For as long as man has walked on earth, he has taken it upon himself to judge and punish. It has been recognized as something man does and it has been accepted among society. It seems as though every race, religion, action, and belief a person associates themselves with will be judged and will be criticized. There are some circumstances that judging is okay, such as in the court of law. When it comes to the law of the Bible, it is not for man to judge. That is for God alone to judge and punish.
There is evidence as far back to when Jesus lived as a mortal that He reminded His followers it is not their job to punish a sinner. Such is the case of a woman who had committed adultery, when society came to stone her to death, Jesus told them before a stone was thrown, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Slowly, the people of the Mount of Olives left, because they knew that they too had sinned in their lives. When everyone was gone but Jesus, He turned to the woman and asked if no one condemned her, she answered no, and He replied, “Then neither do I condemn you Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:3-11).
The story of this woman in the bible is very similar to the story of Hester Prynne from the renowned novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this novel, Hester commits adultery and bears the child of a man that is not her husband. The book is set in an early New England colony with Puritan values and Puritan views on life. After Hester delivered her baby, she was set up on a scaffold to be ridiculed and humiliated in front of the accusing town. “All men are potentially sinners, though they profess themselves saints.” (Levin, Harry 77). The townspeople in the Scarlet Letter reacted to such a woman the same way the people of the Mount of Olives did in the previously mentioned Bible story. Hester’s punishment is a scarlet letter, carried on her bosom that she wears whenever she is in public. It is meant to be a constant reminder of her sin. As it is repeated many times in the novel, Pearl, Hester’s child, is also a reminder of her sin. The difference is Pearl is the reminder from God, but the letter is the reminder from society. “Man had marked this woman’s sin by a scarlet letter, which had such potent and disastrous efficacy that no human sympathy could reach her, save it were sinful like herself. God, as a direct consequence of the sin which man thus punished, had given her a lovely child, whose place was on that same dishonored bosom, to connect her parent for ever with the race and descent of mortals ” (Hawthorne, Nathaniel 82).
One might ask, is the child really a punishment from God? It is clear that the child is from God, but would God consider this child a punishment? D.H. Lawrence answers this, “Hester simply hates her child, from one part of herself. And from another, she cherishes her child as her one precious treasure. For Pearl is the continuing of her female revenge on life. But female revenge hits both ways. Hits back at its own mother. The female revenge in Pearl hits back at Hester, the mother, and Hester is simply livid with fury and ’sadness.’” (281). It is this complication that really makes Hester think and want to better herself. The scarlet letter was a punishment out of view, she knew it was there, but what reminded her of it was Pearl. With a child, Hester was given the chance to teach the Bible to her and by teaching Pearl about her Lord, that was Hester’s main repent to God.
God is the one that created man and He is the one that gave them free will. God has a plan for everyone and for a society to interfere just does not seem right. When it comes to matters of the law, that is for the law to decide. God says to obey the laws of where one lives. But when it comes to matters of the Bible, that is for God to judge and God only. For one to assume to be able to judge over God’s judgment angers God. He is the one that shall punish a sinner for He has higher authority. Just as the father has the right to punish the son more so than the brother. It is God who decides.