I have been thinking about Ms. Deen’s situation and can, to some degree, agree with those who assert that pointing fingers at her and calling her a racist is calling the kettle black, of ignoring that good old chestnut drug out from time to time—
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” – John 8:7.
We must remember that this utterance attributed to Jesus, the person we tend to ignore while going about our everyday Christian lives, was due to a particular set of circumstances, which were: the leaders had brought to Jesus a woman caught “in the very act” of adultery. I always wondered if she was caught in the very act, why the other person was not brought to trial, but this is not the point, or maybe it is. Anyway, after some back and forth, which I think related more to the leaders trying to trap Jesus than dealing with any breach of propriety or law, Jesus said what I cited above. We tend to forget the rest of the story, which is, after everyone departs, he looks at he and says”hath no man condemned thee?”, to which she responded, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Read literally, this means Jesus gives license to do anything under the sun, which most would say is a wrong interpretation, and I agree, just as is the quote mining used to cite John 8: and other similar aphorisms. It cannot be taken out of its context, out of the fact that Jesus was fed up with the Pharisees and was drawing (what, I have always wondered) on the ground with a stick while the uproar was going on. Would the story have been different if the other party been included?
So, back to Paula Deen.
Yes, there is a lot of hypocrisy in calling out the error in another while ignoring the error in ourselves, but I think we can, by use of the reasoning he puts forth, obviate needed change. Anyone who points a finger at another is a hypocrite, because the only person who ever committed no sin scared us so much we nailed him to a piece of wood. And watched him die, but the people who would defend those using racial pejoratives are very often the very same ones who know, just know, that homosexuality is a sin beyond measure and have no problem decrying that.
As a people, we have changed and a part of that change is now condemning things that were once thought to be a normal way of doing things, and unless one was forced to use the separate but equal water fountains and bathroom and attend separate but equal schools, there was no need to change. But we have. And that is good.
Was Paula Deen treated unfairly? Did she deserve to lose all she has? I dunno. I do not know enough about the case and I was not asked to sit in judgment.
The one thing I do believe about this is that society is changing into one more welcoming of the different, is becoming the melting pot we have always proclaimed to be our great asset. It will please me greatly when there is no one left alive who can remember—-much less have used—racial pejoratives.
In the end, we need to remember there are two sides to this coin: the scriptures, but that the most valuable advice given in the Bible is about treating all people the way we want to be treated. The only question is, do we have an obligation to call out those who are acting badly?
I think we do have an obligation to call out things even if by pointing a finger at another, we have three (or is it four? pointing back at ourselves. If by condemning the acts of one, like Ms. Deen, we are also condemning our own actions, we need to clean up our act, as a more complete rendering of the teaching is to be found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7):
Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
If I Were quote mining or proof-texting, I would stop here, but that is not the end of the teaching, which is
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
Basically, Jesus was saying we need to clean up our own act and once so, then we can correct others. If we have stopped using the particular word Ms. Deen used that got her in trouble, it is not wrong to correct others. Just remember that when doing so, every instance of your having done the same thing will surface and you will pay the price for your measures.