By now most people would have seen this news item of interest: “NZ priest marries boyfriend”. According to the press accounts, the Kiwi priest wed his male lover in a London church. After the ceremony a champagne reception was held.
The rector who married the couple said this about the affair: “I certainly didn’t do it to defy anyone. I have done what I believe is right.” Presumably they will live happily ever after. Thus ends another chapter in a world turned upside down.
The really unfortunate thing about all this is that to many, this is just another ho-hum affair. The papers are full of such stories, and it seems that this is the way life is, and we just move on, not getting too excited about anything. Of course not all that long ago such a story would have caused quite a stir indeed.
But today we are guilty of “defining deviancy downwards” as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan once put it. Contemporary society is so overloaded with the bizarre, the immoral, and the deviant, that the only way we can cope is to redefine what is normal and what is abnormal.
What was shocking yesterday is simply ho-hum today. Nothing offends us anymore. Indeed, we are not allowed to be offended anymore. We must at all costs be tolerant: tolerant of everyone, everything, and every lifestyle. (Of course there is one thing we are still to be intolerant of: biblical Christians. But that is another story.)
We have been so indoctrinated into thinking that to judge another person is the greatest vice around, that we are willing to put up with all sorts of nonsense. Better to allow any and every behaviour and idiotic idea, than to be seen to be intolerant and judgmental.
So the old virtue of discernment, of judgment, of moral evaluation has been completely jettisoned from modern society. Yet it seems to me that a strong case can be made for reintroducing a bit of judgment into our world. It may be the best thing to offer a world which has lost its moral centre and is in a moral freefall.
At least one other commentator feels this way. Frank Turek had a recent opinion piece in which he said we have a moral obligation to judge. And like myself, he is quite amazed at the fact that often the ones most loudly shouting that we should not judge are those calling themselves Christians – people who should know better.
Turek gets plenty of people writing to him or emailing him, chewing him out in the strongest – and most judgmental of terms – telling him how wrong he is to judge. I know exactly what he is going through. On a regular basis I get critics – often Christian critics – absolutely bagging me and strongly denouncing me, all in the same breath in which they are telling me how wrong it is to judge another person.
For some reason these critics can’t seem to put two and two together. They assume that being judgmental is the worst sin going around, yet they give me a mighty blast of, well, judgment. I sometimes feel like responding by saying there is a word for all this: it starts with h and ends in y. And in case they are not catching my drift, the middle letters are ‘ypocris’.
One thing both Christian and non-Christian critics have in common is to cite the most abused passage in all of Scripture: “Do not judge, lest you also be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Turek picks up on this passage, after relating a story about a self-proclaimed “Christian lesbian” who chewed him out for being judgmental. Says Turek:
“As with most slogans shouted by the left, the truth is exactly opposite to what they claim. Liberals take the judgment statements of Jesus out of context because they want to avoid any moral condemnation for their own actions, and they don’t want you to notice that they are making judgments too.”
He reminds us to read this passage in context. So here it is, Matthew 7:1-5: “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Says Turek, “Notice Jesus isn’t telling us not to judge – Jesus is telling us how to judge. He actually commands us to take the speck out of our brother’s eye – that involves making a judgment. But he also commands us to stop committing the bigger sins ourselves so we can better help our brother. In other words, when you judge, do so rightly not hypocritically.”
He continues, “Jesus expressed this same idea when he said ‘stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment’ (John 7:24). Jesus would never tell us to stop judging – that would be suicide! Just think about how impossible life would be if you didn’t make judgments. You make hundreds, if not thousands, of judgments every day between good and evil, right and wrong, dangerous choices from safe ones. You’d be dead already if you didn’t make judgments.”
“What does this have to do with politics? Every law is a judgment about what’s best for society. Homosexual activists are making a judgment that same-sex marriage would be the best law for society. It’s a wrong judgment as I’ve argued in this column before, but it’s a judgment nonetheless. So in addition to being self-defeating, the belief that we ‘ought not judge’ is completely impractical and even dangerous. Making judgments is unavoidable both personally and politically. If you want to meet a sudden and premature demise, just stop making judgments.”
He concludes, “Unfortunately, liberals are propelling our society toward a premature demise by making the disastrous judgment that we ought not make judgments about their behavior. They, of course, can judge our behavior as immoral when we oppose same-sex marriage or the killing of the unborn. But we are not to judge their behavior. This is exactly the kind of hypocrisy that Jesus warned against. The passage they quote actually convicts them! For folks so concerned about the ‘separation of church and state,’ it’s amazing how fast liberals quote the Bible when they think it helps their case. Don’t let them get away with that. If they believe the Bible when they think it condemns judging (which it doesn’t), then ask them why they don’t believe the Bible when it certainly condemns homosexuality. If they want to use the Bible as their standard, then they will be judged by that same standard.”
Quite so. I began this piece by quoting from the English church leader who “married” the homosexual couple. He said he believed he was doing what was right. He could only say such foolishness because he has stopped judging. He has stopped making moral evaluations. Indeed, he has totally capitulated to the spirit of the age. The Bible tells us to “test all things” Obviously this rector has stopped testing things a long time ago.
Instead of judging everything by the word of God, he has simply stopped making biblical judgments. Interestingly, Peter tells us that “judgment must first begin with the household of God”. We need to start judging whether some of our church leaders have lost the plot, and need to find a new day job.
Those church leaders who abandon biblical discernment in the name of tolerance and acceptance are helping no one. Indeed, all they are doing is relegating themselves and others to the moral cesspit that is contemporary culture. I judge that this is not a very good thing.