Posted by George Morrison

Word on the Week. 9th January 2010. We thought postmodernity had put it out of the house but in it comes through the back door. The “A” word was heard in the media just when it seemed adultery had been dropped from the vocabulary. After all the current descriptions of “having an affair” blunts the impact and to be “in a relationship” sounds almost healthy. A possible reason is that we are dealing with Biblically literate Northern Ireland where the evangelicals call a spade a spade and not an agricultural implement. Another reason could be that the one guilty of adultery is the wife of the First Minister who herself was a formidable political figure. The fact that she recently condemned “same sex unions” in Biblical terms provided ready ammunition for her detractors. Her husband, the First Minister, mentioned his wife’s repentance and granted his forgiveness in a moving broadcast marred, perhaps a little, by his desire to remain in Office declaring, “I have done nothing wrong”. It’s not every week that we see two professing Christians in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. It is fairly common in the USA and each revelation is met with some agonising by the evangelical community and the issue of more books on “How to” pray more, practice forgiveness better, be more holy etc. etc. Another temptation is to look for better role models only to find that they too have feet of clay. Now it is understandable for people who have put their faith in Christ to look for some transformation, some conquering of sin, a victorious life. In 2Corinthians ch.5 verse 17 it says “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come”. So it is commendable that we want to see a bit more of it in ourselves. The problem is that what Christ offers and what we want are two different things! Instead of some form of sinlessness we are told to take our sin-stained broken lives into the world and proclaim that we are sinners saved, not by our efforts, but by God’s grace alone. What we are to do is offer, not ourselves but “Jesus Christ and him crucified”. We are to point to the way of faith in the work of Jesus. We are to show that fulfilled the law on our behalf so that we are now free to live a life of love – love to God and our neighbour. Whatever the fate of the First Minister’s job, perhaps he should revisit his confession of blamelessness, even if it was made in the restricted sense of his wife’s adultery. Like all of us we bow to the Bible’s verdict of universal sinfulness and get on with making known Christ as the remedy.