Four Steps to Overcoming Judgmentalism

“Do you recycle?” someone asked me the other day. “No, I don’t,” I responded. “I hate recycling. In fact, I hate the environment.”

I like to preempt people’s final thoughts so as to cut to the chase. Well, this is not the chase, but when I say “No, I don’t,” it is where the chase goes in some people’s minds. I could never be accused of doing all things well. Let me list some of my entanglements: My schedule is erratic, my organizational abilities a mess, I spend money that could feed a child in Africa for a month on little toys like this Batarang, I am addicted to nicotine (and I have a very addictive personality), I can “tap out” of life for a time, I watch too many TV shows (part of my “tap out” process), I break promises, I don’t like Apple, I don’t home-school (well, for the most part), most of my kids struggle in school and I don’t help enough, my marriage is far from ideal, I get depressed often, I am very moody, and, most importantly, I DON’T eat organic. I could go on with my bad qualities, but you get the idea.

Let me focus for a bit. I don’t really curse. It just sounds so unnatural coming out of my mouth. My mother never cursed and I never heard it from my dad. Saying bad words was not part of my upbringing. I will sometimes curse intentionally around certain people just to send a message that my faith has little to do with whether or not one curses. You should see the looks on someone’s face when I do! But there is no need to pat me on the back for not cursing. It is just not me. And I don’t really care too much when other people curse. I grew up in public schools and got used to it very early on. So, I neither curse nor look down on others who do (even Christians).

However, it is very easy for me to look down on people who are engaged in a homosexual lifestyle. It is even easier for me to look down upon them if they are homosexual activists. I have very little grace here and a lot of self-righteous judgement. I am working on it. Why am I so hard on people here? Because it is easy. It is really easy for me to not be a homosexual. And it is emotionally and physically repulsive to me. I don’t have any family members who have struggled with this, so it is foreign to my psychology, physiology, and upbringing.

Judgmentalism is a funny thing. It is usually a very emotional thing. Judgmentalism is not limited to Christianity or any other religious belief. It is not a religion thing. It is a human thing. Judgmentalism comes in all shapes and sizes. Those who follow a certain diet are often judgmental of those who eat whatever they want. Those who get up early judge those who sleep late. The person who gets all As looks down on those with Cs. The person who was a virgin when they were married judges those who were promiscuous. Those who home-school hammer those who don’t (and vice versa). Those who are married judge the divorced. Those who teach their kids to play catch look down on those who let their kids watch too much TV. Those who go to church on Sunday try to straighten out those who go on Saturday. Those who are involved in politics correct those who couldn’t care less. Those who have a date night every Friday try to fix the marriages of those who don’t. Those who don’t have a Facebook account correct those who do. You don’t have to believe in God, go to church, or open a Bible to be judgmental.

There is hardly a worse place to be than in the presence of someone who is continually looking down on you. It does not matter how large or how small the issue is, the oppression that is brought about by those who evaluate you primarily through the lens of their particular hot button issue is tremendous. It is the cause of many ended marriages and friendships. It hurts to be judged. It hurts to feel small. It hurts to have a blind eye continually turned on your good qualities as you are only evaluated based on those things that people have decided determine your worthiness. Of course, the person on the perfect diet may neglect his children. The person who doesn’t drink may never give of her time to help someone move. The person who saves the environment may cheat on his taxes. The person who has no television in their house may physically abuse her kids. The irony knows no bounds.

Here is our state of affairs: we condition ourselves to place a higher priority on those things we do well. These are normally the things that come easily for us. These are normally things that we learned early in life from our family. These are normally things that are visible. And these are the things we judge others for not doing well. All the while, we have learned to look past our own faults, making them less serious than others’ faults. When this happens, we become judgmental. When this happens, we become painful to be around.

You see, what happens when we are judgmental is that no one can tolerate to be around us. We don’t lift people up, we bring them down filling them with guilt and insecurity. The result is that the judged go in search of those who don’t continually complain about the stench of their sin. Normally, this is found in communities of people who struggle with the same sins. And this is not a good place to be, as it normally fosters apathy toward resolving their problems (if they are truly problems). More than this, it creates a community of sameness where no diversity is present. Here there are no challenges in thinking or practice and these begin to judge those who are not like them! And the cycle goes on and on.

A story is told of a group of Oxford professors who were discussing what the primary uniqueness that Christianity offered the world of religion was. Some people said it was creation. Some said it was the cross. Others suggested the Bible, miracles, and hope. When C.S. Lewis came in the room, the group asked him what he thought Christianity brought to the table that others did not. Without hesitation he responded, “That’s easy. It’s grace.”

Grace is probably the most radical concept humanity has ever known. It is the only thing that is really different in a world filled with isolated judgmentalism. It is the balm that cures all relationships. It is the most attractive personality characteristic that any human could possess. It demands diversity in order for it to work. Grace is understanding, kind, warm, and disarming. Grace was illustrated by Christ, who is the only one who has ever had a reason to be judgmental, yet only sought to be around those who were outcast, hated, and looked down upon. Grace is reaching down to those places you don’t go to and accepting those who do the things you don’t.

How to overcome judgmentalism:

1. Know Thyself: I think the way to heal the disease of judgmntalism is to take a long hard look at ourselves. We must recognize the severity of our own shortcomings. I can only judge homosexuals when I am feeling pretty good about myself. I can only look down upon them when I fail to see the mire of sin my life is sinking in. Take a long hard look into God’s word and ask yourself this one question: What are the camels that God cares about most? Humility, caring for those in need, giving of yourself and your wealth, loving your spouse more than yourself and, without question, showing grace would make my list. I fail here. Cursing: easy. All these camels: hard. Judgmentalism can only arise in the delusion of self-righteousness.

