The Bible Says Not to Judge Others... Or Does It?
Recently, I came a across a news article focused on an uproar that Miley Cyrus has caused with her new tattoo. The quick version is, she got an “=” sign on her middle finger supporting gay marriage. Tweeting, “All love is equal.” Where the news story picks up is that the former Disney darling quickly triggered a flurry of her twitter followers to respond. Some not so favorable as one tweeted, “Where in the Bible does it say homosexuality is okay?” This prompting Miley to fire back with, “Where does it say in the bible to judge others?" she Tweeted to one of her fans. Concluding with, “Oh right. It doesn't. GOD is the only judge honey. GOD is love.”
“Judging others” is an issue that has confused many people. Unfortunately, when you hear “Don’t judge me” or “The Bible says” it’s usually flowing from the mouth of someone who couldn’t even tell you what Testament the book of Job is in; or the believer that paraphrases certain biblical verses without reflecting on others. First and foremost, I don’t care who you are, we ALL judge. Let me prove my point. When you see a guy sitting at a corner with a cardboard sign, most people think “Homeless.” ~ Judgment. A teen girl holding a baby... “She must have gotten “Knocked-up.” ~ Judgment. Here’s one for ya. The elderly lady who smiles at you in the grocery story, you think “What a sweet lady.” ~ Judgment. I threw that last one in for a reason. When we make an assumption about someone, even if it’s a good one, you just passed judgment upon them.
This debate has two sides. On one side, Jesus did say, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). On the other side, the Bible provides clear urgency that we should not hang out with wrongdoers. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers” (Psalm 1:1). If we are to listen to this guidance, then how are we to discern whom the “wicked” that the Bible is speaking of, if we do not pass some sort of judgment upon them?
Why are Christians often labeled as “judging” whenever we stand up and speak against sinful actions? To say that we are not to judge others is a complete fallacy. In John we are called to, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). In this verse we are called to not judge others simple by appearances, but by using careful discernment. Next, one of the most quoted versus that people use to proclaim that we are not to judge is found in Matthew 7:1, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” What many are failing to realize is the context that Jesus is making this assessment. For the passage continues to say, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). The reason Jesus is telling us not to judge is not to say that we are “not to judge,” but He was telling us not to judge hypocritically by making self-righteous judgments of others. It is in these verses that we come to realize that Jesus is not saying that we should not pass judgment, but warning that we should not be passing judgment on others for their sin, when you are committing the same sin or even worse.
Judging for the sake of judging is wrong. However, when a believer sees another person sinning whether its committing adultery, homosexuality, theft etc.; Jesus did say that it is our duty as Christians to confront the person that is engaging in the sinful act; “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17).
To make the statement that we are “not to judge others” is simply and biblically untrue. Paul himself wrote, “Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.” (1 Corinthians 5:3). In this verse the Apostle Paul was referencing the judgment he made regarding the sinful actions of a man who was committing adultery with his father's wife. He did this just as we are instructed to do. We are not called simply to point the finger at the one committing the offense, but in hopes of rather pointing out the truth with the ultimate goal of bringing repentance and restoration in the person; James 5:20, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. It cannot be used, twisted, or manipulated to condone sin. In this case, Miley Cyrus chose to take a snippet of the Bible to try and condone sin. I always have the same response when someone tries to condone sin or use a verse that seems like all sins are encompassed. “Where in the Bible does it say (enter sin here) that God specifically says that it’s okay?” In this case homosexuality; where in the Bible is the word “homosexuality” used prior to or following statements saying that it is okay? Answer: Nowhere. In fact, do you realize that scripture twisting is a sin in itself? In his book, Peter reminds his audience that Paul wrote things that are hard to understand, which the unstable and wicked twist to their own destruction, “Some things in these letters are hard to understand, things the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they also do to the rest of the scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).
If you take nothing more form this article; I hope you would at least embrace this fact. Just as a person that is engaging in sin, in this case homosexuality, is imperfect. So are the adulterers, thieves, liars and so on and so on. We as Christians are imperfect as well. No matter how we try, we cannot love flawlessly; nor are we capable of judging others flawlessly. Fortunately, we serve a God that has the ability to do both. He can love and hate without any malice afforded toward the sinner. He can pass judgment on the sinner, yet be willing to lovingly pardon the sin at the moment of that sinner's repentance and reliance upon Him. This can be found in (2 Peter 3:9; Malachi 1:3; and Revelation 2:6). One thing that Miley Cyrus did get right is that “God is love.” The Bible is abundantly clear that, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8-9). He sent His Son so that we all might live through Him.
If we call ourselves “Christ Followers,” then we are not called to hate sinners. Just as Christ calls us to do; I love ALL sinners... to include thieves, murders, and homosexuals. I just do not love the sin. I can openly love the sinner, but I cannot sit back and condone the sin or act like it’s okay. Choosing to remain quiet as to not offend makes you just as guilty as the one committing the sin. Did Jesus remain quiet not to offend? When the opportunity presents itself we must remind ourselves to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Which if you weren’t aware, is actually a quote from Gandhi not the Bible. But it is a biblical principle. The Bible is filled with accounts such as the woman caught committing adultery, Jesus refused to condemn her, but He insisted that she stop sinning. Throughout the Bible Jesus never condones the sin, but He also never condemned the sinner. We should live our lives with the goal of being more Christ-like. Like it or not; at times we are called to judge others. We do it not in hate, not yelling at them saying “You’re going to hell!”; but for the very reason the scripture says, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
In closing, although this view may be met with opposition, we as Christ followers are called to proclaim what God's Word says about sin. “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:2-3). The next time someone tells you “Don’t judge me” or “The Bible says”; convey to them that we are actually called to “judge” the sinful act, but this is always done with the goal of presenting that there is a solution for sin and its penalties ~ our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time...