Thursday, April 16, 2009

Judging Lets You Be In Control

Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that judging gives the illusion of control.

I have been told that the theological trouble with "people like [me]" is that we are too wishy-washy; we don't take a stand on anything. Concern with loving everyone nullifies speaking truth to anyone.

I always find these observations amusing because I think I tend to be very theologically opinionated (and have the scripture to back it). I am forever telling people what I think.

So, why the limp perception?

I think it is my approach. Though I may have a strong opinion about something, I usually leave the door open for new nuances and information. I believe absolutism is more dangerous than relativism. Since I am confident that there are many places where I presently misperceive God, it seems silly for me to get too haughty in my perceptions of other people's misperceptions. As Paul said in Romans 2:

You therefore have no excuse, you who try to pass judgment on someone else. For at whatever point you condemn the other, you are condemning yourself... because you who pass judgment do the same things.

I have a suspicion: People who believe loving speech is often not truthful, rarely speak lovingly. They usually state that speaking "truth" is loving.

I have a number of LDS friends who know every disagreement I have with them theologically (and vice versa). Yet, they do not feel judged by me (nor I by them). Why is that? I would say it is because I in no way feel that they have to accept my views or have their views be acceptable to me. That is what much of Christian judgment is - deeming someone unacceptable to God.

I once said to a commenter on this blog, who has a problem with Mormons and those of us who are not stern enough with them, "It sounds like you have a lot of requirements and hoops for people to jump through in order to get right with you." That is what I think the crux of it is - for someone who is judging, they are waiting for the other to get right with THEM... God is secondary. I think Romans 14 is the answer to those of us who want to go around correcting the lives of others:

Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

(The universalist in me loves Paul's clarification that those we anticipate to fall due to doctrinal differences will stand.)

Judging is a weak short-cut to an appearance of spirituality. Rather than having our lives be our testimony and our ideas be discovered to be worthy (or not) in the crucible of life, judging wants to use God's name as a trump card. It seeks to raise us over our brothers and sisters through "beliefs" and postulates. It requires little but seeks to gain the first seat. Is this not the real meaning of using God's name in vain?


curmudgeon said...

I couldn't agree more. I find myself quick to judge. While the atheist in me does not think this runs afoul of god, it does tend to push people to the margins and discounts them as fellow humans. I think the one thing we know for sure is that we are in the here and now and what a waste it is if we piddle that away in self-righteous condemnation of those around us. So much is to be gained from our associations with people that is lost if we view them only through the pinhole of our biases.

Andrew said...

Too true Kevin! There seems to be an inverse relationship in my sensitivity to this. The more I attempt to NOT judge, the more I notice how often I do it. Though I have gotten better with not expressing it, it disturbs me how often I still find it lurking in the corners of my mind. I think the associations of which you speak, and expanding that circle, really helps us to break down the bias foundations that have built up through whatever subcultures we have been raised in.

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