Calling someone “judgmental” is one of the worst things you can say about them, at least according to our modern culture. Jews, and Christians are often called “judgmental” when they say that something is bad, and that it should be avoided. Or when we talk about the concept of “sin” which stains our soul, we are called “antiquated” and judgmental. And if you actually state the Biblical belief that there are many people who will not go to heaven, but are relegated to hell, then you are hopelessly judgmental, or even “dangerously” judgmental.
The thought of being “judgmental” conjures up thoughts of someone in a black robe, high up behind a huge desk, sternly looking down at people and telling everyone that they are bad. That is exactly how many people view Christian communities from hundreds of years ago. They think of witch burnings, Inquisitions, and throwing people into stocks. It is a harsh characterization that none of us want thrown at us.
We often see this play out in scenarios where Christians are faced with either going along with the crowd or not compromising our beliefs. It may be an office luncheon, where someone gets the idea that telling a dirty joke is fun for everyone. Everyone else laughs. As believers, we often wonder whether not laughing will mean everyone will not want to be around us anymore. Will we become an outcast?
Another scenario is the discussion about some hot new television series – usually on cable – that everyone raves about. “You’ve got to see it! It’s wonderful!” So you find it in the NetGoogleCable device you have and start watching. “Hmm. I wonder if it’s really TV-MA?” You make yourself watch one episode and then part of another before realizing it just isn’t compatible with how you as a Christian view entertainment. When you see your friends again, what will you tell them about that show?
Or another scenario that may start happening is that Christians are invited to a gay or lesbian wedding. It may be someone from work or some relative. Are you willing to be a part of affirming something that God said was only for those of different genders? What will they say back at the office? Will your relatives decide not to send you any more fruitcakes for Christmas? (Wait, that may be a GOOD thing.)
What does it mean to be “judgmental”? Where does it come from?
Interestingly enough, most people know it comes from a Bible version that says something like, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” It comes from Matthew 7:1. (Isn’t it interesting that so many non-Christians feel this verse is absolute truth, but they won’t accept any other absolute truths from the Bible?) Of course, this verse must be read in context with the entire thought in Matthew 7:1-5, which tells us that the problem is not judging. It’s judging without taking care of your own faults first. And once we have taken care of our own problems, we can help those around them with similar problems.
But hardly anyone remembers anything but the first verse.
Many liberals and secular folks actually believe they are not judgmental. Some Christians also think they themselves are the judgmental ones and that liberals are accepting of everyone. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Liberals love to brand people with the labels of “racist”, “homophobe”, “Islamophobe”, or “climate skeptic”. In their world, those people are beyond the pale. They have no problem with telling people off if they think someone offends their liberal sensibilities. I remember a guy at work who was incensed that I had a notebook where I wrote on only one side of the paper. He thought I was environmentally wasteful and never missed an opportunity to point that out.
A few years ago, I wrote an article supporting Natural Marriage that was printed in our local newspaper. One day, as I was walking around the neighborhood, one of my neighbors came out and began shouting at me about how wrong I was and how I was discriminating against gays. There was nothing nice about the encounter. We had been friends for awhile, but this was clearly making that difficult. I had a neighborhood Christmas party that year and made a point of inviting him just to try to break the ice and show him I’m not mad at him. Nevertheless, he always turns his back to me whenever I walk past his yard.
There is nothing wrong with being “judgmental” since all it really means is that we make judgments about things. It is healthy to make judgments about things. We all have to decide whether something is good or bad. Whether Christian or non-Christian, we should look at evidence and make a decision based on the evidence. We have to pass judgment on what is good and what is bad. Of course, how you make those judgments is based on your worldview, but that’s another blog post.
Of course, there are always those who are delusional and believe they make no judgments about anything because judgments are bad, failing to realize that opposing judgment is itself judgmental.
One thing that is definitely different about how Christians view these situations is that, when others oppose us, we tend to go out of our way to be nice to those who oppose us. We try to make them realize that, while we may strongly disagree with them, we want to treat them in a civil, friendly way. That’s because we have a God who says that we need to forgive others, even those who hate us.
Not so many (though not all) liberals have no such concept of treating the opposition respectfully. They feel that slander, vehement opposition, and shenanigans are the best things for us. Because there is no God who watches over us all, they believe it is more important to be right than to treat others kindly.
So the next time someone calls you “judgmental”, remember that the accusation in itself is contradictory.