Sunday, April 25, 2010

Judging and Condemning

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. I doubt it’s going to become the long essay I originally wanted to write.

We’ve all heard people make comments like “Don’t judge me” or “You shouldn’t judge people”. Why?

The ironic thing is that these statements are often followed by some very judgmental statements, like “You shouldn’t judge people, you jerk!” “Don’t judge me. You’re so intolerant.”

As an amateur philosopher (and as The Stand-Up Philosopher), I have tried to construct a world in which it is possible to live without making any judgments at all. I can’t. It’s impossible.

If it were possible to live without judging anybody, why do we have a legal profession? Why is there an entire occupation known as judges?

Chances are, it’s a total misunderstanding of a couple of verses in something known as “The Sermon on the Mount”. You can find the relevant verse in Matthew 7, verse 1:

7 “Judge  not, that you be not judged

The problem is, it doesn’t stop there. The entire point to this passage is not that you should never judge anybody at any time for any reason. That’s impossible. Jesus continues:

2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 7:2–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

The whole point to the passage it to make sure that you’re straightened out before you confront somebody else about a “sin” in his or her life.

My point to this post is not to “preach” at you. I get annoyed when people don’t use the right words.

I think instead of “don’t judge me”, what people mean is “don’t condemn me.” Try using that next time. It’s impossible to make it through life without making judgments about people and things. Think about it, you have to “judge” distance when you drive.

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