Excerpt from : Ruth A. Tucker, Women In The Maze,
Questions & Answers on Biblical Equality (1992)
In her book dealing with the issue of sex and Christianity, Ruth A. Tucker spends about a page and a half on the Pericope de Adultera (Jn 8:1-11). She recognizes in this authentic incident in the life of Jesus the significance and impact of Jesus' treatment of the situation, regarding, the woman, her accusers and men in general, and sin.
Women In The Maze (InterVarsity Press, 1992)
Questions & Answers on Biblical Equality
by Ruth A. Tucker
How did Jesus nullify the double standard for women?
Jesus’ abrogation of the double standard that differentiated between men and women is seen most powerfully in relation to the issue of marital infidelity. Then, even more in modern Western society, it was taken for granted that men were not required to live up to the standards of purity that women were.
But Jesus made it clear that purity had nothing to do with gender. When he was called upon to condemn a woman who was guilty of adultery, he took a powerful stand against custom and placed men on an equal par with women in the area of sin. Rachel Wahlberg refers to this story (recorded in Jn 8:3-11) not as "Jesus and the Woman caught in Adultery" , but as "Jesus and the Adulterous Men".
"Ostensibly it is about a woman," she writes, "but basically it is about men and their double standard of morality" 1
The Scribes and the Pharisees reminded Jesus that the penalty for a woman's adultery, according to Deuteronomy 22, was stoning. Although men were also to be stoned for committing adultery, the law was enforced more rigorously for women than for men. The scribes and the Pharisees were testing Jesus and thought they had him trapped. After writing something with his finger on the ground, Jesus responded,
“Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
At that, the Men left the women with Jesus. He turned to her and said,
"Woman, where are they?" Has no one condemned you?”
She responded, “No one sir” and he said, ”Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
In nullifying the double standard, Jesus did not suggest that there are no gender distinctions in the tenancy toward sexual sins. Indeed, in the Sermon on the Mount he singled men out in condemning the sin of lust:
“You have heard that it is said, ”You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say to you, whoever looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery with her in his heart”
Unlike other Jewish rabbis, Jesus did not believe that the only way that men and women should have social interaction, but that they should live on a higher standard than had previously been taught: “It is not the presence of a woman, but the sinful thoughts of a man, which makes the situation dangerous. Jesus, therefore, called upon his [male] disciples to discipline their thoughts rather than to avoid women.” 2
- Ruth A. Tucker
Women In The Maze
1. Rachel Conrad Wahlberg, Jesus According to Women (NY Paulist P. 1975), p. 15.
2. James B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective, (Zond. 1981), p. 108.