2. Know Christ: Christ is a pretty solid example to follow. It is very hard to read too much of Christ’s engagement with people and not be convinced of how attractive he was to sinners and how unattractive he was to the self-righteous. In fact, they had a name they called him. No, it was not “goody two-shoes,” “Bible banger,” or “Mr. Perfect.” It was “friend of sinners.” Have we ever been called this? Could we ever be accused of being a friend of sinners? If not, I imagine we are judgmental.

3. Know the Pharisees: The only people I see who hated Christ were the self-righteous people who had it all figured out. Among the Jews in Christ’s day, these were the Pharisees. People were scared of the Pharisees. They were not ever accused of being friends of sinners. Yet Christ didn’t have much good to say about them. In one candid moment he told them that they strain out gnats and swallow camels (Matt. 23:24). Translation: they kept the parts of the law that were easy, visible, and insignificant compared to the parts they did not keep (which where were difficult, invisible, and significant). They did not curse, drink, or go to parties (gnats). Yet they were unkind, without mercy, and graceless (camels).

4. Confess Thyself: These alone don’t solve it. There is a hard part. We have to let others know about our sins. This does not mean become a lush and vomit our problems all over people at every turn, it just means we go public with those things that are so easy to keep in private. Once we do this, it is hard to idolize ourselves, much less look down on others. We simple don’t have a leg to stand on and others know it.

Showing grace is radical. But if we are able to do this, we will save our lives from the prison of self-righteousness. We might even be radical enough to gain friends and influence people for the cause of Christ.

Finally, let’s let the fear of this verse sink deep into our hearts:

1Ti 5:24
“Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later.”

55 Responses to “Four Steps to Overcoming Judgmentalism”

  1. You don’t like Apple? OMG, you are going to hell.

  2. Balance in life. Difficult.

    I have a problem with people who talk bollocks. That is the most difficult thing to deal with. However, I have realized something. Sometimes I don’t understand people and where they are coming from. I judge based on what I think I hear, but have missed the point altogether.

    Example: There times I just want to headbutt people who talks about miracles that has happened as a fact. The ones who insists that it has happened, whereas it is obvious it has not. Their right leg is still an inch shorter than the left, they are still in pain, but hey, can’t you see, I am healed?? I have learned what it is that I hate about that. I thought these particular ones were saying bollocks, but I have come to realize that some ppl claim that they are healed, to prove their faith. Cool, like a magic Harry Potter spell. They don’t actually say they are healed as in that it has happened. They are just using a new way of outsmarting God, helping him to release his power. Uh. Who am I to criticise that.

    So, how should I act when I hear people talk bollocks? Not say anything? Not react? Is that better? Is judgementalism what we say, or is it how we say it?

    I don’t know. I think you are saying it well, but I am still confused. The Jesus example, when he says “you brood of vipers”. Sure, sometimes he was comforting, encouraging, but not always a good example of saying things nicely, and not pointing a finger.

    Judgementalism, can I not have an opinion, can I not state it in public? I think I can have an opinion, but what is the motive for making it a public statement? If my intention is to encourage, edify, then go for it. If it’s to make me feel better, shut the frick up. Jesus was 100% not doing anything for himself. That is pretty obv.

    Fake swearing, I just can’t stand that b.t.w. LOL

    Grace is key. True. The most difficult concept to implement in life I reckon. Amen. Good post. Missed CMP posts lately! Cheers.

  3. Judgmentalism is condemned in scripture … so are other behaviors. Is it judgementalism to respond to efforts that promise to fundamentally alter culture or place others at risk … or seal their fate.

    Homosexuality exists as a sin which when embraced as “normal” and acceptable by society signal its decline … its rejection of God and His order. To acquiesce to constant pressure to accept it or at the very least fall silent suggests the same moral impotence which plagued Lot. In the end, he was unable to even influence his wife and children.

    Abortion, like slavery, ignores the defenseless and elevates the rights of the offender above that of the victim. Speaking and acting on behalf of the defenseless is an element of “true religion and undefiled before God”.

    Suggesting that it’s easy to judge these sins because we are not tempted by them strikes me as a rather tortured interpretation of scripture.

    Responses which are motivated by love and compassion are essential ingredients, but so too is a sober assessment of the high cost of mistaking silence for love.

    Paul upbraided the Church at Corinth for that very error. They felt themselves loving and compassionate for their inclusiveness … their willingness to look beyond the sin of a man and see him instead as an object of God’s love.

    It wasn’t really love though. Quite apart from jeopardizing the man’s eternal state by responding to his sin in a fashion which suggested that there was no cause for alarm, they also placed the entire congregation at risk for permitting a dangerous spiritual pathogen to run loose within the body.

    His instructions? Address the man’s sin by excusing him from fellowship. This would both alert the man to his dangerous spiritual state and protect the body from the spiritual dynamics his presence encouraged.

    It was an act of loving concern which revealed God’s love for all. Of course Paul comes off looking like a crank and bigoted lout by today’s…

  4. Hi!
    I find that (generally) judgementalism stems from absolute certainty.
    Sorry to say, certainty is not possible in this world…as Desideratus Erasmus commented five centuries ago.

    We rely on scriptures which in some cases are based on dubious (or multiple and conflicting) texts and assembled in a subjective manner.

    If you want to know what I mean, refer to a ‘scholarly’ Bible (e.g. NAB) and read the Prefaces to each Book – and the footnotes at the conclusion of each book.

