In the hot August sun of 2009 in the small town of Centreville, Virginia, a man stood at the corner of Leesburg Pike and Tysons Corner with a hand-lettered sandwich board around his neck. It read simply, “I cheated. This is my punishment.”
It was only after his third day standing on the street corner that the local media picked up the story. When the coverage team from Fox 5 showed up to interview the man, he gave them a false name, but a true story.
Identifying himself as “William Taylor,” he admitted that his wife had found pictures on his cell phone that were “of a graphic nature” of a woman with whom he’d carried on a 6-month long affair. “Taylor” had recently lost his job, and didn’t want to lose his marriage, too. Frustrated in the midst of a bitter argument, the young man’s wife hatched a plan she hoped would lead to closure: he must stand in front of 8 lanes of traffic each and every morning for a week, with his sin hanging around his neck for all to see.
The drama playing out in front of offices, traffic, and passers-by was strangely reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorn’s world-renown novel, The Scarlet Letter. In this literary masterpiece, Hester Prynne is the adulterous woman who must wear a scarlet-colored “A” on her clothing to publically and constantly indicate her sin. The fictional story included ongoing heartbreak and empty lives.
So has the modern version in Virginia.
The saga of “Taylor” became a media frenzy. Local radio stations ran with it, and even performed interviews with the adulterous man. In the face of a ratings-driven host, and listeners’ calls demanding punishment and further humiliation, “Taylor” remained optimistic. “I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.”
In follow up interviews with “Taylor” and his wife, it wasn’t clear if reconciliation was possible. There seemed to be insurmountable challenges, not just from the infidelity, but also from how “Ms. Taylor” chose to handle it.
Perhaps they will both learn a lesson from all this. First, “Mr. Taylor” should have heeded the instruction in Hebrews 13:4 which reads,
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
Second, that “Ms. Taylor” needs to learn about forgiveness and true restoration, as the Apostle Paul taught about it in Galatians 6:1.
“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)