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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The not -so -famous words of Jesus

In former times, the most famous Bible verse was John 3:16. We all know it. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." Can you guess what are considered the most famous words of Jesus in our postmodern society? I don't have statistics to prove this, but I imagine Matthew 7:1 takes the prize. "Judge not lest you be judged." Whereas in former times, it was axiomatic that moral judgments are a part of every day life, now it is not so obvious to everyone. One spokeswoman for the "pro-choice" cause, in debating with talk show host Bill O Reilly tried to explain how abortions were essential for women's health. O' Reilly responded that he knew of many women (perhaps the majority) that aborted for the sake of convenience. When he asked if she could acknowledge that fact, the woman gave the standard "I think you are being judgmental" response. Never mind the fact that the woman did not answer his question. Nowadays all someone has to say is "judge not lest you be judged" to preclude further argument.

The problem with the "don't be judgmental" argument is that it is not really an argument at all. You can not say that something is wrong (aka-being judgmental) and then say it is wrong to say there is a wrong. The not-so-famous words of Jesus clears this up rather well. In John 7:24, Jesus said, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." So, according to scripture, we are to make moral judgments. So when former presidential candidate John Kerry says he believes that life starts at conception, but favors partial birth abortion and gives his reason for the contradiction by saying that personal beliefs should not be imposed on society, it shouldn't take a genius to say that argument is bogus! Unfortunately, the inconsistency of the argument seems to fly over a lot of heads today.

Clearly, we are to make judgments without being judgmental. The Bible says, "Let him who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall." Pride is clearly a sin. Oops! There I go making judgments again.


Pete said...

First of all, good post. I agree with you here and would just like to offer some points of contrast.
In some circles (mainly within the church itself) many people are quite the opposite. They are quick to not only judge, but to voice their judgements loudly and proudly, because, being a child of God, it is their job to find all sin in everyone's life and denounce it as such. Unfortunately this is not only a corrupt mindset but often these judgements are simply WRONG!
You see, in order to make a judgement, one must compare the material in question to some standard. The mistake that is often made is using one's own opinions and beliefs as the golden standard instead of actually using THE GOLDEN STANDARD-God's holy word. In doing so, they simply come across as self-righteous overly agressive holy-rollers to the world, no matter their intentions. Not exactly how Jesus commanded us to treat the unsaved.
Also, I will say in John Kerry's defense ( never thought I would say that line ) that while his argument is pretty bogus, he is actually right about the president not imposing his personal beliefs on the people. We are not a dictatorship or monarchy and therefore the president has to weigh the people's beliefs as well as his own. That's as far as I will defend Mr.Kerry.
Thought provoking as always Aaron,
P.S. where has our other poster gone? come back Toby..come back

toby said...

Agreed. Too many people cop out of any sort of discussion regarding morals or values with the phrase "Don't judge me." Actually, I think a lot of people who use this phrase are rather defensive and/or excessively sensitive about whatever area of their lives is brought up and out into the open. Maybe they're just not used to people talking openly about morals.

On another note, I wonder what would happen if someone pulled the "Don't judge me" card when accusations were made against any sort of Christian leader. [cough: double-standard] what?

Aaron D. Taylor said...

Nice to see you back Toby.

Pete, as far as your comments, I agree with you that moral judgments are often made in a condemning fashion, which was the point of my point "The Gospel of Condemnation" You can look for it in the August or September archives. I can't remember which one.

As far as defending John Kerry, I agree that since we are a democracy, no view should be "imposed" without due process of law, but that doesn't negate the argument that it is, in fact, government's responsibility to impose moral judgments on society. Once a person concedes that life begins at conception, he or she then has a moral obligation to protect that life (a view I am sure you probably agree with)

Pete said...

Is it the government's job to impose THEIR moral judgements on us or to UPHOLD the moral judgements that have already been set in place? I guess this is what is up for debate currently in America.
This is a good post and I'm happy that you have already considered the flipside of this argument. It is necessary to judge, but it is required that we do so rightly.
P.S. The Prodigal Son has returned...let us kill the fatted cat!

Chris P. said...

Good post.
Many should read the rest of Matthew 7 as Jesus tells us how to judge rightly. If we remove the log from our eye we can then see to remove the speck from our brother's. It is possible to judge with righteous judgment.
Also, Paul says that we as the church, are to judge the church.
I agree that we don't need "sin-sniffers" going around as that is the job of the Holy Spirit, and only falls on the church if someone is blatantly sinning and refuses to stop. Also questions on musical style, raising of hands dance or no, are non-starters. The heart is always the standard and God knows the heart.
However many use this argument of non-judgment when it comes to debating truth in our orthodoxy.
We are called to know the fruit of those who would prophecy or teach.
Jesus and the apostles constantly battled bad teachers and false prophets. We are to judge the fruit of those who claim to bring some new doctrine or teaching. Many are coming these days with unscriptural doctrines and then using the “don’t judge card”
That is where I draw the line.

Anyway these passages speak to the heart of the matter.

! Cor 5:
11But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

1 Cor 6:

1When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? 2Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 4So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?

toby said...

another thing that i thought of was kind of along the lines of chris' comment. people often mean different things when they use the word "judging". In Matthew 7, I think Jesus was referring to condemning others; people often quote that phrase but they're not talking about condemnation, they're referring to judging actions according to a moral standard.

for instance, if a Christian claims that homosexuality is morally wrong, he may be accused of being judgmental. when in fact, his claim may or may not have anything at all to do with condemning the person for his/her actions. like Chris said, the Bible does speak of judging a tree by it's fruit etc. so i think the passage is being misquoted by people who refuse to accept the standards of the Bible. i mean if you don't believe the Bible, that's your prerogative; but quit misquoting it already. (please tell me if i'm misquoting when i speak of Matthew and condemnation versus judging)

i think pete hit the nail on the head when he spoke of the debate over government enforcing morality. it's more complex of an issue than if the president believes abortion is wrong, he should do everything in his power to end it (regardless of the beliefs of the people). see, if you have a president in office with beliefs that match yours, it's not a problem. but what if a future president does support abortion and homosexuality? is it still his duty to uphold/enforce his morals on the rest of the country?

i'd like to see a more lengthy post on this topic (government's role with regard to morality in a pluralistic country). there seems to be a lot there.

the prodigal. hah, pete.