CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

It Is Wrong To Judge

May 7, 2012

Do I believe the above title? Nope. Not only do I not agree with it, but those who can still think clearly and critically (and we seem to find fewer and fewer such folks nowadays) will see instantly the logical absurdity involved in the statement.

When you tell a person that it is wrong to judge, what are you doing? If you are not sure, let me spell it out for you: you are making a moral judgment! To say that moral judgments should not be made, the person saying this of course is making a moral judgment.

The truth is, we are all moral beings and we all make moral judgments all the time. We cannot avoid it. So one of the silliest and most useless things a person can ever say is that it is wrong to judge. By making such a statement, the person is doing the very thing he or she says we should not be doing: making a moral judgment.

If you think it is wrong when others make moral judgments, you yourself are doing exactly the same thing. You are making a moral judgment that it is wrong to make moral judgments. I belabour the obvious here since I get this all the time from unthinking and undiscerning people.

We have managed to so dumb down an entire generation that we find ourselves getting into hot water for stating simple and obvious truths. Even to say that the Holocaust was wrong will get a lot of people worried, concerned about your “judgmental” thoughts.

This of course is sheer madness. If we cannot come out and boldly say that something like the Holocaust was wrong, then we have become mental misfits and moral midgets. But this has also come about because of our thoroughly mistaken modern understanding of tolerance.

Today the only virtue is to tolerate everyone and everything, while the only sin is to be morally discerning and cautious. So today we have a whole lot of people who are supposed to be educated telling us that tolerance is an absolute which we all must adhere to.

Of course the old understanding of tolerance had to do with respecting a person while disagreeing with his views, beliefs, behaviours, actions, and so on. But the perverted understanding today of tolerance is to embrace and accept everything, and never disagree with anything.

Thus we are told to be tolerant of all things. But if you prefer to act in a more rational and moral manner, using instead the older and correct understanding of tolerance, you will quickly discover how much you will not be tolerated for doing so.

The tolerance brigade becomes very intolerant whenever you dare challenge them. Their insistence on tolerance comes across in a very intolerant fashion. Yet the amazing thing is they seem totally unaware of their own gross hypocrisy and double standards here. They really don’t seem to get it.

As J. Budziszewski wrote in his important 2009 volume, The Line Through the Heart, “If you really believe that the meaning of tolerance is tolerating, then you ought to tolerate even intolerance. If you really believe that the best foundation for toleration is to avoid having strong convictions about good and evil, then you should not try to harbor the strong conviction that intolerance is bad.”

But all this silliness about judging and tolerance are part of a greater malaise: a failure to believe in absolute truth and universal morality. Moral relativism and epistemological scepticism are the hallmarks of our postmodern times, and it is getting us into all sorts of trouble.

And once again, such relativism is clearly self-refuting. One simply cannot absolutely insist on there being no absolutes. One cannot be sure that there is nothing one can be sure about. A person cannot insist with certainty that there are no things about which we may have certainty about. As Peter Kreeft puts it:

‎”The simplest refutation of the tolerance argument is its very premise. It assumes that tolerance is really, objectively, universally, absolutely good. If the relativist replied that he is not presupposing the objective value of tolerance, then all he is doing is demanding the imposition of his subjective personal preference for tolerance. That is surely more intolerant than the appeal to an objective, universal, impersonal, moral law. If no moral values are absolute, neither is tolerance. The absolutist can take tolerance far more seriously than the relativist. It is absolutism, not relativism, that fosters tolerance.”

The really tragic thing is how so many Christians – who really should know better – have fully fallen for all this PoMo nonsense. Countless Christians are utterly steeped in relativism, the false notion of tolerance, and the unbiblical understanding of judging.

They have traded in their brains and their Bibles for the latest pap from the secular humanists and the surrounding culture. They have failed utterly in renewing their minds, and refusing to let the surrounding worldviews mould their thinking, as Paul commands us to do in Romans 12:2.

Indeed, it is quite bewildering to behold how so many of these supposed Christians are making moral judgments about things that I and others say, yet all the while so very strongly insisting how terribly wrong it is to make moral judgments about others! They are censoring us for our views, while wanting us not to censor others for their views! It would be rather funny if it were not so serious.

