Her name is Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.  She is an Iranian woman, 43 years old, reportedly sentenced to stoning because she was caught in an act of adultery.  As much research as I can find, It seems Ms. Ashtiani had intimate relationships with two different men after her husband died in May 2006.  The Penal code of Iran demands that she be punished for her sin.

One might think stoning is the simple act of enduring a few hand sized rocks, and many throughout history have survived.  But on further investigation I found…

  1. They actually bury the victim to the waist
  2. While alive, they perform the audible sentencing
  3. Then those in charge of the stoning actually throw rocks at the victim until they are pronounced dead, probably from head trauma, bruising, and internal injury. 

The world is in outrage.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said in a statement that Mottaki, the Iranian official,  had told him that a final verdict in Ashtiani's case has not been issued yet and that reports "about her eventual execution don't correspond to reality." But Kouchner said France is "very worried" about the case.

The office of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his wife Laureen Harper sent an open letter to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad calling for Ashtiani's release. Mrs. Harper wrote that she was "deeply troubled by the flagrant disregard of women's rights in Iran" and said Ashtiani's case "is an affront to any sense of moral or human decency."

The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, was "deeply concerned" by the reports and "demands that Iran halt the execution and convert her sentence," Ashton's office said in a statement.

So my question is simple, why do we care?

Is it the fact that a woman will be brutally murdered for a crime that confuses our sense of justice?

Or better yet, are we concerned the punishment doesn't fit our western understanding of sexuality?  Have we become innoculous to the idea adultery is serious enough to warrant such action?

It brings to mind the story of Jesus when He was confronted with the woman caught in a similar situation. 

 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

It's interesting the response.  The Jews of the Day had a point.  Leviticus 20:10 says, ""'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death."

So what is Jesus to do?  Was He supposed to uphold the law Moses given the Jews by God Himself?  Or, was there a different way?

Check this out…

   But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. esus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Isn't it interesting as we watch the world respond with the same punishment of old, we long for a Jesus figure to enter in and forgive.  Of course today no one would advocate the mercy of Jesus, as that might be a little to politically incorrect.  However; there's an underlying theme where we want to promote mercy. 

Maybe it's because so many HAVE committed adultery and they don't want to have to stand in the place of the accusers for fear they might be found out.  Or maybe its an intrinsic knowledge that forgiveness and mercy do exist even here in the world. 

They quickly dismiss the viability of a Christ figure who can come to die on a cross, but these political powers evoke their inner need to forgive and offer mercy. 

I wonder….

Why do you think we pick and choose those principles given to us by Jesus when they're exactly the way we want to treat people in the world?

I think it's just another point to proving the viability of a God in the Universe that would look at a young woman through her shameful tears, and offer her life in spite of her infraction. We have a heart of compassion even when we look at such sexual promiscuity. 

Don't get me wrong, Sin against God is serious, and we ought not dismiss it as something without consequences, but why do people so quickly want to do without God but use His mercy when it's convenient. 

My heart is sad for this woman.  I hope and pray that she might find freedom and mercy in a God who is willing to offer it.  That's why I follow Jesus.  He's a God who came with the power to forgive even our most egregious action. He came to offer YOU and I the same forgiveness he spoke of to the woman of His day. 

What say you?


  1. Hey Andy, Wow, great post! I love how you tied in the fact that people are willing to jump on the need for mercy of this woman, but aren’t willing to jump on the salvation of Christ.

  2. Sorry,but as sad as you make it sound I have no use,respect or sympathy for people from country’s they go around the world blowing up airplanes and killing innocent men.woman,children and babies.As as far as Canada goes it should start keeping its nose out of other people business and start taking care of there own justice system which is the biggest joke in the world by the way.More then half of our refugees are bogus and the rest of them came hear to get away from paying for there crimes else where,because no other country would take them in after checking there back ground,so to Canada mind your own Fing business,And you can cry me a river,DO THE CRIME DO THE TIME!!!.

  3. Thanks Pastor Andy, and to BOO BOO, sounds like you’ve got some different ideas about how to express forgiveness. I sure understand your point of view, but this exploration is one that tries to understand the heart of God. So, do you really think God’s heart is indicative of using phrases like (fing business). I’m not sure I agree that Canadian Justice is the worst in the world, and the Do the Crime comment is interesting in light of some other countries that are taking a more Christian Worldview approach to sociological criminality. see RWANDA, AS WE FORGIVE. Just saying. I get it…just think it’s interesting we want our cake and eat it too.

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