Is Judgmentalism Wrong?

Mote and BeamIn our modern culture, judgmentalism is frowned upon. When people are feeling that they are being judged, they immediately become defensive and negative, and they often begin to judge you for judging them. Our culture of tolerance is very intolerant of judgmentalism, which makes this topic a very lively one to discuss, to say the least.

Not long ago, indeed, I was having one such discussion with a group of friends. We were arguing about whether it was okay to call promiscuous females by the common noun (slut) which is used to describe them. I was arguing that we should call them by the common term for reasons of practicality and, well, because “slut” means exactly what its euphemisms mean.

I wasn’t even thinking about judgmentalism until one of my friends spoke up and said that she didn’t think that it was right for Christians to judge others for their lifestyles. That changed the entire debate, and completely caught me off guard.

Of course, the Bible does say, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” However, that verse only holds water when looked at in context. In context, the verse is referring to condemning others while ignoring your own faults. The passage continues just a few verses beyond by saying, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

A lot of people use this passage to say that you should never judge anyone. Other verses in the Bible, however, make it clear that you can make judgement calls. John 7:24, for example, states that we are to, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

We should not judge in ignorance or upon superficial things. Instead, we must make decisions as fairly and equitably as we can. That is what the Bible truly says.

In the story about the discussion which I previously mentioned, the argument eventually devolved into the girl judging me. If for no other reason, we must accept that judging is okay because saying that it isn’t is in fact a judgement.

On the other hand, actions based upon our judgements are often wrong. I may decide that I don’t like a particular person’s choices, but that doesn’t mean that I should treat the person any less than I would otherwise. It is perfectly fine to say that people shouldn’t sleep around, do drugs, or partake in countless other sins. Even so, that does not give us an excuse to treat people who do so any differently, unless there are legal issues.

People are people and they possess dignity regardless of what we may think of them. I would argue that it is good to judge people, to decide whether their actions are just or unjust, righteous or unrighteous, threatening or non threatening, but acting upon our conclusions requires true discernment. I may decide not to affiliate with promiscuous girls, but that doesn’t mean I should insult or attack them. I may decide not to be around drug addicts, but that doesn’t mean I should purposefully be rude or unkind to them.

Thoughts and actions are very different. It is necessary for our survival to judge those around us. All the same, our judgements should not be used to justify wrongdoing. We ought to judge in a way that leads to our own well being, but we must act in a way that reflects the love of Christ.

Discussion — 2 Responses

  • Mark Kardel July 15, 2013 on 8:54 pm

    Very well said, Joseph. The condemning judgment says, “You are not worth anything because of your actions.” But did Jesus not tell the Pharisees that they were white-washed tombs, hypocrites, fools, etc.” He was only stating facts that they might introspect and change for the better. What He was not doing was calling them worthless.