I enjoy a healthy debate (as in one that does not end up in a shouting match).
I have extremely strong religious convictions.
I have a big mouth.
Therefore I tend to involve myself in “discussions” on religious topics frequently, especially on Facebook. I sometimes have a hard time refraining from making a comment on someone’s post, and I might occasionally (okay- frequently) even post things for the express purpose of riling some people up.
One of the statements that seem to make an appearance in nearly every religious debate is some variation of Matthew 7:1 (Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged).
Here is how it routinely goes:
Person A: “I think that pizza is the most Godly thing ever.”
Person B: “Pizza is actually of the devil- see here is a Bible verse that supports this.”
Person A: (or even better, Person C, the Facebook status stalker): “Don’t be judging me!”
I see it over and over. It. Drives. Me. Crazy.
It also strikes me as comical (in an incredibly frustrating way) for three (main) reasons:
1) Typically it is posted by someone who rejects the Bible as any source of real authority.
I know that this does not make any sense, but I see it time and time again where someone will throw up this verse, but yet they do not believe the Bible to be true…it is incredibly ironic…
There has to be a rule for online arguments somewhere that says you are not allowed to quote a book to make a point if you do not even believe it to be accurate.
2) Someone is criticizing you for criticizing them.
They are, in essence, saying that you are wrong for saying that they are wrong. Just try and process this- you will see how hard it really is to figure it out. I am wrong because I said that you are wrong? And it is wrong for me to say that you are wrong, but not for you to say that I am wrong? Get my point? It is truly mind boggling.
However, the third reason I find it frustrating is the biggest one for me.
3) It is not applying the verse in the correct manner.
To use this verse as a rebuttal for someone criticizing a certain behavior is to strip this verse out of the intended context, and uses it in a manner that an accurate interpretation of the text simply does not support.
Jesus in this passage was not making some catch all prohibition against all judgement and discernment, but only against that which is done in self-centered pride. The intent is not to forbid any discernment, but rather to guard in the attitude used in the discernment. We should refrain from a condemnatory attitude towards others. We should refrain from having a self righteous attitude towards others.
But that does not mean that we cannot point out where someone is wrong about an issue. We should make sure that our life is in order before pointing out the faults of others, but it is Biblical to do so.
I would say that it is even easier to support doing so in the context of a religious/theological discussion.
The next time you are involved in a religious discussion please resist the urge to tell someone “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged.”
If you see someone doing it- do me a favor and simply point out that this is not what the verse it talking about.
If you are going to quote the Bible, do everyone a favor and do it properly, in the context it was intended, and what it actually means!