Friday, December 18, 2009

Don't Be So Judgmental!

Friday, December 18, 2009
It's a common complaint that Christians are too judgmental. Unfortunately, sometimes this complaint is valid. However, I believe this often comes from a lack of proper understanding of the concept of judgment and what a Christian should and shouldn't do.

I'd like to relate a practical example - I once read an article that quoted the singer Beyonce Knowles. She claimed that all of her hit songs had been given to her by God, ascribing her success to Him. Now a person acknowledging God in their life is a very positive thing and one must assume from her comments that she has a personal relationship with Him. However, what should we make of her antics in her videos and some of the more suggestive references in her songs? Anyone who has seen her videos knows what I'm on about - she dances in a very suggestive way and dresses in revealing outfits. One of her latests songs, which features Lady Gaga, encourages men to lust after her on their video-capable mobile phones. As a Christian, what is our response supposed to be to this type of thing?

Some Christians would come straight out and say that Beyonce is in sin and needs to repent. Others would withhold from judgment, quoting Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." (NIV) However, I would argue that both approaches are less than ideal. There is another passage with is rarely quoted by Christians. I am about to lift two scriptures out of their complete context, so read the whole chapter if you want to verify what I am saying:

"For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him?" 1 Corinthians 2:11a and
"The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:" 1 Corinthians 2:15

Firstly, we are not aware of what is in another person's heart. We cannot know what motivates a person or why they act the way they do. Therefore, it is not right to judge other people's motivations. We must withhold from making heart judgments. Who knows what Beyonce would do if she had the revelation that her actions are unGodly? She may be ignorant that she is doing anything wrong. We have to remember she comes from a country that has very weird ideas about Christianity and sexuality. Who knows, if we were in the same situation and had been told the same things by our own culture, we might do exactly the same thing!

Secondly, a man who is walking in step with God's spirit will naturally have a sensitivity to things that are Godly and unGodly. Sin will naturally offend him, the things of God will naturally fill him with joy. When you walk close with a righteous God, His intolerance for sin can't help but rub off on you. Therefore, a spiritual man will be able to see the sin in other people's live. However, it doesn't stop there. If you walk close with the Lord, His love will also rub off on you. So you won't be walking around simply seeing people as sinful scumbags - you'll begin to have a heart for those lost in their sin, desiring to see them repent, not so they can become part of an exclusive club that looks down on anyone who does wrong that you happen to be a part of, but so they can experience life abundant. Instead of looking down your nose at people, you'll long to see them in God's kingdom for their own benefit. It may seem a subtle difference, but it's a radically different way to see judgment than both of the first two options. It puts the emphasis on the right things eg. love and grace, and removes the wrong things eg. legalism and religion (the negative definition of that term).


Therin of Andor said...

Hey! Welcome back to the blogosphere!

You're spot on when you say we don't know what's in someone else's heart. We often attribute all manner of motivations to people, based on their ages, dress sense, skin colour, and performance styles, etc. (Novel studies for the HSC probably does it to us!)

I'm reminded of the miniskirt uniforms used in the original "Star Trek" TV series. Grace Lee Whitney, who played Yeoman Janice Rand, objected to having to wear Sally Kellerman's black trousers in a pre-publicity shoot and encouraged the costume designer, William Ware Theiss, to come up with a radical design that would show off her legs and make a strong statement about working women's femininity (and feminism), at a time when Jean Shrimpton and Mary Quant were wowing people with the mini-skirt.

However, in the 80s, Grace Lee Whitney was often resoundly criticised by fans and the media for wearing an impractical outfit that seemingly exploited women! The original purpose was to make a powerful statement in the 60s but, when viewed from the perspective of liberated women of the 80s, it seemed like the message had been reversed.

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