    No honest person can assert that the scriptures are literally correct.

    Some churches with integrity – e.g. Baptist Union of Australia , have declared that believers have freedom of choice on the matter of literalism.Others will curse one for spoiling their ‘game’.!!
    The closer one gets to ‘certainty’ the further one moves away for those values and attitudes that make us Godly men and women.

    John B

  5. John, you seem absolutely certain of that … how ungodly.

  6. Larry
    Not certain.
    Just noted the correlation.!
    John B

  7. Judging in this context has nothing to do with whether I condemn or not a certain behavior. It’s not about certainty of what is right or wrong. It’s also not about whether or not I will say “this is wrong”, or even “you are wrong”. It’s about where you come from.

    If you go “Thank God I’m better than this guy. Now let’s reach out to this sinner.” you will distance yourself from the person, even when trying to reach him/her. If you’re more like “Thank God for forgetting my own ugly sins at the bottom of the ocean. Now let’s reach out to this sinner” it will lead you to empathize with the person even when you end up having to say “you are so terribly wrong”.

    Of course, Jesus had an even nobler stance on this matter. He had never sinned, and yet could relate to sinners. He could make Zaccheus be ashamed of his many ugly sins and, at the same time, both enjoyed each other’s company.

    At another moment he would be seen “judging” the Pharisees with very harsh words, or beating up people at the Temple. Complex fellow He was. He just could’n tolerate religious exploitation and hypocrisy from leaders who should know better.

    I disagree, though, with the point that the only people who seemed to hate Christ were the Pharisees. Often ordinary people would just walk out on him because they didn’t like something He said. On at least one occasion, pretty much everybody sort of KILLED him a little, If I remember it correctly. People liked him, and then not.

  8. The image of Anthony Quinn caught my eye;
    of course, I had to read what he wanted to tell me… (grin)
    I agree with Rick-Jesus was a complex fellow living in complex times…
    He was God in human form-fully aware of His purpose – but perhaps not fully aware of the steps He needed to take to fulfill that purpose. Much like humanity today; we know our purpose in God’s eyes, but often don’t know which step we should take next-hence the term “leap of faith” … instead of sticking our toe in the water to see if it suits us, we trust in God and jump in using a “leap of faith.”
    The times were complex because there could be so many differing views on a single subject from so many seemingly authoritative sources-people did not read and trusted in what they were told and shown to decide.
    Now that I think of it, it’s the same way now with the technology-children grow up watching the events of the times unfold before their eyes, but don’t have the critical thinking skills to search, investigate, and “read” the truth for themselves.
    So they watch a few videos online, text a bit with misspellings/abbreviations galore to their friends, and come up with a collective judgment over what they saw and what they now believe.
    Which is the point that hit me hard about what Rick said above…
    Jesus never sinned-yet never shied away from an opportunity to be among them and in their midst (middle) … He was absolutely confident (and certain, Larry (wink)) that their sins would never interfere with His work or influence His behavior or character in any way-He always saw Himself as the light to whom the lost would be drawn… regardless of where He put himself or the Father sent Him.
    Although each of us can also be a beacon on a hill for those around us through our faith and the Holy Spirit within us; I’m not sure I could ever go anywhere and consider myself the light that draws others to God-not until I get a lot more Holy Spirit poured into me… (wink) and get closer…

  9. Good stuff. But how do we say “this is wrong” yet still give assurance of love? As soon as someone knows we think they are wrong, they feel judged, and even if the wrong is not discussed, the knowledge and the sense of being judged can lie beneath every interaction, eventually damaging the relationship. As Michael says, the individual often drifts away to a group that will freely accept the “judged” behavior. Not sure how to approach that. (BTW, I’m in a situation like that right now.) Perhaps we just have to step back at that point and let God work.

  10. Hi Earl,
    You say Christ was God in human form.

    Really,!! ??

    Does Christ not state explicitly who he is – without all the Trinitarian gymnastics.?
    In all cases in the Bible (except lower case’ god ‘or ‘gods’)
    ‘The Father’ refers to God.
    And we know the Father cannot be the Son
    So the Son is not God.

    (i) Who did Christ say we should pray to?
    (ii)In John 20v17 Christ states “I go to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God”
    So Christ has a God and Father who is also our God and Father
    (iii) Peter makes a similar comment “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”
    (iv) And Paul says in 1 Cor 8v6 ” For there is one God ,the Father… and one Lord Jesus Christ”
    (v) In Matthew 6 vv16&17 Christ makes it abundantly clear who he is in his “who do you say I am” speech.

    Trinitarians then wander down the ‘double nature’ road and tell one that whatever Christ said was ‘ in his human nature’!
    So every word Christ said was ‘as a human’ and should be treated accordingly!

    This is all too much for a simple fellow!
    Must be living in an Alice in Wonderland dimension!
    Peace and Blessings
    John B

  11. wow. . . I didn’t realize that was such an important part of my claims. . .
    * * *
    Okay … you win… He isn’t.

  12. Dave Z,

    I don’t think it’s as complicated as it seems. Parents have to do that all the time; show their kids where they’re wrong, sometimes discipline them, and yet keep their confidence, their respect, their love. Be authentic, show that you care (if one doesn’t care and love, He has no business dealing with other people’s problems at all anyway).

    Of course, some people will reject any form (even loving) of reproval of their conduct. Wisdom is another thing at play here. Wisdom to know when to say “you’re wrong here, you know?” or just be quiet about “rights and wrongs” or simply understand that the person you want to reach wants nothing to do with you, and doesn’t care about your values or your Jesus.

