It is possible in some abstract sense that all men are equal. But according to the Bible, Aristotle, and most considerate observers, men are not equal in natural capacity, aptitude for learning, moral education, and so on. If you can get the first belief substituted for the second, on the claim that the second cannot be proved, you have removed a ‘prejudice.’ And along with it, you have removed such perception as you have of reality.
~ Richard Weaver, “Life Without Prejudice”, Modern Age magazine, 1957
There seem to be two great facts of life:
1. On some level, human beings want to be treated fairly and equally.
2. The reality is that there is no such thing as equality in regards to sameness. Each human being is a distinct individual in spite of the pressures of conformity by society, and each individual has different capabilities, abilities and desires that are shaped by genetics, culture and experience as well as an individual desire that may or may not conform to the other influences.
This dichotomy has shaped many a debate, both large and small: nature vs nurture, faith vs works, slavery vs freedom and tolerance vs intolerance, among others. Yet, the problem with most of these debates are that they are a false dichotomy. The debates often take place in a vacuum far removed from reality and ignore the spectrum in between and the complicated mess that human life really is.
A World Without Judgment
Take the most shocking of that list, even: slavery. Is slavery ever right? By that, I mean: Is it ever right to take all freedoms that a human being ever has, restrict his or her movements, make them work against their will and put them in places they do not wish to be?
Careful how you answer that and consider the consequences.
For those are the arguments that have allowed psychotic individuals to roam our streets and present a danger to themselves and others because their “human rights” have been violated. We have done away with almost all psychiatric institutions, which means many of them wind up homeless or in jail.
Speaking of jail, isn’t that a type of slavery? Look at what I wrote again, and you will see that it would be a rare thing indeed for an inmate to be placed into prison willingly.
Yet, these people have been judged by those in society given that responsibility to be of such status as to warrant being locked up. If “judge not” were so narrow as some, such as Bill O’Reilly, describe, then jurors and judges would be left with nothing to do.
Bill O’Reilly recently judged, and I mean to use that word, that judging is not correct! He stated that Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson should not have “judged” homosexuals with his statements, but when you examine the facts, most of what he said were paraphrases from the Bible! Ironically, that’s the same Bible, BTW, that Bill O’Reilly was quoting!
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
O’Reilly says that this is a “command to not judge”. That’s not only taking the verse out of context, but it is taking it out of context with itself! Simply reading “Judge not” and stopping there is foolish and ignorant, to say the least.
Here’s the passage in context:
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
The attentive will easily see that this section, not unlike the Beatitudes, is formed like many section in the Book of Proverbs: do this, and this will occur. The result of being merciful is that God will be merciful upon you. The result of not being judgmental is that God will look more favorably upon you. The result of not being condemniing is that God will be merciful upon you. However, if you judge, which at some point you will have to in order to function in society, you will be measured by the same yardstick you use to judge.
This is no small thing! If you are in charge of a group of people, you must ultimately pronounce judgments in one degree or another. If you discipline your children with harshness, then look for God to be harsh upon you. If you listen to your crew at work, then expect God will listen to you. If you fail to reward people over which you have authority, then look for God to not reward you.
These are general principles, of course. God is sovereign and may withhold punishment or reward for a wide variety of reasons, so we cannot, as Job and his three friends did, expect everything to be black and white all the time.
It is interesting O’Reilly chose to quote Luke instead of Matthew. Most people quote Mt 7:1:
7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
That section is followed by the same admonition that you will be judged pretty much with the same standards by which you judge, and then it is followed by the parable of trying to get a mote out of your brother’s eye while having a beam in your own. Then, Jesus says:
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Notice how Jesus said to still help take the mote out of your brother’s eye! How judgmental is that? However, Jesus follows immediately with something more shocking if you believe He was all nonjudgmental!
6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Hmmmm, doesn’t sound all that nonjudgmental to me! Not only that, but Jesus instructed the Pharisees to judge righteously!
24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
~ Jn 7:24
Judge Righteous Judgment
Here’s the irony of the whole thing: The Pharisees did not like Jesus criticizing them. They took offense at His words! They thought Jesus was unfairly singling them out!
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
~ Mt 15:12
Yet, the Pharisees, as we saw in the last part of this series, were masters at comparing themselves to the unwashed masses in order to elevate themselves! They had no problem with criticizing and berating others! Yet, when they stand corrected, they become offended?
Of course, they were judging by their own standards. How convenient is that? Someone doesn’t measure up to what they thought someone should, and so they put them down. Yet, they themselves couldn’t even live up to the standards they had set. Worse, they were not godly standards!
And — here’s the real kicker — they were proclaiming these faulty standards to be God’s own standards!
So, when Jesus condemned them, He condemned them according to the very standards they claimed to be following!
Judgment Vs Condemnation
Of course, there is a difference between judgment — knowing something is wrong and saying it — and condemnation — proclaiming one’s ultimate destiny according to what you judge it to be. Later, Robertson, somewhat inarticulately, more or less said that, but still O’Reilly claimed Robertson was “condemning” homosexuals. O’Reilly even said that Robertson was “singling out” one particular sin, which is also quite false. Most of what Robertson did was paraphrase the Bible!
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Was Paul being judgmental here? This is, more or less, what Robertson said, except for the last verse.
And, the last verse is key! People can and do change! Conversion without change is not conversion!
Yet, if we are to love our neighbor, then do we want them to be lost? If someone is going to step out in front of a moving car, is yelling at them to get out of the road being judgmental? There is a huge difference between warning people of their consequences and condemning them!
What’s the Difference?
11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
In Philippians 4, Paul wrote a list of characteristics about how to view one another. We are to, whenever possible, think good and not evil about one another!
8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
~ Php 4:8
Need I point out that we all want to be thought well of? Even the Pharisees did not Jesus’ stinging words! How best to practice the golden rule than to speak and think well of one another?
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Spreading Lies In Christ’s Name
Of course, I don’t really care much about what O’Reilly, Robertson or any other “celebrity” consider moral or righteous, but rather I consider what God says is righteous infinitely more important. Jesus said His Father’s word is “truth”. Jesus said that Satan was the father of lies. Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, first listed whatever is “true” is what should be meditated upon and applied to others.
It is a pity that some call themselves “Christian” yet feel no remorse at slandering others and twisting the Bible. I see people point the finger and call others “Laodicean”, but then I see are a lot of Pharisaical traditions that are not in the Bible, including a lot of word twisting about what “Philadelphian” and “Laodicean” even mean.
Then, there are the outright lies. One group that is obviously into lying says COGWA is celebrating Christmas. Really? What does the article “War on Christmas? Not Really” tell you?
The truth is, Christmas is not a Christian holiday at all and is nowhere promoted or taught in the Bible!
The truth is, the trappings of evergreen trees, mistletoe, Santa Claus and reindeer all have their origins in paganism! And not in the true God or in the Bible!
And, the truth is that people who slander and lie need to repent! However, such people, just like the Pharisees, have such hard hearts that they probably would rather kill the messenger, literally, than to repent and change their ways.
Paul calls this need to exalt one’s self as “the lust of the flesh”:
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Usually, when this world presents two alternatives, it is a false dichotomy. If you judge, then you are judged to be judgmental. It is a strange thing to listen to someone reason out being judgmental about being judgmental. On the other side of the coin is the tendency to point the finger and accuse, often by hyperbole or stretching the truth. After a while, they become downright lies and slander.
However, the Bible is clear about there being two ends to it all. Either someone will make it into the Kingdom of God, or they will not. There is no in-between in the final end. There are two ways of life, and they were represented by two trees in the Garden of Eden.
Brethren, make sure you are picking the fruit of the right tree.