| Yes We are Judgemental
Christians are often told not to judge. If there is one verse non- Christians know (after, perhaps, some reference to the “least of these”) it is that Jesus taught people, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Of course, what the casual Christian critic misses is that Jesus was not calling for a moratorium on moral discernment or spiritual evaluation. After all, he assumes five verses later that his followers will have the wherewithal to tell what sort of people in the world are dogs and pigs (Matt. 7:6).
Believing in the sinfulness of sin, the exclusivity of Christ and moral absolutes does not make one judgmental. Just look at Jesus. But this doesn’t mean Matt. 7:1 has nothing to teach conservative Christians. Like everyone else on the planet, we have a propensity to assume the worst about people, to happily pass on bad reports and to size up individuals and situations without knowing all the facts. I’m not talking about disciplining wayward church members, or having hard conversations about people caught in sin, or being hopelessly naive about the way the world works, or refraining from the public exchange of ideas, or suspending all our powers of discernment until we understand something or someone with omniscience.
I’m talking about the all too natural tendency to shoot first and ask questions later (or not at all). As Christians we realise that sin deserves rebuke and the sinned against should have our deepest compassion. But we should also remember from the last days of our Lord that believing every accusation can be just as bad as making them. As long as there is Jesus, we have to allow that “controversial” and “accused” do not always mean “troublemaker” and “guilty.” We should use the same measure with others that we would want used with us.
Think of your tweets (as I think of mine). Think of your posts. Think of what you talk about with your husband. Or how you talk about your wife. Think of your emails and texts. Think of the speech pouring out of your heart. Are we doing all we can to guard and advance our neighbour’s good name? If the mere assertion of wrongdoing can ruin someone’s life, then you and I are only a whisper away from seeing it all go down the drain.