I watched with great interest the hue and cry that arose from the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act. No sooner had the announcement of passage been made than those on one side of the issue began to throw stones assuming passage meant discrimination et al! Of course, the other side of the issue felt obligated to defend it’s position as well.
But this post is not about the pros and cons of the law. It is about the “stones” some have thrown, using the concept of “judgment” as justification for doing so.
The Christian community in general and the world’s religious bodies specifically have dealt with the issue of judgment for centuries. In some cases, great atrocities have been wrought in defense of a judgement gone awry. But in more modern times, many believers have remained silent in the face of ridicule and downright meanness thrown at us. And the world’s church has, for the most part, remained silent on the matter.
When something highly contentious such as the passage of a bill intended for one thing is used as a battering ram to condemn Christians for “judging”; folks who think they know Scripture come out of the woodwork and throw it in our faces. Problem is – they leave out bits and pieces to prove their point, only to alter the meaning of entire passages.
It appears that Jesus’ admonition to “judge not lest you be judged” has been turned on it’s rear to mean Christians are never, but never supposed to judge anything. Nothing is further from the truth!
Here’s what set this post in motion. A gentleman responded to a lengthy debate thread that Jesus did not “judge” the woman taken in adultery. That is correct. However, the mistake the fellow made was quoting the Scriptural passage to which he referred; leaving out the last very important sentence Jesus spoke to the woman as he sent her off.
“Go and sin no more!” Yep, he said it. After asking the woman if anyone had condemned her; he said “neither do I”. But he didn’t leave it there. He recognized that her behavior was contrary to PAPA’s desire for her and all humankind and simply instructed her to change her ways.
One can only assume she did so! After all, the Lord of life had spared her from stoning, forgave her with the words “neither do I” and admonished her to not do it anymore.
Here’s the critical issue those who want to stone us believers when we dare to “judge”, fail to recognize. Or perhaps it’s a passage of Scripture they don’t want to quote!
“Separate the sin from the sinner.” Yep, he said that too!
Ah ha, that statement from Jesus says it all. And so does much of the rest of the Gospels and New Testament letters of Paul to the early churches. In fact, both Jesus and Paul set out a format for dealing with “brothers” (and sisters I might add) who “sin”. Sin as in behavior contrary to PAPA’s “law of love”. If Christians are not supposed to “judge”; then why would the Lord and Paul, PAPA’s emissary to new believers, provide a formula for dealing with those who engage in such behavior?
Because the “law of love” entreats us to love our brothers and sisters enough to correct their behavior out of such love! (TWEET THIS)
And correcting behavior involves judging the behavior based on an understanding of Scripture and of what’s best for those we love!
Jesus also made the following statement: “take the beam out of your own eye before attempting to remove the speck from your brother’s eye“.
I’ve always understood that passage relative to our human tendency to see in others what’s wrong with me. So I need to know that I’m not “projecting” my own stuff onto another and judging him or her for what is in me that I don’t like. It doesn’t mean I can’t judge behavior I know to be harmful or hurtful to the other – or others! In myself – as well as the other!
Jesus certainly judged the behavior of the money-changers and vendors defiling the Temple. In fact, he was so enraged by their behavior that he made a whip, turned over their tables and drove them from the grounds. Quite a judgement I’d say!
There are a great many things that account for the outrage that occurs when political issues come up against deeply held convictions and values of believers. None of which are the subject of this post – but perhaps a post or two in the future.
The point of this post is to point out there is a vast difference between “judging” a person – a human made in the image and likeness of God whether he or she wants to admit so or not, and judging his or her behavior.
However, as believers, we are not called to condone behavior we believe to be contrary to PAPA’s law of love, as well as His natural laws. We are called to love the person, but hate the sin.
Thus we are equally permitted – in fact, entreated – to call a spade a spade. Call it what it is and that just might be “sin”.
For those of us who believe and hold Jesus as our role model, if he told the woman taken in adultery to “go and sin no more“; then as a believer I can certainly do the same!
And if the folks want to call that “judgement” – so be it!
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-xap1/v/t1.0-1/p160x160/10933880_10152999878054264_1749306739390848122_n.jpg?oh=3b9b3e144f0b306aa0cc748b03d9dd6a&oe=55550352&__gda__=1432002183_d9a5e0b3a35fc3cfbbe66ed7bc7658c9[/author_image] [author_info]My passion is to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]