I’ll Be the Judge of That :: By Dana Neel

Have you ever sought to confront wrong-doing, by reproving some behavior, only to be met with the accusation that you are being judgmental? And, that to do so, is forbidden in Christian doctrine? Ever heard this verse, “Judge not, that ye be not judged?”

Well, it comes from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter seven, verse one. Most who cite this verse have made the false conclusion that Jesus forbids us to make any kind of judgment towards any kind of conduct in this life. This kind of thinking could not be more wrong.

As the familiar cliché goes, “text, without context, is pretext.” So, let us spend some time putting that frequently cited Scripture into context, and examining other Scriptures, such that we can truly understand the Christian doctrine regarding judgment, an act which is born out of our obligation to defend the truth of God’s Holy Word.

Here is the context:

Matthew 7:1-5:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

Clearly, Jesus was not telling us to withhold judgment. Instead, He was commanding us to first judge ourselves. We are to first confess and repent of our own sin before attempting to correct another. The Scripture is a warning. Jesus warns us that the measure we use to judge the sin of others, will be the same measure He will use to judge us. His exhortation is to caution us against hypocrisy. Jesus hates hypocrisy. Jesus expects us to judge, but to only do so, when we have made every effort to make sure that our own lives are in order.

Part of the problem we all have, Christians and unbelievers alike, is that we equate judgment with condemnation. This is simply not true. To judge is to make a distinction, to separate, or to discern…to speak the truth as it has been revealed to us through the Scriptures. We all make judgments, and do so on a daily basis. We decide what to have for breakfast, who to spend our time with, but more importantly, how to divide truth from error.

The reason Christians hesitate to speak up for truth, make judgments, and shrink under the accusation of being judgmental, is because we have been indoctrinated into the cultural teaching of tolerance, especially in America.

Let’s face it. In this world, anyone with something to say about morality is at risk of public shaming, and quickly labeled as an intolerant bigot. In American culture, tolerance is the ultimate virtue, a shiny badge worn by a really good person. And, to be tolerant, we must go along with the cultural belief that anything goes, to each his own, and if it feels good do it. Ultimately, the tolerance doctrine teaches that truth is relative. But is it?

Here’s the conundrum. If another persons feel good conduct causes harm to us (e.g., abortion, drunk driving, addiction, gambling, adultery, etc., ) don’t we, as Christian’s, have an obligation to speak up about it? And when we are called judgmental for doing so, couldn’t we just as easily say that others are being judgmental, for the onslaught of ad hominem arguments of which we are the recipients? Where does it end?

Tolerance for the benign differences among individuals in a community is not only a virtue, but a necessary ingredient of a compassionate, decent, and democratic society. To show respect toward individuals we disagree with is basic Christian conduct. However, as Christian’s, to tolerate evil is unacceptable. C. S. Lewis made clear the nature of evil when he wrote, “it is predatory; it will devour virtue. And when there is nothing of virtue remaining, it will devour itself. To allow evil where it could otherwise be eliminated is to consent to the death of virtue.

Given the insatiable appetite of evil, and its propensity to feed upon the young and old alike, you and I simply cannot tolerate the intolerable in society. We cannot hope to remain a decent society if we adopt a relativist, truth-is-what-you-want-it-to-be- attitude toward sin and evil in society. To stand as witnesses of God, at all times and in all things, and in all places, requires more from us. Our voices and sensibilities must inform public policy.” [1]

The religion of relativism that pervades our society today, is based upon the false belief that man is the author of truth, not God. It is based upon the false belief that truth is individually defined and discovered. To the relativist, one man’s truth is just as valid as another man’s truth. This proposition is nothing less than ridiculous.

Two plus two equals four. The summation does not equal five, even if one man claims that this is “his” truth. Truth is absolute. And, truth is eternally important when it comes to issues of salvation, rather than grade-school math. The culture is on dangerous ground when it entertains relativism, the lie of the devil himself, the author of confusion. And, Christian’s are on dangerous ground with God if we fail to communicate His teachings, even at the risk of being called judgmental.

In the book “The New Tolerance,” by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, the authors introduce a term, “ethical theism,” which they define as “the belief that right and wrong are absolute, unchanging, and that they are decided and communicated to men and women by God.” This view of truth and morality formed the basis for much of Western civilization; it stems from the belief that certain truths are self-evident, among them, is the uniquely American tradition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In this same book, the authors reveal that 50% of Christian youth do not believe that an objective standard of truth exists, while 53% of the Christian adults do not believe in absolute truth, and that two-thirds of the estimated 70% of Americans, who say it is important to follow the teachings of the Bible, unequivocally reject moral absolutes. The statistics sadly reveal that Christian’s today are succumbing to the societal pressures of the doctrine of tolerance, and have abdicated our responsibility to speak up for God, who is truth and judgment.

This incorrect attitude and belief has clearly infected the congregations of our mainstream churches, who must be ignoring Scripture. The Bible clearly teaches that there are absolute truths, and that believers are not to walk around blindly, ignoring sinful behavior or false teaching; and if we do— then we are in direct conflict with the clear teaching of God’s Word. [2]

Instead, Christians are called to make judgments, including appraisals, discernments, and even take corrective actions. We are called upon to ”judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24), and failure to do so is to be negligent in a crucial aspect of our Christian calling.[3]

Ultimate truth and judgment will be handed down by Jesus himself, who is God. And, that day is coming very soon. The most dangerous, relative belief, permeating our society today, is that all paths lead to salvation, and that religion is the spice of life. This is the cry of the pluralists.

Here is Jesus’ response to that false belief:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Let us judge wisely, and speak His truth at every opportunity.

[1] http://www.meridianmagazine.com/ideas/030319relativism.html

[2] “The New Tolerance,” by Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, pages 99, 173-174

[3] http://www.apologeticsindex.org/j14.html