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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Stoned to Death for Adultery

Today’s news included the story about a stoning of an adulterous couple, 20 year old Sadiqa and her lover 28 year old Qayum. Qayum had left his wife for her and the two were caught at a friend’s house by the Taliban. This past Sunday, before a crowd of 150 men, they were stoned to death in the Kunduz providence of northern Afghanistan. Before the fall of Taliban rule such stonings were common. Such brutality shocks us but it speaks volumes about the mentality of the enemy and their brutal religious beliefs.  (Take note, we are are told that such is a distortion of Islam.)

Despite dark moments in history, by contrast, right-minded Christians would censure wrongdoing but pay heed to the witness of our Lord.

Early in the morning he came again to the temple; all the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” (John 8:2-11)

Our nation seems to have moved to the opposite extreme, excusing all sorts of sexual depravity and the violation of the marriage bond. Adultery, fornication and sodomy were once universally regarded as crimes. Half of the 50 states of the U.S. still regard adultery as a criminal offense. Not in your state? Last I heard it was illegal in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. However, along with the other immoral acts, it is rarely prosecuted. Adultery is still a violation of the military code of conduct and can earn a court martial.

Adultery was defined in some states as actual sexual congress and in others, like Virginia, as “lewd” or “lascivious” associations. I recall a few years ago the authorities used a fornication charge to get a court order to raid a house of a suspected drug pusher— sneaky! Possible penalties for adultery are as severe as a life sentence (Michigan), two years imprisonment (Pennsylvania) or in my own state of Maryland, a $10 fine. Given the money problems in the state, I am surprised the fine is not raised and the law enforced. Just as with the speed and red light cameras which catch offenders for hefty fines, could we not place discrete anti-smooching cameras in parks, near pools, at bars and maybe even in bedrooms? Charging per each offense, I would suspect given the lifestyle and lack of commitment today, the money would come flooding in!  [I hope you guys know that I am kidding.]

How far must we go to insure public morality?  Who determines today what is right and wrong? 

What are your thoughts about all this?

13 Responses

  1. Fr. Joe. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to answer so many important questions. Thank you again and may God bless you… Gary

  2. But is that so? If I sit in my home behind locked doors and shoot heroin into my collapsing and ulcerated veins, is that OK? If I lock myself into my festering bedroom and view child pornography on my laptop, is that OK,? if I buy a sheep at auction and slit its throat in my kitchen and watch it die in blooded convulsions is that OK? And if I have sex with my neighbours wife while he is at work, it that OK?
    To me these are very similar issues and worthy of control by the civil law enforcement authorities. All morality founded on the JudaoChristian heritage was once the prime mover of correct behaviour was the way we wanted society to behave; both Church and State have a part to play in enforcing it.

    I was working in Saudi Arabia many years ago now when a young member of the Royal Family and her lover were executed by beheading. Many on the camp went to Tehran to watch the public awfulness, in fact we were encouraged to go, I stayed in the compound and asked my God to show mercy on their souls. I knew that I had to behave myself whilst working there and that their law was not my law, but when in Rome …as they say.

    I often wonder what Jesus wrote in the sand……….possibly the sins of the accusers themselves to be blown away in the wind, possibly nothing at all, but it was mentioned twice that He wrote in the sand with His finger………….that’s definately worth pondering.
    With Love, Paul

  3. DELETED AS NON-TOPICAL (See Ask a Priest section.)

  4. Islam is no friend of Christ.

    I believe those Muslims who are not violent are convicted of love or “saved” by their own hearts (implanted by
    the real God).

    Our freedom is not impugned by laws of those who believe not Christ or don’t believe Christ’s moral teaching.

    The spirit of anti-Christ is alive and blaspheming.

    Individual people are worthy of love.

  5. “… The sin that most upsets Christ is hypocrisy…”

    Christ allowed the Hypocrites to live.

    God has no humor towards people that do not resist sin; they do not think at all about sin offending God. That is why He destroyed Sodom and Gamorrah.

    The man that comitted adultry with the Sinner was not there, because had he been, both would have to have been stoned, no questions asked.

    Because the Jew that caused the sin was not there, Christ therefore did not violate Jewish Law, He just took advantage of the cowardice of the Jew.

    FATHER JOE: Jews are people of faith and courage and heroism just like others. Jesus merely called upon the latent moral sense of the crowd and reminded them that we are all sinners. The absence of the man who sinned with the woman might have demonstrated a double-standard. Jesus will take upon himself the suffering and death which belonged to us. He will die that we might have a share in eternal life.

