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A Terrified Woman and Angry Men — What Would Jesus Do?

October 19, 2018

This is my first op-ed in nearly two years.  This piece was under consideration by both the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Catholic, but was ultimately not selected for publication.  I felt it was important enough to add to this blog.

Quite a few years ago, bracelets inscribed “WWJD” were all the rage.  The initials stood for “What Would Jesus Do”.  They became tremendously popular, almost to the point of becoming a joke among many.  However,  the #MeToo movement, and especially the political events of the last few weeks, have got me thinking about that all-important question:  What would Jesus do if he was faced with a situation like we saw recently in the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Kavanaugh, where people were taking sides between a terrified woman and a group of angry men?

We don’t have to guess. We know exactly what Jesus would do.  In the Gospel of John, the apostle tells this story:

At dawn, Jesus 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 here 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. 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.  Jesus 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.”

Jesus stood between the angry men and the terrified woman, even though she was guilty of adultery.  He stopped them cold.

Contrast this story about Jesus and the adulterous woman with that of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before Congress (and the world) about a life-threatening sexual assault that occurred when she was a girl of fifteen.  Although many people questioned her testimony, numerous attorneys (including myself) found it credible due to its detail, the corroborating evidence naming Judge Kavanaugh as her attacker in her therapist’s notes from 2012, and the horrible personal cost to Dr. Blasey Ford of going public with it.

But here’s what’s interesting:  Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony against Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s in his Supreme Court confirmation hearing unleashed a tidal wave of anger against her from Catholics and other Christians, including many women.  Is this what should happen when a woman takes the incredibly brave step to report a crime that irreparably damaged her life?  What would Jesus do?

Most of Judge Kavanaugh’s supporters argued that he was needed on the Supreme Court because of his pro-life positions. Many of these supporters seemed to assume that God was on Judge Kavanaugh’s side.  To quote Scripture again, however, “God shows no partiality.”  Abraham Lincoln shared a similar sentiment during another time when our nation was deeply divided:  “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

I can’t stop thinking about what Jesus would have done in that confirmation hearing.  Or what he would say about what people have posted on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram about a woman who survived a sexual assault and was courageous enough to tell her story to the world.

In light of recent news about still more abuse that was hidden by the Church, Catholics are supposed to be reevaluating how we treat those who have experienced sexual assault.  From what I can tell, we still have a long way to go.  To me, the first question should always be, “what would Jesus do?”

Michelle Daniel Chadwick is a member of St. Rita Catholic Community, an attorney and a writer living in Dallas, Texas. You can reach her at




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