Saturday, April 20, 2013

Yes, I am judgmental.

And I'm fine with this definition.

After the Boston marathon bombing and before the authorities had any suspects, someone I know claimed no one has the right to judge whoever set off bombs in a crowd of spectators. This person quoted multiple Bible verses about not judging lest we be judged, and claimed that people are calling the bombing "evil" to try to feel better about themselves, when they shouldn't feel better. I interpreted this as equivocating all sins, implying that none of us are any better than the bombers.

It made me kind of grateful I'm not a Christian, if being Christian means stifling my own anger at injustice and wrongdoing by trying to convince myself that the mistakes of my life make me no better than a person who blows up innocent bystanders, including children.

Perhaps from the Christian perspective, that's true. It seems like a rather binary view: you're either a sinner or not (and we all are), and there's no gradation for type or frequency of sin.

I understand the idea that none of us are perfect. I understand and appreciate remembering your own mistakes before being too harsh with others. I admire grace, and I can see it's healing power in some circumstances.

But I don't buy this notion of no judgment. Instead of not judging people so that we won't be judged ourselves, I think we should judge people and be open to being judged in turn. By "judging people" I don't mean "stop thinking and just hate." It seems like that's what some people think "judgment" means. I guess I just mean "be willing to say, 'hey, this is wrong, and you're wrong.'" The do-not-judge crowd sometimes seems to object even to that (which I would argue doesn't go with biblical teaching anyway--I recall plenty of instances in which Biblical protagonists called out other peoples' wrongdoing.)

I also don't think this binary view of wrongdoing makes sense. Yes, everyone makes mistakes--and not just mistakes, everyone willfully chooses to do bad things at some point. But all mistakes aren't equal. Imagine a world where everyone cheated on their taxes and shoplifted, but no one raped or killed anybody. Are you at all unsure which world you'd rather live in? Of course not, it's obvious. All of those actions are bad, but they aren't all equally bad. And it makes sense to me that the thieves would look with disdain on the murderers, because murder is worse.

And I mean it when I say we should be open to being judged ourselves. Again, by judgment I don't mean blind hate, but I would hope and expect people who care about me to call me out when I'm doing something stupid or wrong. Judgment is part of the process of holding me to higher standards, standards I want to be held to, and I'm fine with people saying "Hey, you're being a jerk and knock it off" if that's what I'm doing. If I am doing wrong, why shouldn't I be judged?

I'm not going to stay silent about things I think are wrong, especially not out of a misguided desire to not have anyone ever tell me I'm wrong either. Both of those seem like bad ideas to me.

So yes, I'm judgmental. And I'm fine with you judging me for it.


  1. Yes and yes and yes. I think the problem is people subconsciously define "judgment" as "making sweeping generalizations about someone with no basis" and then they take off from there. Although I'm sure you're also right that some Christians (and some hippies!) think all bad is equally bad and thus we should all just shut up and take it. But you know no one actually lives by this-- you can't.

  2. That's weird, as I normally experience it just the opposite:
    "Sex before marriage is wrong." -- "DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!!!!"
    "Drug use and drunkenness are wrong." -- "DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!!!!"
    "Pornography is wrong." -- "DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!!!!"
    "Abortion is wrong." -- "DON'T YOU DARE JUDGE ME!!!!"
    etc. etc. with a hundred different things.

    It seems to me like Christians are always the ones telling people that things are wrong, and then non-Christians demanding that Christians not "judge" them.

    1. Yeah I definitely see your examples more than Christians saying we shouldn't judge.

    2. Guess you can't win for losing :/

    3. People seem to conveniently forget the end of the parable on judgment where Jesus says, "Go now *and sin no more.*"

    4. Or as my history teacher would say when people reflexively said sorry when they got caught misbehaving "You're not sorry. If you were actually sorry, you wouldn't do it again."

    5. Sinners in the hands of a wishy-washy God :P


  3. Exactly. I always find it funny when people are like "Would you want to be judged?" and I'm like "Yea, actually I'd be ok with judgment if I did something that stupid/wrong." Plus people seem to expect judgmental people to not be able to handle getting judgment thrown back at them, but I really don't care.