From the gospel reading at today's Mass, the story of the woman who was going to be stoned for adultery (John 8:1-11, NAB):
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more."
Stoning women to death (lapidation) for adultery is alive and well in several countries today, including Nigeria, Iran, Sudan (two women were sentenced to death by stoning six days ago), Afghanistan and Pakistan, countries where Islamic sharia law has been adopted as state law. In some cases, such as Nigeria, the government has declared stonings to be unconstitutional, but they are still carried out as a "cultural" tradition.
One of the notable things about today's gospel reading is that although lapidation was the law some 2,000 years ago, it is no longer carried out in western societies, and hasn't been for centuries. However, death by stoning is defended by fundamentalist Islamic "scholars" today, as seen at this fatwa dated March 31, 2005 at Islam-Online:
"Coming to the issue of stoning to death as a punishment for married adulterer and adulteress.... It is to be made crystal clear that the punishment is explicitly sanctioned by both the Qur’an and the Prophetic Tradition. Before explaining this further, it’s to be stressed that such punishment should not be a cause of wonder, especially when we know that it had been there in the Divine Scriptures revealed before the Glorious Qur’an. There is a reference to this punishment in the Bible, for instance. It reads: "If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die." (Deuteronomy 22: 22) and also in Leviticus, we find the following verse:"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife-with the wife of his neighbor-both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death" (Leviticus 20: 10)."
Of course no Jews or Christians stone women to death now, let alone cite Deuteronomy or Leviticus to justify it. Based on Jesus' own words, it became unthinkable to stone a woman to death. More from Islam-Online on the matter:
"Ibn Qudamah wrote: 'Muslim jurists are unanimous on the fact stoning to death is a specified punishment for married adulterer and adulteress.' "
Al-Bahuty said: 'The authentic practice of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) supports stoning to death as a punishment specified for adultery.' "
"Finally, we would like to note that there are many incidents in the Sunnah and the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in which the Prophet stoned the married adulterer and adulteress to death. This happened in the case of Ma`iz and the Ghamidi woman. All this makes it clear that the punishment is proven and authentic and is not debatable."
At the risk of insulting my Muslim readers, the contrast between Jesus and Mohammed is rather striking on this matter. If Mohammed is the perfect model for all mankind an for all times, and is he himself stoned women to death for adultery, then how will Muslim cultures be able to stop the practice of lapidation? What will the basis be?
What you can do to help the two women in Sudan sentenced to death by stoning (thanks to Ali Eteraz):