Saturday, February 20, 2010

The "Judge Not" Juggernaut

 "Judge not, lest ye be judged!" I have had those words thrown at me like a javelin when I have ventured an opinion on some topic of morality. "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." That is another hardball that is thrown at Christians to shame us into silence.

It doesn't matter that these verses are taken out of context and that other biblical verses calling us to judge correctly are conveniently omitted from consideration. Furthermore, it never seems to dawn on the speakers that they are using those words to judge others. Nevertheless the zingers are still effective in bringing any reasoned discourse to a halt. As the adage says, "When in doubt, shout!"

In his book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters, David Kinnaman explores the most common attitudes that young people have toward Christians. They are all negative. Two of the top six are that Christians are judgmental and hypocritical. Ouch! Who threw that!

The truth is that it is impossible not to judge. You can no sooner "not judge" than you can have a one-sided coin, breath in and not out, or only eat and not .... Well, you get what I mean.   We live in a world of duality - light and dark, front and back, left and right, good and evil, male and female. You can't have one without the other. It is the nature of existence.

The creation story of Genesis says that as soon as God created light on Day One, he had to separate the light from the darkness. Get it? Without darkness there would be no light! The postmodern phobia about judging just means people don't like being judged. But we don't have a choice.

Revelation 20 pictures a Judgment Day, a heaven and a hell. (Once again, you can't have one without the other.) It is not just those judgmental Christians that believe these things. Every religion of the world from Hinduism to Islam, has some type of judgment after death. Buddhism has layers of hell that makes Dante's Inferno look like a pleasant visit to a sauna.

There is no life without death. We didn't choose to be born, and we cannot choose not to die. We cannot choose not to be judged. Nor can we choose who will be the Judge, any more than a defendant gets to choose who sits on the bench. But we can influence the outcome of the judgment.

You can read the basis for the final Judgment in Revelation 20:11-15. But before you reject this concept as unenlightened, unspiritual or unchristian, let me just say one last word: "Judge not, lest ye be judged!"

1 comment:

  1. You made some valid points worth consideration.

    I have written some on judging, but I must confess that my emphasis has been more on the misuse of Matthew 7:15-20.

    I will read what you have written again and rethink my position.