  6. Sodomy is legal across America. Alienation of Affections is no longer a crime (having sex with a married woman). Murdering babies is legal. Freemasons founded this country’s government. These and other satanic behaviors will only stop when Satan and his Freemason brethren knell before Christ.

    Meanwhile, we must clean house by refusing modernism and novelty, and embrace proper Catholic catechism, attend the True Mass, and partake of proper Sacraments. (I baptize you in the name of the redeemer, sanctifier, so on, doesn’t cut it).

    If we keep on the path Rome is leading us on, we will continue to parish.

    The Holy Father is the Holy Father.

    If he happens to be a bad one for us, we have to live with it.

    We can do as the Faithful did during the Arian Heresy; they catechized themselves. Rome changed.

    The same thing is required today.


    You lament many issues, but I think you seriously err in your negativity about the foundations of America and the direction of the Church under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Although a number of the founding fathers were Masons, many like Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were very favorable to Catholics and argued for a common brotherhood for citizens and toleration of differences. One of Washington’s best friends and supporters was Charles Carroll, a Catholic and arguably the richest man in the thirteen colonies. Jefferson lifted a section out of the writings of Robert Bellarmine for his Declaration of Independence about the rights of man. These two volumes were later donated to the Catholic Univeristy of America. The Church’s continued prohibition toward membership in Masonry is due to the fact that it is a secret society. Americans have seen little of the anti-Catholicism that was integral to past European versions of this institution, although rituals and prayers conflict with Catholic teaching.

    The true Mass is both in Latin and English. The old form is beautiful, at least the High Mass, but the new form also has merit and efficacy. The new translation will enhance the richness of the reformed liturgy.

    The current Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church is normative and reflects the truths of faith. Modernism and the example of modalism you give does not reflect the teaching of the Church in the modern world, but is an aberration. The direction of Rome, under the greatest mind in the Church, is the correct one. If you oppose Pope Benedict XVI then you are not a genuine Catholic. As I have said before, we do not follow dead popes but living ones. The Magisterium is the only proper interpreter of the Scriptures and the living Tradition. Those who would usurp this authority, no matter whether for liberal dissent or archaic/anachronistic forms, find themselves departing from Catholic fidelity. John Cardinal Newman interpreted his Anglicanism as the new Arianism in regards to Catholic unity under the authority of Rome. Certain conservative Anglicans are again coming back to Rome, and under the guidance of Pope Benedict, who just canonized Cardinal Newman.

    I deleted your link to a site favorable of the pseudo-schismatic SSPX.

  7. We are told to turn the other cheek, and forgive an uncountable number of times. Getting involved in public legislation is a messy proposition full of hypocrisy. God told Israel he would be their king.

    FATHER JOE: Politics or no politics, there would still be hypocrisy and sin.

  8. Did Christ’s mercy for the [woman caught in adultery] say something about our built in need for sexual release? Why was his mercy less for the temple money changers?

    FATHER JOE: Jesus tells the woman that he did not condemn her (but in his mercy) he did add that she should avoid this sin in the future. Jesus and the early Church would rightly be critical of sexual sin. Forgiveness was available, but had to be accompanied by repentance and reform of life. The woman was aware of her sin and knew shame. Jewish law would have allowed her to be stoned to death. She was guilty and everyone knew it. The money-changers were also quilty, but they were blind to their sin and were not challenged by the Jewish authorities. We are dealing with different types of sin, and yet sin is sin. The sin that most upsets Christ is hypocrisy. The money-changers were in collusion with the pharisees. They were blind guides.

  9. Laughing through tears. Gotta let this one pass.

  10. Adultery is no longer illegal in Pennsylvania so there is no two year penalty. Adultery went out right about the time that no-fault divorce came in.

  11. Fr. Joe, I understand what you are getting at. I have to say that I am only in my early 20s and so I don’t have much of a frame of reference for the moral climate as it might have existed decades ago. I pretty much only know what it is now. But I do understand your concerns.

    I still have to say that I am uneasy with the law enforcing such intimate private behavior such as adultery, homosexuality, fornication, etc. I just don’t see how it would be done at this point in time. And I’d be afraid that some wackadoodles might come to power at some point in time. and we’d end up with some “Taliban lite” type of thing (although that is unlikely). I know what you’re saying, but it just makes me uneasy that the law should involve themselves in that manner.