    Not all sinners loved Jesus (a poor thief being crucified by his side mocked him), not all religious leaders rejected him (very self righteous Saul just came to my mind).

  13. First, I agree with everything you said Michael. There are some here that are straining gnats and swallowing camels. I do that myself from time to time, so don’t label me as judgemental please. We should make judgements based on what God has to say about the particular “thing” in question. Homosexuality is wrong; I have not made that judgement: God has. Some may not like this, but if it were up to me, I would say, “Homosexuality is ok as long as you leave me out of it!”; then we could all get along–problem solved. To the dismay of homosexuals, as a Christian, I can’t make this statement and be true to my calling. Some might call me judgemental, but unless someone can see the intent of my heart, than they are actually being more judgemental than I. I am sure that the person who is being chastised or rebuked always feels judged, but their feelings don’t determine the intent of the one doing the rebuking. God is the final authority in these matters, but on the other hand, he has given us a responsibility to call it like HE see’s it.

  14. I think we often mistake judgment for being judgmental, and not infrequently mistake being judgmental for justified judgment.

    Judgment does indeed come from certainty. If there is no certainty, then we have no standard through which we judge. Being judgmental on the other hand, places us superior to the one who, in our judgment, have committed some lowly conduct in which we do not take part.

    So in my certainty, I am confident of my Christ’s deity and of my Bible’s infallibility pertaining salvation. To state otherwise is to commit myself to entirely different faith altogether.

    However, in fear of being called judgmental, I have absolutely no problem calling those who have no faith in either God, the historicity of biblical Christ, the existence of the Holy Spirit, the reliability of the Bible (and so on and so forth), fellow Christians! (that is, so long as they call themselves Christians.) :)

  15. “Sorry to say, certainty is not possible in this world”

    “No honest person can assert that the scriptures are literally correct.”

    Hmm…. those are two very absolutist statements for someone who doubts the existence of certainty.

    Are you certain that certainty is not possible? You’re really really certain about that statement? :-) No doubt at all?

    I don’t think anybody claims that all of scripture is literally correct. When it says “God is light”, nobody says God is literally consisting of photons. That kinds makes your statement vague enough to be meaningless.

  16. This was a thought provoking post. Also some great comments from Rick. It helped me understand more why I act the way I do. Judgmentalism is easily acquired but not so easily discarded. Perhaps you would follow up with a post on what showing grace to those around you looks like.

  17. John B wrote:

    “(i) Who did Christ say we should pray to?”

    John 14:14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it”

    “The Father’ refers to God.
    And we know the Father cannot be the Son
    So the Son is not God.”

    Is it really necessary to point out the flaw in this? The presumption a priori of unitarianism?

  18. Hi John
    Anything is possible .
    One can rule out nothing – even what seems unlikely or even absurd.
    I was just observing (in an earlier post) the correlation between ‘certainty’ and ‘ungodly’ atitudes and manifestations

    After a long ‘walk’ in search of ‘truth’ I have serious reservations about what is called ‘dogma’ and ‘doctrine’ I have come to the conclusion that the only thing we can do is to live as God would have us live with Christ as our exemplar.

    I don’t know what one would call this , maybe’a simple path’ ? In a way Christ said it all in Matthew 12 verses 29-31.

    I am enjoying the ‘ethos’ which is emerging from many of the above contributions.

    A famous tele-evangelist was interviewed last year and was challenged that he did not ‘go for the jugular’ in challenging specific sin. He replied “people who are sinning generally know they are sinning – and my harping on their sin will probably drive them away.
    The Holy Spirit will convict them.!”

    John B

  19. “I have serious reservations about what is called ‘dogma’ and ‘doctrine’ I have come to the conclusion that the only thing we can do is to live as God would have us live with Christ as our exemplar.”

    The idea that this is all we are able to do, is a very dogmatic position and statement. Especially in light of how dogmatic people have been, both the Jews of the OT, and the Christians throughout history.

  20. John,
    But surely we have learnt something from history and we don’t have to repeat mistakes.?

    However I must confess, sometimes we don’t seem to learn and frequently when we do ,we seem to forget the lessons learn quite quickly.

    . Have you noticed how people see only what they want to see?
    That’s probably why they cling to their dogma and doctrine and why we get the ‘gymnastics’

    We must not despir however. So long as we hold to Matthew 12 vv29-31 and ‘do unto others as we would have them do unto us’ we cannot go far wrong.

  21. “But surely we have learnt something from history and we don’t have to repeat mistakes.?”

    I’m quite amused that a non-trinitarian is claiming to be learning from history. Surely you can see that you are the quintessential wheel-reinventer and ignorer of history? How do we claim to learn from history when we revisit everything from square one every morning?

  22. John
    We have Luther to blame for that one .

    Instead of going back to a ‘zero base’ at the time of the Reformation, he took on board a lot of the man made nonsense which had accrued over twelve hundred years.
    There is correspendence in which the Pope in Rome expressed great councern that the reformationists would all become Unitarians.

    In the event Luther decided to aviod further acrimony & imported things like infant baptism and nonsensical doctrine. So the Reformation church was only half-reformed!

    The ‘Radical reformationists’ had to flee or risk persecution or worse.

    People in the Western World tell me that young people are not interested in ‘the church’ any more.. my experience is that people want the truth and are not impressed by what the mainline churches are offering
    The rock-n-roll music and charismatic ‘hype’ may impress some – but thinking people are asking serious questions which are not being adequately answered .

    The people concerned tell me that they cannot understand or accept the incomprehensible gobbledygook that is taught as ‘doctrine’, or the fear and judgement driven agendae of so many people

    Sooner or later the Christian Church will have to have its Radical Reformation and we will have a simple, inclusive faith!

