(thought for the month October 2007)
“Maddie’s body kept in fridge” (The Sun 29/09/07): the headlines scream from the front pages. Whilst still broadly supportive of Gerry and Kate McCann, the British press has no problem printing the latest rumours surrounding the disappearance of four-year old Madeleine. Amidst controversy over the competence of the Police investigation, accusations and counter-accusations are aired regardless of lack of evidence.
Most people around the world would want Maddie to be re-united with her parents. But we should be questioning the fervour with which journalists go after such stories. Their shouts over the insensitivity of the Portuguese authorities ring hollow when they bare the smallest details in the name of “public interest” or plain old greed. On Question Time last Friday, Ian Hislop (editor of Private Eye) challenged his fellow journalists who complain about politicians “flip-flopping” (changing their story to match the moment). One minute the press loves Gordon Brown, the next they don’t – it all depends what will sell more papers.
Perhaps they need to read the story of The Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8:3-11). The Pharisees, key religious people of Jesus’ day, brought a woman who’d been caught in bed with “another man”. The law said she should be stoned to death – what would Jesus do? He could have pointed out that the man should also be stoned. Should he take witness statements, or ask the woman if she consented?
Bending down, Jesus wrote in the sand, and then said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Immediately the accusers began to leave, starting with the oldest. Could they too have been with the woman? When no one was left, Jesus told the woman, “Go and leave your life of sin” – rescued from threat of death to new life.
There’s an old saying, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Accusing other people of some misdemeanour is a good way to direct attention away from our own faults. But Jesus is not fooled. The Bible says, “all have sinned.” (Romans 3:23). But the good news is forgiveness is available through Jesus (Romans 3:24).
So the next time you’re tempted to start throwing stones at someone, consider how fragile your own glass house is, and come to Jesus for forgiveness and a new start.