People died terrible, unnatural deaths.
Nineteen were strung-up and hanged. One man, in the fight against making a confession was slowly crushed as his peers piled rocks on top of him. Several more died in prison, separated from their families, wondering why they had been accused. They probably didn’t find out until they were dead when Jesus explained that they had been surrounded by idiots.
The Salem Witch Trials is a bit of a misnomer, as these paranoid clusters of people congregated in several towns to try their accused. Locale is tons less significant than the actual events that took place though. Sources indicate political, social and even liturgical strife had been taking place in the puritanical setting that birthed the witch trials. People were pissed about property boundaries, the ministers they had seen come and go and they didn’t trust each other.
Women were taught to serve their husbands in childbirth and obedience. Play was discouraged as a waste of time. People didn’t trust each other and the community was falling apart. Then came the accusations of deals with the devil. Witchcraft was apparently more terrifying then than it is now because the only time people seemed to be able to get together for a common cause was when they were going to put one of their peers to trial because they thought they were inviting demons to town and were out on nightly romps with Mephistopheles himself.
Nobody seemed to be worried about sins like lying, jealousy and malice toward one’s neighbor. Love didn’t seem to hold any significance at all when compared to everyone else’s holiness.
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I don’t write a lot about current events because some of them feel like modern-day witch hunts. We all know about a well-known pastor who paid a man-hooker for sex on multiple occasions. He sinned.We also all know about that giant shiny church that can’t afford to have the big events it hosted in the past– it has filed for bankruptcy because the organization owes millions of dollars. Every day, Christians lie, cheat and steal. We don’t want to, but something happens and we prove to the rest of the world that we’re as human as they are. Yet somehow, we still make a big deal out of each other’s sins.
God’s grace overpowers our sin, no matter how crazy we get. I’m not suggesting we stop worrying about sin, because it’s a big deal. Our trespasses rob us of so much, but I am asking that we as lovers of Christ cover the multitude of sins we see in our own communities. Jealousy and malice should not motivate us. Knowing another human’s struggles should not cause us to feel superior, even if we don’t like those who happen to commit the wretched sins we hate.
Imagine how different history would have been for several small, puritanical communities if they had just placed love at the center of their religion.