood.

The views of the author

Pope Francis argues that this incident illustrates the merciful nature of Jesus. He insists that by not denying the charge levelled against her, the woman implicitly admitted her adulterous conduct. She deserved to be stoned to death in accordance with the biblical law. Jesus himself could have hurled the first stone as he was sinless. However, Jesus, in an act of mercy, goes beyond the law and shows her mercy.

Christians often invoke this narrative to portray Jesus as the poster boy of mercy and compassion and to argue that he stood up for the disenfranchised despite the legal odds stacked up against him. Is it true? Was Jesus really merciful and compassionate? Or was he cruel and lacking in empathy? Was he entirely without a moral compass? Let us now examine the same episode as well as a related biblical episode through the prism of reason to answer these questions.

First, the reasonable critic is struck by the fact that Jesus took no initiative to intervene when the mob prepared to stone the woman to death. The sight of a helpless woman with her hands bound (if what Pope Francis claims is true) and terrorized by a mob baying for her blood would move any empathetic person. The mob must have thought of Jesus as a person of some standing to elicit his opinion about the impending brutal punishment. Such a person may even be able to influence the outcome. Yet, Jesus showed complete apathy toward the plight of the woman. He never thought of coming to her rescue. Even when prodded by the mob, he initially remained indifferent and silent. It was only upon repeated questioning that he responded.

My comments

As already stated by me, Pope is not considered as the authority to add something to the gospel. The mercy and compassion of Jesus underlined His whole life. The whole baseless argument of the author deserves to be thrown into the garbage box because such an argument has no legs to stand.

The views of the author

Could an empathetic and compassionate person have behaved the way Jesus did? This question can be easily answered by placing yourself in a hypothetical scenario. You are chatting with 12 of your friends in a park. A gang of men attempt to forcibly disrobe a woman in front of your eyes. You pretend as if nothing is happening and continue chatting with your friends. Would the world hail you as merciful and compassionate? No, it would revile you as cowardly. You, along with your 12 friends, could have easily attempted to rescue the woman. However, you opted to remain a silent witness. Now, remember that Jesus had at least 12 disciples with him when the mob brought the woman for stoning her to death. Jesus and his disciples could have easily attempted to rescue her. However, Jesus pretended as if nothing was happening. How does that make him merciful, empathetic, and compassionate – and not cowardly?

My comments

Forcibly disrobing a woman in front of our eyes is a different story and it cannot be compared with the instance of a woman being accused and arraigned before the law. The learned author quips that Jesus and His disciples could have easily attempted to rescue her who was arraigned as an accused under the law. When there was a law, we have to abide by the law and should not take the law into our own hands. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought the accused woman to Jesus for trying her under the law. They could have judged this issue and got her punished her on their own. But they brought her to Jesus and told Him, “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. Their intention was to trap Jesus in His words. If Jesus asked them to let her off, then they would have accused Him of breaking the law.

The views of the author

Second, the reasonable critic is struck by the fact that Jesus rhetorically provoked a self-styled sinless person to cast the first stone at the woman. One of them could have cleverly retorted, “Jesus, aren’t you sinless? Why don’t you cast the first stone?” Jesus, who had vowed to defend barbaric biblical laws – see Matthew 5:17, would have had no option other than lead the stoning. What kind of justice is it that entrusts mobsters with self-introspection on morality?

My comments

How can the author argue that there was “a self-styled sinless person” who was rhetorically proved by Jesus to cast the first stone at the woman? Jesus was sinless according to the Scriptures. If the author talks of a Jesus outside the gospel, then he should cite some historical record as the basis of his argument other than the gospel. Barbaric biblical laws! Let the author define this. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were not supposed to stone the accused woman to death without a trial. The Romans were ruling them. They were supposed to bring her to the Roman authorities for punishing her as per the law of Moses. In the case of Jesus, they brought Him to the judgment seat. Pilate judged Jesus and condemned Him to the death of crucifixion.

The views of the author

Mobsters that participate in stoning are surely not empathetic and some of them may even be psychopathic without a moral compass. What if one such person had considered himself to be sinless and initiated the stoning? The hapless woman would have died. Jesus had done everything to endanger the life of the woman by entrusting it to the self-judgment of the mobsters. The only reason she survived was those mobsters, on that day, happened to be exceptional; they seem to have introspected, found themselves to be sinful, and dispersed. If someone deserves admiration here, it is the mobsters – for dispersing without stoning.

