As the world erupted in protest over the imminent stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani, the authorities announced it would not go ahead with the ordeal. This shows there are serious reservations among the senior ranks in the judiciary and across the government regarding this form of punishment. Given the high standards of education in Iran and the sense all Iranians carry of being stewards of one of the oldest civilisations in the world, this is not surprising. Knowing it was their ancestors who gave the world its first charter of human rights, and their poets have epitomised sensible moral values, it cannot be easy to then authorise a woman to be buried in a hole and hit with large stones.
As the authorities consider the important matter of how to respond to adultery, it is good for us all to listen to Jesus. He certainly did not condone this sin, but spoke out against it strongly, warning people of hell if they chose to walk the road of licentiousness. However when the religious authorities of his day dragged before him a woman caught red handed and asked if she should be stoned, his famous reply still stands: ‘Whoever is without sin let him cast the first stone’. And when the accusers had left, he did not condemn her, but said, ‘Go and sin no more.’ It is good influential institutions speak out against immorality, but it is also good that they learn to say, ‘Go and sin no more’.