A Sad Situation
“Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. 3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?” (John 8:1-5).
The salacious story is true. The general charge has been verified. Becki Falwell, wife of the President of Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian university, had an extramarital affair with a Miami pool attendant, and her husband, Jerry Falwell Jr., is not innocent in the whole process. Some specific details are in dispute, but the general charge of an adulterous affair is without question.
The story of Becki Falwell is not unlike the situation that was brought to the attention of Jesus during His earthly ministry. A woman had been taken in adultery. Somehow, the religious leaders of Israel discovered what was happening. They went to the place where the sin against self, society, and God was taking place. The scribes and Pharisees caught the woman in the very act of moral transgression. They compelled the woman to go with them. Puffed up with self-righteous outrage, the religious leaders were determined to expose the woman to the public that she might be embarrassed and humbled. However, these false paragons of virtue did not care for the woman, the Law of God, morality, or society. They simply saw a personal and political opportunity to trap Jesus, and destroy His credibility in the eyes of the people. They would destroy Jesus by pitting Him against the Law of Moses.
With unveiled contempt, the religious leaders found Jesus teaching the people in the Temple. Casting the woman at the feet of Jesus, the self-righteous rulers of the Jews asked Him what He had to say about the situation. To the surprise of all, Jesus did not respond verbally. He simply stooped down, “and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not” (John 8:6).
The voices of the religious leaders grew louder. They were incensed, and insisted that Jesus say something.
Jesus did have something to say. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Later, Jesus would say to the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more.”
Centuries have passed since Jesus spoke those words, but human nature has not changed. There are individuals who fall into sin, and are caught. “The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them” (1 Tim. 5:24, NIV).
Until the day of final judgment, Jesus is determined to be longsuffering, and forgiving. Jesus has something to say to Becki and Jerry Falwell. To both he says, “Go, and sin no more.”
“Jerry, sin no more by allowing Becki to take the blunt of responsibility for all that has happened.” In an initial self-serving statement to The Washington Examiner, Falwell said, “Becki had an inappropriate personal relationship with this person, something in which I was not involved”. The co actor in the affair and accuser, Giancarlo Granda, has produced clear and compelling documentary evidence otherwise of involvement in the sex, lies, and the cover-up.
“Jerry, sin no more by playing the victim.” While proclaiming his non-involvement, Falwell went on to say that the affair “was nonetheless very upsetting to learn about”. Falwell wants the world to know that he is seeking help for the “emotional toll” of this affair.
“Jerry, sin no more by virtue signaling.” Two reporters for the AP write that Falwell said he was seeking mental health counseling amid the “trauma” of the situation and that he remains “fully devoted” to his wife (Sarah Rankin and Elana Schor, August 25, 2020).
When the sin of David was exposed, he did not tell the prophet of God what a great king he was, how much he loved Bathsheba, and how devoted he was to her. There is no cover-up in true Biblical repentance. There is no virtue signaling in an honest heartfelt confession. “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).
“Jerry, where sin abounds, grace does much more abound, but go and sin no more.”
Jesus has something to say to Becki.
“Becki, I do not condemn you. The Law of Moses condemns you. Your own conscience condemns you. The world condemns you. Nature itself condemns you. While I do not condemn you, neither do I commend, or condone what has been done. Becki, repent, and go and sin no more.”
Letters in the Sand
Jesus also has something to say to those who look on these situations. Consider the letters in the sand. Whatever Jesus wrote that day so long-ago produced conviction in those who had brought the woman to Christ. “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last” (John 8:9).
Let the heart of people be reminded of the following truths.
The heart is deceitful. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). It is wearisome to listen to people insist how good they are, how much they have done for others, and how worthy of respect and honor they are. No, the heart of every person is deceitful, and desperately wicked. Beware of your own heart. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
The heart can be compartmentalized. Since March 2012, Jerry Falwell Jr. and Becki have been living compartmentalized lives. When they are engaged in social, professional, and religious work, they are sincere, well meaning, and helpful to many. However, when they are alone, when temptation comes, and they willingly yield to it, they suppress all moral values for a moment of intense personal pleasure. There is pleasure in sin, but it is only for a very short time. Once the passion has passed, there might be feelings of embarrassment and humiliation, but that will not stop the same behavior from happening again. Only when the soul is integrated, and not compartmentalized, will there be freedom from repetitive transgressions.
The heart can be hardened. Jerry Falwell, Jr., and Becki, will walk away from this situation with at least $10.5 million dollars in compensation as he leaves Liberty University. They will be able to keep whatever investments they have. Realistically, they face a very bright future socially, religiously, and financially if the stories of Jimmy Swagger, Jim Baker, and William Graham Tullian Tchividjian indicate anything. They can also walk away from this situation confirmed in evil if they are not careful. But, “what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Let the word go forth. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Have you repented? Do you live with a deceitful heart? Are you living in dread of someone, somewhere, someday exposing your inappropriate behavior? Is your life compartmentalized? Is your heart hardened? Those who will not repent will discover one day they cannot repent of anger, lust, greed, bitterness, jealousy, and unbelief. While repentance is a command (Acts 17:30), it is also a gift. God grants repentance. This is the promise of the gospel: God will give you a new heart (Ezek. 36:26–27). But you must call upon the Lord.