In the NT, it works out, because the woman taken in adultery apparently recognises her narrow escape and repents. In the movies she is always very grateful, and we seem to think that this is a natural and automatic response on her part. As if.
That's not a given for human nature. A lot of us would get rescued from the stoning, go home, and say "Whew! I'll have to be more careful next time!"
"The Refreshment Committee" produced a nice skit on the subject, in which the woman, alone with Jesus, takes him to task for being judgmental and calling her lifestyle sin.
Unfortunately after the group broke up most of their recordings were destroyed in a van fire.
It's sin, but it's not "sin" sin.
A lot of parables strike us differently today, because the sin is not something modern people are conditioned to think of as truly wrong. What if the woman taken in adultery had been instead been a man who was sexually abusing his son? It's easy enough to forgive someone for a technical transgression. Jesus was telling us to forgive things that really pierce our hearts as wrong. Not to condone them or pretend they hadn't happened, but to give up the resentment or desire for revenge. And as you say, that's a lot easier when the sinner really repents, so we can tell ourselves that's all in the past now.
The woman's later behavior is an interesting question.
(I always wondered where her partner in crime disappeared to...)
T99 - An excellent point. I think even those who believe adultery is wrong have absorbed some of the current culture's view that it's not so bad as other sins, and hearing Jesus's words that way. Substituting in something we do actually get furious about brings the story back to reality.
In a closed society, adultery is so destabilizing as to endanger the tribe. Unity is often essential, and questions of paternity and loyalty interfere with that. We have lost that understanding, as the practical effects in our culture are milder.
I first heard the song "Jesus Met the Woman at the Well" from an Ian and Sylvia album.
As others have said, often there is an undertone of "I'll do it different so I won't get caught next time" instead of true repentance.
In that story, I wonder where her husband was. It's an interesting question, whether "your sins are forgiven" covers the wrong done someone else. (Also pertains even more piercingly to your example of a man abusing his son, of course.)
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