Love this picture? Me, too. I got it from People of the Second Chance, a self-professed “global community of activists, imperfectionists and 2nd chancers committed to unleashing radical grace every day, in every moment, for everyone.” (They’re the folks behind the Grace Mob concept I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago.)
Immediately upon seeing this graphic, it flooded me with Jesus-y feelings of grace, forgiveness, mercy, acceptance, and love—the realities that God wants people to experience every day. And not just the touchy-feely stuff that’s cheesy and cliché and nowIambarfing. I mean the radical stuff that flies in the face of safe applications to what people usually apply those concepts. The Jesus-forgiving-harlots-washing-his-feet kind of stuff.
I skipped The Scarlet Letter in high school English in favor of reading Moby Dick.*
(Yeah, I must have been mental that day, right?!?!? It’s longer aaaaaaaand boring as all get out. [I did cure any insomnia that semester, though.])
I immediately regretted my decision upon finishing page one—ok, ok, it wasn’t immediate because I think I remember waking up an hour later to re-read page one. But I knew that I missed out on a better book, one that would help me engage in something more relevant to life.
I recently watched Easy A, dismissing it as a teeny bopper flick. I knew that it was based off of The Scarlet Letter but didn’t give it much thought. After a good friend persuaded me to give it a chance, I did, and loved the movie.
Before watching it, I knew it was a modern-day take on classic literature, à la Emma vis-à-vis Clueless. It was a great parable. I use that word intentionally because the film portrays a vast slew of reactions to the main character’s reputation in regards to her sexual exploits (or lack thereof, actually). There is a Christ follower depicted in the movie as the antagonist. She condemns Emma Stone’s character for sleeping around (which she really wasn’t doing). I felt like this was, unfortunately, a pretty realistic representation of how many Christ followers treat people who don’t practice the same sexual standards as they find in Scripture.
The movie Saved does this, too. Check that out for another tutorial in how NOT to treat someone whose sexual morality isn’t up to snuff.
End slightly-more-than-momentary tangent.
This is what Jesus calls His followers to be. We are to be people whose natural reaction to those being shamed is to encircle them with grace. Hugs not shoves. Embrace not exclusion.
Scarlet letter removers rather than scarlet letter attachers.
Dehumanization is the sting that comes from the stigma that spoiled reputations bring. Often times, people wearing scarlet letters regret their decisions more deeply than the mud slung towards them can touch. They need people to listen to their hurt and ready to offer healing.
This is not to say that Christ followers should forgo holding up the healthy sexual standards that Scripture teaches. They are taught by the people of faith for a reason.
However, we need to salt our reactions with so much more grace than we are known for. We need to be ready to descend on people with mercy rather than judgment, for mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13). It’s a delicate balance to walk between celebrating Scripture’s standards and practicing mercy.
Do you know anyone pregnant out of wedlock? Know anyone who has one of “those” reputations? Walk alongside them. Befriend them. Love on them.
Cultivate a reputation for being scarlet letter removers.
*Spoiler alert: The book sucks.