As an example, I elsewhere posted this quote: “Abortion does not make you merely un-pregnant. It makes you the parent of a dead child.” Now that happens to be a perfectly true statement, and others have reposted it.  But not only secular lefties, but other Christians, flew into a rage about this. Consider a few of the really idiotic things which were said in one exchange:

-“The God I love and serve is a gracious God and probably cringing at this post, he is love and mercy and He and only He will judge people. The way you judge others you will be judge ion that same measure. You don’t have to agree with what people do you’re called to live them like Jesus would.”

-“I dont believe a man should tell a woman what to do with her body.”

-“show me in the Bible where it says thou shalt no abort? and dont bring muder or killing into it, without spinning scripture”

-“a lot of people like to get on their high horser and judge other people for doing things they disapprove of for what ever reason, i just dont get it , Only God can judge we all will stand before God each and im sure the self rightous will have a nasty surprise”

Leaving aside the apparent inability to even spell or string out a complete sentence, the moral mushiness and biblical illiteracy displayed here is absolutely mind-boggling. One could write an entire essay on all the logical fallacies and moral myopia based on these foolish remarks.

But we have an entire generation of people today – including far too many Christians – who have lost the ability to think straight, and to apply the Word of God to current events. They have jettisoned rationality and morality for the PoMo mush which is on display everywhere in the West.

And we are paying a big price for this. As D.A. Carson says in his new book, The Intolerance of Tolerance: “The new tolerance swamps penetrating discussion about truth and morality: tolerance is widely perceived to be more important and more enduring than either. The result is a greater tendency to believe lies and to come adrift in immorality.”

Or as John Piper has rightly written:  “Relativism is a revolt against the objective reality of God. The sheer existence of God creates the possibility of truth. God is the ultimate and final standard for all claims to truth—who he is, what he wills, what he says is the external, objective standard for measuring all things. When relativism says that there is no standard of truth and falsehood that is valid for everyone, it speaks like an atheist. It commits treason against God.”

The truth is, it is time to start getting intolerant about tolerance – at least the phony new understanding of the term. It is not only dumbing down an entire generation, but is turning us into moral zombies, with no discernment, no conception of truth, and no adherence to the biblical worldview.

We expect the secularists to live this way, but when believers do so as well, then we are all in really big trouble indeed.

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21 Responses to It Is Wrong To Judge

  • That Peter Kreeft quote sums it up very well.

    So what do you think Bill, is the root of the problem? Why have so many of us lost sight of Truth? Is it the fear of men and a worldly spirit that has led the church astray?

    This leads to my main question: how can we recover a love for Truth in our churches, and then in society?

    Jasmine Yow

  • Thanks Jasmine

    Some very good questions which would be worth an article or two to properly answer. The short answer is that God loves truth – he is truth – so Satan hates truth, and gets us to downplay and ignore truth. The cure? Love Jesus (who is truth) more. Loving Jesus more will mean loving truth more. But I may write more on this anon.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, once again you have hit the nail on the head so to speak.
    We judge people who do stupid things when driving; we judge our politicians when they bring in unjust laws; we judge our children’s choice of friends when we see they could led them astray. Anyone who has never judged another let him/her be the first to ‘throw that stone’.

    The word ‘tolerance’ is not in the Bible. And it not being intolerant to women when one says that abortion makes a woman the mother of a dead child. This is the truth. It is the reality of abortion. But as Christians we are called upon to help these women to come to terms with what has happened and to assist in their healing through the grace of God.

    Madge Fahy

  • Whether we agree with it or not we are making judgements all the time and that includes those who misuse “Judge not”and remove it out of it’s context.
    If we judged righteously as commanded we wouldn’t be in the terrible mess we are in.
    But let me say if we are in the faith we should have learned by now in one sense we don’t have to judge wily nilly because the Spirit in us judges all things and we need to be siding with him and cultivating this relationship to the point of being sensitive, to the movement within even if that means not going with the flow all around us.
    Rob Withall

  • The mess that the “new tolerance” has landed the Body of Christ in is directly related to the doctrinal divisions that promote the ever expanding collection of denominations. Christians can be the most intolerant lot when it comes to dogma, doctrine and pragmatism. Denominationalism is driven by doctrinal differences which flow from God given revelations that fall short of their intended purpose. Often these revelations are given to correct some other over indulged doctrine. Eg: Once saved always saved, predestination, water baptism, communion et cetera. Each has served to break the church into more and more fragments of the mirror that once reflected Jesus.