    Here’s the other thing I am thinking. My mom was born and raised in France, (my dad of Italian heritage) and I spent considerable time shuttling back and forth between Europe and the U.S. to visit family while growing up. From everything I’ve read, and from my own anecdotal observations, there was a lot less out-of-wedlock pregnancy and alcoholism there than there was/is here. I’m not sure about the adultery, though…I never checked that out. But the attitudes there towards sexuality/drinking/nudity are quite different in that things seem more laid-back. Yet they don’t have the problems we do here in those areas. Not saying they don’t at all. France is very secular and the law just doesn’t get into those areas from what I know.

    Here’s the other weird thing: in France there is no such thing as gay marriage. They have civil unions under the law, but forget redefining marriage. and forget polygamy; although, there is a problem with the high Muslim population bringing in all of their wives. I think they are unofficially recognized, but only one wife is officially recognized. So, it’s funny in a way that although they are very secular and view sexual matters as nobody else’s business but the people involved for the most part, they don’t have as much problems in another sense as we do here. It’s quite an interesting topic.

    They have become quite intolerant of Islamism, especially after the country was set on fire a few years back. Perhaps if I sit and examine my innermost thoughts, this might be at the root of my uneasiness about regulation of what would be considered private behavior. There are many there who would impose Sharia and those very strict religious rules. Sharia is a complete total belief system that regulates every aspect of one’s life–NOT just “religion.” I know that Christianity is not the same as Sharia, but it still makes me uneasy to regulate others’ lives according to religious beliefs.

    I guess I just don’t know what the answer is, so I guess I’m not much help. lol


    While it was familiar years ago for men to room with other guys and for women to platonically do the “Laverne and Shirley” thing; today, the eyes roll and people wonder about those of the same sex living together. However, unless it were brother-sister or mother-son, cohabitation of those of different genders was frowned upon. If it were not illegal, the state would set conditions whereby such casual unions might even become common-law marriages. Such was the desperation to avoid scandal and to promote public morals. Enforcement of laws regarding human sexuality has always been problematical, but sometimes it must be done as with incest and the molestation of minors. However, there are critics also trying to lower this bar.

    The issues arise precisely because we ranked high as a religious nation and still do in comparison to countries like secular or pagan France. The American psyche has also inherited elements of Irish Jansenism and Puritan moral ardor. It reminds me of the joke, “The Jews invented guilt and Catholics perfected it.” You go to Rome or the Vatican and the art is filled with naked bodies. Americans tend to emit embarrassed giggles and blush. As for Italians, [no stereotyping intended], some of them have this peculiar acceptance of mistresses. Indeed, I knew one well-to-do man who paraded his wife and mistress together at parties. His aging wife even joked about it. I still find it very strange and disappointing.

  12. My libertarian leanings are sympathetic to such a view. But the problem is immorality can breed more immorality. In days gone by, divorce was generally frowned upon, even by those permissive towards it. Now it is so frequent that we literally have consecutive polygamy. Adultery was seen as a tragedy and a violation of trust but swinging couples with open marriages make it a lifestyle decision. Homosexuals were often quiet about their situations but now the question is highly political and “in your face” with marches, the media, etc. Parents might say that certain behavior is wrong or sinful and then schools and secular society will say the opposite, and attack those who say otherwise with charges of “hate speech.” Injury to neighbor may be spiritual and/or psychological; sometimes such hurts are worse than the physical, like breaking a leg. I think good people would say that stoning people for something like adultery is highly disproportionate to the crime or fault, but should there be no penalty at all? If there are no punishments, then must we strip away laws enforcing public morality? And then what happens?

  13. This is what happens when religious fanatics gain control of a society. Thankfully, there is no basis in Christianity for such punishment or I fear there are some Christian fanatics that would pursue this course of action also in order to control the moral behavior of others. They would mostly likely be in favor of the “morality police” such as exists in certain Islamic nations governed by Sharia Law.

    As we now live in an extremely pluralistic society, and becoming more so year by year, it is not feasible to craft public policy based upon any individual religious beliefs. Having said that, as a society we do need to agree upon laws regulating certain public behaviors or else we will have anarchy and chaos. The emphasis on pubic behavior. Common sense is needed here.

    My personal opinion is that secular law has no business regulating private behavior unless that behavior becomes injurious to others. You can sit in your own home and get drunk, but once you get behind the wheel of a car, then your actions become potentially damaging to others.

    Adultery, fornication, and other sexual matters are best left between the parties involved and their clergy if they are religiously inclined, unless these matters involve minors. In that case, society has the duty to protect children.

    I kind of like Thomas Jefferson’s way of looking at things:

    “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

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