    One cannot hide behind ‘tradition’ forever,

    and one cannot trade on peoples ignorance and fear forever.


  23. If it’s too simple it will lack substance and lack sufficient form to give a framework for people’s lives. The reason Christianity acquired a specific form, is that people like structure and form. Jewish worship was never vague or simplistic either. People want to go to church and think, God is Here, because the worship is done right. Sure, you can say God is everywhere so it doesn’t matter, and you can pray how you want so, whatever. But then you won’t bother going to church at all, or praying at all, because… whatever. Then faith slowly disappears.

    I highly doubt that the millions of Christians mouthing the Nicean creed for 2000 years were thinking “this is incomprehensible gobbledygook”. Much more likely that it was giving welcome structure to their faith. Neither do I think they were reciting it because of fear.

    If you want to go back to “zero base”, then REALLY go back to zero base, and revisit what books are in the bible, because the traditionalist established church made the final decision on that, and who knows… maybe they got it completely wrong.

  24. Hi John
    You have highlighted the problem very well.
    People do not want something that is too simple!
    They want to ‘get their teeth into something’!
    This permits church leaders to build up their private power bases from which to attack other peoples power bases.
    Erasmus saw this and urged men to define as little as possible as possible in order to get maximum ‘buy-in’ from good God -fearing men…
    Ockham was right! Erasmus was right! Keep it simple !

    This little dialogue highlights the very worst aspects of our human condition .
    Maybe a simple church of people worshipping God and loving their neighbour is a ‘pipe-dream’.
    What we currently have is a mess and God must look on with a sense of great sadness!

  25. I don’t see how the Nicean creed is a “private power base”. I mean it did unite Christendom. Surely anyone who rejects something that united all Christendom is the one trying build up a private power base? Why not look to when Christendom was united and accept that, instead of looking to some kind of lowest common denominator?

    I mean just how simple do you want to go in abandoning dogma? Do you actually have anything at all left, if you abandon things that the church put a boundary around? I mean even the word “canon” means a standard or rule. If you don’t even have canon, who do you have? Just a bunch of hippies painting love and peace on their VW beetles. Is that what you want?

  26. Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed. 1 Tim 5: 25

    It is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when,according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. Rom 2:13-16

    There must be factions among you so that those who are approved may become evident among you. He who eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world..1 Cor 11:19,29-32

    Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 1Tim 5:20

    And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on, sin no more.” John 8:11

  27. John
    I understand what you are saying!
    I spoke to an anthropologist recently who told me that a ‘bare bones’ faith will not satisfy most people.

    “The people’ require more ‘meat’!

    Feasts, prohibitions, rituals, music, emotion, a bit of ‘mythos’ , and if possible a common enemy.
    “Satan’ is an easy starting point, but Muslins and Jews will do if survival is threatened.

    People get what they deserve -or need.

    The price they pay is denominationalism at best -but more likely, long lasting enmity. I have been there!

    I too used to be intolerant of the ‘flower power’ generation of the 60s

    In the end they really wanted a ‘justification’ for free-sex and drugs. Very far from the ‘brotherly love ‘ which Christ taught us.

    You mentioned the creeds of the early church.
    This is a very painful story for me, but while Islam was propogated by the sword , so was fourth century Christianity.
    And it got worse- the excesses of the ‘Mother Church’ were horrendous – and without doubt the creeds you mentioned were propogated at the point of the sword. Books burnt and in some cases people burnt.

    I count myself fortunate to live in the twenty-first century.

    The greatest ‘crime against humanity’ (or one of them)
    was in the first instance the split between the Eastern Church and the Western Church , and later the loss of virtually all of the churches in the Middle East , Egypt, and along the North African coast. Muhommed saw the ‘Achilles Heel” in traditional Christianity and exploited it to the full.

    To be frank I havn’t got all the answers – but I know that all of the barriers are ‘man- made’ and that God must wonder what happened to his creation.

    My only ‘fall-back’ is simplicity – with all its weakness!

  28. I was doing an Internet search on the topic of judgmentalism and its roots and happened on your essay. I just wanted to compliment you on a well written, thoughtful piece. I particularly appreciated your thoughts on the aspect of grace. Since I am a lesbian who is agnostic and leaning heavily to atheism, I thought you might like to hear how someone like me experiences the people who label themselves as Christian.

    I have some friends who are loving, giving of themselves, understanding, non-judgmental and who also are Christians. However the majority of people I see who brand themselves as Christian, though I would not call them that, are so far in spirit and action from grace, it is horrifying. People on TV and in pulpits and sitting in pews, holding signs and raging at people who do not believe the same things that they do — these are the people who are defining Christianity in the public eye, right or wrong. When the people who exhibit grace make the effort to stand up publicly to defend and protect others against those toxic judgments spewed far and wide, to urge others to help, not to condemn, who give of themselves and their wealth instead of grubbing for money and encouraging their followers to accrue as much wealth and possessions as possible, that will be a great day, and the world might even change a little for the better.

    What I really don’t get is how in the U.S., people who call themselves Christian can simultaneously feel righteously patriotic and at the same time judge me harshly based on the tenets (or cherry-picked dictums) of their religion, which I am free as a U.S. citizen not to participate in, believe or follow. And then they want to pass laws that severely affect me and people like me based on those beliefs also. Seriously. What the hell? For instance, I do not have the power to destroy your marriage. I just want my spouse to get the same benefits that yours would if I predecease her. I pay the same taxes you do. It’s not about…

  29. Joan: it would be helpful if you would give examples of what you see as unjustified “raging”. For example, Christians “rage” against abortion because they see it as murder. Would you be content if Christisns were apathetic to actual murder?