    How could there possibly be correction within the church without measuring conduct against the scriptures.?

    The spectre raised by critics of the actions and statements made by Christians desires to inflict bondage through fear. Truth sets you free. Lies bind you.

    When an issue is being examined and mulled over, our reaction to it must be measured by who is reacting to it and how we are reacting to it.

    IE ” Am I reacting to it because:
    a) it offends me; & Why does it offend me?
    b) it offends God;
    c) it contradicts scripture +/or my interpretation of it;
    d) it offends the image I have of the god I worship?”.

    If our actions are pure then we have nothing to fear.

    Peter Colsell

  • My experience over many discussions with Christians and non-Christians alike has shown me that there is an elevation of “tolerance” above almost all other things. When challenged as to why tolerance is so elevated, very few seem to even be able to recognise the problems with their position. In particular, some tolerance advocates are particularly intolerant of those whom they believe to be intolerant. The contradiction and self-refuting nature of these beliefs seem to be completely beyond their comprehension.
    Stephen Frost, Melbourne

  • My approach is based on Jesus’ clear example of the woman caught in adultery. He did not judge her as a person (who she was), he did judge her behaviour (what she did).
    John Bennett

  • Unfortunately, I have had first hand experience with Christians who think this way. And for some reason, manifestation of the phenomenon seems especially common to homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion.

    One recent example involved a Christian friend taking me to task on a post where I questioned the “born that way” mantra by suggesting that for some, being gay is simply a choice.

    I omit large parts of the conversation for brevity but here is the reaction I received:

    [C]: “…to make judgement of all homosexual people is cruel. Also just because some gay people have tried having a straight relationship & feel that a gay relationship is better does not imply they choose to be gay. Its often the judgement & condemnation from “straight” closed minded people that they try to conform to being seen as “normal”. This does not mean they choose to be gay, it means they surpress who they are & live a life denial. Aside from all of the this who are you to judge there is only one that can judge and that is God.”

    My response: “Respectfully, that kind of sounds like you’re judging [C]? If judging is wrong (and cruel), why are you doing it?”

    [C]: “I may sound like I am judging but its the truth that people do judge & its cruel, people make statements about things they know nothing about, I ask have you or any other people in this conversation have you walked in the shoes of a gay person do you really know what goes on in the brain of a gay person? …why did you post this link to stir up a debate or did you judge too??”

    Yet as the conversation progressed, I addressed my friends criticisms and presented informed reasons for my own view. My Christian friend on the other hand, presented … wait for it … one homosexual friend accompanied by anecdote, as the basis for her justified judgement of my comments. But that didn’t matter, because I was the big (“cruel”) meanie for daring to question one of the pillars of the homosexual faith.

    Duane Proud

  • Those who don’t want to judge because they most probably are judging themselves guilty as a result.

    Ian Nairn

  • Thanks Bill, another great article.
    Praying for more people like you that are loving enough to judge and administer the truth which is what makes us free.

    If a Church has a constant ‘atmosphere of affirmation’ and there is never any judgement, admonishment, correction or rebuke then it is not loving but compromised.

    I think a few pastors need to start reading their Bibles.
    1Co 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
    1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
    1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
    1Co 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
    1Co 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
    1Co 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
    1Co 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
    1Co 5:13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    Daniel Hagen

  • Thanks Duane.
    Interesting, and strange, isn’t it, how post-modernists claim out of one side of their mouth that there are no absolutes, and that “what’s right for you may not be right for me”. But then, when pressed to defend their relativism, they suddenly forsake their post-modernism and become absolutists, as in C’s response, “I may sound like I am judging but its the truth that people do judge & its cruel…” “It’s the truth”!? I thought it was that notion that was cruel?

    I would like to add another line of reply: if you claim to be a Christian then you will want to know what the New Testament says. I have searched the New Testament from beginning to end to find your view of morals, and I could not find it. I did, however, find it in the Old Testament: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) And we all know just what a debased free-for-all the Judges period was!

