Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Rev. Jesse Jackson One-Ups Jesus

After saving the life a woman about to be stoned for adultery, Jesus commanded her to, "Go and sin no more."

In contrast, the Rev. Jesse Jackson apparently does not feel that either truth, sin or repentence ought to get in the way of a good deed.

On the day before Easter Sunday Jackson announced that his PUSH Coalition would be offering the 27-year old unnamed black woman who has accused members of the Duke University Lacrosse Team of raping her (following her performance as a stripper at a off-campus party) a full-tuition scholarship to assist her in completing her studies at North Carolina Central University.

Although Jackson admitted that he had not yet spoken to the woman he did affirm that his group had pledged to pay for her tuition even if her story proves false.

According to an article by Associated Press, Jackson said that the woman should be able to support her two children and pay her tuition without having "to sacrifice her body to make money."

I must say that I can agree with that last sentiment. No woman should "have" to sacrifice her body to make money.

On the other hand I'm not exactly sure why this woman "has" to do this. Nor am I sure who is forcing her to take her clothes off in front of young, rowdy, intoxicated college men in private homes and other unchaperoned locations.

I imagine that the woman "caught in adultery" in John 8:1-11 also had her reasons for doing what she did. Why she "had" to do what she did, however, was not the issue that Jesus confronted her with.

First of all, Jesus accepted that she had committed the sin she had been accused of. He then refused to condemn her for it, effectively forgiving her. He then held her accountable for her future behavior, making a clear distinction between right and wrong.

Jackson, on the other hand, does not appear to consider the matter of "right and wrong" to have any bearing on this case at all. It does not seem to matter to him that, unlike the "woman in adultery" who was charged with a crime, the woman he wants to help is the one who has brought a charge against others.

Jackson says that it does not matter if what she has said is true or not.

Does this mean that, if the charges she has made are false and that the slander and accusations against the Duke University lacrosse team players, the public demonstrations and loss of job prospects, the cancellation of the entire team's lacrosse season, the resignation of their coach and the malicious defamation of Duke University's reputation were all caused by misdirected, mistaken or manufactured purjoritive statements, she is still worthy of being rewarded by a full college scholarship?

If what the woman has said proves to be true, then give her the scholarship.

But, if what she has said proves to have been concocted out of thin air, then let her at the very least confess her sin, accept the responsibility of making some measure of atonement or apology and face the possibility that criminal charges may, in fact, be brought against her instead.

There is no doubt in my mind that at least some members of the Duke University lacrosse team behaved badly. Those guilty of misbehavior other than the charge of rape should be subject to either severe reprimand and/or dismissal from either the lacrosse team (with loss of scholarships, if any) or the university itself. If found guilty of rape then they should be subject to appropriate criminal sentencing according to the law of North Carolina

There is also no doubt in my mind that this 27-year old woman has suffered from physical abuse. Even so, it remains to be seen whether or not she experienced any such abuse from the accused lacrosse players. According to the student's lawyers, the woman arrived at the party already drunk and already showing signs of physical abuse. According to the police records, she was found intoxicated and unconcious in a car following her alleged appearance at the party.

This, in no small way, at the very least calls into question her competency to provide a safe, protective and nurturing environment for her children. Where were her children that night? Is not this a question worthy of investigation by the local child protective services agency?

Don't get me wrong. I want only the best for this woman. It is clear that she needs more help than a college scholarship can provide for her. As a Christian minister, the Rev. Jackson should be the first to understand that her needs are not only physical, but moral and spiritual as well.

Giving her a scholarship without also requiring a supportive confrontation with her concerning the effects of her substance abuse and other self-destructive behaviors that put both herself and her children at risk will miss the point of her primary needs completely.

Jesus knew that the woman he forgave needed to change herself from the inside out.

Jackson apparently believes that he can change his personal "Eliza Doolittle" from the outside in.

Jesus desired the woman to change her behavior.

Jackson, however, appears to have offered her a reward instead.

Jackson's interests clearly revolve around race, economics and political power.

It is worth noting that Jesus renounced all three.

Scripture tells us that Jesus knew what was in the hearts of all he met.

Jackson, on the other hand, would have us believe that he knows the needs and the heart of a young mother in North Carolina without ever having met her or spoken to her.

Personally, given a choice between Jesus and Jackson I would take Jesus every time.

If the young woman caught up in this scandal in North Carolina knows what is good for her (and, unfortunately, there is no clear evidence that she does) she will do the same.