    Are you really only after the same financial benefits as marriage? Because that’s not what I normally hear.

    And in any case, how do you know for sure that you deserve the same financial breaks as married people? Tax systems often discriminate in favor of people with children for example. That’s a value judgement society makes. You can say it infringes on the rights of single people paying more tax, but societies make those judgements all the time. You might like the same tax breaks that some other segment gets. Who doesn’t want a tax break? But you are at the mercy of society’s opinion of your lifestyle, just like we all are. There is nothing about America that was ever otherwise.

  30. Joan,

    I understand where you are coming from. But please don’t let Christian opinions be your only guide, because if that were the case none of would us would get to heaven. In the end, it is all about Christ who will judge us all, and His willingness to be there for you no matter what, if you just believe.

    Please keep in touch, and don’t give up, because we are all sinners.

  31. I used the example of taxes because it should be a fairly easy place to find common ground and see how religious judgment comes into play in the law. Yes, people with children get a tax break, but that’s because lawmakers decided it would be for the greater good to relieve financial burden on parents and hopefully allow them to better raise their kids. It wasn’t based on a religious belief that people who have children are better than people who do not have children. People who are married have at one point (I don’t believe they do anymore) been given a tax advantage because some piece of research showed that people in stable relationships made for a more stable populace.

    When it comes to Social Security, however, we all pay the same thing. But if you are married, your spouse will receive a portion of your SS benefits if you predecease her. Mine will not. You can leave all of your wealth and assets to your spouse without inheritance tax penalties. I cannot. Whatever state or nation you got married in, your marriage is equally valid in any other state or country without question. I was married in Toronto, Canada, in 2004. It has no meaning under federal law in the U.S. because my wife is the same sex as I am. We’ve been together for 21 years. Any straight person can get married in Las Vegas to someone they met an hour before, and their marriage is immediately more legitimate under the law than mine is. If you subtract religious judgment and concede that a marriage in the U.S. is a civil, not a religious procedure, and that no church is forced to marry same-sex couples, the inequities are pretty easy to see. Yet Christian and conservative groups pour money into campaigns to fight my attempts to receive equal treatment. To me, the element of religion-based judgment is obvious.

  32. Joan:

    I don’t pretend to understand the American social security system. In my country no such issues even arise under our social security system. In fact, all the arguments I see in American discussions about why you need gay marriage, simply don’t even come up in our society. Yet we still have exactly the same passionate debates about gay marriage. Can I suggest that your argument more reflects a deficiency in your social security system than an argument about marriage?

    You suggest that married people were given tax breaks because stable relationships make for a more stable populace. What used to be understood is that if women saved themselves for marriage, then children would have fathers. If there is a non-religious impetus for marriage as an institution, that would be it. I don’t see any gay people getting into stable relationships because marriage is available to them. I’m sure your relationship is the same in Canada where it is recognised compared to the US where it is not, right? So as far as social stability, your marriage did nothing for society at all.

    As far as you being financially worse off because of religion, it’s ironic that you are railing against religious views on marriage, when the entire institution is of religious origin. If suddenly a virus gave everyone in the world collective amnesia, and we had to reinvent society from scratch without religion, I see no reason to believe that people would demand that the government be registering exclusive relationships. Why rail against religion, when religion gave you the institution that you now seek?

    Say for the sake of argument that predominant religious views are making you financially worse off. Well, my government taxes go to pay for abortions. So because of the religious world views of too many atheists, I have to pay taxes every week for abortions. Probably you can think of things your taxes go towards that you wouldn’t have to pay if everyone’s belief system matched yours…

  33. …. That’s life.

    I can’t shed a tear for you merely for the simple fact that religious belief systems that you disagree with impact your life. All sorts of belief systems I disagree with impact my life every day, including in the government and including financially. You can’t separate people from their belief systems. There is no such thing as a totally neutral society with rules so fair and egalitarian that it is totally divorced from the belief systems of those within it. As soon as you mentioned approvingly of the the concept of a “more stable populace”, you argued in favour of a subjective opinion of both what is good and bad in the populace as well as what is stable and unstable. Then you put yourself at the mercy of the populace, complete with all its belief systems, to pass judgement on what is good and bad for society and what is stable and unstable. That means railing against those people for being religious is very judgemental of you, because I’m sure you won’t like it when people rail against your belief system. Can you see no irony that you’ve weighed into a discussion on judgmentalism to come and pass judgement on religious beliefs?

  34. I apologize if my tone has come across as railing. I simply intended to explain how the situation feels from my perspective and to find an example where other readers of this essay might be able to see a common-ground issue and relate to my perspective.

    I will always be grateful to Canada for taking the step to recognize same-sex relationships as equal to opposite-sex ones and for allowing us to come there to be married. Prior to the event, we had no idea how meaningful it would feel to us to walk into the same courthouse, to stand before the judge in his formal robes and our witnesses, to say our vows and to sign the same registry as every other committed couple who had applied for and received a marriage license. We had thought, oh, we’ve been together for years; it’s not going to make us feel any more married. But in our experience we found that receiving that official recognition was incredibly meaningful. It’s hard to describe. Even though it doesn’t translate to any tangible benefit, it was one of the most important and personally fulfiling things I’ve ever done.

    While I can’t disagree with you that our social security system is flawed, I think you missed my point about the creation of laws that affect everyone. My point was to show a couple examples where lawmakers made decisions based on the evidence they had at hand and, presumably, wrote laws that they felt would be to the benefit of the greater good of all, independent of showing favoritism to the beliefs of one religion.

