Does the Bible forbid Christians from “judging”?

The oft quoted and ever misinterpreted Matthew 7:1, the infamous “judge not” passage is arguably the most recognizable passage in the Bible save John 3:16.  And right behind that is ‘remove the log from your own eye before addressing the speck in someone else’s’.  I can understand why non-Christians are ignorant of these passage’s meanings since I don’t expect them to read the Bible in a meaningful way.  But the passages as a whole are really not difficult to understand when you continue reading.  When someone employs these verses, they are used to “remind” someone who is passing a moral judgement on another, that they ought not be offering negative judgements on moral issues (approvals are A-OK).  However, when read in context the passages are admonitions of hypocritical judgements of others, not a normative command to withhold making moral judgements all together.  For example, if I am an adulterer, before I can rightfully rebuke you for your adultery, I should address my own — this is what’s meant by removing the log from your own eye.  Must we be sinless in order to condemn sinful behaviors?

The professing Christians who (ab)use these passages should know better.  They deploy these ‘don’t say people do bad things because it hurts their feelings’ verses on a fairly regular basis.  Most often it’s given to defend homosexual sexual relationships.  This is the last refuge of the Christian who tries to shelter themselves and others from their sins as they don’t want to offend and feel offended.

The first stage of deflection is to claim the Bible is silent on the particular behavior as being a sin.  This is the “Jesus never said…” tactic — an argument from silence. There will be any number of ways the situation in question is different or doesn’t qualify as what the Bible condemns.   Inevitably there will be passages which in clear terms describe their behavior as sin. The next step is to linguistically figure out a way to understand the passage which proclaims the behavior as sin, to mean the opposite of what it actually says.  When all else fails the Custeresque last stand is Matthew 7:1 “Jesus said not to judge!”  As noted above, that is not Jesus’ message.  But is the concept of not judging found in the Bible?  Do we see a pattern of the prophets and apostles admonishing others who make moral judgements on their fellow-believers?

Unfortunately the professing Christian has no refuge in not being judged.  1 Corinthians 5 is entirely dedicated to recognizing, exposing, and condemning professing believer’s sin.  See also: 1 Corinthians 15:34.  Additionally, the Old and New Testaments offer plenty of examples of believers judging each other’s sinfulness.  Just a few examples:

  • Samuel judges Saul: 1 Samuel 13:13Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. 
  • Nathan judges David: 2 Samuel 12:9Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight?
  • Elijah judges Ahab: 1 Kings 18:18 — He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and you have followed the Baals. 1 Kings 21:20Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the LORD
  • Ezra judges the people: Ezra 10:10Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel.
  • One thief on the cross judges the other: Luke 23:41 — And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds
  • We are to judge other believers: 1 Timothy 5:20 — Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.

Unfortunately for the professing Christian, you cannot make a biblical appeal for not being judged by others for a persistent sin.  Not to mention you are to be setting a moral example to non-Christians.  Attempting to manipulate the Bible to coddle your sin or the sins of others is not missed by the world, and is held up as reason to not respect Christianity.  It is the responsibility of fellow Christians to confront the issues.  Likewise, it is the responsibility of the elders and pastor of churches to do it: Titus 1:13; 2 Timothy 4:2.  So I urge any professing Christian who has attempted to end a debate with another Christian by playing the “judge not” or the “log in your own eye”  card to reconsider, and make a firm decision to whom your allegiance lies; God, or modern cultural acceptances.

Comments

  1. Well said, John.

  2. I suppose the bible is riddled with contradictions. Such as the God of the old testament and the God of the new testament. God’s nature seems to change a lot for a Being that is perfect.

    • Atticus,

      That is an old canard which has been responded to sooooo many times. The God of the O.T. and the God of the N.T. are exactly the same. No changes at all. No differences at all.

      • Glenn, I admire you passion for your beliefs, but I believe they blind you.

        There are 7 billion people on the planet. Most of those people believe something different than you and are equally as passionate about their beliefs.

        Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Aboriginals, etc. all believe in something different from yourself. If there is a God why so much variety?

        Even native Americans, before they met white Europeans, had different beliefs. Even tribes that shared regional land had totally different religious beliefs with almost no shared tradition.

        If the Christian God is the one true God than why so many sparse beliefs? Wouldn’t God instill some natural spark of understanding in his creation?

        Christians won the wars and passed their beliefs on by force. There is nothing Godly or Christian about that. It just so happens that the victors in history pass their beliefs on to the conquered.

        In another 100 years your grandchildren might be Muslim, Hindu, or maybe even Atheists.

        • Christianity spread by force? Do you mean Islam?

          But the presence of different beliefs dont discount that one of them could be true and doesnt make it any more likely that one or any are false. They each have to be judged individually.

          • Yes, Christianity was spread by force. Look at all of the Americas.

            • What do you base that on

              • I know this having visited most of central and south America. Also having read the history of the region.

                The Spanish conquered Native American land throughout central and south America in the name of Christianity. Mayan, Aztec, Incan (most notably) culture was destroyed and people were encouraged (forced) to convert to Christianity. Cities were taken and large portions of their history was burned to the ground.

                In Guatemala, for example, it is a very interesting sight. Most of the Christian churches have many Mayan practices and symbols incorporated. These are left overs from when the Spanish brought Christianity and allowed some Mayan traditions to live on to aid in conversion. Most people there now are a form of Christian with symbols and traditions not seen anywhere else.

              • You seem to think that because a culture changed with the introduction of Christian practice, that its a reasonable conclusion that it was forced upon them. What can you point to that shows South and Central America was converted by force?

              • Writing a post now. Talk to a few Guatemalan historians in the region. The decimation of Mayan culture is well documented.

