Its human nature to judge. We judge the quality of food at a restaurant. We just the prices of gas at the pump station. We judge the effectiveness of our president at serving our needs. We judge ourselves in the mirror when we wake up. We judge our boss for his ability to lead.
In Christianity, I think this mindset of judgment is amplified. We judge the world for their sin, movies for their nudity, neighbors for their reckless parties, brothers for their differing opinions, teachers for their theological mishaps, sisters for their low cut shirts, Presbyterians for their infant baptism, Catholics for their rituals, Charismatics for their freedom, girlfriends for not being like Proverbs 31, boyfriends for not being a leader . . .
I think some people are more prone to judgment as well. Some people view the world as black and white. If black is the way they see it than anything that differs is white and is wrong. Nearly all matters of faith, theology, relationships and opinion are either absolutely right or absolutely wrong. These are the people of whom it is said “she always thinks she is right”.
My question is this: does this approach (the natural human one, the amplified Christian one, and the black and white personality trait) make for healthy relationships?
Despite our obsession with judging other people, we do not really like to be judged ourselves. Whether we have an unlikely high opinion of ourselves, or we just don’t enjoy attack and criticism, human nature is to revolt from judgment. Even if the judgment has an element of truth, people in close relationships don’t change until they are ready. And often that’s up to God not us.
Another issue is that the person doing the judging often forgets to deeply consider his own position to see if it is really correct. When judging we often get caught up in an emotional rant which in retrospect may appear rash and may not really be what we believe about the person in the relationship with whom we disagree. When this happens we might try to rationalize our harsh words (further pushing the other person away) or ignore the problem or be forced to greatly humble ourselves and apologize.
A third problem I see with the judgmental approach is that we are prone to hypocrisy. How many times have you gone up to a friend or loved one and condemned some action only to realize as you lie awake in bed seething that you do the same thing.
And here is where we rationalize again. “Well I caught my girlfriend flirting with that other guy who likes her. See I only flirt with girls who don’t like me. So it’s different”. What? Or “As his brother in Christ I was compelled to tell him that movie was wrong. What I watch movies like that too? No his had a liberal agenda; I only watch ones with good messages”.
Do we realize how subjective our judgment is? Two years ago we might have considered any movie ok. Now we somehow know that absolutely all movies we don’t approve of are wrong! Two days ago we may have condemned making out with a women who is not ours. Today we may find ourselves happily loving multiple women.
To be continued:
Read the rest of this series!