My comments

Jesus had not endangered the life of the woman by entrusting her to the mobsters. If the mobsters had dispersed without stoning the woman, it was because of the way Jesus handled the entire issue. If Jesus had not posed the question of the state of the mobsters being sinless which led them to disperse, one by one, they could have got her easily stoned to death. The question put by Jesus to the mobsters saved the woman from being stoned to death because the evidences were against her to prove the charge of adultery. 

The author has not taken the least pain to read the simple gospel but has chosen to write on or presume something which is not there. An author or a journalist has to investigate a matter thoroughly first studying the basic documents and then collating information from other known sources. However, the learned author has merely written something after distorting the basic document apparently with a highly prejudiced mind. If the authors or the journalists attempt to follow the footsteps of this learned author, then this world would  be full of lies and deceptions.

The views of the author

Is Jesus then guilty of instigating, aiding, and abetting a murderous crime? This question can be easily answered by returning to the hypothetical scenario where you are in a park when gangsters attempt to forcibly disrobe a woman. The gangsters come to you and ask whether they should rape the woman or let her go. You stonewall their question. However, upon repeated prodding, you answer, “Let the courageous one among you rape her first.” Your prompting the courageous one among the gangsters to initiate the rape would be considered as an act of criminal instigation because very few rapists would think of themselves as cowards. In a civilized judicial system, you and your friends would be treated as instigators and accomplices in an attempted rape. You would be awarded considerable prison time.

Moral policemen and religious fanatics think of themselves as moralistic; that is precisely why they take it upon themselves to punish a woman accused of adultery. It is very likely that those mobsters could have thought of themselves as sinless and one of them could have initiated the stoning. It is only an exceptional coincidence that they thought otherwise. Now, apply the same yardstick from the previous paragraph and decide whether Jesus instigated, aided, and abetted a murderous crime.

My comments

The author, to our great surprise, creates an imaginary scenario of gangsters attempting to forcibly disrobe a woman. The author is not able to distinguish a hypothetical situation like this from the real scenario of the mobsters accusing and arraigning a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Both the woman in the Bible accused under the law of Moses and the imaginary woman threatened with rape are on two different pedestals.

I leave it to the readers of this blog to judge between me and the learned author.

The views of the author

Third, the reasonable critic is struck by the fact that Jesus refused to repudiate the barbaric laws that mandate stoning an adulteress to death; instead, he vowed to fulfill those (Matthew 5:17).Only the whims of the mobsters or a messiah could spare the life of an adulteress. Here, Jesus displayed servility toward biblical laws even though they are barbaric.

In this regard, the misogynistic apostle Paul comes across as a refreshing contrast to Jesus. Even though biblical laws mandate circumcision, Paul took a stance against such laws (Galatians 6:11-18). Needless to say, Paul was not moved by the brutality of genital mutilation and child abuse. His intent was less than honorable. He was trying to convert the pagans, who resisted circumcision, by hook or by crook. So, Paul was willing to repudiate biblical laws to harvest gullible souls.

My comments

I need not repudiate the highly foolish arguments of the author time and again. Coming to Paul, Paul was a Jew who had followed the old testament practice of circumcision before his conversion to Christianity. Paul writes clearly in Gal.6:11-18 that circumcision was not of any use but only a new creation in the Spirit of God was required.

“See what large letters I (Paul) use as I write to you with my own hand!

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[ the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to[b] the Israel of God. From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus”

A simple reading of the above text would amply show how the author with his prejudiced mind attempted to distort the biblical book with an ulterior motive. The Cross of Jesus Christ negated the sundry old testament doctrine of circumcision.

The views of the author

Moral policemen and religious fanatics think of themselves as moralistic; that is precisely why they take it upon themselves to punish a woman accused of adultery.

However, these episodes allow us to contrast Jesus with Paul: while Paul displayed a willingness to challenge biblical laws, albeit with a dishonorable motive and as expediency, Jesus displayed servility toward biblical laws even when they were barbaric. One does not admire the brainwashed jihadists of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or the ISIS when they endorse the barbaric sharia laws that mandate stoning an adulteress to death. How can one admire Jesus whose servility toward religious laws mirrors that of these jihadists?

