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Judgment

 

Witnessing the Faith  |  Spiritual Counsels  |  Books  |  About CSF

 
“Don’t be judgmental!” | Silenced by “Diversity” | Necessary Judgment | Forbidden Judgment | Judgment can be Negative or Positive | Lying to Evade Judgment | God’s Inspiration or Demonic Influence | Psychological Counsels | Summary

 
DON’T be judgmental!

How often have you heard that exclamation as a snappy rebuttal to an attempt to warn someone of an error?

     “No one should come to Church wearing shorts.”
     “Don’t be judgmental!”

     “Anyone who makes a public denial of the faith should be denied Communion.”
     “Don’t be judgmental!”

     “It’s wrong if a priest doesn’t follow the rubrics.”
     “Don’t be judgmental!”

     “Our bishop is not only not defending the faith, he’s pouring it down the drain.”
     “Don’t be judgmental!”

The truth is, none of these things is judgmental, but the agents of Satan in the Church would have you believe that these and similar statements are judgmental in order that they might silence any opposition to their nefarious goals.

In fact, they even tried this same tactic with Jesus Himself. When He criticized the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Luke 11: 42-46), a scholar of the law complained, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And what did Jesus do? Did He slink away like a dog with his tail between his legs? No. He rebuked the scholars, too: “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

 
Silenced by “Diversity”

Now, several verses in the New Testament do warn us against being judgmental; see, for example, Matthew 7:1 (“Stop judging, that you may not be judged”), Luke 6:37 (“Stop judging and you will not be judged”), Romans 14:13 (“Then let us no longer judge one another”), and James 4:12 (“Who then are you to judge your neighbor?”).

Because of these verses, many persons today, especially in our contemporary social climate of political correctness and diversity, claim that it’s “judgmental” to speak about moral values in society or to say anything to defend the faith because someone might feel hurt and offended.

“Don’t be judgmental!” they say. “Who are you to talk? You’re not perfect either!”

Well, to speak about and defend the true faith is an act of love, and we don’t have to be perfect in order to love. So, rather than be silenced on the spot, let’s ask a couple of questions here: “What does it really mean to judge? And what sort of judging is forbidden to us?”

 
Necessary Judgment

Consider that we have all kinds of judges in our society whose purpose is to judge. These men and women must determine whether someone accused of a crime is guilty or not, and then they must determine a legally fitting punishment. If these judges stopped judging, free civil society would collapse. The Bible does warn us that these judges must act with impartiality and justice, but this sort of judging is not what is meant when we are told not to judge our neighbor.

We also have a personal level of judgment. For example, in psychology, one aspect of a clinical interview is a determination of a patient’s capacity for good judgment. This refers to a person’s ability to ascertain the prudence of any action and to determine the trustworthiness of others. Persons who cannot make these sorts of judgments are considered to be psychologically disordered. In non-psychological language, this capacity for good judgment is called wisdom. Wisdom has been extolled though the ages, and, so, neither is this sort of judging meant when we are told not to judge our neighbor.

 
Forbidden Judgment

Then what kind of judging is forbidden to us?

Well, it’s a special kind of judgment, something given to Christ alone.

  

Nor does the Father judge anyone, but He has given all judgment to His Son.

  

—John 5:22

And what does this judgment entail? Saint John explains:

  

Whoever rejects Me and does not accept My words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day.

  

—John 12:48

In other words, the judgment forbidden to us and given to Christ alone is the determination of whether any individual soul will enter the Kingdom of Heaven or whether that soul will, by its own actions, condemn itself to Hell.

Entering into the Kingdom of Heaven is not a simple matter of saying the words, “I accept Jesus as my savior.” After all, many persons who claim to love God and who appear to be holy and pious have secret sins hidden within their hearts. Conversely, many persons who appear to be wretched sinners have sorrowful contrition hidden within their hearts. Because God’s patience allows us until the very last moment of life to repent our sins, our judgment occurs after death. No human, then—only Christ—can probe the depths of the human heart in its ultimate destiny, “for He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

Therefore, no one should attempt to say whether or not anyone will be saved because that judgment is reserved for Christ only.

 
Judgment can be Negative or Positive

Notice that judgment can be negative or positive, and that we are forbidden to make either judgment.

You can commonly hear people making negative judgments when they say things like, “He was such an evil man that I just know he’s burning in hell right now!” Well, no one but God knows whether that man repented his sins at the last moment of his life and found reconciliation with God.

Moreover, we persist in preempting Christ by making positive judgments in subtle ways. For example, it’s not uncommon to hear at a funeral, “Aunt Alice was such a kind and generous woman that she is with the angels in heaven right now!” Well, even one unrepentant mortal sin on Aunt Alice’s soul could have invalidated all the good she ever did, and so, like it or not, saying that she is in heaven is a judgmental act.

