On Being “Judgmental”

“Judging” a person is not the same as criticizing sin, or calling out bad behavior. Behavior is chosen, not robotically dictated by genetics with no control by the individual. We’re humans with capacity to choose, not robots or lower-order animals preprogrammed with no capability of conscience.

As such, behavior is wholly fair game for correction and critique. Think about it; sometimes this is necessary. Sometimes gentle easing works. Sometimes a firm but kind redirection works. And yes, sometimes love means tough love. We understand this with kids, friends, siblings…anybody we care a lot about who does something we disapprove, that we know would be very bad for them.

For example, if my friend were under the influence of drugs, ranting and rampaging through a place where he is fixing to get himself beaten to a pulp, I would not take the cowardly, head-in-sand approach and say, “Oh well, live and let live, do what you will, who am I to judge?” as that friend gets pummeled into the floor. I would get him out of there, by force if necessary, to prevent a fate worse than anything I’m doing to him in that moment. [I speak from life experience here as the intervening agent.]

If a loved one’s situation called for an intervention, and I were in a position to perform one — even if that intervention meant they hated my guts in the moment (I have experience here too) — I would do it, and do it again. That is because I care that much about them, enough to do what I can to spare them a fate more destructive than whatever short-term pain or inconvenience. The same goes for our kids when we dole out severe consequences to discourage patently dangerous behavior, as most of us parents have had to do at one time or another. The same can go for a Christian who fears a friend’s or loved one’s actions may lead them straight to hell — a place of Biblical truth and a real possibility — if not somehow corrected.

Does a professional judge decline responsibility to judge the actions of an accused criminal in the court, and the consequences needed, simply because it is judgmental? Does the parent decline to judge the child’s actions for the same reason? Do we see our friends or loved ones engaging in self-destructive actions or addictions and neglect to say or do something because it would appear “judgmental”? I hope not!

If a tough-love approach is needed, so be it. If lesser action may work first (the gentle nudge), great! Do that. It’s all situationally dependent.

In the end, there will be only one true, binding and eternally valid judgment, and it is neither mine nor yours nor any mortal human’s alive today. Only God will be the final arbiter of your ultimate fate, and mine, and everybody’s. Merely by calling out sin, you are not condemning the person committing it to hell. Only by specifically stating the definitive, such as, “You’re going to hell!”, are you stepping over the line, playing God, and committing the sin of judgment. Many an atheist has been spawned from the ashes of stupidity like that on the part of ministers and lay church authorities. Still, the Bible is clear about what happens to those who do not pass God’s eternal judgment, that hell is real, and how that comes about.

There’s no excuse for neglecting to stand up for what’s right, or to state your opinion about bad behavior, least of all the lame idea that somebody, somewhere, might get offended or think it’s “judgmental”. To cave in to such misguided and erroneous perceptions by critics is pure cowardice, and by nature of its passivity (doing nothing), does nothing to help someone in trouble. By their own standards, anyone saying you are “judgmental” is being “judgmental” of you! As such, their hypocritical “input” should be ignored, dismissed immediately. Proceed with standing up for what’s right.

Neither are you “casting a stone” by intervening between someone and Satan. In fact, you are instead attempting to spare the stone — eternal brimstone. Remember what Jesus said to the adulteress after he stopped the mob from stoning her: Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more. He saved her from the mob and their delivery of death. I emphasize the latter, oft-ignored part, where he told her directly that what she had done was sinful, and to stop doing that.

If you see someone running headlong toward a moving train, do you not yell or otherwise intervene in some way? The potential for damnation (again, God’s call, not ours), still is recognizable by us as possible, without playing God and directly judging that person’s eternal fate as if you’re God. The latter most certainly is a sin. Acknowledging the growing possibility is not the same as condemning someone to it! In fact, it can be the first step to preventing damnation. Hell is real, and a far worse consequence in the eternal context than a literal physical death by locomotive. It’s an end none of us should want, whether for ourselves or others.


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