ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) — Monica Lewinsky, the woman best known for having an “inappropriate relationship” with President Bill Clinton when she was a White House intern, was a featured speaker at a recent Forbes “Under 30 Summit.”
As I watched a video of her talk, available at Forbes.com, I felt sad for the woman President Clinton dismissively referred to as “that woman, Ms. Lewinsky” when he publicly denied their relationship in 1998.
Lewinsky addressed the Forbes event, aimed at young super achievers, on the subject of cyber-bullying.
Emotion was heavy in her voice as she described the humiliation she experienced when details of her relationship with the president became public. She said she struggled with suicidal thoughts as a result of being the subject of public derision.
As I listened, I could not help but compare Lewinsky’s plight to a woman Jesus encountered one day while teaching outside the temple in Jerusalem.
John 8 contains the account of religious leaders bringing to Jesus a woman who had been caught in the very act of committing adultery. They said the law commanded that she be stoned and asked His thoughts on the matter.
Jesus initially said nothing. He stooped down and doodled in the dirt. After a few minutes Jesus responded, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” He then returned to His drawing in the dirt.
The accusers were at least honest and, by dropping their stones and walking away, admitted they were also sinners.
Like the woman in John’s story, Lewinsky’s relationship with the president was exposed. However, there was no one to protect her from the stones of humiliation, ridicule and abuse. As a result, she suffered much pain, sorrow and regret.
Interestingly, the adulterous male partner in John 8 was conspicuously absent even though he too, according to the law, was subject to stoning. And interestingly, Clinton escaped the Lewinsky scandal with his political popularity relatively intact even though he too was guilty.
When Jesus encountered the woman caught in the act of adultery, His parting words to her were, “Go and sin no more.” He indicated that He would not condemn her, but her life needed to change.
While Lewinsky did express regret during her talk, and did so as well in an article she wrote for Vanity Fair in June, in this speech she seemed unable to accept responsibility for her role in this sad event.
Lewinsky blamed her humiliation on Linda Tripp, a “friend” that surreptitiously tapped private conversations in which Lewinsky shared intimate details of her dalliances with the president. She also pointed the finger at the Internet, the Drudge Report, Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, and on a popular culture that thrives on the humiliation of others.
When one accepts responsibility for his or her actions, there is always hope for redemption. A harvest of shame can be transformed to one of grace and forgiveness only through the redemptive power of Christ.
The power of God’s grace can provide the ability to change. But it all starts with taking responsibility.