My comments

Paul never contradicted Jesus or the gospel. The despicable argument of the author comparing the sharia laws with the New Testament doctrines of grace and truth need not be considered by me for a debate because the author himself is blind to or pretends to be ignorant of the truth of the Pauline doctrine and of the conversation of Jesus with the Pharisees, etc.

The views of the author

Fourth, the reasonable critic is struck by the fact that Jesus proclaimed the woman sinner without basis and admonished her not to commit adultery again. Pope Francis shockingly affirms that she must have been guilty of adultery because she neither proclaimed her innocence nor denied the charge of adultery in the kangaroo court.

This is an illogical way to draw an inference. In John 18:28-40, Jews accuse Jesus of having committed some unspecified crime serious enough to warrant death penalty. Jesus neither denies the charge nor proclaims his innocence when Pontius Pilate interrogates him. Therefore, by the absurd logic that Pope Francis employs, Jesus must have been guilty of some unspecified heinous crime – perhaps it was the crime of instigating a murderous mob to stone an innocent woman to death!

A woman accused of adultery and being prepared for stoning would be in a state of shock. Who could she have appealed to and proclaimed her innocence? Is it to the murderous mob or to the messiah who instigated the mobsters?

Jesus was the one who was asked to adjudicate. He was the one who should have conducted an impartial inquiry to ascertain the charges. However, he failed miserably in discharging his responsibility first by displaying cowardice and then by criminally instigating the mob. What else could that defenseless woman in a state of shock have done other than remain silent? Who but a heartless person would pronounce her guilty based on that silence? Tragically, the Christian sense of justice that Pope Francis displays is no different from the Islamic sense of justice that the jihadists of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the ISIS display.

A reasonable analysis of the episode informs us that Jesus was cowardly and lacking in empathy. He defended misogynistic and barbaric laws. He was not merciful or compassionate as Christian propagandists claim. The inference that Jesus was a cruel misogynist who was without a moral compass is reinforced by another biblical verse.

My comments

I need not repudiate the highly foolish, illogical and blind arguments of the author. I have thrown his entire article into the garbage bin. However, I wish to confront him with his false statement that Jesus was charged with some unspecified crimes. If, according to the author,  Jesus was sentenced to the punishment of crucifixion by the Romans on unspecified charges, then the historians who wrote the gospel would have mentioned this fact in their books. The law of jurisprudence followed by the Romans by sentencing an accused person to death without following the law of evidence is a matter for debate by the legal fraternity.  A charge has to be specified and conveyed to the accused as per the principles of law of jurisprudence. Jesus was charged with the sin of blasphemy through the mouth of false witnesses and sentenced to the death of crucifixion. 

The views of the author

In Hinduism, the sin of adultery is removed not by punishment but rather by truthfulness. The woman who on her own volition regrets her adulterous conduct is not punished but considered purified as a result of the sacrificial rite. There is no advocacy of hubris and shunning of her.

My comments

If Hinduism allows a regretting adulteress woman to get purified by a mere sacrificial rite and the sin of adultery is removed without punishment, Christianity does not condemn her as an adulteress after her repentance but gives her new life.

The views of the author

Jesus taught that whoever married a divorced woman commits adultery (Luke 16:18). Biblical law took a dim view of divorce but allowed a man to divorce his wife (Deuteronomy 24:1). However, a woman could not divorce her husband. Such misogynistic laws were motivated by the urge to keep the woman on a tight leash and to treat her as a property of the men folk.

A man who divorced his wife had to give her a get (bill of divorce), so she could remarry. She would be technically committing adultery, a crime punishable by death, if she remarried without receiving the get. This made the woman dependent on her husband even after he had divorced her. Such a woman was called an agunot (chained wife), until she received the get. She could be denied a remarriage if a vengeful ex-husband refused to give her the get. All of these testify to the precarious status of women in biblical society. Jesus refused to empathize or sympathize with the marginalized divorcee. He made her plight worse by his repulsive advocacy of hubris and shunning of her. His condemnation of the defenseless and pitiable agunot undoubtedly prolonged her agony. A reasonable person can no longer deny that Jesus was a cruel misogynist.

A critic may argue that all ancient societies were misogynistic and that Jesus was merely a product of his times. If so, why worship him or hail him as exceptional? However, this objection can be easily answered by analyzing the traditional Hindu attitude toward adultery.