    Murray R Adamthwaite

  • Very timely, Bill, and definitely needing to be said. I have recently been the target of such views and have thought the very same thing (that by their statements they are in fact judging me). And one of them actually used the ‘he who is without sin cast the first stone’ after saying that the Bible cannot be taken literally. This person considers herself a Christian. But i have to remind myself that people who talk like that have been blinded by the prince of the world and do not know what they are saying. Thanks again for being concerned with knowing and showing the Truth, and thank God that for now at least, we are able to express His views in this space. amen. God bless you 🙂
    Vicki Mildren, Victoria.

  • Ian, I think you hit the nail on the head when you talked about guilt. Those who do not acknowledge God or their need for him don’t know what to do with guilt, for guilt is real and needs to be dealt with. Even people who call themselves Christians but have not understood the fundamental nature of our relationship with God will often display the same, as they probably just said “yes” to a saviour, but not to a lord to who our lives absolutely belong.
    Truth is more than facts, but it appears that those who believe that judging is wrong in all cases appear to not even be able to face facts as in Bill’s example of “an abortion does not make a woman unpregnant, but purely the mother of a dead baby”. That is fact and they can’t face it, all because they refuse to face the truth and the facts about real guilt.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Your blog helps me stay sane!

    Jenna Priest

  • Many thanks indeed Jenna.

    Given that I usually hear from my many critics that this blog drives them insane, it is nice to get a differing point of view on occasion!

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Here’s a thought:
    Romans 1:32 – Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    This verse describes probably the most culturally relevant sin, in a “diatribe” list of sins, for today’s world. We all have an inbuilt moral understanding – moral absolutes(1:19), by which God can legally hold us responsible for our individual actions. Yet our PoMo world likes to run from the truth of the inbuilt conscience.

    The word pleasure (assent, allow, encourage, approve) is the key word. From two Greek words meaning “in common” and “to think well of”. In other words: If you are comfortable with, or “tolerant” of another person’s sin, then perhaps, as Paul/Holy Spirit states, you are as guilty as they.

    Daniel Campbell

  • can we please have more teaching on matt 7:1

  • Might be worth showing those who quote Matt 7.1 as prohibing all judgement of others the words in Matt 7:6: “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearles before swine.” This calls for very careful discrimination and judgement. Clearly Matt 7:1 is address hypocritical judgement and judgementalism, not judgement per se.

  • “We have managed to so dumb down an entire generation …”
    We definitely have a dullness issue- and the church suffers from the same.
    Compare the church 2000 years ago. Paul wrote them a letter – like Romans for example – yet the same letter can only be studied in a modern church by taking a couple of verses at a time. The ability to carefully study a whole letter has almost become the domain of bible college students and theologians – and even that might be pushing it.
    Instead, we take in a sound bite and give a “like” to a cute photo with cute verse, but can’t follow a line of reasoning.
    We live in a dumbed-down culture – the logical outcome of a generation of kids growing up on television, walking around with a head full of the top 20 songs, spending their time coming up with silly Facebook remarks, and never achieving a concentration level of more than 30 seconds in a row.
    On average, I reckon we have less than a minute to make a point. Not much time to take someone through a logical fallacy.

  • About Homosexual activity the bible says it all when Paul says if a man lies with another man as he would a women then he will receive the recompense for that sin within him.
    However if you can easily deny God then you will easily convince yourself that you can deny Paul’s words. The outward problem with the homosexual act is the fact that over the years it has created one of the most dangerous pandemics since the dawn of time ably accelerated by the silence of judgement and the political anathema to oppose it. In addition to this there is the renaming of a disease ridden practice as being Gay when it isn’t.
    As people have said in this articles response the truth will set you free. But I prefer to use the words that God has given us through his Son when Jesus said I am The Way, The truth and the Life/Light. This is the basis we should use for judging first, then of encouragement for others as being Gods instruction and yes even apply it unto ourselves lest we become hypocrites. The activity of abiding by those words leads us automatically through the narrow gate. If we broaden the path of our actions and thoughts by accepting and practicing things contrary to the words of Jesus then we will surely fall through the wider gate reserved for those that refuse to accept the commands of our maker as the being the manual for a rewarding and righteous life.

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