April 21, 2013 by

Judge Not…

1 comment

Categories: Rantings

In catching up on reading/scanning some of the blogs I follow, I came across one from last week by nakedpastor talking about the dialogue between Christians and atheists, and how quick one group is to mock the other sometimes. Within that conversation he made one statement that resonated within me far beyond the topic of discussion:

“When someone thinks they are superior to another, they also feel no need to understand the other.”

True dat.

What I think this probably points to more than anything else is a problem we have with judgment. I think some people are more prone to being judgmental than others, but one thing I have witnessed is that religion makes us even more prone to judgment. It is one thing to believe something, and it is another thing to become religious about our beliefs. Religion, and religious pride, in particular, lends itself to the superiority that nakedpastor spoke of. Religion gives us a false sense of security about our beliefs and the way we see the world, and makes us feel superior to others who do not see the world in that way. Even if we are right and the other person is wrong, one is not better than the other. Religion, however, makes us feel that our sense of being right about something makes us better than the apparently unfortunate souls that obviously do not have our sense of revelation or enlightenment. That superiority breeds judgment.

The thing is, once we have rendered judgment on an individual, group of individuals or their beliefs, that judgment becomes a prejudice. Judgment makes us stop thinking or reasoning, because we have settled the issue in our own minds. Once we have judged, it becomes that much harder for the actual truth to settle into our hardened hearts and minds.

I’m rambling about this because I have been on the receiving end of this type of religious judgment more than once, and again just recently, as a few weeks ago, someone I barely know and never actually met sent me one of the most un-Christlike messages I have ever received. It was a personal attack, filled with venom and self-righteousness. And although the attack was not on my theological views, per se, it was steeped in religion. I know this, not just because of her references to Scripture, but more because of the superiority of her attitude. It was obvious that in her own mind, she was perched loftily on high, and I was lower than low. She practically said as much.

The Bible is referred to as a two-edged sword, but it is always a sad thing when a Christian uses that weapon against another brother or sister. I can’t believe that God likes seeing that kind of thing.

Now, this probably would have caused a much deeper wound in me had it happened a few years ago, but this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve seen this before, and I know where it comes from. As a point of disclosure, it’s worth mentioning that besides being on the receiving end of this kind of crap, I’ve also been on the giving end of it from time to time–a reality I have come to regret. I can tell you that it was learned behavior because I do come from a line of people who are prone to be judgmental, but it was also reinforced by religion. That’s why I know what this was; it takes one to know one, I suppose.

The thing is, I am aware enough of my own heart before God to know that none of what this person accused me of was actually true–and she had no place of authority in my life to say such things, anyway, because she does not know me, and has never made the effort to do so. The problem is–and this is where I was going with all of this–there is no way to set her straight. You see, as nakedpastor said, when we feel superior to someone else, we feel no need to understand that person. This woman has already made up her mind about me; I was tried, convicted, and sentenced passed on me, all without even being invited to the trial. I already know there is nothing I could possibly say to this person to show her differently, to help her understand my point of view. She is superior to me, so she feels no need to understand. There is no point in trying to establish a line of communication, because there can be no communication with someone whose mind is already made up.

This, I suppose, is the one of the things I have come to despise most about religion (not beliefs or spirituality, mind you, but being religious about our beliefs). Religion, and the sense of judgment and superiority that go along with it, causes otherwise intelligent people to shut off their brains and act like idiots, or worse. I won’t lie and say that this attack didn’t hurt, but in the grand scheme of things, thankfully it did relatively little damage to me, and certainly hasn’t shaken my faith. But how many people have religious Christians turned away from God by this kind of behavior, rather than drawing them toward Him? How many seekers have been driven away from the altar by this kind of thing? And how must God feel about that?

I’ve come to understand that there is more than one reason why Jesus said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” When we judge the heart of another person, we are presuming to stand in the place of the only One Who reserves that right. (Thank God that He is more merciful than most of us are.) But like any other thing God calls sin, there’s something about judgment that damages us, as well. When we judge, we rob ourselves of the ability to learn from others. We are literally stunting our own growth.

Musician. Composer. Recovering perfectionist. Minister-in-transition. Lover of puns. Hijacker of rock song references. Questioner of the status quo. I'm not really a rebel. Just a sincere Christ-follower with a thirst for significance that gets me into trouble. My quest has taken me over the fence of institutional Christianity. Here are some of my random thoughts along the way. Read along, join in the conversation. Just be nice.

One Response to Judge Not…

  1. Randi :)

    So true. We so quickly close our heart to anybody we disagree with. The most loving people just have open wide hearts to ALL. Why are we so afraid to have open & wide hearts??? Where did we get that from in the Bible? What verses are we using to justify a closed heart?

    “The thing is, I am aware enough of my own heart before God to know that none of what this person accused me of was actually true–and she had no place of authority in my life to say such things, anyway, because she does not know me, and has never made the effort to do so.”

    That is awesome you are able to acknowledge & stand on that truth. I need to be stronger in this area – I genuinely trust in people and their kindness and I am usually in quite shock & hurt when people are not loving or willing to listen first. Apparently God has a lot of work to do in me before I am in any public arena or position of influence.

    “The problem is–and this is where I was going with all of this–there is no way to set her straight.”

    ohhh that bothers me so much. I just can’t wait for heaven because then I know that people will truly listen to each other and be able to understand each other. This life is so full of such barriers in our communication – it is so frustrating. I try so hard to give people the chance to understand… by doing what I can to communicate truth…. but it’s such a fine line between trying to offer the chance to communicate and offer the chance for them to understand, not just totally shut them out……

    vs. either being defensive…. or throwing pearls to pigs who are not open to understand.

    We can’t judge who is going to receive what we are saying or not… so I guess it’s always a good thing to try in some small way to give people the chance to understand even in their judgement but if they slam the door again and do not receive, then it’s okay to walk away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.