Sermons

Summary: Done as a pulpit dialogue between a spectator at the stoning of the woman taken in adultery and a prosecutor trying him for not sharing in the stoning. JMS, my initials; HM, initials of the church member who played the prosecutor.

JMS: What are you doing to me? This is outrageous! You have no business putting me on trial! I didn’t do any more than anybody else did. Let me go! This is crazy!

HM: You know exactly why I’m putting you on trial. That woman was as guilty as sin, and so are you. You were with her. You participated in the whole mess.

JMS: Haven’t said I did, haven’t said I didn’t. But I did neither more nor less than anyone else, so why in the name of common sense have you come down on me?

Look, let me remind you what was going on, and maybe then you’ll come to your senses, if you think you could release your icy grip for a couple of minutes!

HM: Well. But don’t try to get away. I know where to look for you, and it will be much worse for you if you try to escape.

JMS: Agreed. No problem. In a way that you probably cannot understand, I very well know that I cannot escape. I cannot escape the consequences of what I have done. I cannot escape responsibility for what happened to that girl. And, most of all, I cannot escape remembering what my actions did to the Lord.

But, then again, I have already escaped. I have escaped a penalty more harsh than any prosecutor could ask for. I have escaped retribution more dire than whatever this jury will sentence me to. You just don’t know what I have escaped. But you can escape too.

HM: What kind of drivel is this? You have escaped? Forgive me, but it looks to me as though we have you in very definite custody. That rope is no shoestring, and there are guards at all the doors. You aren’t going anywhere.

And as for my escaping, well, I don’t have anything to escape from. I’m not on trial here; you are. My conduct is not in question; yours is. So let’s get on with this.

JMS: We’ll see who or what is in question. But may I make my statement to the jury?

HM: Not until I have read the formal charge against you. The jury must know precisely why you are here.

Elder Smith, you are charged with failure to enforce the law of God. This is a charge of negligence, namely that you witnessed a crime and were not diligent to carry out the penalty.

JMS: All right. Now what crime did I witness and what was I expected to do? Let’s be very specific, prosecutor.

HM: The statutes involved are these. From the law of God contained in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 20, Verse 14, to wit: "You shall not commit adultery". And then from that same law of God, revised statutes, the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 20, Verse 10, namely, "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor ... the adulteress shall be put to death." You are accused of failure to enforce these things. How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?

JMS: I plead forgiven.

HM: You plead forgiven? What is that? Answer the question, just as I have put it. Guilty or not guilty?

JMS: Counselor, I cannot and will not answer the question just as you have put it. The whole problem lies with the way many of us put questions. We put lots of questions in ways that makes us sound blameless, and we are not. We are not blameless in this matter.

HM: Not blameless? I will take that to mean guilty.

And since you have pled guilty, I will lay out the evidence against you.

I intend to show that on the morning in question, you, Elder Smith, were in the company of a young woman, whose name we will not mention here in order to protect her husband’s reputation. I intend to show that you, sir, did see her in the very intimate company of a man not her husband, and that, instead of interrupting this illicit business, you took up a position of observation and did nothing. Exactly nothing. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I intend to show that this defendant, having a responsibility to exact the harshest of penalties on the aforementioned young woman, neglected to do so and therefore brought disgrace to the very name of our God!

The defendant may now speak on his own behalf, though I must recall the old saying that whoever acts as his own attorney has a fool for his client!

JMS: Indeed I will speak on my behalf, sir, and on behalf of a good many others, too, including yourself.

HM: I must insist that you stick to the matter at hand. I am not on trial; you are.

JMS: We will see; we will see.

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