A meme has been circulating in the Christian community for some time now. It’s the curious notion that making judgments about the behaviors and lifestyles of others is unchristian.
Take singer Carrie Underwood, a professed Christian, who came out in support of same-sex “marriage,” crediting her faith for her position. In explanation, the songstress told the British press, "Above all, God wanted us to love others,” adding, “It’s not up to me to judge anybody.”
But judge she has, for by her very endorsement of same-sex “marriage,” Underwood made a moral judgment on the practice and its practitioners, as well as a moral insinuation, if not judgment, about its critics.
Regrettably, Carrie Underwood, like most “nonjudgmentalists,” is oblivious to the logical inconsistency. If we are proscribed from judging the wrongness of actions, we are likewise proscribed from judging their rightness. And either way we come down is a judgment on the opposing view.
We can’t not judge
Conformance with the “anti-judgment meme” requires neutrality on all moral matters, but humans are anything but morally neutral. Regardless of our religious or anti-religious sympathies, it is commonly held that a number of things are universally wrong, like cheating, rape, exploitation, and greed, and that a number of others are universally good, such as honesty, fairness, charity, and selflessness.
Furthermore, in a fallen world where virtue and vice exist side-by-side, everyone must judge whom they will trust, what ventures they will pursue, what policies they will support. (You can bet that when Carrie Underwood becomes a parent she will make judgments aplenty, sniffing around for any hint of child abuse, pedophilia, or other behaviors she deems morally questionable in the backgrounds of prospective babysitters.)
The person who can’t or won’t discern truth from falsehood, good from evil, and healthful from harmful is someone destined to be a victim of those who are adept at parading one for the other. Thus, abstaining from moral judgments is not a hallmark of Christian character, but of foolishness.
Rather, the signature of the Spirit-filled life is the ability to make correct judgments to prevent, as St. Paul warns, being taken “captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Indeed, Jesus’ advice about “fruit” inspection was to help keep his disciples from falling in with bad teachers and their sophistry.
The popular meme persists, in large measure, by isolating what Jesus says a few verses up -- "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" -- from the rest of the chapter and coupling it with the second half of the Great Commandment. Continue reading here.
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About Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll is a Centurion of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. After a 30-year career as a nuclear specialist, Regis became a freelance writer who writes on current cultural issues from a Christian perspective. His work regularly appears on BreakPoint online and SALVO magazine among other places. Regis also teaches and speaks on a variety of worldview topics, covering everything from Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern Generation to String Theory. As a men's ministry leader in his community, Regis also conducts seminars for the spiritual development of men.
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