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The Danger of Judging Sinners


by: Roger Stratton


Love the sinner, hate the sin?

Not! Is there biblical support for this position? Sure! Just like there is biblical support for stoning unfaithful spouses, killing doctors who perform abortions, racism, and unicorns. Anyone who chooses to can find biblical support for just about any sort of ungodly behavior they want to endorse. Did Jesus endorse it? Absolutely not. The Jesus I know doesn't hate anything.

It has always amazed me how persons and groups have used the Bible and their version of religion to aggrandize themselves. What better position for ego tripping superiority than to say that God is on your side and is therefore against anybody you choose to point the wrath of God toward. Like children on the playground arguing over who's daddy is the toughest. It's greatness by association. But just exactly like it was in Jesus' day, those doing the condemning for God were the farthest from Him. The simple person in the street, the poor, the downtrodden, the "sinner" were much more open to the truth, because they had not invested their self-importance in being God's hall monitor.

What did Jesus say about who was right and who was wrong and who gets to say? Who or what did Jesus condemn, if anything? When presented with the adulterous woman, who under the law of Moses in effect at that time, was to be stoned, Jesus said, "let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." Then Jesus said, "none remains to condemn you, neither do I."

When asked what must a man do to enter into heaven, Jesus answered simply, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. He said nothing about what to eat or not to eat, what to drink or not to drink, how much money to give to whom, what clothes to wear, what music to listen to, and nothing at all about sex or personal relationships. The judges of today will quickly pick out another handful of verses saying you must do this or not do that, but Jesus didn't say love God and your neighbor as yourself and do and don't do a bunch of other stuff that I will talk about some other time. He answered the question completely.

So, if we choose to summarily ignore what Jesus said about what to do and decide to see if we can't find some really good reasons for condemning someone, Jesus said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged. For with what measure ye mete, so shall it be measured unto you." Judge not. Do not judge. Am I missing something, or doesn't that mean we are not to judge? The self-righteous use the second half of this verse to say, "well, I don't commit 'that' sin, so It is OK for me to judge, since I don't have to fear God judging me on that one." Now I am getting into the territory of interpretation where all perversions of God arise. To me, "lest ye be judged" means as you sow, so shall you reap, meaning if you condemn, or judge, you will be condemned, not that you will receive a fair trial, because who are you to say what God likes and doesn't, but that you will receive in equal measure, the condemnation you dish out. The self-righteous don't stop with judging, but go ahead and issue sentence. "Because you commit this 'sin', as I have judged you, you are to burn in hell."

It appears to me that Jesus is telling us that it isn't our place to decide right and wrong for anyone. We decide for ourselves. We must make decisions about what to do in any situation. We can refer back to Jesus' instructions in a nutshell, and say, "does this action show love to my neighbor or not?" But as for what our neighbor does, it is none of our business. We are supposed to love them anyway. Not love them and condemn what we judge to be their sinful behavior, but just to love and not judge. Not to "save" them by pointing out what we believe to be their flaws. Jesus didn't tell the tax collectors and prostitutes that they were wrong, he just told them about the love of their Father. Lead by example.

If someone treats us in any way that we do not like, then they do not love us, and we can and should distance ourselves from these people, unless we feel we can love them anyway. Show them the right way by our example. Jesus could have distanced himself from those that choose to do him harm, but he did not. I believe he showed us by example that he could stay and love them even though they tortured and killed him, but he also showed that their torture even unto death, was not a problem. Death was no problem. I'm not saying we should stand and allow ourselves to be killed by ignorant people, but history has shown that people like Martin Luther King, and Gandhi did just that and changed the world in the process.

Jesus said that God makes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust, so it would appear that Jesus is telling us that God loves them, too. So maybe we do not posses the all-knowing mind of God, and therefore don't know what God wants and doesn't want. But one thing is made quite clear: it is not up to us to decide for anyone but ourselves.

Copyright © 2002 by the author
All Rights Reserved


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