What is the meaning of a scarlet letter?For more than 150 years, writers and songwriters have invoked the scarlet letter to symbolize the public shaming of a person's sin, recently in Taylor Swift's "Love Song" and in Casting Crowns' "Does Anybody Hear Her?"
The term originated in Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne's character Hester Prynne is convicted of adultery and made to wear a red "A" wherever she goes to announce her wrongdoing. Prynne accepts the punishment and at times even proudly wears the "A," which she artistically sews onto her clothes. The novel explores various themes, including those of sin, legalism, and societal norms.
Jesus encountered a similar scene when he was brought a woman caught in adultery (John 8). The crowd who brought her wanted to stone her to death (interesting, the man she was with is not mentioned). This public display was dismissed by Jesus when He charged those in the crowd to cast the first stone if they had no sin. Jesus, sinless, could have cast the first stone, but He chose to forgive her and tell her to stop sinning (John 8:11).
Another time, Jesus was admonished by the religious leaders of His day for spending time with "sinners" (Mark 2:16). "And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners'" (Mark 2:17).
The Bible tells us that when we are in Jesus, when we believe in His divinity and His punishment on the cross for us, and in the power of His resurrection, our sin is removed. There is no scarlet letter for us.
We should emulate Jesus and not define people by their sin, but by their relationship with the Savior. He tells us to tell other people (all sinners, according to Romans 3:23) about His saving grace (Matthew 28:19–20, Acts 1:8).
How do I receive forgiveness from God?
What does the Bible mean when it talks about being a slave to sin?
Does my private, personal sin affect others?
How is Jesus a friend of sinners?
How can I get right with God?
Truth about Sin