Most of us know the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. Just in case, here it is:
John 4:5-26 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. (6) Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. (7) A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (8) (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) (9) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
(10) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (11) The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? (12) Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
(13) Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, (14) but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (15) The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
(16) Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” (17) The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; (18) for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” (19) The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
(20) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” (21) Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. (22) You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (23) But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
(24) God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (25) The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” (26) Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
So we know the woman was shunned for she was mostly likely barren and would have been considered an adulteress as well. So, Jesus says that He has living water which will quench a thirst that her water is not doing. This is a relationship with God that will quench a thirst that religious practices and carnal attempts have not done. Jesus is showing that there is a spiritual need that can only be satisfied by a spiritual source. Fleshly attempts, or trying to satisfy by her own power, will never accomplish what they are trying to accomplish.
Let’s modernize the story a bit. What is the woman was a lesbian instead of an adulteress? Wouldn’t Jesus still be accepting of her? Jesus did not tell the Samaritan woman that she must stop sinning. He told her that He was the only source to fill the spiritual need in her life. Would the adultery or need to be with someone stop after her spiritual needs being met by Jesus? It is implied. So we don’t need to clean up our life in order to come to Jesus.
I heard a new take, by N.T. Wright, on the dialog between Jesus and Peter after Jesus had risen. Jesus asks Peter twice if he loves Jesus, using agapao. Twice Peter responds that he does love Jesus using the word phileo. The third time Jesus asks, He uses phileo and Peter is saddened and replies that he does love Jesus, once again using phileo. Wright suggested that Peter didn’t respond the same way because Peter might not be able to make that level of commitment to Jesus. Jesus came down to meet Peter on his level because Jesus was going to move him to where He wanted Peter. It is an interesting take.
Using that, Jesus doesn’t ask people to stop sinning to come to Him, but He will take them out of sinning as the have a relationship with Him. Isn’t that what we see happening?
That is not to say that adultery, homosexuality, or some other sinful lifestyle is acceptable. It is saying that it is a result of the person trying to satisfy a spiritual desire through physical means. As the Church, we should love the person, but not condone the lifestyle. That is the tricky part.