"Judge Not Lest Ye Be


"Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged"

I promised this blog, but I'm nearly exhausted from the diatribe of the other two I've posted this evening. In addition I received Polishing the Petoskey Stone by Luci Shaw from the library today, and I'm really eager to get to these wonderful poems. But this requires some fairly serious consideration and time. I may have to start this evening and continue sometime tomorrow.

John at Disputations reflects on what judgment means, and what how this sentence of Jesus would be if strictly applied on judgment day. In so doing he makes a very good point--we are NEVER to judge people, and most particularly not the final disposition of people, as in "Thank God those hijackers are burning in Hell." We are not permitted that judgment, and in making it we endanger our own immortal souls because we pronounce sentence on ourselves. But modern Christians seem very confused about this prohibition of Jesus.

I think of it very simply. A person must never be judged, period. One simply doesn't judge people, no matter what the circumstances. Even in a court of law we should not be judging a person but the putative actions of any such person. Actions we may judge, and we may use them to discern whether association with a given person is good or detrimental to our spiritual life. This is called discernment. It does not mean you judge the person, but you can and must judge the actions, ideas, and values held. You must evaluate them in the light of the truth, and, after proper prayer and discernment act upon those judgements.

If you hang around with a person who burns crosses on people's yards, whose language is peppered with racial epithets, and who is known to boast about betting up people of a certain ethnicity, you are implicated in those actions, more if you didn't try to stop them, but still implicated if you choose to continue the association. You have supported things that are unsupportable by gospel standards. Correct action might entail trying to convince the person to quit. Getting a friend and trying to get the person to quit, and finally, shunning the person, all the while praying for them.

We are called to judge ideas, values, and notions. We are not called to then label a person based upon our judgements. The fellow in the last paragraph should not be labeled a bigot, but it would be said that he has and holds bigoted ideas. A person is never a label and a label is the first step to depersonalization. If you have seen Silence of the Lambs you will recall that the first actions of the serial killer were to depersonalize his victims, "It will rub lotion on its skin or it will get the water again." Depersonalization, by race, by idea, by gender, by sexuality, by anything extraneous to a person's inherent dignity in being a smudged and warped image of God, is a sin against God in that person. Judging, labeling a person, is one step on that removal of dignity.

However, there is no problem with saying "Cannibalism is wrong. Communism is an ineffective economic system. Unrestrained capitalism is damaging to the world's good." These judgments, while some may be controversial, are permissible. We must judge which ideas and value support the gospel life and we must adhere to them.

This has all been a very long-winded way of saying--Judge a Person--Never. Judge ideas--always. Live always in conformity with gospel ideals and you cannot do so if you do not discern what they are.

However, this "judge not" causes a lot of consternation and difficulty in the Christian community.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 23, 2002 7:33 PM.

Lawrence Lessig and Eldred v. was the previous entry in this blog.

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