No Scarlet Letter

Maybe you remember the story in John 4, where Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman from Sychar. He could read her very soul, and noted that she had a very unstable romantic past. We know very little of the historical context for Samaritans, but what we do know is her situation was likely quite rare. First, the Samaritans still clung to tightly controlled betrothal and marriage arrangements. In order to call it “marriage” it would have required priestly involvement. Despite being different from their Jewish counterparts, we see no evidence at all of slouching in regard to marriage rituals. We can safely speculate that she was “given” to five different men, divorced from them, and was at that point shacking up yet another.

Thus, she was likely not permitted to socialize with the other Samaritan women, and came to draw water at that time of day when no other woman was around. In other words, it’s not that Samaritan women were loose, but this one apparently was, and no one had yet bothered to actively prosecute her under Samaritan law.

She was getting off easily compared to the adulteress in John 8. Did Jesus change the Law in letting her go? No, the Jewish nation had already so thoroughly abandoned the Law that it no longer applied. There was no Covenant community, no shalom to protect. The men who brought this woman to Jesus for judgment had no grounds for prosecution. The Law of Moses had not been their national law in a very long time; in its place stood a mass of Hellenized reasonings about what God should have said, in their opinions.

But if the Covenant of Moses was dead, there were other applicable covenants. The one that mattered at that point was the ancient Biblical Law, personified in the Son of God. In mercy, He released her to her own penitence.

We at Radix Fidem honor that Biblical Law. We accept “scarlet women” and men on the grounds of penitence and embracing our covenant. Our covenant presumes a heart-led life. Sure, you could fake it. You might even fool us all, but you cannot fool God. The only advantage of joining our covenant is seeking fellowship on the grounds that nobody is trying to fool God. You won’t get much from trying to play games.

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On a related note, someone asked me about traditional rituals. For example, I’ve already said we promote the Lord’s Supper, sharing the cup and bread. I recommend doing it at least once a year within a heart-led communion. That might mean doing it alone for some of you, so it’s up to your own conscience.

The same with baptism. Folks, this marks your entrance into a penitent life; it’s not a ritual requirement for membership in our covenant. It’s recommended, and any current member of Radix Fidem can conduct the ceremony. I’ll offer some advice on how to formulate things, but we have yet to gain a priest who would have any real authority in such things. Ideally, your local parish would have a priestly pastor, as well, but it seems to me we are still a ways from that.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with contemplating such things now, since at least some of you will find this thing exploding into existence in the future. You’ll need to ask some questions and consider how you want to do things. My bias is toward informality, but that doesn’t work for everyone. I’m unwilling at this point to rule on such things. I’m trained and competent for my own purposes here as local elder (alongside being senior elder on the virtual parish), but I’m not called to make such decisions for you. There’s a lot of territory here with marriages and a host of other social rituals. Feel free to ask questions here or on the forum.

Let’s agree to pray for someone called and committed to the pastoral role.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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