The Citizen is undergoing yet another round of ‘stop being judgmental’ and ‘judge not’ remarks from the liberals of his acquaintance. While this charge is annoying when it comes from the secular lib, it is appalling when it comes from those who presume to be learned in theology and practicing members of one Christian denomination or another. The time has come for the Citizen to do what Catholics have done best throughout the centuries – apply the Magisterium and the philosophical school we have developed to refute the erroneous – and perhaps heretical – interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount.
The pertinent passage most often abused is found in Matthew. As the Douay-Rheims is the closest to the Latin translations, and therefore the most pure and undiluted text, I often use this Bible:
Judge not, that you may not be judged, For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:1-5
This is the entire passage – the liberal often uses only the first sentence. But, as with all reasoning from the ‘intellectual’ left, the use of Scripture is incomplete – indeed, the most important argument is omitted. The rest of the passage – and the most important message – is that those who judge must not be hypocrites. “…with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” This means that the judge will be held to the same yardstick he uses to judge others. Where in this passage does Christ condemn those who judge others? No where. He does tell those who judge without holding themselves to the same standards to be ‘hypocrites’. An example of this are those who proclaim that money is the root of all evil – yet surround themselves with the trappings of wealth. You can’t tell me that wealth is evil if you are blogging about it on your Iphone.
Throughout Christ’s ministry, he spoke often about those who were unfit judges. No where does he condemn applying moral values to hold people accountable. In fact, the Gospels are studded with Christ enjoining people to apply his teachings and hold people to those standards. Don’t believe me?
“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge just judgment” John 7:24. Wow. Is that Christ telling us how to judge? Doesn’t much sound like ‘don’t be judgmental’, does it? Indeed, He is telling us that we must not look on the surface, but to reflect and discern before judging on an issue. Where does the ‘just judgment’ come from? The Bible and the Magisterium. The Catholic Church has spent two millennia reflecting, praying, thinking, and discerning on the Old and New Testaments. The embodiment of Church thinking summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a solid intellectual and theological treatment of standards by which to judge ourselves and others.
Another passage expressly commands us to judge others who are in error.
Take heed to yourselves. If thy brother sin against thee, reprove him: and if he do penance, forgive him. And if he sin against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day be converted unto thee, saying, I repent; forgive him – Luke 17:3-4
Can it be any more clear to the reader? It is our obligation as Christians to rebuke those who sin against God. It is also our obligation to forgive them when they confess wrongdoing with a contrite heart. So great is God’s love that Christ enjoins us to always be ready to forgive – even if one sins ‘seven times in one day’ and repents each time. Forgiveness is one thing, judging is another – and the two are far from contradictory.
Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. – Corinthians 6:9-10
Paul’s letters are considered to be a universal source of Christian thought. In this letter, he is clear and rather judgmental about those who will be worthy of Heaven. This is one of the earliest guides for the Christian community. In this passage, Paul provides a clear yardstick.
If a child were about to run into traffic, would we stand by and let it happen? If a child were about to plunge their hand in fire, would we stand idle? Of course not. If someone is behaving contrary to simple, basic codes of conduct, should we stand idle?
To do so would be dangerous – not just for the soul of the transgressor but our own as well.
It is simpler to not be ‘judgmental’. I have lost friendships and alienated acquaintances for exercising my responsibilities to my fellow man and to my religious beliefs. While it grieves me, I am content. Christians are called to a harder road. And the price is worth it. That passage of Corinthians ends with a warning and a promise – one that I will leave the gentle reader with….
For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.