    I would disagree with your assertion that religion is the source of marriage. I believe the practice emerged in many different cultures, very early in our time, and often independent of religion. And of course the forms and reasons for it have varied wildly over time, based on circumstances, needs, priorities, societal norms, culture, region of the globe, etc. It hasn’t always been kind or fair to both parties involved, but it’s no stranger to change.

    Wishing you…

  35. Sorry. That last word should be “peace.” I was pushing the word count to the limit.

  36. Joan: when you say “the practice” emerged in many different cultures, what are we talking about? If we’re talking about a man and a woman hanging around together for a long time, well sure that’s not inherently religious. But that’s not what you want from society, you already have that right. If we’re talking about societies that have big ceremonies for the event, I think they always do take on a religious natures, according to the local religion. But even then, that’s not what you want. Nobody’s stopping you making ceremonies. No, what you want is marriage that specifically derives from the Christian culture you are in which the union is registered with the legal authorities. This definitely did arise from marriage as understood in our Christian derived culture. If all you want is a same-sex marriage by the standards of any old culture, you can do that yourself without any help. Look up on the internet what ceremony they do, and go do it.

    All laws show favouritism to the beliefs that are influenced by our religions and belief structures. I supposed if you are a Tibetan monk, you would not spend money on the military. If you’re a Viking, perhaps you’d spend all the budget on the military. If you’re a darwinist, perhaps you might never spend money on the poor because you see no need for it. The marriage laws allow any man and woman to get married regardless of religion. That’s as unreligious a law as you can hope for. The laws themselves are not religious, but are all completely underpinned by belief structures that are religious. You can’t change that.

    As for you feelings about the ceremony that Canada allowed… would you feel the same if you were married by the laws of a remote tribe in the hills of Papua New Guinea? Or could you only get satisfaction from doing it in a culture were marriage was Christian derived, where in the eyes of Christians you are perverting it?

  37. John, your response was very disturbing to me, so I sat with it a while to make sure that my response was given with a generous and not a critical spirit. John, I believe in your right to hold onto the convictions of your faith, no matter what, and to expect the followers of your faith to follow God’s law as you see it, and to help each other when someone fails in that. I would like you to treat people like me as you would like to be treated, by respecting our right to abide by our own faiths and convictions as long as we’re not doing any harm to others, of course. I harbor no ill will to you and I have no vindictive, anti-Christian motives.

    I got exactly the kind of marriage that I wanted: a civil marriage, in a courthouse, a legal binding that forms kinship and is recognized by the authority of the land. In the U.S., several high courts have determined that the Defense of Marriage Act has been declared unconstititutional, and the President has ordered the Justice Department to stop challenging those decisions. The conservative legislature still fights it, but I see its end probably in my lifetime at least. And the majority of people in the U.S. now believe I have a right to be married.

    None of that takes anything away from the sanctity of your marriage (if you are married) or your relationship with God or your faith.

    I do feel sorry for you and I hope that you can find some peace. It must be a terrible burden to live with those feelings of negativity and fear. In my research I’ve been reading Jerry Bridges’ “Respectable Sins.” There is much wisdom there, and I can better understand how difficult it must be to walk in your shoes and face life’s daily challenges as a Christian. I wish you joy, spiritual fulfillment in your beliefs, and peace.

  38. Well Joan, I’m sure this is uncomfortable for you, but the Christian faith does not acknowledge that God gives people the right to “abide by your own faiths and convictions as long as you’re not doing harm”. And its questionable whether you can worship a false God and not do harm anyway.

    And what God does not grant you, I don’t particularly feel in any hurry to grant you either. You say I should treat you how I want to be treated. But how I want to be treated depends on my world view. I don’t want other people to make it easy for me to worship false gods. I realise what you’re saying that you may well disagree with my evaluation of that. But, you know the government makes it hard for you if for example, you want to smoke, even if it doesn’t harm other people directly, and even if you disagree with the idea that it is bad for you, or that you shouldn’t do it. There is no neutral society. It’s my job to try and move society to where I want it to be, not to move it to some neutral position, which can’t exist.

    I don’t feel under any burden or under feelings of negativity. That would imply I bother thinking about such things other than when the topic comes up, which I don’t.

    By your way of thinking, you are under a terrible burden of negativity because you can’t accept my world view, that I don’t want the government let you describe your relationship as marriage. Who is the one under burden because they can’t accept the other’s viewpoint? Just as much you as me just based on that. And you are the one who said she is “disturbed” by my viewpoint. I don’t think I’m disturbed by yours. I would not use that term. People who claim they are perfectly happy for everyone to just have their own beliefs, usually get caught this way in their own trap, when they show that they can’t after all accept other people’s, like now.

  39. Joan,

    While I wish you the best as a human being, i do have to agree with John that that you are on a Christian website, with biblical beliefs that homosexuality is not right under God’s deliberate creation of man and woman’s roles.

    For you to make us want to feel quilty ourselves IMO, is just as wrong. Certainly no one is stopping you from your lifestyles, but since the majority don’t agree with it, then we need to look at that because the majority rules in this country, and that’s how laws are made. This seems to me me to be more of a secular issue that you believe in. And that’s fine, but please don’t expect the Christian community to go outside of God’s law in our personal beliefs, because that is what our lives hinge upon.

  40. The only thing worse than a judgmental person is another person who condemns the judgmental person for being too judgmental.

    So do we condemn the judgmental person?
    Do we condemn the person who judged and condemned the judgmental person?

