Sunday, August 2, 2015

Am I Being Judgmental?

 The Bible teaches, "Judge not."  Or does it?

"Judge not" is not the whole of the teaching.  What it really says, is, "Judge not, that ye be be not judged.  For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged"  Matthew 7:1-2

Many take this as a commandment that we should not judge others.  However, that understanding is false, because it is incomplete.  In John 7:24, we are told, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."  In Psalms (37:30) we read, "The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment."

So, actually, we are commanded by God to judge.  And, we are cautioned to use righteous judgment

That begs the question, "what is righteous judgment?" 

In part this can be answered by saying what is unrighteous judgment.

Hypocritical judgment, where we point the finger at someone else when we are guilty of even worse, unrepentant, behavior is unrighteous judgment.  This is what Jesus was referring to when he said we had to first remove the beam from our own eye (truly repenting), before we can legitimately help remove the speck (mote) from another's eye.

When our judgment is based on presuming to know things that we cannot know, we are engaged in unrighteous judgment.  For example, when you assume you know the motives for an action, unless the  actor told you their motives, you cannot know it, because you cannot read minds. 

Another example of this is when you assume someone is going to Hell, or Heaven.  You don't know the thoughts and intents of their hearts (which God will use to judge us), and you don't even know ALL the acts another has done, so you lack the necessary information to make righteous judgment on this matter.  And, God has reserved this particular judgment and kept it out of our hands.

You can exercise righteous judgment by judging actions (rather than actors).  To put it another way, you can righteously judge that someone who is commiting adultery is doing something wrong (evil).  But, if you judge that the adulterer is going to Hell you have engaged in unrighteous judgment.  You can righteously judge whether or not someone has broken a law of man or of God, but you cannot know if a person has broken a law of conscience.

Why am I talking about judgment in a politico-religious blog?  

This exploration was spurred by something that Star Parker said in her book, "Uncle Sam's Plantation."  She took the stance that much of the problems of poverty (and society) today is the replacement of the idea of right and wrong with the notion of values. She sums the idea in the following words,
“Life is chance, and values are relative. I can do whatever I think is right”
Then, she goes on to relate this idea to the actual behavior of a variety of individuals, including herself.
The events of the past several years reveal the natural consequences of a society embracing that philosophy. People blowing up federal buildings, mailing letter bombs or anthrax, disposing of live newborns in dumpsters—these are all acts that seemed right to those who carried them out. This type of moral relativism, taken to its logical extreme, can even justify using airplanes as human bombs to murder innocent civilians. I found it easy to reject the concept of faith because all absolutes were judgmental,
She found it easy to reject the concept of faith because faith introduces the idea that right and wrong can be absolutes instead of relative.  And all absolutes are judgmental.  And, being judgmental is being bad because we are told to "judge not."

Some of my children have accused my wife and I of being judgmental because we stated, without apology, that sexual promiscuity (heterosexual and homosexual) is wrong.  They conflated our condemnation of the acts with a condemnation of the actor (their friend).  Honestly, their confusion on that point is easy to understand.  Many folks don't make the distinction between the act and the actor when they make or express their judgments.  It isn't uncommon to hear someone say, "... he is a bad person, he did bad things."

The irony of my childrens' condemnation of my wife and I as "judgmental" is that they are probably the most judgmental people I have ever met.  Those who don't agree with their views on social matters are almost universally determined to be bad people.  Case in point, if someone opposes gay-marriage, they are a bad person, trying to deny same-sex-marriage proponents of their right to pursue happiness in their own way.

This is also consistent with the utter intolerance of atheists for religionists.  A recent FB dialog I had with folks on that topic is illustrative.  The response of atheists was that religionists should "just shut the f*** up."  Profanity, vitriol and personal attacks while discussing a topic are hallmarks of bigotry and intolerance.  Bigotry and intolerance are hallmarks of unrighteous judgment.

We also see this kind of bigotry and unrighteous judgment in the most ardent proponents of the LGBT movement and among racists (of any color).  The key point here is to make sure that we are not having a beam in our own eye on the point of judgment, regardless of the size of the chunk of wood in someone else's eye.  We cannot excuse our own bad behaviors by pointing to the bad behaviors of our opponents.

But, don't get me wrong here.  I am not saying we should continue to let liberal bullies beat on us while we scream "forgive me, for I have sinned."  Rather, we need to be very assertive and even confrontational without resorting to profanity, vitriol and personal attacks.  We need to argue the cases for Constitutional Conservatism by pointing stubbornly to facts and remaining calm.  When the bullies throw punches, we need to block their attacks and counter-punch with clear-headed facts and cogent arguments, rather than losing our temper and resorting to tantrums or purely emotional responses.

There is nothing inherently wrong with an emotional argument, as long as it can be backed up with facts.  But bear in mind that an emotional argument without facts is just an opinion, not an argument.

For instance, you can say, "I know that people who live by Christian principles, live happier, more fulfilling lives."  That is an opinion and an emotional argument.  It may be right and I may agree with it or it may move me.  AND when you can also cite unbiased surveys and studies that support your assertions, it moves from being simply an opinion or emotional argument into the realm of being a cogent, well founded argument in favor of your position.

To give you a counter example, consider the arguments of the gun-banners.  They assert that banning firearm ownership, or severely limiting it makes society safer.  This is an emotional argument and an opinion.  The emotion is based on the fear of being harmed by someone with a gun.  Unfortunately for the gun-banners, the studies and statistics show that banning or severely limiting legal gun ownership consistently results in higher rates of violent crime.  Consider the current high murder rates of Chicago and New York where legal gun ownership is highly restricted, with those low murder rates in Dallas, Houston, and Phoenix where gun ownership is widespread and the right to carry is largely unimpeded.

Or, to take this back to one of Ms. Star's points, consider that every time the minimum wage is increased, the unemployment and underemployment among the most economically challenged people in this country increases.  Employers, forced to pay more for each employee, cut back on the number of employees and pushes each employee still on the payroll to be more productive to make up for the folks who are no longer on the line, or they fire them all and hire robots instead.

Of course, the liberal answer to that last point is, "there oughta be a law against that." and then they try to push forward the nanny-state further by one more piece of ineffective, taxing piece of legislation.

But, back to the point about judgment, Ms. Star Parker says it well when she says, 

“God is your source, not the government!”

We should look to God, He is our source.  Look to His plan for our happiness (to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life [Moses 1:39]), and judge the actions of ourselves and others against that absolute measure of right and wrong, instead of using the changeable measuring sticks of society and government.

Tom Sheppard is a business consultant and coach to small business owners and individuals. He is a recognized author with dozens of titles in business and fiction to his credit. One of his endeavors is to help those who want to see their own book in print. He does this through his trademarked Book Whispering Process (TM). The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein. 

The author is not an official spokesperson for any organization or person mentioned herein.

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 Your comments are welcome... Please observe some ground rules. No profanity, vulgarity, or personal attacks. Profanity, vulgarity and personal attacks not only betray a lack of vocabulary and imagination, they also are the hallmarks of bigotry, and bigotry is the hallmark of someone who is fundamentally insecure in their views. Facts are always welcome.