biased, bigoted, intolerant, and judgmental?
hope he's not long for this world."
Inside Washington on-air remark about General Jerry Boykin's statement
to a church that he believes Christianity to be true and other creeds
to be false.
that he believes at all, the everyday Christian is a pitiful figure, a
man who really cannot count up to three, ...precisely because of his mental
What is being judgmental?
The quality of being
judgmental is perhaps the most common charge leveled against those who adhere
to biblical morality. Nonbelievers, as a whole, have no formalized code
of right and wrong to which they hold themselves. They have little desire
to do so. Christians, on the other hand, have what they believe to be God's
standards in the Bible. They are unquestionably expected to be held to them.
Knowing that a Christian's
behavior may be held up to a published standard, and knowing that the Bible
includes the phrase "do not judge", nonbelievers sometimes suggest (or judge?)
that believers are committing hypocrisy. They suggest that Christians are
sinning against this biblical instruction not to judge when Christians condemn
non-biblical actions or values.
nonbelievers right? Is this hypocrisy?
4.6 "Do not judge...something, something."
The three words "do
not judge" have to be the one scriptural excerpt that all of non-Christiandom
has committed to memory. This would be great . . .IF the passage where these
words are written, the context in which they are used, or even the rest
of the words in the sentence (there are more!!!) were cited as frequently.
In addition to "do not
judge", consider these other equally important biblical excerpts: "judge
your neighbor fairly" and "judge carefully". As
these short phrases collectively indicate, one has to look at the Bible
more broadly that just three or four words in order to understand when,
how, or if we are to judge.
The terms judge and
judgment are not infrequently used in the Bible, and for this study's purpose,
biblical judgment can be considered to fall into two different fields. These
two fields concern the outward person and the inward person.
4.7 Judge the outward, not the inward.
The Bible is just
as emphatic that we judge the outward person as it is that we do not
judge the inward person. The outward person consists of our words and
actions which are discernible to the senses. These are the things on which
the Bible expressly commands we pass judgment. The inward person, conversely,
is comprised of that which is not reliably discernible to our senses,
like intentions and motivations; areas of judgment the Bible reserves for
God alone. (Look here
for more details on the scriptural principles of when and when not to judge.)
Here's an example of
wrongful judgment: if a believer declares someone to be evil or unquestionably
going to hell, that believer is being sinfully judgmental. That is because
he or she is making a pronouncement of someone's inward state; something
of which they cannot know.
But what if a believer
reads or shares with an unbeliever those things from the Bible which God
has already judged as being right or wrong? Or what
if a believer condemns an unbeliever's words or actions to be wicked by
the Bible's standards. Is that
also being sinfully judgmental?
One can understand how
a person who disputes the Bible's divine authority would interpret this
negatively. But the heart of the question is whether or not the Bible allows
believers to share God's standards or condemn evil behavior as sin. The
answer to this is yes.
The Bible specifically
commands that God's standards be shared with the whole world, and evil behavior
be condemned wherever it is found. The Bible presents God as God, and presents
God's characteristics as the very definition of right. Therefore, if God's
character comparatively makes someone's behavior appear immoral or sinful
or wrong, that same someone should seriously consider that his or her behavior
just might be immoral or sinful or wrong.
Thus when a Christian
holds up anyone's words or actions for comparison to God's character, this
is not being hypocritically judgmental. While it is wrong to judge (in
the sense of harshly accuse) the individual, it is absolutely right to judge
(meaning discern) the behavior as being right or wrong.
The key to acceptable,
biblical judgment is in restricting our critical evaluations to the outward
person (the words and actions) and in accurately discerning right from wrong
according to God's definitions. A final illustration will help tie this
4.8 Are you a judge or a witness?
If your friend is driving
in his car and you, as his passenger, notice that he is speeding, how do
you properly apply God's principles of judgment? The wrong way would be
to say to your friend, "You're a speeder!" This is looking beyond the wrongful
actions, implying them to be deliberate and repetitive, and accusing your
friend as though you have the insight to see that this particular action
has accurately revealed his or her true character. That is being sinfully
The proper way to apply
judgment would be to restrict your observations to the outward behavior:
"Hey, you're doing ninety in a sixty-five zone - you're speeding."
why is that not being wrongfully judgmental?
The legality of driving
ninety miles an hour is not up to your friend to judge...but neither is
it up to you. Driving ninety miles an hour was judged to be illegal long
ago. It became illegal the day that "65" sign went up. So
testifying as to what the sign says in the face of action being taken
to the contrary is not being a judge, but rather being a witness.
This is the position
Bible believers must restrict themselves to; making careful observations
as witnesses, with accurate discernment, without hypocrisy, and in a manner
expressing gentleness and respect. For such confrontations are not made
for the purpose of subjecting anyone to eternal judgment here and now; they
are made here and now so as to save people from judgment before God in eternity.
NEXT: Was Christianity cut-and-pasted from other
Basic terminology: What is religion,