              • It was roman catholicism, which is different from Christianity proper. Especially during the period it was introduced in the region. You cant just assume that using the same religious language and terms means they are the same. Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses also use “Christian” language and terminology but are not Christian.

              • Since Catholicism is the oldest form of Christianity – and also the biggest denomination in present day – I think my claim holds.

                I grew up Southern Baptist and have been to several other churches. I can assure you that Catholicism shares almost all of the same beliefs.

                You cannot, in any way, separate Catholicism from Christianity.

            • Atticus,
              The Americas with the Spanish take-over was not Christianity. What they took there was Roman Catholicism, which is an apostate and heretical corruption of the true Faith of the New Testament. Anyone who has done even a wee bit of study would know better.

              Try again.

              • Roman Catholicism isn’t Christianity? I didn’t realize that only Protestantism counted. In that case perhaps you should read about the conflict between the church of England and the tribes of Ireland and Scotland. Or perhaps the Native Americans here in America.

                Very evil things have been done in the name of Religion.

        • Atticus,

          Just because people around the world have beliefs about a “god,” that doesn’t make them true. The only true God is the one identified in the Bible. Now, there is perfectly good logic behind this fact, but I don’t have the time to go over all of it, nor would you be likely to accept it. I recommend you get a copy of the book, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.”

          God did indeed plant in man’s heart the knowledge about himself, as well as proving via his creation. Try reading Romans 1:18-32 for the answer as to why men ignore it.

          You rewrite history if you think Christians passed their beliefs by force. That was Islam doing that.

          • You know very little of history if you believe Christianity was not spread by force. I will write a post on my blog and provide a link. You all really need to visit central and South America. I think it would be an eye opening experience.

            • Atticus,

              I am very knowledgeable in regards to history. Catholicism was sometimes spread by force, but never Christianity. If you knew your history, as well as Christian history, you’d never make such claims.

              • Catholicism = Chrstianity (not to mention protestants did it too)

                If you want to make such distinctions you have to say that Islam was never spread by force since only radical groups are doing that. Do you make such a distinction for Muslims?

              • It wasnt the radical groups that spread Islam by force, it was Muhammad and his followers.

                And there are many distinctions between Christianity and Catholicism. And there are huge distinctions between Catholicism of the 1300s-1700s and modern Catholicism.

                You cant just assert ‘same words same thing’. It’s false.

              • Atticus.

                The Church of England is nothing more that Catholicism without a pope. Read history about the church so you don’t sound ignorant.

                Roman Catholicism is NOT the “oldest form of Christianity.” Again, you demonstrate ignorance of the Christian faith. The oldest form of Christianity was during the first 100 years. By the end of the 2nd century there were some bad teachings brought in, but the real problems began in the 4th and 5th centuries as the Roman Bishop decided HE would be in charge. As point of fact, the Eastern Orthodox faith can claim to be older than the Romanist faith, since they were the Greek church. Both are part of the same corruption of the faith which took place in the middle ages.

                By the way, “Protestant” refers technically only to those organizations which separated during the reformation, which would include most mainline denominations. But there were “protestant” churches from the very beginning of Rome’s takeover, and Rome suppressed them and annihilated them where possible. Many true Christians continued to hold the New Testament faith from the very beginning – but they were persecuted for doing so.

                The more corrupt Rome became, the more the name of Christ was blasphemed.

                Those who “force” conversions in the name of Christ do so against what the Bible teaches, while in Islam the forcing of conversion is what the Qur’an TEACHES. Islam was forced onto the populace by the sword by the very organizer of the faith, Muhammed himself. With Christ, He let people choose to follow him or not, and no one was ever forced, nor was violence ever condoned.

                Try again – but first do some really good study of history – especially of the history of the true faith vs the false faith.

                You can write all the articles about “forced conversion” to Christianity all you want, but they will not be true as long as you equate false professors of the faith with those who are true Christians. After all, you can call the KKK Christian and decry their violence and racism and blame it on the Christian faith, but that doesn’t make it true. Don’t blame the faith for those who corrupt it and abuse it.

    • Not really. Same character. Jesus talked a lot of people being condemned to hell and YHWH talked a lot of forgiveness and patience.

  3. You guys will probably really hate me when I bring up the fact that there i snot evidence there were Jewish slaves in Egypt. But I’ll save that topic for another time. I’m just poking an angry bear at this point. I’ll just leave this link here: http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4191

    • Atticus,
      Sorry, but there is evidence – The Bible itself is all that is needed. But your types can’t accept that truth.

      • A Muslim would say the same thing about the Koran. A Jew about the Torah. I doubt you would accept that.

        How would God have a choose fact from fiction? Evidence, perhaps?

        • The Qur’an is internally extremely inconsistent, and contradicts Scripture. Since it contradicts the Bible, both can’t be right. There is more than enough evidence for the veracity of the Bible. The Torah of the Jew is the same one of the Christians. Again, by implying the Torah is something different than the Bible, when in reality it is the first five books of the O.T., demonstrates you don’t know what you are talking about when it comes to these things.

          There are lots of thing archaeology has no evidence for, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. The Bible is an accurate historical record of events. Egypt would not have recorded it because, after all, they lost everything to the Jews, including a huge army wiped out when the Red Sea closed over them.

          Having only one witness to an event does not mean that event never happened. You argue from silence when you discount the Bible and then say there is no evidence and therefore it didn’t happen.

  4. Here is the article describing Christianity in Guatemala: http://wp.me/psW0l-1i7

    • Atticus,

      The article does NOT describe Christianity. It describes what happened when a corrupt organization claiming to speak for Christ invaded a people group and propagated lies.

      • The invaders felt justified by God via their Christian beliefs. I do not think that religion is evil in itself, but like any tool it can be used by man to do evil. Whether that tool be Islam, Christianity, or some random cult. This is just an example related to Christianity.

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