I have, once again, gotten into a discussion with someone who believes, oddly enough, that the bible verse “Judge not lest ye be judged” means that Christians should not exercise moral judgment. It does not. Here’s a synopsis of something I posted awhile ago on a USENET discussion group about this.
The idea that Christians should not make moral judgments is simply not supported by the New Testement. Even a quick review would show that the writers of the Testament were filled to the brim with opinions and judgments. They encouraged us as Christians to make them and speak them aloud — even at the expense of their own lives. You cannot proclaim the truth of Christ without noting that other paths do not have it, and that is a judgment.
The verse that one should not judge lest they be judged is better understood if we let Jesus complete His thought:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
That is *excellent* advice. We should judge carefully and consistently. We should not judge others any different than we judge ourselves or we expect to be judged by others. To do otherwise would be hypocrisy, and Jesus certainly didn’t like that — even though we are all, to one degree or another, guilty of it.
But we should judge, and that “judge not…” verse people who don’t like Christian judgment use tells us how to do so, if we allow Jesus to speak for Himself. Jesus’ idea was expanded upon by Paul:
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.[…] The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment.
Not only are Christians to make judgment, we are to make judgments about all things.
Jesus was not opposed to moral judgment, He was opposed to thoughtless and inconsistent judgment. As he told the Pharisees:
Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”
Don’t stop judging, instead learn to judge correctly. Makes sense. And we should be careful, because the power of our judgments is *respected* (not condemned) by God. As He noted:
I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
And, as Paul expanded when discussing disagreements between Christians:
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
It was for the *purpose* of introducing correct judgment into the world that Jesus came:
Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
The idea that we should never make moral judgments is silly on its face. And it requires that we choose one verse from one sermon and ignore all of the rest of His teaching — and indeed the rest of His sentence even in that sermon. Do people who claim we should not judge really mean that we should not condemn murder? Rape? Should we really sit down and say “Well, child abuse doesn’t look good, perhaps, but you know, we really shouldn’t be judgmental?”
Petty antichristians try to demean Christian judgment by pretending that Christianity demands that we surrender our moral judgment. They certainly wish it were so, and unfortunately, many Christians who do not understand the *responsibility* we have to make moral judgment fall for that line. But in doing so, they abandon the power and the responsibility that the Spirit gives us. We are to use our moral judgment not just for ourselves, but to change society itself. As John Adams noted about the establishment of the American government:
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
As Patrick Henry noted
â€œIt cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.â€?
And that remains true today. The American ideals of liberty are based on Christian ethics and morality, and when those are lost, so will our liberties be lost.