The Call to Higher Mercy

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Doing Much Ado About Nothing as a faculty play and teaching it to my English classes has provoked a lot of great discussions lately.

Recently, my junior/senior AP students were discussing the crisis point in the play where Claudio chooses to defame Hero publicly at the altar for being unfaithful to him (so he thinks, thanks to Don John’s deception).

I asked my students whether Claudio had the “right” to defame and reject Hero for her “infidelity.”

Ironically, Claudio focuses his attack on Hero’s immorality (not a betrayal of their relationship) …. yet he is truly immoral to attack Hero and her family in such a public forum as their wedding ceremony.  Our school (tries) to live by Matthew 18 – begin all conflict resolution by first talking in private to the person who has wronged you. All my students recognized Claudio’s error straight off.

But setting aside for the moment Claudio’s mishandling of the situation — would a “better” man have taken a different course than rejection?

Our discussion quickly moved into the uncomfortable realm of the personal:  When facing betrayal, we all whip out the knife.  Mercy goes out the window, and we claim the moral high ground.  The betrayer deserves no mercy. Take no prisoners. Kill them all.

We all shifted awkwardly in our chairs when considering real-life applications:
–Can trust be “rebuilt,” or are some sins “too big” to actually forgive?
–Is marriage more than love and sex?
–Can we honestly tell people on one hand “God will forgive any sin,” yet set young people up for failure by making virginity such an idol? Once someone has lost it, they might as well just keep sleeping around…. the prize has been lost. That’s a natural conclusion from our practical theology.
–Would you marry a girl/guy who had already lost their virginity — and repented?  Whew. That was a tough one….

Our talk finally made its way to the book of Hosea.  The story is famous — To illustrate Israel’s horrible infidelity, God ordered His prophet Hosea to marry a woman prone to adultery (at best …or perhaps a straight-up prostitute). Predictably, Gomer cheated on Hosea … left him …. he took her back, somehow.  God made His point — He’d been taking Israel back countless times.

We all read Hosea, nod, and say, “Yes. That’s right.  I hate it when people betray my love. But, praise be to God, I am big enough to offer mercy.”

How we have missed the point!

I am the prostitute in that story.
I am the whore.
God takes me back, again and again and again.
I sin, and He forgives. I do it again; He forgives.  Repeat…

I asked my students if they have walked long enough yet with God to get a glimpse of that truth.
The pious answer is “yes,” but one or two brave souls were willing to admit they weren’t there yet.

My friends, we are all Claudios.

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