Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Judgment's shadow

Fair people, I need your input, if you please.


The New American Bible (Catholic) reads, "Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you," (Matthew 7:1-2).

(I don't own the rights)
I take issue with how this verse is wielded like a weapon.

Some throw up their hands and say "Judge lest ye not be judged," often, in a way that judges his or her accuser. "You're judging me and therefore you are breaking a big rule. Nanny, nanny, boo boo."

My question: are judgement and judging a person are two different things?

When someone berates my faith or person, am I not judging when I refute their arguments? Don't I have to judge in order to construct my response?

In my obviously-not-so-humble opinion, I think the "judgement" referred to in Matthew 7 is really the kind of judgment that assumes one knows the extent of God's mercy.

When one judges someone's ultimate place, heaven or hell (I'd say purgatory, but I don't want anyone to launch into a conniption), as if they know where we end up based on whatever philosophy they believe, I think they step into God's shoes, breaking the law.

YOUR TURN! Tell me what you think about the concept and word, "judgement."


Kendra said...

You've hit one of my biggest pet peeves and also one of my biggest struggle (deciding what is "judging" and what is just being a good friend). I could seriously write a book on my opinions and experiences with this.

I will say something quick: I agree that in general, we should not assume too much about any particular person in order to "judge", and we certainly should not try to guess whether a deceased person is in heaven/purgatory/hell or whatnot, only God knows what is in a person's heart. On the other hand, it's tricky to decide how to show a friend or group or random person the truth and love and a good message without crossing the line of presuming things about them that are none of our business.

If you ever want to chat in more detail about this, I'd love to. I've had situations in the past where I've lost or almost lost friends because I've told them when I thought they were hurting themselves in some way or another. It's hard to tell when to say something and when to stay out.

Jim said...

To specifically answer your question, yes, judgement and judging a person are two different things. "Judgement", might be making a decision about following a course of action. If you're "judging a person" you are coming to a conclusion about them. In a religious context this could refer to the state of their soul, their eternal destination, etc.

If someone is berating your faith or person, it seems to be that it would be easy enough to defend yourself without engaging in the latter.

Julie Robison said...

The big line you need to draw is that judging a person's behavior is not judging a person. The whole "love the sinner, not the sin" methodology from Augustine (who would know) is the attitude all need to take. It is a big leap to say, you did THIS and now you're going THERE, than to say, I love you, God loves you, but what you did/ are doing is wrong. Correcting a person's spelling is not to condemn them as a bad speller forever, but rather helping make them a better speller, so that they can find joy later in flawlessly spelled sentences... then you can move on to grammar and syntax and logic! :D Saying "don't judge" is a red herring and an attempt to avoid the actual problem at hand by saying, don't look at me, look at you! You can't spell either! Then let's work through spelling together, okay? Mutual support: Bad Spellers of the world, unite!

Louise said...

I completely agree. I believe that the "judging" in Matthew 7:1 specifically refers to condemning a person, not an action. If we are not to judge whether actions are right or wrong, how can there be any moral guidance whatsoever? Aren't our laws on murdering, stealing, etc. the result of our ability and duty to judge?
This can get very tricky in practice with our friends and family because nobody wants to be told they're doing something immoral. Misconstruing this Bible passage is an easy way to shift blame -- plus, it seems nowadays the message of our secular society is that *nothing* is judge-able, except [negative] judgment itself, which is decried as the most terrible thing someone can do.

Anthony S. Layne said...

Jesus constantly engaged in rabbinical exaggeration. I don't honestly believed he expected people to tear out eyes and chop off hands in the effort to avoid sins(Mt 5:29-30), but he did expect us to do everything we could to avoid sins. This is what our apologists point out to us in reference to the verse, "Call no one on earth 'Father'" (Mt 23:9), and I believe it's a valid point.

Likewise, the injunction not to judge is a similar exaggeration. Jesus' point is that we must correct our own sinful behavior, and not take the attitude that we're superior to those whom we would correct. (I'm reminded of the old Egyptian hermit of unquestioned holiness who lived in St. Antony's community: when another hermit was cast out of the church for some sin, the old hermit left with him, explaining, "I'm a sinner too.")

But St. Paul takes fraternal correction for granted in 2 Tim 3:16, by stating that Scripture is useful for correction and reproof; after all, didn't he tell St. Peter himself off (Gal 2:11-14)? (See, the Protestant proof texts have some use after all!) And, traditionally, admonishing the sinner has been long considered one of seven spiritual works of mercy, although it's not listed in CCC 2447.

Okay, I'll shut up now.

Anthony S. Layne said...

BTW, I think you've just given me the topic for my next post .... :^)=) Thanx for bringing this up, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth said...

Kendra- It's one of mine too! Great explanation!

Jim- I agree completely!

Julie- "love the sinner, not the sin" -- exactly! Our secular culture has twisted this idea into "in order to love the sinner, you have to support their sin."

Louise- Wow, perfectly put! " seems nowadays the message of our secular society is that *nothing* is judge-able, except [negative] judgment itself, which is decried as the most terrible thing someone can do." See, this is why I opened it up to smart people like y'all to explain!

Anthony- Thanks for the stories and links! They're ideal for this topic. Also, "and not take the attitude that we're superior to those whom we would correct" --> that's exactly what we need to remember. Yay! I'm glad to help and I can't wait to read it!

not a minx, a moron, or a parasite said...

Great post, as always. I think you are spot on with this topic and the difference between judgement and judging.

jamestuckerjr said...

If people say this, I would invite them to continue reading past the first two verses. The 3rd through 5th verse tell us to remove "the log in our eye" and then we will clearly see "the speck in our brother's eye."

The 6th verse tells us not to give what is holy to dogs and swine. We have to a) know what is holy and b) know who are "dogs and swine:" both of which would require our judgment.

In verse 15-20 Jesus tells us to "beware of false prophets" and tells us we will "know them by their fruits" which again requires judgement.

I think the best answer comes from, of course, Jesus' own words. "Take heed to yourselves; if your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him; and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times and says, 'I repent,' you must forgive him" (Luke 17:3-4)

Jesus tells us it is okay to make the judgement on the sin of our brother, and even rebuke him for it. But if the brother asks for forgivness, we must grant it. The judgement mentioned in Matthew 7:1 would be a judgement where forgiveness is not granted.

Cassi@FromaCatholicDaughter said...

Can't believe I missed this one when you wrote it!

What I've been taught is that you can judge a persons actions and a persons words just not the person. It's kindof like how if a child in school was cursing all over the place you would have to send them to the principals office. You've judged what they've said and deemed it inappropriate for the classroom. The same would go if they were fighting physically with another student, you'd judge their actions and deem them inappropriate for the classroom. This doesn't mean that you hate that child and have judged them to be a horrible person. They are a child of God, but we are called to hold people accountable and to a higher standard.

Jenna said...

There are some instances of judging in the bible.
"For why should I be judging outsiders? Is it not your business to judge those within? 13God will judge those outside. “Purge the evil person from your midst.”" - 1 Corinthians 5:12 NAB bible

Galatians 5:19-21 also has a judgement
"Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, 20idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, 21occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." -NAB Bible

Elizabeth said...

@Jenna - Yes, good finds. I like how the first one is about self-reflection -- such an important part of our faith! To what extent do we allow God to show and cast His Mercy and Forgiveness for those sins mentioned in the second? The verse says those will not inherit the kingdom of God, but in reading other parts of scripture, we learn that Jesus died for our salvation and therefore, we must seek forgiveness for our sins.

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