My comments

I need not comment on the views of the author who has not understood what Jesus said with regard to divorce and remarriage. Jesus allowed the Pharisees under the Old Covenant to divorce “due to the hardness of their hearts”. If any man divorced his wife except for adultery, he was not supposed to remarry so long as the divorced wife was alive.

The views of the author

Varuṇa-praghāsa is a traditional Vedic Hindu seasonal rite performed during chatur-māsya. During this rite, the householder and his wife offer a barley meal to the deity Varuṇa as an act of expiation for sins committed knowingly or unknowingly. During the rite, one of the priests asks the wife, “How many lovers do you have?” She utters their names or holds up the number of fingers or blades of grass that tally her amours – in case she had committed adultery. The priest then chants a mantra that Varuṇa may free the woman from sins. The householder then unties his wife’s ornamental waist chain and they together take a sacrificial bath after reciting the verses from the Taittirīya Saṁhita 1.8.3 and 1.1.10.

As David Knipe aptly points out (Vedic Voices – Intimate Narratives of a Living Andhra Tradition, p. 208), in Hinduism,the sin of adultery is removed not by punishment but rather by truthfulness. The woman who on her own volition regrets her adulterous conduct is not punished but considered purified as a result of the sacrificial rite. There is no advocacy of hubris and shunning of her.There is no question of kangaroo courts leveling such accusations against her.

Hinduism takes an enlightened view of a woman and sees her as a sacred person. It values chastity for men and women. However, it also takes an empathetic approach to human conduct. In the event a woman commits adultery, it is willing to consider the situational factors that led to her conduct. Most importantly, even after a trespass, a woman could regain her sacred status by truthfulness alone. Her spouse and family would accept her as before.

The enlightened Hindu approach stands in direct contrast to the misogynistic approach of Jesus and refutes the argument that all ancient societies were misogynistic. It confirms that Christianity ushered in dark ages by sanctifying misogyny much to the detriment and disenfranchisement of women.

A critic may object that the Hindu worldview was not always enlightened or egalitarian when it comes to adultery because even in the Varuṇa-praghāsa rite it is only the woman who confesses. It is important to have a sense of proportion while drawing such inferences. Nowhere does Hinduism prescribe death sentence to an adulteress whereas Christianity does. Nowhere does Hinduism entrust the fate of an adulteress in the hands of mobsters and kangaroo courts whereas Jesus did. Hinduism doesn’t condemn an adulteress whereas Christianity does without even considering the mitigating factors. Hinduism recognizes the innate sanctity of a woman and enables a woman to regain it even after she committed adultery whereas Christianity treats a woman as a mere commodity that can be disposed of as misogynistic men wish.

Therefore, in every sense, Hinduism treats an adulteress much better than Jesus did. If one were to give Hinduism a generous score of 5 on the misogyny index (on a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the embodiment of misogyny) then one would give Jesus a solid 100.

More importantly, Hindu traditions are not ossified unlike Christian beliefs. Hindu traditions continually evolve; that is why one dharmaśāstra text supplants another over time. It is because of this reason that Hinduism evolved the notion of kaṛpu (Sanskrit kalpita) or chastity for men as well as women. The Hindu sage Tiruvaḻḻuvar makes it an ideal for men as much as for women: a real man is one who never casts a covetous eye on another man’s wife (The Tirukkuṛaḻ 148).

This plasticity allows Hinduism to continually improve and become egalitarian. In contrast, Christianity treats the Bible as a revelation from god and hence immutable. As a result, a Christian, be it Jesus or the pope, is incapable of challenging and amending the misogynistic biblical teachings; doing so would be blasphemous. Therefore, Christians cannot challenge biblical teachings and injunctions any more than Jesus could. So, Christianity cannot improve. A society that values women must reject the misogynistic Jesus and Christianity.

My comments

If a Hindu woman has to undergo a complex ritual for getting the sin of adultery removed from her, Jesus expects a woman charged with the sin of adultery to repent in a simple manner by believing on Him for forgiveness by virtue of His atoning sacrifice on the Cross. I do not want to condemn the great religion of Hinduism unlike the author who chose to condemn the Christianity without having the first hand knowledge of the gospel. 

The sage Tiruvalluvar is a revered Tamil poet who is held in high esteem and the Thirukkural is considered by the Christians as second to the Bible in regard to ethics and morality. He is a celebrated Tamil poet and philosopher whose contribution to Tamil literature is the Thirukkural, a work on ethics.

- Job Anbalagan

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