Also, when well-meaning but self-deceived persons make the claim that “everyone will go to Heaven,” they are presuming to make a judgment. It’s a positive judgment, yes, and they may be scandalized to think that in their attempts to avoid being judgmental they are actually being judgmental, but so it is.

 
Lying to Evade Judgment

In a court of law, someone accused of a crime will often say things like, “I was ignorant of that law,” “I didn’t mean to do it,” or “It was an accident; I was only trying to help someone.” Now, the person could be telling the truth, but the person could just as well be lying. How is the judge to know the truth? Well, he can’t know for certain, so he has to make an intuitive guess. Sometimes he will be right, and sometimes he will be wrong—and quite often guilty persons walk away laughing.

In regard to theological and spiritual matters, people will also lie. To hide their sins, they will lie to others deliberately. To hide their sins, they will seek out liberal confessors who will tell them they have done nothing wrong. And, to hide their sins, they will lie to themselves, unconsciously. They might say, for example, “I’m only seeking the good of the Church,” or “I’m only doing what I believe is right.” Maybe so. But they could just as well be seeking the sweet taste of disobedience.

So what can anyone do about such persons?

Well, we have to leave the judgment to Christ, because only Christ can discern the true motive for anyone’s behavior. Only Christ can discern genuine ignorance from unconsciously veiled culpability.

And where does this leave all of us?

Well, we should all be examining our unconscious motives with fear and trembling, because the lies we tell ourselves can fool us and they can fool others but they can’t fool Christ.

 
God’s Inspiration or Demonic Influence?

In regard to the concept of judgment, it is true that we cannot tell solely from observable behavior what might be going on in a person’s heart. But then a grave mistake can be made. Some persons might then say that, because God calls us to Himself in various ways, we should not rebuke someone who, for example, does something in Church that we might not like. “We all have our own paths to God,” they say with a dismissive self-assurance. “Don’t be legalistic.”

Well, not every human motivation comes from the Holy Spirit. Not every behavior can be accepted equally, because some behaviors are sin, and sin is motivated by demonic influence.

Keep in mind here that no matter what we do, our virtue is not in the details of the action itself but in our willingness to be good servants who do only what they are supposed to do (see Luke 17:7–10). What really matters to God is that we surrender ourselves to revering Him with loving attention to even small details. Carelessness walks the same path as disobedience, a path that takes you right into the service of the devil and his motto: “Do what thou wilt.”

 
Psychological Counsels

The way you say something can determine if it is judgmental or not. Moreover, even if you say something that is not judgmental, be careful not to be hurtful. Furthermore, unless someone asks you for advice or guidance, be careful not to fall into the spiritually fatal error of telling others that they should do what you think they should do.

“You filthy woman! You should be ashamed of yourself for dressing like that! If you don’t stop wearing clothes like that you will go to hell!” Saying this is judgmental, and it is hurtful. In saying that the woman is filthy, you are judging the woman’s being. Plus, you are trying to shame her—and scare her— into doing what you want her to do. None of this has anything to do with real love. 

“It’s wrong to dress like that.” Saying this is not judgmental; it’s a statement of fact. You are saying that the behavior, not the woman, is wrong. Moreover, you are not telling her what to do,[1] you are stating a fact that she can use or not, as she wills, to determine her own course of action.

 
Summary

No matter how much anyone hurts you, train yourself not to desire that anyone be condemned, because, even though many will be lost, Christ still does not desire the condemnation of anyone. When James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to punish a town that had refused to welcome Jesus, He rebuked them (Luke 9:54-55). Why? Well, God is “patient . . . not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Nevertheless, we can—and must—warn others, without hatred or anger, when they commit sin. We have an obligation (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2088 and 1868) to call attention to error and to defend the faith.

All of this is an act of love, not judgment—and we don’t have to be perfect in order to love.

So, if you witness the faith and someone retorts, “Don’t be judgmental. Who are you to talk? How do you justify yourself?” just say, “I don’t justify myself. Holy orthodox and catholic and apostolic love justifies me. I’m not judging you, I’m just giving you a warning that you are making a big mistake—but Christ will be your judge on your last day.”

 

 

What the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it.

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
—by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
—by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
—by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to
    do so;
—by protecting evil-doers.

 

Who wrote this web page?
 

Notes.

1. Demanding that others change their behavior will only drive them deeper into their behavior and may provoke hostility. Moreover, it will cause you stress, along with physiological complications such as high blood pressure, when others refuse to do what you want them to do. Also, the obstinacy of others will be a wound to your pride, and that can drive you right into the snares of hatred and spiritual murder.

 

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