How dare he live as though he were forgiven? As though he never had done any errant thing. How dare she walk as though she were free? Liberated from a verdict of guilt and a penalty of condemnation; freed from the prison clothes of the blameworthy. How dare they lift hands in worship that were lifted in anger, hatred, lifted in sin?

Repent! you shout. Let him bring us evidence of suffering, proof of his pain. Let us judge her heart, evaluate his intentions, determine their rightness, let us cast with pride our ballots of heavenly retribution.

Their standards must be OUR standards! We would not; therefore they must not. We decide, we determine, we establish what is acceptable and what is intolerable.

We know. That is the crux of the matter: We KNOW.

We know what is in their hearts. We know what God knows of them. We know what ought to be done with them:

Banish them! Bind them with the steel of our judgments. Surround them with the tsk of the tongue and the wag of the head. Crush them with the hushed whisper and the subtle snub.

Disapprove them. Disparage them. Disallow them. Disinvite them. Disengage them. Disfellowship them. Deny them, deride them; hold them in disdain.

Sinners! They have stumbled, fallen; they have muddied themselves in the mire of sin. Offenders! They have tripped, proven their humanness; they have demonstrated their weaknesses. They are “less-than.” “Less than” who? Less than us, surely! We would not. Stumble, stagger, we would never fall.

But they, they have been brought to the court of human righteousness and they have been found wanting in our all-seeing eyes!

Or perhaps they have not. Stumbled, as we have believed, fallen as we have observed; perchance we were misinformed, given one side, but certainly not the other side of the story, but let us not let truth obstruct our righteous and holy highway. We are certain, we know, we see what God may not see: We know motive, intention; we know the flaws.

How dare they? When they demonstrate by their attitudes, by their words, by their acts, they do not know God; they do not know His heart; they do not understand His ways, His purpose, His love.

How dare they? Reinterpret, misinterpret His words? God forgives, “so far as the East is from the West so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” He forgives and “will remember their sin no more.” Teachers of the law and the Pharisees were invited to cast stones of death at a woman found guilty of mortal sin, should they be without iniquity. The woman was instructed merely, “Go and sin no more.”

How dare they? Misrepresent those holy words? How dare they? Pervert perfection by dragging lofty righteousness to man’s grimy and unholy estate.

How dare they? How dare they assume a position reserved only for One, for One Holy, for One righteous Judge Who gave His life that we might be tried in the court of heaven’s grace, judged with the beauty of mercy, found innocent because of the pouring out of His own, pure blood?

How dare they? Oh, they dare . . . they dare because they do not believe.