My 96-year-old aunt lives in a Mennonite personal care home in Saskatoon. On Thursday morning I joined my aunt’s Bible Study group that included six other women in their late 80s and 90s. The leader was reading John 8:1-11 a story about a woman caught in adultery and the teachers of the law who thought she should be stoned. The leader read………“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?” Right at this point, one woman in the group interrupted in a loud voice. “I say if they were going to stone the woman, they should have stoned the man too. “
The Bible Study leader was a little taken aback but stopped to thank the woman for her comment. When she was finished reading the passage in which Jesus challenges the Pharisees that the one among them who is sinless should cast the first stone, the leader asked for any responses from the group and the same woman who had made the earlier comment said, “Why do they always seem to use a woman as the example for a sinner in the Bible? The Bible starts off with the story of Eve as a sinner.” The leader said it was because the Bible was written in a time when there were different attitudes towards women when women weren’t even considered people. “Good thing that’s changed,” the woman replied.
Talking about this with someone later they commented that perhaps the woman who spoke up so boldly had been thinking along those same lines all her life. Now due to her age, and perhaps having lost some of her social filters she is able to share her real opinions, opinions she may have had all along but wouldn’t have dared voice aloud in the patriarchal Mennonite church in which she was raised.
We often say the truth comes from the mouths of babes or children. It can also come from the mouths of octogenarian women.