To judge or not to judge?

Jul 5, 2018 by

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As a child, I rarely heard cursing. Thus, I often didn’t recognize inappropriate language when I did hear it. My friend and I could watch the same movie — she would hear curse words every other minute, and I wouldn’t hear a single one.

So when I became a grocery store cashier — one of my first jobs in a secular environment — my coworkers would frequently insert “sorry” in the conversation even though I wasn’t sure why. After asking why they were apologizing several times, I figured out that it was usually about their language.

My coworkers assumed that I was upset by their language when I was completely oblivious to it.

At first, I was uncomfortable with accepting the apologies. I didn’t expect others to pretend to be “Christian-y” when I was around, to change their morals for me.

But if I said, “You don’t have to apologize,” was I encouraging foul language? Did ignoring it mean I was hiding my convictions?

In today’s world, evangelical Christians are frequently criticized for being judgmental. When they have convictions about gender issues, partying, divorce, abortion, adultery or any other number of issues, it’s assumed that they are judging those who believe differently.

Is that true? Does holding personal convictions necessitate condemning others?

Morality, my professor told us, was considered a given in the modern world. In the postmodern world, however, everything is questioned.

Tolerance is honored, and no one expects others to believe like he or she does.

How much has my generation influenced my unwillingness to criticize others’ morality? If the concept of tolerance is linked to the idea of no absolutes, then is tolerance always a slippery slope to moral compromise?

Is it the church’s role to judge the world?

It drives me crazy when others assume that I am judging them when I am not. However, perhaps this is something I need to accept as part of living a holy life.

I’m still struggling with these questions, and thus I don’t have any answers, but here are several principles that could perhaps apply:

  1. Jesus brought judgment (John 9:39), BUT Jesus didn’t come to judge the world (John 12:47).
  2. Salvation is more important than morality, BUT moral issues can be a gateway to salvation topics (Gal. 3:24).
  3. Sometimes people want you to be their moral fence — even if they’re on the wrong side.
  4. We are always being watched for hypocrisy.
  5. The church cannot speak up for the weak without condemning injustice.

Any thoughts?

Tabitha Driver is a Mennonite who loves glimpsing God’s goodness on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She blogs at Life is a Metaphor, where this post first appeared.

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