“We kind of gave him—‘All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here.'”
—Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council,
on Donald Trump’s affair with porn star Stormy Daniels
Jesus and the parable of the Mulligan
(The Gospel According to John, Ch 22, vs 1 and following)
News that Jesus was in the Temple had caused quite a stir. People flocked from far and wide to hear him speak. In the middle of rather dull recitation on the importance of proper hand washing after using the bathroom, a subject everyone in the audience swore they already knew all about even though in truth none of them actually did it, Jesus was interrupted by the scribes and religious leaders, who pushed a scantily clad woman before them.
“Teacher,” they cried, “this woman has been caught committing adultery. The Law of Moses commands that we should stone her. What do you say we should do with her?”
The religious leaders were always trying to trick Jesus with things like this, and they winked at one another and rubbed their special adultery-throwing stones together in anticipation.
Jesus looked at them and cleared his throat. “Where is the man she was committing adultery with?”
The religious turned toward each other with furrowed brows. While many of them had remembered to bring their special adultery-throwing stones, no one had thought to bring the man.
“We…, uh…” one of them began, but trailed off. Nervously he looked at the other religious leaders.
“The Law says that if a man and woman are caught committing adultery, then both of them shall die,” said Jesus.
Already this wasn’t going how they’d planned. A groan went up from the scribes and religious leaders, all of whom just happened to be men. They stopped rubbing their special adultery-throwing stones together and looked at each awkwardly until the one named Hezerbakiadish said, “I will go and get the man.” Hezerbakiadish set down his special adultery-throwing stones and ran quickly back the other direction.
While they waited for Hezerbakiadish to return Jesus resumed his teaching about hand washing, but by that point only a few of his closest apostles were even pretending to be interested. Instead, most of them looked at the woman, who pulled her thin robe tightly across her bare legs and shivered in the early morning breeze. The one named Wade, son of Theoclassicus, a stevedore from the nearby port, farted, and his neighbors pinched their noses and moved away from him.
Finally, Hezerbakiadish returned with a rich man, who wore a silk dressing gown and lambswool slippers.
“What’s this all about now?” demanded the rich man as he checked his watch. “I’ve got an important meeting at 10:30.”
“Teacher,” cried the scribes and religious leaders, “this woman has been caught committing adultery. The Law of Moses commands that we should stone her. What do you say we should do with her?”
Jesus sighed heavily. He knelt down and drew in the sand. Jesus only knew how to draw two things in sand. A camel wearing a wig and fake mustache was one of the two things Jesus knew how to draw, and that’s what he drew then.
The religious leaders repeated their demand. “What do you say we should do with this woman who has committed adultery?”
Jesus squinted at the woman while the religious leaders, gathered in a tight circle about him, chewed their lips with righteous anticipation. Finally, Jesus said to the scribes and religious leaders gathered around him,
“Let any who is among you without sin be the one to cast the first stone.”
A groan went up from the crowd.
“Oh Jesus Christ,” muttered Hezerbakiadish angrily. “Are you kidding me?”
The religious leaders knew that they’d been outwitted, which really rankled them because they were supposed to the witted ones. Everyone looked at everyone else, and no one spoke for a long, long moment. It was really awkward.
The woman turned to Jesus. “Teacher, I’ve got a pilates class at 11. May I go now?”
“Sure,” Jesus shrugged.
“YOLO,” said the woman as she flashed a peace sign to Jesus. She turned and faced the religious leaders before her. “Suckers,” she spat at them before she left.
The crowd mumbled as she departed and the stevedore Wade farted again. People waved their hands before their faces and scooted away from him.
“What did you eat?” someone complained, and Wade muttered something about his wife’s sheep stew.
“Well what about him?” A scribe pointed angrily at the rich man, who was still checking his watch and grumbling about the time. “If you won’t let us stone her, can we at least make him run a gauntlet while we hit him with our belts and fists?”
“We could, like, kick him a couple times in the rear?” cried another.
A cold and bloodthirsty cheer rose up from the mob of scribes and religious leaders.
“Or we could make fun of him by calling him fatty-fatty ox-cheeks!” cried Wade the stevedore as he jumped in place. “Everyone would call him fatty-fatty ox-cheeks and that would be his new name, like—forever!”
“What kind of stupid idea is that?” barked the head scribe. Everyone stopped cheering and looked askance at Wade, who shrugged feebly and tried to slip behind others in the crowd.
The crowd began to grumble for permission to enact some form of vengeance upon the man. They weren’t happy about enacting vengeance upon a man—they’d really wanted to stone that damned bitch—but then, they’d already hauled out their special adultery-throwing stones, and they figured that any vengeance, even vengeance taken on a man, was better than no vengeance at all. At least he was rich enough to own a nice watch, which made him easier to dislike. Voices rose in increasingly pitched anger until finally the crowd turned to angrily toward Jesus.
“What do you say, huh? He was committing adultery too. What do you say we should do with him?”
Once again Jesus knelt down. This time he drew in the sand the other thing he knew how to draw, which he insisted was a flying octopus monster but everyone agreed looked a lot like the camel with the wig and fake mustache. The scribes and religious leaders watched him with mounting impatience. Finally Jesus squinted at the man before him.
“Let him who has not himself previously received a mulligan be the one to cast the first stone.” He made a motion of hitting a golf ball and then knelt back down and finished his drawing.
“Wait—what? A mulligan?” cried Hezerbakiadish.
“Did he say ‘Culligan’?” someone yelled from the rear of the crowd.
“We’re dealing with a violation of the scared bonds of marriage!” roared an irate priest. “Is this really the appropriate time for golf analogies?”
“Culligan did work on my nephew’s sink last fall. Thing still leaks. Real shoddy deal,” added another.
“What’s golf?” asked Wade, and farted again.
The crowd looked around at each other, a mix of confusion and rage beginning to boil in their midst. They argued amongst themselves for some time. Eventually they concluded that while each of them had gotten some form of do-over at some point in their lives, none of them had ever been given a freebie for such a significant thing as adultery. They explained this to Jesus.
“Tough nuts,” shrugged Jesus as he picked at a hangnail that had really been bothering him.
Hezerbakiadish threw up his hands. “I’m taking my special adultery-stones and going home!”
The rich man gathered his silk robe about his waist and pushed his way through the crowd.
Jesus resumed his seat and began once again to teach them about sanitation, but nobody wanted to listen to that crap, and after much disappointed grumbling the crowd finally dispersed.