  41. Hi!
    No- we must show them all grace.
    People who are doing wrong will initially be in a state of denial- but the Holy Spirit will eventually convict them of their wrongdoing!
    No need to keep reminding people of their sin!
    They know there is something wrong!
    Show the sinner and accuser grace. They are both wrong!
    One caveat- sin is a cause for sadness- not smugness!
    John B.

  42. Wow, Joan, welcome to graceland! :) Seriously, I hope you find some Christian friends somewhere, willing to accept you and treat you with respect. If you wish to discuss judgementalism or study that, this is a great forum. :)

    Wish you all the best in life, and hope you will find the God who I believe in. He gave himself up for you and me, became man and died for our sins. Hard to get our heads around, but we were actually born sinners according to his word. That is universal, and applies to everyone. I still struggle with that part. I mean, I did not choose to be born, and did not select my personality, neither weaknesses nor strengths…..

    I am not in a position to give anyone advise, but can’t help letting you know my thoughts. If you look for God, don’t look for him in people or what people say. Christianity is not God. It’s people trying to follow God. Some saved, some transformed in spirit and mind, others struggling like me. We have not come far in 2000 years.

    Anyway, bless you!

  43. Thank you, Hman. I do have Christian friends who are “friends of sinners,” and I’m thankful for them. My research is leading me to some fascinating discoveries of elements of Christianity that I never knew about. In the book I referenced earlier, Dr. Bridges addresses things I have always thought of as damaging emotions or human traits — like judgmentalism, anger, irritability, impatience — as sins. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always cite where in scripture these are defined as sin, but he does always cite the scriptures to help deal with these emotions, many of which focus on everything being part of God’s plan. [There’s a Bible study book that goes with it that I don’t have where I presume additional citations are.] And in researching judgmentalism, I thought I would find plenty of sources from psychological studies, but mainly I’m finding Christian examinations and sources from other religions. Very interesting. I thank you for your kind words and welcoming spirit.

  44. @Joan: Oh, I apologise for not reading your earlier posts thoroughly enough. I realize you actually said you have Christian friends. Great! :)

    Here’s one of the things I have a problem with on this forum (yep, I don’t think it’s perfect). The default position is that homosexuality, or SSA is sin. Bibilically I cannot say I am 100% certain that is correct. You may know more about that than I, but when reading current bible translations and going back to the original scriptures there are interpretations that you could argue have formed today’s “traditional Christian view” on this matter. So, in my view, the common understanding here is that homosexuality is a sin and that is a fact. I disagree with that. I don’t think it is that simple. Perhaps that has got something to do with my understanding of the bible, or lack thereof.

    Secondly, regardless, I cannot see how we as followers of Christ are here with a main objective to judge other people. We can present our thoughts, put forward our ideas, and really we should! But (underscored) that can still be done in a non judgemental fashion.

    I think I understand what you are saying about how it would feel to read some of the things said on the forum. There are stuff and statements on other topics that I personally find harsh and condemning. I think though, in defense of the people (whom I don’t know) writing here, that it is not the intention. I just think we are not always careful of how they put things. In extreme cases that is even justified by using scripture. I believe even that is in good faith and with the intention to help. Nevertheless, it is still understandable that it can be read and interpreted differently. Hope you stick around and with time you may get to understand where these ideas comes from as well. That is why I like this blog. I don’t agree with all, but I want to understand how other people think about life, God and even society although the main focus is on God.

  45. HMan,

    i do not think anyone here wants to condemn Joan as a fellow human being for her lifestyle, whether we agree that it is biblical or not. And that goes both ways, because sometimes we Christians are terribly condemned for our beliefs against homosexuality as being not in God’s overall plan for humanity as well.

    I am just curious as how specifically you have arrived at your conclusion that the Bible does not necessarily say it is a sin in God’s eyes.

  46. @mbaker:

    Agree, that’s what I tried to say before (about condemnation), yet I understood it as if Joan felt condemned due to how her choice of lifestyle was discussed.

    I am not a scholar (really??) as everyone can see. One of my excuses is that I have a regular job, and do not have time for a proper academic approach of every, or even some questions and moral dilemmas we encounter in life.

    I arrive to the conclusion that the Bible not necessarily say homosexuality is sin simply because I believe I have reasonable doubt. My doubts is concerning whether or not it is actually homosexuality, or SSA that is addressed. Perversion, yes, selfish lusts, yes, but true love between two people. Not so sure. I mean, would you argue that it is not true love? That it cannot be true? Then it is something about the love as such, the emotional side, or the physical or something else that is not alright.

    The scriptures that I have researched in the context of discussing SSA are often cases of trying to explain words such as porneia, arsenokoites, malakos etc. Look at the scriptures listed in the posts on homosexuality.

    Saying that I doubt does not mean I am convinced of the opposite. I just find it hard to be certain. Hope that makes sense.

    This is probably also the wrong thread to discuss the subject matter, so I stop here. In addition to that, I would not bring any clarity to the issue. I am merely a doubter, not quite sure. If you want to test your own certainty, check out

    Back at you, I am curious as to how you have arrived at your conclusion.

  47. Since it has been pointed out that this is a site for Christians only, I am bowing out of the conversation as well. @Hmam, you may find this info from one of the professors of religion at Trinity University, written for the Westar Inst., a more neutral source of information.


  1. Destinations « Luggaged - October 5, 2012

    […] all tend toward judgmentalism. You do, I do. Some of us are just more honest about this tendency. Here is some help for our addiction. Grace is probably the most radical concept that humanity has ever […]

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